Chapter I

After World War I
For a decade or more after World War I the American public as a whole was little concerned with the peacetime Army. It was considerably less concerned with the Army's plans for the current or future use of national manpower. For a time in the middle and late twenties, war memoirs, fiction, and drama enjoyed a vogue, but the general interest in contemporary military matters was aroused mainly by war revelations, public controversies such as that surrounding Brig. Gen. William Mitchell's advocacy of an autonomous air force, and changes in the high command of the services. Demobilization, disarmament, international agreements for peace, and economy in public expenditures were successively central to the thinking of the times. They deflected public interest from serious concern with the internal problems and needs of the armed forces. There was a general idea abroad that in the event of a national emergency the Army, backed by the civilian population, should be prepared. But the likelihood of a national emergency seemed remote indeed in an era devoted to arms reduction and treaties of peace and friendship.
American Negroes shared the general public attitude. In the period immediately following World War I, they had current and pressing domestic problems of their own to claim their attention.
Northern manufacturing areas, where heavy migrations of Negro labor from the South introduced a set of problems generally unknown before the war, were in the throes of postwar readjustment. Full-scale race riots had broken out during the war and in the years immediately thereafter in East St. Louis, Houston, Chester, Washington, Chicago, and Tulsa. Racial troubles on a smaller scale flared elsewhere. The Negro press, churches, and social work organizations -the directing forces of Negro public opinion- had their hands full dealing with these new postwar problems.
The Military Orientation of the Negro Public
Concern with the pressing problems of the postwar period did not cause the Negro public wholly to lose sight of its relations with the armed forces. The Army and military life had long occupied a position of relatively greater concern and importance to the Negro public than to Americans in general. Soldiering had been an honored career for the few Negroes who were able to enter upon it. In the restricted range of economic opportunities open to them, the military life ranked high. Thus the Army and its policies remained a significant center of interest to Negro organizations, to the press, and to the

public as a whole. It was one of the few national endeavors in which Negroes had had a relatively secure position and which, at least in time of war, could lead to national recognition of their worth as citizens and their potential as partners in a common undertaking.
Since the Civil War, the Army had maintained four Regular Army Negro regiments, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry. The men of these regiments were the legatees of the Civil War troops out of which the units had been organized and of the Indian fighters and plains soldiers who filled their ranks until the turn of the century. Until World War II there were few Negro communities that did not have several honored men of the Grand Army of the Republic who could be pointed to with pride. Retired infantry and cavalry sergeants from the Regular Army were often leading spirits in Negro community life. Some of the oldest and best known of the Negro schools-Howard, Hampton, Fisk-were founded by Union generals. One of the schools, Lincoln Institute, later Lincoln University, in Missouri, was established with funds given by the enlisted men of regiments of the United States Colored Troops after the Civil War. Wilberforce, in Ohio, was proud of its pre-Spanish-American War status as the only Negro college with a department of military training to which Army instructors were detailed.
Orators and ministers, educators and politicians, had extolled the Negro soldier as an example of courage and loyalty and skill to such a degree that the names of Old and New World military heroes of the colored races-Toussaint L'Ouverture, David Dumas, Chaka, Antonio Maceo, Peter Salem-were familiar enough to be freely used on any patriotic occasion. Battles and regiments were widely and fully commemorated in books and pamphlets.1 Lithographs of Negro troops in action and, of military heroes were common in Negro homes. The participation of Negroes in past wars was one of the richest veins of material that could be worked by the supporters of Negro rights and opportunities.
Negroes, generally, were convinced of the unbroken record of loyalty and courage of their soldiers. They were certain of the benefits which participation in each of America's wars had brought them. In 1918, when William E. B. DuBois, editor of The Crisis, official organ of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), sought to defend the thesis that winning the war must take precedence over fighting for the Negro's rights, he wrote:
The Crisis says, first your Country, then your Rights! . . . Certain honest thinkers among us hesitate at that last sentence. They say it is all well to be idealistic, but is it not true that while we have fought our country's battles for one hundred fifty years, we have not gained our rights? No, we have gained them rapidly and effectively by our loyalty in time of trial.
Five thousand Negroes fought in the Revolution; the result was the emancipation of slaves in the North and abolition of the African slave trade. At least three

thousand Negro soldiers and sailors fought in the War of 1812; the result was the enfranchisement of the Negro in many Northern States and the beginning of a strong movement for general emancipation. Two hundred thousand Negroes enlisted in the Civil War, and the result was the emancipation of four million slaves, and the enfranchisement of the black man. Some ten thousand Negroes fought in the Spanish-American War, and in the twenty years ensuing since that war, despite many set backs, we have doubled or quadrupled our accumulated wealth.2
There was little doubt among Negroes during World War I that the record of the loyalty and courage of their soldiers would be preserved in France and that the peace would be followed by gains in status and opportunity similar to those listed by DuBois for wars past. War gave them a renewed opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty and patriotism. Their full support would bring its own reward.
In World War I the bulk of the 404,348 Negro troops (including 1,353 commissioned officers, 9 field clerks, and 15 Army nurses) were in the Services of Supply-in quartermaster, stevedore, and pioneer infantry units. Two infantry divisions, the 92d and 93d, were formed and sent to France. The four Regular regiments were assigned to defensive positions in the continental United States and its island territories.
The 93d Division was not a true division but four separate infantry regiments without trains or artillery. These regiments, three of them National Guard, were assigned to the French, reorganized according to French tables, and used as integral parts of French divisions on the Western Front. They operated in Champagne, the Vosges, and in the Oise-Aisne offensive from the early summer of 1918 to the end of the war. The 92d Division, largely made up of draftees, spent fifty-one days in a "quiet" and two days in an active sector in France. One of its regiments, the 368th Infantry, was used for liaison between the French and American armies at the beginning of the Argonne offensive while the remainder of the division was in reserve. After five days the regiment, having experienced considerable disorder and confusion, was withdrawn from the line. On 10 and 11 November, the whole 92d Division was sent into action with the other three front-line divisions of the U.S. Second Army to attack the second Hindenburg Line.
Both the 92d and 93d Divisions had Negro officers in junior grades but were otherwise generally commanded by white officers. The 93d's National Guard regiments also had Negro field grade officers, but with the exception of one regiment totally staffed with Negroes (except for its commander in the last months of the war) few remained assigned throughout the war. Both divisions experienced considerable shifting of Negro and white officers among their various units, with many Negro officers being eliminated.
In assessments of Negro participation in World War I, the two infantry divisions got the bulk of public and official

attention both during and after the war. Their employment and conduct produced a fog of reports, rumors, and legends which grew and changed with the passage of time. The Negroes' view of their participation was considerably at variance with that of the Army's senior commanders and of white officers of Negro units. Both views influenced heavily the developing attitudes of the public and the Army toward the participation of Negro troops in future emergencies. Both views had continuing importance, for many of the Army's senior commanders of World War II were the younger generals and field grade officers of World War I and many of the leading Negro protagonists and spokesmen of World War II were the Negro officers and enlisted men of World War I. Both had memories coming from direct experience or from the accounts of their contemporaries. The two wars were not separated by so long a span of years that one did not directly influence the other.
Praise in the Press
During World War I itself, few weeks passed without a detailed reporting of the bravery of American Negro soldiers in the nation's press. Nationally circulated magazines carried feature articles on Negro fighters abroad and the Negro journals quoted from the great metropolitan papers with approval. The United Press reported:

American Negro troops proved their value as fighters in the line east of Verdun on June 12 . . . . The Germans attempted a raid in that sector but were completely repulsed by the Negroes. The Boches began a terrific bombardment at one minute after midnight (throwing over between 3,000 and 4,000 shells from guns ranging in size from 67 to 340 millimeters). The bombardment was concentrated on small areas. Many of the shells made holes from ten to fifteen feet across.

In the midst of this inferno the Negroes coolly stuck to their posts, operating machine guns and automatic rifles and keeping up such a steady barrage that the German infantry failed to penetrate the American lines. The Americans miraculously sustained only two wounded.3
Confirmation of the skill and courage of Negro soldiers was reported in other ways. The news of Pvts. Henry Johnson and Needham Roberts, of the 369th Infantry (New York National Guard), who together put to flight a German raiding party, killing or wounding twenty or more of the enemy, was carried in newspapers all over the country and became a subject for commendatory editorials. The Boston Post, under the heading NO COLOR LINE THERE, commented: "In the service of democracy there is no such distinction. General Pershing's late report places on the roll of honor the names of two soldiers of one of our colored regiments, Privates Johnson and Roberts . . . . This is the true ideal of service. No matter what the color of the skin, we all recognize it." And the Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegram said, quoting General Grant's Civil War comment: " `The Colored troops fought nobly.' That was more than half a century ago. They `fought nobly' in the plains, in the islands of the Pacific and the Atlantic, wherever they have been called upon to fight . . . . And

now in France they are living up to the reputation they have won on other, far distant fields." 4 When their unit returned, Johnson and Roberts were the subjects of laudatory newspaper and wire service interviews read all over the country.
Interest in the Negro units continued high. A correspondent of the New York Times wrote of one Negro unit:
The regiment's inspiration to great deeds on the front was explained by a Negro lieutenant.
"One of my men came to me several days ago," he said, "and asked me why I had joined the army. He reminded me that I was above draft age and he wanted me to tell him what I was fighting for. I told him I was fighting for what the flag meant to the Negroes in the United States. I told him I was fighting because I wanted other oppressed people to know the meaning of democracy and enjoy it. I told him that millions of Americans fought for four years for us Negroes to get it and now it was only right that we should fight for all we were worth to help other people get the same thing ....
"I told him that now is our opportunity to prove what we can do. If we can't fight and die in this war just as bravely as white men, then we don't deserve an equality with white men, and after the war we better go back home and forget about it all . . . ." 5
When the French Government awarded the Croix de Guerre to three of the regiments of the 93d Division, to a company of the fourth regiment, and to the 1st Battalion of the 367th Infantry, 92d Division, each award was chronicled in the press. The Literary Digest summed up opinion on the award to the 369th Infantry:
Exceptional tho the award of the coveted French War Cross may be, the deeds of valor by which this negro regiment won it are less exceptional than typical of the way in which all our colored troops meassured up to the demands of the war. This is the verdict of newspaper correspondents and of soldiers invalided home from the Western Front. Survivors of the fighting now arriving in New York have "nothing but praise for the colored troops," writes a reporter in the New York Evening Sun. "They proved their valor on countless occasions, and it was one of the common stories that Jerry feared the `Smoked Yankees' more than any other troops he met." 6
As the troops continued to return home, articles assessing the role of Negro troops in the war began to appear. "Like the Senegalese forces of the French Army," Current History reported, "the black American troops held their own on European battlefields and stood the test of courage, endurance and aggressiveness in moments of the greatest stress. They fought valiantly at Château-Thierry, Soissons, on the Vesle, in Champagne, in the Argonne, and in the final attacks in the Metz region." 7 On the return of the 369th Infantry, first of the Negro regiments to parade

up Fifth Avenue in massed formation, the New York Times wrote: "New York's Negro soldiers, bringing with them from France one of the bravest records achieved by any organization in the war, marched amid waving flags . . . ," and Nicholas Murray Butler, President of Columbia University, offered a resolution reading, "No American soldiers saw harder or more constant fighting and none gave a better account of themselves . . . . When fighting was to be done, this regiment was there." 8 Even the regimental band, "the band that introduced jazz to France," came in for high praise. It was considered one of the four best in the world, ranking with the British Grenadiers, the Garde Republicaine, and the Royal Italian Bands, one journal declared.9
There was praise, too, for the Negro service troops in France, especially for the stevedores, and for the high motivation of Negro draftees. A reporter writing a series on the National Army camps told of a unit of 1,600 men at Camp Lee:
Ten days after they arrived in camp with the first quota last fall, the call came for them to go immediately to France for special service. The call was sudden and unexpected. General Cronkhite [Maj. Gen. Adelbert Cronkhite] knew that the men had not expected to leave this country for several months. He thought that some of 1,600 might have good reasons for not wanting to leave at once, so he called for volunteers from the 5,000 other colored troops who were in camp to fill whatever vacancies there might be in the oversea unit. Every one of the 5,000 volunteered for immediate oversea service. Then the unit was marched to a hall. The general
said that there were volunteers to take the place of any who wished to remain behind. Only 20 percent of the 1,600 availed themselves of the opportunity to stay at home. 10
Under the Surface
While statements of praise presented a highly flattering picture of Negro troops in World War I, the public was not unaware that beneath the surface other rumors were running thick and fast. The 369th Infantry, "characterized by some as `possessing black skins, white souls and red blood,' " The Outlook commented, "ought to silence for all time the slanderous charge that Negroes are cowards and will not fight; and the service which these representatives of their race have rendered in the war to make the world safe for democracy ought to make forever secure for that race in this their native land their right for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.11
Cowardice was not the only charge that worried Negroes at home. During the war other disturbing reports had spread through the larger cities: Negro troops were being abused by their white officers; systematic attempts were being made to "break" and demote Negro officers; American white officers were attempting to import the worst features of color prejudice into France; Negro troops were being employed as "shock troops" in the most dangerous battle zones and as labor troops where the work was hardest. Other rumors of 

Photo: Colonel Young As A Captain
wholesale arrests of Negro officers and enlisted men made the rounds. Many of these allegations were dismissed as German propaganda, and all of them were formally denied by General John J. Pershing.12 But the Houston riot of 1917, involving troops of the ,24th Infantry, was no rumor. Committees were still working in 1919 to reverse the death sentence of the soldiers involved.
As reports came back from Negro soldiers themselves, many of these rumors, especially those dealing with discriminatory treatment of Negro officers and men, revived. During the course of the war, Negroes had expressed two major grievances. One centered on retirement in June 1917 of Col. Charles Young, highest ranking Negro Regular Army officer, on the eve of what many Negroes had expected and hoped would be his appointment to a field command. 13 The other had to do with the formation and staffing of the 92d Division.
It was widely believed that the 92d Division was established by Secretary of War Newton D. Baker and approved by President Woodrow Wilson over the objections of the Army's General Staff. Before it left the country for France, there were rumors that the division had not been given properly selected men and that there were deficiencies in the technical training of both officers and enlisted men. Deficiencies in literate and skilled men might have been remedied by transfers of men from other regiments, but, The Crisis informed its readers, permission to make these transfers had been denied. "Unless this decision is reversed," the magazine predicted, "the Ninety-second Division is bound to be a failure as a unit organization. Is it possible that persons in the War Department wish this division to be a failure?" the magazine asked. 14 After the war, Negroes linked the retirement of Young and the staffing of the 92d as part of the same official strategy. The Army General Staff "knew what Young could have made of

the 92d Division," The Crisis said after his death.15
Young's retirement dashed the high expectations of Negroes, and the colonel soon became a symbol of their disillusion. They pointed out that he was one of the few field grade officers with Pershing in Mexico whom the general had recommended to command militia in the federal service.16 Others subsequently supported the claim that Young was retired "because the army did not want a black general" by quoting white officers who had said as much in public addresses.17
Colonel Young, over the years, attained the stature of a martyred hero. The Negro public became convinced that if Young, with his rank and West Point background, could be treated so, the lot of other Negro officers must have been difficult. Stories of wholesale inefficiency on the part of Negro officers reached the press, but Negroes were frankly skeptical of their accuracy. As early as the spring of 1919, DuBois, who had gone to France immediately after the armistice in search of material for a projected history of the war, concluded: "So the word to acknowledge the Negro stevedore and the fighting black private has gone forth, but the American army is going to return to America determined to disparage the black officer and eliminate him from the army despite his record." 18
The Negroes' version of their part in World War I was that the root of all trouble in the Negro units lay in animosities that developed between American white and Negro troops, and especially in those originating with white American officers. American Army attitudes, as contrasted with French public attitudes, were blamed for developing racial frictions. The American high command refused, according to this view, to regard Negro troops as full fledged American soldiers, whereas the French, unexposed previously to large numbers of Americans, insisted upon treating Negroes as a part of the 1918 Army of Liberation to be accepted in the same manner as any other American troops. Negroes remembered the 92d Division's Bulletin .15, issued at Camp Funston, Kansas, in March 1918. This bulletin urged the men of the division to avoid raising the color question, "NO MATTER HOW LEGALLY CORRECT," arid advised them that "the success of the Division with all that success implies is dependent upon the good will of the public. That public is nine-tenths white. White men made the Division, and they can break it just as easily if it becomes a trouble maker." The bulletin was interpreted as symbolic of the Army's approach to racial matters. Mass meetings were called to demand the resignation of the division's commander. "At no time during his incumbency as the head of the Division was General Ballou [Maj. Gen. Charles C. Ballou] able to regain the confidence

of the colored masses, with whom he had been immensely popular prior to this episode," wrote Emmett J. Scott, assistant to Secretary of War Baker.19
In May 1919, DuBois published a series of war documents, including letters requesting the removal of Negro officers before they had been tested in battle, orders giving evidence of discriminatory treatment, and a copy of a letter written by the 92d Division's chief of staff to a United States senator proposing that never again should a division with Negro officers be organized .20 The publication of these documents renewed again the fears of the Negro public. After the Post Office Department banned from the mails the issue of The Crisis in which the documents were printed, Negroes were certain that they were genuine and that the full facts of the war, as seen by Army officers, were destined to be hidden from the public. They were certain that if the facts were revealed they would show that: (1) Negro soldiers and officers performed well when given a chance to do so; (2) if they did not perform well it was because of faulty white leaders too preoccupied with their own prejudices to perform their military jobs well; and (3) Negro soldiers and officers, especially the latter, performed jobs better than they were credited with doing. Credit had to be withheld, for otherwise there could be no justification for denying full rights and privileges as citizens to Negroes who had won their position as Americans and as capable leaders on the field of battle.
Shortly before DuBois' publication of the war documents, a service magazine expressed its opinion that perhaps mulattoes might make capable officers, able to lead Negro troops, but that it was not satisfied that pure-blooded Negroes had developed sufficient capacity for education and mental discipline for leadership21 Colonel Young, in response, asked if this "surprising generalization of lack of leadership and the capacity of the Negro officer was derived by consultation of the records of the War Department, the press, both white and Negro, and the reports of impartial officers. The black officer feels," he continued, "that there was a prejudgment against him at the outset, and that nearly every move that has been made was for the purpose of bolstering up this prejudgment and discrediting him in the eyes of the world and the men whom he was to lead and will lead in the future." Young proceeded to list French and American decorations won by Negro officers in World War I and to cite examples of pure-blooded Negro officers of the past, such as the Civil War's Maj. Martin Delany and Haiti's Toussaint L'Ouverture.22
Testimonials to the efficiency and good conduct of Negro troops were collected from other American and French officers and from the mayors of French towns. Court-martial figures were cited to disprove charges of misconduct to-


 (Lieutenant Alexander is second from the left, top row.)
ward the French civilian population .23 The loyalty of Negro troops in the face of German propaganda focused upon the racial disadvantages of the Negro in America was described with approval .24 Counterexplanations of the performance of the 92d Division were advanced by Negro junior officers of the division. "The Ninety-Second Division was a tragic failure," two officers wrote. "It was a failure in organization. It was a failure in morale. It was a failure in accomplishment . . . . the Negro division was the object of special victimization, superimposed upon its sacrifice," they bitterly continued.
The evidence advanced by the two officers for their interpretation of the division's "special victimization" was voluminous. The division trained in sections and was never assembled in one place until the last days of the war. It was given "the most ignorant and physically disqualified Negroes in the United States . . . ," with 40 percent of its men

illiterate. Its white officers were unsympathetic to the Negro men and hostile to the Negro officers. They were all Southern "in accordance with, tradition," some even introducing themselves to Negro troops with the announcement that they "had once suckled black mammies' breasts." The model officer held up to the Negroes by the commanding general was 2d Lt. John H. Alexander, who "knew how to stay in his place." 25 The Houston riot of 1917 and the implied threats thereafter demoralized the officer trainees at Des Moines, Iowa. The white instructors at Des Moines, from the Regular units, expected the officer trainees to conduct themselves like the old Regular enlisted men. Commissions were not awarded on the basis of merit, but "they went to those regulars who had given satisfaction as privates and `noncoms.' Very few of those men had even a fair education . . . . They did their best as they saw it. But the unalloyed truth is that commissions were often awarded to those who were more likely to fail than succeed. [One man] won a commission by singing plantation songs." Officers were assigned without regard to training; infantry officers were "indiscriminately" assigned to artillery, machine gun, and other units for which they had no special training. A graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School was sent to the infantry while a senator's butler, "commissioned by graft," went to the heavy artillery.
Training difficulties, the officers' account went on, were slight when compared with the lowering of the division's morale in France. Among other things, it was charged that the men were kept out of schools; leaves were prohibited; rather than training, the men spent their time at police duties; staff officers were changed constantly; white officers were transferred into the division and out again as soon as they had obtained desired promotions; Negro officers were "terrorized" by wholesale arrests and transfers; officers, untrained in the duties of those arms, were assigned to artillery and the engineers, then blamed for having failed; the division went into its sectors without the proper equipment and into the short Argonne engagement without proper briefing, artillery support, rifle grenades, wire cutters, or horses. The enthusiasm of the whole division was dampened by the restrictions placed upon the contacts of the men with French civilians. "The sole charge of the division staff was to make the life of the Negro soldier unendurable." The old Regular Army enlisted men, now officers, assisted in breaking the morale of the division in an effort to "curry favor." There were a few officers whom the men respected; as for the rest, "the division had no trust in them."
The two officers concluded that while the division was distinctly a failure as an organization it could not be considered a combat failure, for it "never had its mettle tried. It cannot be said that it either failed or succeeded in battle. The 368th Infantry was sent 'over the top' for the avowed purpose of demonstrating a failure. For their failure General Ballou should be court-martialed." The division was "crippled" in training; no corps command wanted

it. Yet it cost the United States four million dollars a month, they observed.26
Most writings on World War I by Negro authors had a more moderate approach. That the Negro troops were not given proper equipment or clear orders, that a failure of command and the inexperience of troops were responsible for their showing, that even so the Negro officers and men performed well enough to receive numerous medals and awards these constituted the standard Negro version of World War I. That there was general, though varying, discrimination and unfairness toward Negro troops was an accompanying theme. 27
During the twenties and thirties Negroes became more and more convinced that, if left alone, the Army would contrive in any future war to limit the use of Negroes to labor units and to avoid, if possible, the use of Negro
officers altogether. Some believed that many of their most promising young men in World War I had been assigned to pioneer infantry and stevedore regiments rather than to combat units. They felt that with a little more care and watchfulness the Army might have seen to it that combat units received a larger share of these men, with profit both to the men and to the units. They feared that in another war, instead of demonstrating progress over World War I, the employment of Negro troops might be on a more restricted basis than what they considered it to have been in World War I. They therefore placed more than ordinary emphasis on the importance of combat service and of service under their own officers. In this view they were aided by the normal and natural tendency to consider warfare as the clash of armed divisions on the field of honor rather than as a gigantic economic and logistical struggle in which combat units are but a small part of the total war endeavor. Without heroes in the combat arms, without leaders of their own race, war from the Negro point of view would remain but an extension of the everyday chores which they were accustomed to perform anyway.
The Negro public could not know the extent and nature of reports on Negro officers and troops contained in War Department files, but as memoirs of military leaders appeared after the war this public became convinced that more than a little had gone wrong in the use of Negro troops in World War I. With the accounts of senior officers added to, if not exactly agreeing with, those of their own troops, the picture of Negro participation in World War I became a clouded one.

In 1925, when Maj. Gen. Robert L. Bollard, commander of the American Second Army, published his memoirs, the controversy about Negro participation in the war reopened once again.28 From his wartime diary, General Bollard quoted: "Poor Negroes! They are hopelessly inferior. I've been talking with them individually about their division's success. That success is not troubling them. With everyone feeling and saying that they are worthless as soldiers, they are going on quite unconcernedly." And, of the final attack: "The poor 92d Negroes Diary, November 11th] wasted time and dawdled where they did attack, and at some places where they should have attacked, never budged at all." 29 As fighting troops, General Bollard concluded, Negroes were simply failures. He declared: "If you need combat soldiers, and especially if you need them in a hurry, don't put your time upon Negroes. The task of making soldiers of them and fighting with them, if there are any white people near, will be swamped in the race question. If racial uplift or racial equality is your purpose, that is another matter." 30
As successive memoirs appeared in later years, uncertainty and recriminatory doubts about the entire career of Negro soldiers in World War I gained ascendancy over the optimistic reception of the first news from the front.31
Negroes believed that an impartial account would reverse these reports. They suspected that all the unfavorable narratives about Negro participation in World War I were the result of a planned attack aimed at discrediting their courage. This idea took root in the Negro mind and flowered there. Negroes had volunteered their best college trained youths for officer training. They refused to believe that the generation to whom they looked for the future could have been responsible for the problems of Negro combat units. Hostile forces within the Army were to blame. "Nothing would have been more fatal to their plans than a successful Negro regiment officered by Negroes," DuBois wrote in 1925. "The Negro haters entrenched in the Army at Washington began, therefore, a concerted campaign [of slander]. Bollard voices the re-vamped lie which was plotted in 1918." 32 This notion, firmly believed in many Negro circles, conditioned the attitudes of young Negroes toward the Army for a full generation, for it was not allowed to die by Negroes nor was it killed off by any word of revision from the Army.
An Army Postwar View
The Army's judgment on the future of Negroes as a part of America's man-

power available for military use in time of war proceeded from quite different premises. Soon after World War I, Army organization and personnel agencies determined that a definite policy on the employment of Negroes was needed if the best use was to be made of all available manpower in time of war. Such a policy was nonexistent in 1917. With little access to the more technical products of social research, Army planners generally relied upon the testimony of World War I commanders and traditional public attitudes in judging the capabilities of Negroes and in determining possibilities for the use of Negro manpower in time of war. Of the sources available to the Army, World War I testimony was perhaps the most important, though traditional attitudes played their part.
Most of the testimony from World War I was contained in personal documents submitted to the War Department and the Army War College by commanders of the 92d Division and, to a lesser extent, by commanders of the separate regiments of the 93d Division. These documents, remaining in typescript, were seldom available to more than a few officers. Through frequent repetition in successive studies and conferences, however, specific excerpts became relatively familiar. Other types of testimony appeared in commercially published memoirs and reminiscences. A third class, of increasing importance through the years, was the oral account -the personal reminiscence or anecdote -passed on in officers clubs, schools, and at social gatherings. Only the first group is pertinent here, since it was upon this testimony, gathered within a short time after the close of the war, that both initial and subsequent attitudes affecting planning were primarily based.
Most of the testimony came from regimental and higher commanders of units of the 92d Division, the only full sized Negro combat division with the American Expeditionary Forces. This testimony was almost uniformly condemnatory so far as the performance of Negro combat troops, and particularly of Negro officers, was concerned. Infantry commanders were especially convinced that the training and performance of their troops had been a failure. Commanders of supporting units, such as engineers and field artillery, reported relatively greater success, but they too felt that combat duties, especially under Negro officers, should not be assigned to Negro troops. Commanders of regiments of the 93d Division, whose experience was with combat troops organized in separate regiments fighting with French divisions, made similar comments on the inadvisability of employing Negroes as combat troops, especially under Negro officers, although their reports showed that their own organizations were relatively more successful than those of the 92d Division. No formal comments were received from the officers of the four Regular Negro regiments, for these units were not sent to France. The testimony was therefore confined to units of volunteers, draftees, and National Guardsmen.33
The commanding officer of the 368th Infantry, 92d Division, for example, felt that Negro soldiers were "absolutely dependent" upon the leadership of white officers. Since, he said, combat units may expect heavy officer casualties, "I

consider the Negro should not be used as a combat soldier." The commanders of the 371st and 372d Infantry, 93d Division,34 agreed, saying that in a future war Negroes should be used principally in labor organizations. The 372d's commander added that if they had to be used in combat organizations, "then combatant officers should be all white also the non-commissioned officers." The commander of the 365th Infantry, 92d Division, along with others, added a further provision, "a period of training at least twice as long as is necessary in the training of white troops otherwise they should be used as pioneer or labor troops." Frequently, comments included a statement such as that of the commander of the 367th Infantry, 92d Division: "As fighting troops, the negro must be rated as second class material, this due primarily to his inferior intelligence and lack of mental and moral qualities." Others, like the commanding general of the 92d Division, recommended that no Negro units larger than a regiment be formed in the future,35 and some, including the division's chief of staff, felt that a separate extra Negro regiment might be added to every division, "actually making it a service regiment."
The emphasis on the necessity for white leadership arose from the conviction, almost universally held, that, with
few exceptions, the Negro officer was a failure in World War I. The commanding general of the 92d Division's 183d Brigade, for one, said, "Negro officers did not take proper care of their men. They not only lacked initiative but lacked standing with their own men." In the judgment of the commander of the 184th Brigade, "The Negro as an officer is a failure, and this applies to all classes of Negro officers, whether from the Regular Army or from the Officers' Training Camp." The division's chief of staff did not remember "in thirteen months service a single report coming from a Negro officer that ever gave sufficient information to base any plan thereon and practically every report had to be checked up by some white officer."
The reported experience of those units which replaced their Negro officers with white officers apparently proved the point fully. "After the Negro lieutenants of the regiment were replaced by white the improvement was such that its efficiency was but little less than that of the average white engineer regiment," the commander of the 317th Engineers, 92d Division, reported. The commander of the 372d concluded that: "The replacement of the combatant colored officers of the 372d Infantry by white officers had, for its effect, a better state of morale and discipline throughout the regiment; better instruction and better tactical control . . . . Its work in sector warfare there under white officers was far more satisfactory than it had been two months previous under colored officers." Commanders of other regiments in which white officers replaced Negroes expressed similar opinions.

It was clear that most commanders of Negro combat troops in World War I had little to recommend for the employment of Negro troops in a future war except labor duties under white supervision. Yet many admitted mitigating circumstances in judging the performance of the combat units and some indicated that the bare recorded facts of combat did not tell the whole story. General Ballou, the commander of the 92d Division, wrote:
The Secretary of War gave personal attention to the selection of the white officers of the higher grades, and evidently intended to give the Division the advantage of good white officers. This policy was not continued by the War Department . . . the 92d . . . was made the dumping ground for discards, both white and black. Some of the latter were officers who had been eliminated as inefficient, from the so-called 93d Division . . . .
In the last battle of the war the Division did some very aggressive work, so far as the companies were concerned, and the same could have been done in the Argonne had there not been too much eagerness to get the negroes out while their credit was bad, as many preferred it should remain.
The Colonel of one regiment came to me, at the request of his officers, to beg me to send them to the front, and pledging me to a man that they would go to the rear only by my order, or on a stretcher. Those men would have been dangerous at that time, and ought not to have been humiliated by being sent to the rear.
To officer a Division in which the best possible leadership was required, only one half as many students were summoned to the training camp as were summoned from which to select the officers of a white Division. [College degrees were required for admission to the white camp but] only high school educations were required for . . . the colored . . . and in many cases these high school educations would have been a disgrace to any grammar school.
For the parts of a machine requiring the finest steel, pot metal was provided.36 Field grade officers commented on training and personnel problems:
It was my experience at Camp Meade that there was a tendency to use the Negro for special fatigue in road building or other improvements. Where a single Negro unit is placed in a white divisional camp these things have to be guarded against . . . . While I was promoted out of the 92d Division a few days after its arrival in France,
it was my opinion that its being scattered in different camps in the U.S. had materially effected the training and formation of the Divisional Staff. The division could not expect to have the same team play as one which had trained together at one camp.37
. . . in my opinion the negro race did not take advantage of the opportunity offered them and send their leaders into the war as officers. Many of the negro officers had been barbers, waiters and had earned a living in similar capacities before the war. There were negroes with whom I came into contact, civilians, who were men of ability but the occasions were rare.38
No matter what mitigating circumstances were advanced, the general conclusion was that Negro troops could not be employed satisfactorily in combat units unless such careful selection, intensified training, and superior leadership as had not been forthcoming in World War I could be provided. Since such selection and such leadership, whether white or Negro, would be limited, the

bulk of Negro troops should be used in service units. Of combat units, those of supporting types could best use Negroes, though a proportion would have to be placed in front-line organizations. These should be confined to small units if a satisfactory method of employing them in conjunction with larger white units could be achieved.
The full testimony and experiences of World War I commanders nevertheless left considerable room for doubt as to the complete validity of any but the most general conclusions, for even those commanders who reported least success indicated that in any given unit careful planning and execution of a different order from what had been common in World War I might have produced different results. Reports from the more successful units suggested that the picture was not universally bleak. Officers of certain of the infantry units, while recommending changes in organization and employment, did not always agree with the general conclusion that there were inherent difficulties barring the way to the formation of successful Negro combat units. The white commander of the only one of the eight Negro infantry regiments in France to continue with all Negro officers, except himself, wrote, "I found the men of the 370th Infantry generally amenable to discipline, exceedingly uncomplaining under hardship, and the majority willing and ready to follow an officer anywhere and at any time . . . . Of course there was a large amount of illiteracy, which complicated the non-commissioned officer problem." Some of the Negro officers, he reported, were good, but the majority showed a "lack of sense of responsibility and of initiative." That the regiment functioned as well as it did, he added, was "largely due to the influence of a few good men, [officers who] were loyal, hardworking and reliable men . . . ." 39
He felt that a large error had been made in training Negro officers in separate classes:
. . . men of the two races should be compared and if the Negro suffers from the comparison, he should not be commissioned. As I understand the question, what the progressive Negro desires today is the removal of discrimination against him; that this can be accomplished in a military sense I believe to be largely possible, but not if men of the two races are segregated.
In saying the foregoing, I appreciate the tremendous force of the prejudice against association between Negroes and whites, but my experience has made me believe that the better element among the Negroes desires the removal of the restriction rather than the association itself.40
The commanding officer of the 371st Infantry, the only all-draft Negro regiment staffed completely with white officers from the beginning, felt that with white leadership "a small number" of Negro infantry divisions could be adequately trained and used by the army "as shock divisions . . . to equalize the losses among the races." He would not deny commissions to Negroes, for he believed that incentives to enlisted men were essential, but he would confine the use of Negro officers to noncombat units and would insist on "absolute equality of requirements between Negroes and white candidates for promotion." Initiative, he declared, while rarer among Negroes than among whites, was "not wholly lacking," and he then cited ex-

amples from his regiment to prove his point. The examples included a company clerk who went forward to the battlefield from the rear echelon when he learned that his company had lost all its officers, and a linesman who, after being seriously wounded, worked several more hours to keep the telephone lines open, until he dropped from exertion and loss of blood .41
The conviction that the Army, instead of limiting the use of Negro combat troops, should attempt to increase their efficiency was strongly expressed in some of the reports. To heighten their self identification as a vital part of the Army team some observers recommended that smaller Negro units be attached to or integrated into larger white units. One commander wrote:
Personally I think it is a waste of time to consider whether we shall have colored troops and colored officers. It is quite possible that in the future as in the past circumstances will arise to compel us to have both.
I think our past policy of massing them by themselves has not been wise. I believe under conditions as they are this policy should be modified by doing away with the colored regiments and putting a colored unit in every regiment, said unit not to be smaller than a company and not larger than a battalion. I believe in having colored officers for these colored units to the extent that suitable colored personnel is available under the conditions for qualifying for the position of an Army officer.42
Although other commentators had similar reactions, the adverse testimony of most officers of the 92d and 93d Divisions was so preponderant that it was difficult for Army General Staff officers to come to any conclusion other than the one widely held among them in the period between wars: Negro combat troops in World War I failed to come up to Army standards. If such a failure was to be prevented in a future war, plans that took into account the testimony of World War I commanders and avoided the organizational errors of World War I had to be laid to determine the best and most efficient means of employing Negro troops in a time of national emergency.


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