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Soldiers' Stories | Black Soldiers: Army Experience


The Army Experience

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

Barbeau, Arthur & Florette, H. (1974) The unknown soldiers : Black American troops in World War I. Available in print

The authors’ research has found that Black Soldiers were the subject of discriminatory draft, training, assignment, and leadership policies. Once recruited, they were segregated and refused adequate medical attention.

Biggs, Bradley. (2003). The “Deuce-Four” in Korea. Military Review, 83(5), 56–65. Available via eJournal subscription

Focuses on the African-American soldiers of the 24th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. military who were not given deserved credit for their service rendered in combat in Korea. Discussion on the attack of the U.S. battalion in Yechon in 1950; Racism experienced by the African-American soldiers from the white soldiers.

Bowers, William, Hammond, W., MacGarrigle, G. (1996) Black soldier, white army: the 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea. Available in print

This book offers an unvarnished account of the experiences of the African American 24th Infantry regiment, which was stigmatized for its deficiencies while its accomplishments passed largely into oblivion. The authors reveal that the 24th suffered from a virulent racial prejudice that ate incessantly at the bonds of unit cohesion and that hindered the emergence of effective leadership.

Christian, Garna L. (1995) Black soldiers in Jim Crow Texas, 1899-1917. Available in print

In Jim Crow Texas, black Regular Army units returning victoriously from Cuba and the Philippines collided head-on with local segregation and bigotry. As the soldiers' expectations of dignity and respect met with racial restrictions and indignities from civilian communities, a series of violent episodes erupted. This little-known story illuminates the collision of racial discrimination with racial pride and reveals the biases, institutionalized racism, and mutual suspicions that have divided American society.

Colley, David P. (2000) The road to victory: the untold story of World War II’s Red Ball Express. Available in print

The true story of a bunch of tough-as-nails drivers who, during three pivotal months of World War II, operated the "Red Ball Express", is told through firsthand accounts. Almost all African Americans, these truckers rushed fuel and supplies to the rapidly advancing American armies desperately needed after D-Day to crush the German Panzers.

Edgerton, Robert B. (2001) Hidden heroism: Black soldiers in America's wars. Available in print

Blacks served admirably in various wars, returned home after their service to short-term recognition, and then soon found themselves even more seriously entrenched in a racist system because they were perceived as a threat to whites. The author provides an accessible and well-informed tour through this little-known, but significant aspect of race in American military history.

Fife, T. (2006). African Americans in the Great War 1917-19. Military Images, 27(4), 4-46. Available via eJournal subscription

Forty-three-page, photograph-rich, article highlighting Black Soldiers form WWI.

Fowler, Arlen L. (1996) The Black infantry in the West, 1869-1891. Available in print

After nearly 200,000 African American soldiers fought in the Civil War, Congress enacted legislation to authorize regiments of cavalry and infantry for service in the West. The Ninth and Tenth cavalries won fame as "buffalo soldiers" in the Indian wars, nearly overshadowing the critical support role of the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth infantries. Now Arlen L. Fowler brings to light the story of African American infantry service from 1869 to 1891 in Texas, Indian Territory, the Dakotas, Montana, and Arizona.

George, Denise and Child, R. (2017) The lost eleven: the forgotten story of Black American Soldiers brutally massacred in World War II. Available in print

Despite their bravery and sacrifice, these eleven soldiers were omitted from the final Congressional War Crimes report of 1949. For seventy years, their files—marked secret—gathered dust in the National Archive. But in 1994, at the site of their execution, a memorial was dedicated to the Wereth Eleven and all African American soldiers who fought in Europe. Drawing on firsthand interviews with family members and fellow soldiers, this book tells the complete story of these nearly forgotten soldiers, their valor in battle and their tragic end.

Glasrud, Bruce A. (ed.). (2011) Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers: perspectives on the African American militia and volunteers, 1865-1917. Available in print and eBook

This book offers insights into the varied experiences of black militia units in the post–Civil War period. The book includes eleven articles that focus either on “Black Participation in the Militia” or “Black Volunteer Units in the War with Spain.” The articles, collected and introduced by author and scholar Bruce A. Glasrud, provide an overview of the history of early black citizen-soldiers and offer criticism from prominent academics interested in that experience.

Glatthaar, Joseph T. (1990) Forged in battle: the Civil War alliance of Black soldiers and white officers. Available in print

Sixteen months after the start of the American Civil War, the Federal government began to recruit black soldiers. This revolutionary policy gave 180,000 free blacks and former slaves the opportunity to prove themselves on the battlefield. By the end of the war, 37,000 in their ranks had given their lives for the cause of freedom, but memory of the United States Colored Troops' heroic sacrifices soon faded behind the prejudice that would plague the armed forces for another century.

Kaplan, Alice. (2005) The Interpreter. Available in print

One of the least-known stories of the American liberation of France is also one of the ugliest and least understood chapters in the history of Jim Crow. When the Americans helped to free Brittany in the summer of 1944, General Patton issued an order that any servicemembers accused of crimes would be court-martialed and severe sentences would be imposed.  African Americans made up a small fraction of the Army. Yet they were tried for the majority of capital cases, and they were found guilty with devastating frequency: 55 of 70 men executed by the Army in Europe were African American -- or 79 percent, in an Army that was only 8.5 percent black.

Labbié, Theola. (2004). War stories (cover story). Crisis (15591573), 111(2), 26–31. Available via eJournal subscription

Relates experiences of several African American army soldiers who are serving in Iraq. Sergeant Jameail R. Aré from Houston, Texas; Private First Class Passion Herbert from Jacksonville, Florida; Jennifer Nelson, a specialist from Columbia, South Carolina; Sergeant First Class Jospeh T. Walden from Fort Hood, Texas.

Mjagkij, Nina. (2015) Loyalty in time of trial: the African American experience during World War. Available in print

Prior to World War I, most African Americans did not challenge the racial status quo. But nearly 370,000 black soldiers served in the military during the war, and some 400,000 black civilians migrated from the rural South to the urban North for defense jobs. Following the war, emboldened by their military service and their support of the war on the home front, African Americans were determined to fight for equality. These two factors forced America to confront the impact of segregation and racism.

Moore, Brenda L. (1996) To serve my country, to serve my race: the story of the only African American WACs stationed overseas during World War II. Available in print

Despite the social, political, and economic restrictions imposed upon these African-American women in their own country, they were eager to serve, not only out of patriotism but out of a desire to uplift their race and dispel bigoted preconceptions about their abilities. Filled with compelling personal testimony based on extensive interviews, this book documents the lives of these courageous pioneers.

Parker, Christopher S. (2009) Fighting for democracy: Black veterans and the struggle against white supremacy in the postwar South. Available in print

This book shows how the experiences of African American soldiers during World War II and the Korean War influenced many of them to challenge white supremacy in the South when they returned home. Focusing on the motivations of individual black veterans, this groundbreaking book explores the relationship between military service and political activism. The author draws on unique sources of evidence, including interviews and survey data, to illustrate how and why black servicemen who fought for their country in wartime returned to America prepared to fight for their own equality.

Smith, Steven D. (2001) The African American soldier at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 1892-1946. Available in PDF

This study examines the history of African American soldiers at Fort Huachuca, Arizona from 1892 until 1946.  It was during this period that U.S. Army policy required that African Americans serve in separate military units from white soldiers.  All four of the United States Congressionally mandated all-black units were stationed at Fort Huachuca during this period, beginning with the 24th Infantry and following in chronological order; the 9th Cavalry, the 10th Cavalry, and the 25th Infantry.  During World War II, both all-black Army Divisions, the 93rd and 92nd trained at this Arizona fort.  This study clearly demonstrates that Fort Huachuca is the home of the African American soldier.

Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civilian Personnel Policy/Equal Opportunity (1991) Black Americans in defense of our nation. Available in print

From the publication: A pictorial documentary of the Black American male and female participation and involvement in the Military affairs of the United States of America.

Warrington, Beth A. (2019). “No Mail, Low Morale”: The 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion. Military Review, 99(1), 141–145. Available via eJournal subscription

The article focuses on African American 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion and discusses how important mail is to service members. This was the first and only all-female African American battalion to be deployed overseas during WWII. The battalion was commanded by Maj. Charity Edna Adams Earley, the first African American woman to achieve rank of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.

WGBH Boston Video (2006) The Massachusetts 54th colored infantry. Video. Available on DVD

Chronicles the formation and battlefield heroics of the first all-black Union regiment, the Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry. Highlights of this documentary include archival daguerreotypes, tintypes, lithographs, and commentary by various historians.

Wilson, Joseph T. (1890) The Black phalanx: African American soldiers in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Available in print

The body of the book examines every aspect of black service in the Civil War: the "revolutionary" decision to arm captured black soldiers, and the efforts to recruit troops; the training of black Union regiments; and battles they fought, including the assault on Fort Wagner, the siege of Petersburg, and the fall of Richmond. African Americans spilled blood in every theater of war, from Arkansas to Virginia, and The Black Phalanx is Wilson's spirited history of those soldiers whose valor was denied until it was proven in carnage and victory.