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Soldiers' Stories | Black Soldiers: Individual Stories


Individual Soldiers

(Click here for a printable PDF of full bibliography with embedded links)

Adeleke, Tunde (ed.) (2020) Martin R. Delany's Civil War and Reconstruction: a primary source reader. Available in print

To engage Martin Robison Delany (1812-1885) is to wrestle with almost all the complexities and paradoxes of nineteenth-century black leadership in one public intellectual. S senior historian Tunde Adeleke has compiled here letters, speeches, contemporary nineteenth-century newspaper articles, and reports written by and about Delany. These vital primary sources cover his Civil War and Reconstruction career in South Carolina and include key critical reactions to Delany's ideas and writings from his contemporaries.

Bolger, Daniel P. (2016). Behind Chicago Park’s Name, A Story of Bravery. Army Magazine, 66(4), 63–64. Available via eJournal subscription

The article focuses on the military service of Milton Lee Olive III, a medal of honor recipient. The author offers details of Olive's service in the U.S. military which includes his recruitment in the airborne infantry in 1964 and his deployment in Vietnam where he died in the line of duty after his heroic stand against the Viet Cong soldiers. A brief overview of Olive's life before he was recruited in the service is also discussed.

Congressional Medal of Honor Society. (n.a.) Stories of sacrifice: Cornelius H. Charlton. Available online

A short biography of Sgt. Charlton with photo.

Earley, Charity A. (1989) One woman's Army: a Black officer remembers the WAC. Available in print

When America entered World War II, the surge of patriotism was not confined to men. Congress authorized the organization of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (later renamed Women's Army Corps) in 1942, and hundreds of women were able to join in the war effort. Charity Edna Adams became the first black woman commissioned as an officer. Black members of the WAC had to fight the prejudices not only of males who did not want women in their "man's army," but also of those who could not accept blacks in positions of authority or responsibility, even in the segregated military.

Henig, G. S. (2009, June). Glory at Battery Wagner: William H. Carney became the First Black Soldier to earn the Medal of Honor. Civil War Times, 48(3), 36+. Available via eJournal subscription

 In Carney's case, it would take nearly four decades before he finally got his medal, on May 23, 1900. By that time other African Americans had already received the decoration, but since Carney's actions dated back to July 18, 1863, predating heroic acts by all other black honorees, he is regarded as the first man of color in U.S. history to earn the Medal of Honor.

Jackson, D. W., Smith, J. H., & Sisson, E. H. (2002). Lt. Henry O. Flipper, American hero. (Black History Month). The Officer, 78(1), 124+. Available via eJournal subscription

Born a slave, Lieutenant Flipper was the first African American to graduate West Point. Graduation was in 1877; in 1881 he was court-martialed and dismissed from the Army on racially motivated charges. Nevertheless, he continued to put his country first. He died in 1940, unsuccessful in his fight to clear his name. In 1977, however, the Army granted him a posthumous honorable discharge. A procession of honors followed from West Point, his home state of Georgia, and culminating in 1999 in his receipt of the first posthumous presidential pardon.

Keith, Phil and Clavin, T. (2019) All blood runs red: the legendary life of Eugene Bullard – boxer, pilot, soldier, spy. Available in print

Bullard joined the French Foreign Legion, where he went on to become the first Black fighter pilot in history. After the war, he returned to Paris a decorated war hero and leveraged his celebrity to become a fixture of Parisian nightclub society; he counted Picasso, Josephine Baker and Man Ray as friends. At the dawn of World War II, he became a French spy, drawing Nazi soldiers to his club and conducting crucial surveillance for the Allies. After fleeing Paris he joined the Resistance before being safely smuggled onto a ship bound for America. He lived out the rest of his life in Harlem with his daughters, working as an assistant for Louis Armstrong.

Kilroy, David P. (2003) For race and country: the life and career of Colonel Charles Young. Available in print

Charles Young served as the highest-ranking African American officer in the U.S. Army until 1917. During his career, he served on the western frontier, in the Philippines, and in Mexico, and as military attaché to both Haiti and Liberia. Young was also an accomplished linguist, a musician and composer, a published author, and an active member of the black intelligentsia.

Levine, Robert S. (ed.). (2003) Martin R. Delany: a documentary reader. Available in print

Delany (1812-85) has been called the "Father of Black Nationalism," but his extraordinary career also encompassed the roles of abolitionist, physician, editor, explorer, politician, army officer, novelist, and political theorist. Through nearly 100 documents--approximately two-thirds of which have not been reprinted since their initial nineteenth-century publications--it traces the full sweep of his fascinating career.

Matthews, Jeffrey J. (2019) Colin Powell: imperfect patriot. Available in print

This biography demonstrates that Powell’s decades-long development as an exemplary subordinate is crucial to understanding his astonishing rise from a working-class immigrant neighborhood to the highest echelons of military and political power.

Perkins, Stephen P. (2017). A Career Composed of Challenges, Hope. Army Magazine, 67(6), 36–37. Available via eJournal subscription

The article features retired Major General Oliver W. Dillard, the fifth black general officer of the U.S. Army. It discusses Dillard's experience of leaving the security of Fort Dix, New Jersey for postwar occupation duty in Japan in 1950 where he found racial challenges as well as serving in Vietnam at the provincial level.

Shellum, Brian (2006) Black cadet in a White bastion: Charles Young at West Point. Available in print

This biography of Young's years at West Point chronicles the enormous challenges that Young faced and provides a valuable window into life at West Point in the 1880s. Academic difficulties, hazing, and social ostracism dogged him throughout his academy years. He succeeded through a combination of focused intellect, hard work, and a sense of humor. By graduation, he had made white friends, and his motivation and determination had won him the grudging respect of many of his classmates and professors.

Shellum, Brian (2010) Black officer in a Buffalo Soldier regiment: the military career of Charles Young. Available in print and eBook

An unheralded military hero, Charles Young (1864-1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first African American national park superintendent, the first black U.S. military attacheĢ, the first African American officer to command a Regular Army regiment, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death.

Sterner, D. (2018, August). Milton Le Olive III: first Black Soldier to receive Medal of Honor in Vietnam. Vietnam, 31(2), 64. Available via eJournal subscription

On Oct. 22,1965, helicopters inserted Olive's unit into dense jungle outside Phu Cuong, near Saigon, where it was engaged by a large enemy force. The Americans returned fire, forcing the enemy into a retreat, and Stanford rallied his men to give chase. But Stanford, Yrineo, Olive and two other soldiers ran into an ambush. "Look out, lieutenant, grenade," Olive shouted, as one landed in the middle of the group. And then the private threw his body over the explosive, giving his life to save four comrades.