Harlem Hellfighters (World War I)

the Harlem Hellfighters World War one the 360 9th Infantry Regiment was constituted on June 2nd 1913 in the New York Army National Guard at the 15th New York Infantry Regiment and would become known as the first african-american regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War one the regimen of African Americans and African Puerto Ricans was organized On June 29th 1916 at New York City and called into Federal service in 1917 soon they would prepare for overseas service in Europe and by December they had arrived in France a white officer Colonel William Hayward who was one of the original organizers of the 369th would continue to lead them in France he respected his troops and dedicated himself to their well-being on March 1st 1918 the 15th Infantry Regiment the New York Army National Guard was redesignated at the 369th infantry regiment numbers higher than 200 were usually for troops who had been drafted but as they had volunteered this was an insult while they awaited a decision as to whether they would get to see combat duty they continued Labor’s service duties the regiment was finally given the opportunity to fight on the front lines by General John J Pershing in April 1918 they were assigned to the French army because of racial segregation in the US Army and discrimination regarding white soldiers performing combat duty with black soldiers unlike the United States the French did not racially segregated or have such concerns they also welcomed any allied health they could get as they became short on troops the American weapons and equipment of the 369th were also exchanged for French equivalents such as the Berthier rifle and the adrian helmet under the French army the Harlem Hellfighters would soon enter the trenches in a combative role May 1918 would see a famous event in the history of the Harlem Hellfighters as private Henry Johnson and private Needham Roberts sat in a hole in the ground in the dark on guard duty listening for the a sniper fired at Johnson and then later he heard wire cutters clipping through the barbed wire defenses a German patrol around 24 men started attacking Roberts and Johnson were both injured outnumbered they lobbed grenades and fired their rifles at the enemy Johnson’s French rifle jammed from the wrong ammunition so he resorted to using it as a club on a German soldier who is trying to take Roberts as a prisoner Johnson battled on with his last resort a bolo knife used against the German trying to kill him eventually the Germans retreated when Johnson’s reinforcements were approaching reports say Johnson killed four German soldiers and wounded several others before passing out from 21 wounds these actions became famous in the press and Johnson and Roberts received Frances highest award for bravery the quadrille guerre on September 26 1918 the Harlem Hellfighters saw combat during the meuse-argonne offensive they captured a town held by Germans on the first day with heavy fighting reducing 700 men to 150 on September 30th they captured a key railroad junction which cost the regiment further casualties that night they were then relieved by the French from the front lines in October as the German army was on the retreat the Harlem Hellfighters and the French army pushed forward they became the first allied unit to reach the Rhine River on November 17th 1918 overall the 369th spent 191 days in combat longer than any other American unit in the war never lost a foot of ground and never took a man prisoner the nickname of Hellfighters was given to them by the Germans because of this fact 200,000 African American soldiers would serve overseas with most suffering back-breaking labor and non-competitive roles while combat troops were around 42,000 the actions of the 369th regiment in the First World War would change the American public opinion on African American soldiers and paved the way for future black soldiers this video was made possible by American high school and online accredited school for grades six through 12 American high school is an excellent alternative to the traditional high school if you want to home-school or study online they have a lesson on the Harlem Hellfighters which helped us research this episode click the link in the description below to learn more about the famed regiment of World War one
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7A8eWsFXH5g

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