:.VA TIMES SAT,, FEBRUARY 27, 1982
(Continued frm Page 17).
American Wars, the frontier was expanding rapidly
Westward. The army was used to assure the safety
of Americans, moving westward, from Indian
tribes. This duty Tell torgf iy to the black regiments.
' Little known is the fact that fourteen Medals of
Honor weic won , b biacks in the period , from
1869-1890. Four of these medals' were won by a
group known as the Seminole Negro Indian Scouts;
men who had lied to Mexico after the Seminole
Wars. They had been recruited by Major Zenas
Blis of lite 25th Infantry and served under Lt. John
Bullis. In 26 major expeditions against the Indians,
not one death was experienced by theScouts. They
were without peer during this period.
The black troops, called Buffalo Soldiers by the
Indians, were involved in all phases of opening the
West . They guarded the mails and rails, opened new
roads, mapped and charted new territories and
fought the Indians.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH SPECIAL SECTION, PART HI
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Harriet Tubman, master spy
Spanish American War "
- "Back Home" (the Northeast and South), things
were nott faring well for the blacks. Stronger Black
Codes were being enforced throughout the nation, '
the KKK was ruling some municipal and state
" governments, and suffrage was almost non
existent. 1 ' ; ;
- The entrance into the Spanish-American War saw
. the usage of the four Black Regiments: Despite the -strict
isolation from their white counterparts (ex-'
cept in the thick of battle), and the harassment they
suffered enroute to battta, ' . Col. Theodore
Roosevelt, commander of the Rough Riders; was
impressed with their spirit and ability.- Later,
Roosevelt was to declare that the black soldier was a
malingerer in battle; for, at one point, he asserted
that he had to order them to the front a gun-point.
He did not point out the black soldiers were obeying .
orders to move to the rear to get supplies or remove
casualties. This information was backed up by
white soldiers, but Roosevelt never retracted his
In addition to the Black Regulars, .several units'.
, from state militias (National Guard) were activated.
Among them were: the 9th Ohio, commanded by
West Pointer Charles Young; the 3rd Alabama In
fantry; the 6th Virginia Infantry, thousands from
.Indiana and Company L of the 6th Massachusetts.
Eight men of color won the Congressional Medal ",
of Honor in the war in Cuba; and these Smoked ,
Yankees, as they came to be called by the Cubans,
were the last to receive the Medal until the Korean
At the end of the Spanish American War,
volunteers were mustered out of the service. Any
vacancies in the regular army ranks were quickly
filled by volunteer veterans. Not so were the vacan
cies in the commissioned officer ranks. The practice
of promoting black volunteer non-commissioned
officers to officer status during a crisis and return
ing them to their original appointment (or civilian
status) was renewed. However, white volunteers
were actively recruited as officers in the regular ar
my. This device of passing over qualified blacks was
perceived as a deliberate act of racism by the black
community. In. order to prevent anger from erup
ting into violence, John R. Lynch was appointed a
captain in the regular army as the first and only
black paymaster. Benjamin O. Davis, elevated to
the lieutenancy as a volunteer in the Spanish
American War, was reduced to sergeant with' the
9th cavalry, a position he had prior held. After
Lynch's appointment as paymaster, Davis was com
missioned a second lieutenant. Corporal John
Green of the 24th Infantry passed the exam for
lieutenancy, and was so appointed. .All three ap-
tar - . s
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pointments were made in 1901; there would be no
more for sixteen years.
Matters steadily worsened for blacks both in and
out of the service. The infamous Brownsville
(Texas) affairs in 1903 found 167 black soldiers
guilty of an ugly accusation, even after proof was
offered to the corurary. All were given dishonorable
discharges. Among the dismissed soldiers, who
were part of the 25th Infantry Regiment, were six
Medal of Honor winners, and thirteen who were
cited for bravery.
After several years of debate concerning the man
ner in which the matter was handled, a new court ot
inquiry of five white Southern officers, was formed
in 1909. About half of the dishonored soldiers were
called upon to testify, the remainder were dismiss
ed. Arbitrarily, the army reversed its call on four
teen of the 167. It Would not be until 1972 that the
balance of the men would be vindicated. At that
time, only one bitter, elderly gentleman, Dorse
Willis of Minneapolis, was living.
When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, once
more blacks answered the cause. Once more they
sought a chance to prove that the black man was
willing to sacrifice his life, if necessary, to achieve
his rights as an American citizen.
Black citizens demanded a chance to prove their
patriotism, and a form of appeasement was of
fered. The black unit of the Washington, D.C. Na
tional Guard was called upon to secure important ;
sections of the Nation's Capital; building important-,
to the government (including the White House),
water and electricity supplies,-bridges and roads. '
This action; by the . government was greeted with
group was indicated by the formal opening of such
a camp in Des Moines, Iowa in June, 1917. In Oc
tober, 639 were graduated as officers. The total
number of blacks commissioned as officers during
the war was 1353..
As the highest ranking black officer at the start of
V t w if MUM Nil .f k A"- '-.. I
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,A lobbying conirtiittee was also formed to seek
training for blacks as officers. The success of this
William Tillman commandered a ship captured
by The Confederates
Recruiin poster during the Civil War
YOUn DOG HEEDS
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wthhtj mm2 Miwnj
- the pet care people
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3137 Fayctteville Street
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Success doesn't come easy in our comDetitiw
' society. It takes talent, guts, perseverance and '
hard work to rise to the top.
But everybody-regardless of race, creed, color
or sex-deserves a chance to make it on t heir own.
The National Urban League is dedicated to achieving
inai. ana mere are tnings you can cl: ' o
T' find (.tit exalv what you can
,v't 1 cal Urban 1 -eat
. to oui . ji!-. j n....dtjuarcers.'
National Urban League
500 East 62nd Street" (
New. York, NY. 10021
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