By: Mark Holtsberry 

369th “Harlem Hell Fighters” 

I do know this isn’t a Paulding County unit, however this unit caught my consideration. This World Warfare 1 unit was initially the fifteenth New York (Coloured) Infantry Regiment, a Nationwide Guard unit. June 2, 1913, a invoice authorizing an all black Nationwide Guard regiment lastly handed the New York State Legislature, and Governor William Sulzer signed it into legislation. 

This unit existed in title solely till June of 1916, when Governor Charles Whitman appointed his former marketing campaign supervisor, William Hayward, to function the items Commanding Officer. Hayward had been a Colonel within the Nebraska Nationwide Guard. Haywood thought that incorporating a black into the officer ranks would enhance recruitment. This plan didn’t work. The aim of a number of thousand males was arduous to get. 

By summer season’s finish of 1916, solely a fraction of that quantity had enlisted. However the change of music from ragtime to jazz, began to peak an curiosity within the formation of the 369th Regimental Band. Haywood raised over $10,000.00 to fund the band. 

On April 1917 america declared conflict on Germany. Could 1917, the fifteenth New York reported to Camp Peekskill, New York for rifle coaching. July 1917, the fifteenth was formally mustered into service and arrange camp at Poughkeepsie, New York. The unit, as a complete, knew that they’d be stored separate from the remainder of the items. Working example, greater than two dozen States Nationwide Guard items marched down Fifth Avenue in New York in a farewell parade. This items got the title, “Rainbow Division”. The fifteenth had been instructed they might not march as, “black was not a coloration of the rainbow”. Because the fifteenth was despatched to Camp Wadsworth in Spartanburg, South Carolina, harassment and verbal abuse grew to become a matter of routine. Haywood made a direct plea to Washington D.C. to ship the fifteenth to France. The fifteenth was despatched to Saint Nazaire, France,  December 1917, 100 miles from the entrance. They had been used for engineering tasks,( digging dust, stacking provides, camp duties). Haywood appealed to Basic John J. Pershing for the fifteenth for reassignment to fight responsibility. 

By 1917, Britain and France had been being pushed to the brink, Basic Pershing lastly allowed the fifteenth, which was redesigned to the 369th and connected to the sixteenth Division of the 4th military underneath Henri Gouraud. Because the French had already intergraded black colonial troops into their military for many years. The 369th discovered acceptance within the French Army. The 369th was ordered to the entrance within the Champagne area, on the western fringe of the Argonne Forest. From April 1918, the 369th spent 191 days in fight, an extended span than another U.S. unit. It was the German’s who named the unit “Hellfighters”. July to October 1918, the 369th suffered murderous casualties from Germany artillery fireplace. The 369th was assigned to the French 161st Division and took part within the Muese-Argonne offensive. On October 1918, the French 161st Division, battered and mauled, had been relieved and withdrawn to the rear. After November 11, 1918, the 369th transitioned to occupation responsibility. Hayword  would personally lead the primary unit to the Rhine River. The unit was ordered to march west and board trains for Brest. This order took greater than a month to succeed in the coast, they marched over 100 miles! 

By February 1, 1919, the 369th had been on their manner again to america. February 17, 1919, the 369th paraded up Fifth Avenue, displaying its embellished regimental colours to a crowd of a whole bunch of 1000’s. And the band main the best way. The band can be credited with introducing jazz to Europe. The unit was formally demobilized on February 28, 1919. 

…Till Subsequent Time 

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