The Lost Battalion (1919 film)

The Lost Battalion is a 1919 American silent war film about units of the 77th Infantry Division (the "Lost Battalion") penetrating deep into the Argonne Forest of France during World War I. The film was directed by Burton L. King and features Major Charles W. Whittlesey and a number of actual soldiers from the 77th who portrayed themselves in the film. It was released July 2, 1919 in North America. The film was remade in 2001 by Russell Mulcahy.

The Lost Battalion
Slide promoting the film
Directed byBurton L. King
Produced byEdward A. MacManus
Written byCharles A. Logue
CinematographyA. A. Cadwell
MacManus Corporation
Distributed byW. H. Productions Company
Release date
July 2, 1919
CountryUnited States


The men of the 308th Infantry Regiment, part of the 77th Infantry Division, have been drafted from diverse ethnic, economic, and social groups in New York City. Two men are fighting Chinatown tongs, one is a burglar, another is a wealthy merchant's son in love with his father's stenographer, who dreams of becoming the greatest movie actress, another is a private in love with the merchant's ward, and finally there is "the Kicker," who finds fault with everything. After training in Yaphank and in France, the 463 men advance under the command of Lt. Col. Charles W. Whittlesey into the "Pocket" of the Argonne Forest, to help break down the supposedly impregnable German defense. Cut off from Allied troops and supplies, and surrounded by the enemy, the battalion, nicknamed "The Lost Battalion," withstands six days without food or water. When the German commander asks for their surrender, Whittlesey replies, "Tell them to go to hell!" The Chinese rivals fight bravely side-by-side, while the burglar dies heroically. After their rescue, the survivors are given a parade in New York, and are reunited with their families and sweethearts.


Units involved

  • Company A, 308th Infantry
  • Company B, 308th Infantry
  • Company C, 308th Infantry
  • Company E, 308th Infantry
  • Company G, 308th Infantry
  • Company H, 308th Infantry
  • Company K, 307th Infantry
  • Company C, 306th Machine Gun Battalion
  • Company D, 306th Machine Gun Battalion

Major Charles W. Whittlesey, Captain George G. McMurtry and Captain Nelson M. Holderman were awarded the Medal of Honor. A number of the lower officers and enlisted soldiers were awarded The Distinguish Service Cross or Silver Star citations that where later upgraded to the Silver Star Medal.

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