...The Story of "The Buffaloes"
Glorious Record of the 367th Infantry Regiment-Colonel James A. Moss---Presentation of Colors at the Union League Club---The "Buffaloes" in France---How They "Saw It Through" at Metz---Their Heroic Conduct Under Fire---Regimental Colors Decorated by Order of the French High Command---A Tribute From France to "These Sunburned Americans."
Quite naturally, and with pardonable pride, all the officers and men of each unit of the 92nd Division regard their particular unit as having contributed most to the glory of that Division and to the record of the achievements of Negro troops upon battlefields overseas. However, it will probably not be disputed that the 367th U. S. Infantry was, in some respects, the most notable unit of the 92nd Division.
The 367th Regiment was organized at Camp Upton, N. Y., on November 3, 1917, pursuant to Order No. 105, War Department, 1917, and Special Order No. 72, Headquarters 77th Division, 1917. Colonel James A. Moss, Lieutenant Colonel William G. Doane, Majors Charles L. Mitchell, Fred W. Bugbee and William H. Edwards were assigned to and joined the regiment, 3rd November, 1917, per Order No. 105, War Department, 1917.
Pursuant to telegraphic instructions from the War Department, 2nd November, 1917, Major Henry N. Arnold, Inf. R. C., was transferred to the regiment vice Major William H. Edwards, transferred to the 306th Machine Gun Battalion.
The Captains of the regiment (with the exception of the Regimental Adjutant, Commanding Officers' Headquarters and Supply Companies), also the 1st and 2nd Lieutenants, graduated from the Officers' Training Camp, Fort Des Moines, Iowa, were assigned to and joined the regiment 3rd November, 1917, per Special Order 72, Headquarters 77th Division, 1917.
The Regimental Adjutant, Captain Frederic Bull; Commanding Officer, Headquarters Company, Captain Benjamin F. Norris, and Supply Officer, Captain Charles L. Appleton, were transferred to the regiment 3rd November, 1917, from the 152nd Depot Brigade, 77th Division, per Special Order No. 72, Headquarters 77th Division, 1917.
The enlisted personnel of the regiment was assigned from selective draft men, who joined as follows:
In November, 1917: New York, N. Y., 1,198; Camp Devens, Mass., 22; Camp Custer, Mich., 301; Camp Lewis , Wash., 100.
In December, 1917: Camp Travis, Tex., 300; Camp Pike, Ark., 600; Camp Lee, Va., 300.
Six enlisted men from the Regular Army were transferred to the regiment.
During the period, 3rd November, 1917, to 31st December, 1917, the troops of the regiment were given training and instruction daily, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays excepted, in the prescribed course of instruction for officers and men.
The field officers, regimental adjutant, regimental supply officer, regimental surgeon, and the commanding officers of the Headquarters. Company, nine in all, were white, while all the company officers (87), except the commander of the Headquarters Company; the medical officers, except the regimental surgeon; the dental surgeons, and the chaplain, 97 in all, were colored officers. The colored officers, with the exception of the chaplain, were all graduates of the Fort Des Moines (Iowa) Officers' Training Camp.
The enlisted men (3,699) were drafted from various parts of the country, quotas having come from Camp Devens, Camp Custer, Camp Lewis, Camp Lee, Camp Pike, Camp Travis, and about 1,500 from New York and Brooklyn. An enlisted training cadre of 19 men was assigned to the regiment from the 25th U. S. Infantry.
Being trained at Camp Upton, near New York City, the attention of the metropolitan press was focused upon this particular regiment, which was commanded by a Southern officer, Colonel James A. Moss, a West Point graduate, who was born in Louisiana. Colonel Moss early began to put the 367th Infantry "on the map" after the regiment was organized; first by speaking before the Union League Club and other important organizations in the City of New York, and by the formation of the 367th Infantry Welfare League, the object of which was to keep open the line of communication with the home ties that the colored soldiers had left behind. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt became its Honorary President, following an address he made to the men of the regiment at Camp Upton, October 18, 1917. Colonel Roosevelt was delighted with the regimental singing and was fervent in his praise of the men. The officers of the League were: Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, Honorary President; Hon. Charles W. Anderson, First Vice-President; Dr. W. M. Moss, Second Vice-President; Dr. William Jay Schieffelin, Treasurer, Captain Walter B. Williams, Secretary; George W. Lattimore, Field Secretary, and Colonel James A. Moss, Commandant, 367th Infantry.
This regiment paraded with the 77th Division through the streets of New York City on the occasion of the celebration of George Washington's birthday, February 22, 1918, and was acclaimed by the metropolitan press as presenting a fine soldiery appearance; this was especially noteworthy in view of the fact that nearly one-half of the men had been drafted from the far South and had come up from cotton plantations and fields without previous military experience.
Illustrations in Chapter XIII
Union League Club Presents Colors
A particularly notable incident in connection with the stay of the 367th Infantry at Camp Upton was the "presentation of colors" by the Union League Club on Saturday, March 23, 1918. The Union League Club during the Civil War always stood firmly and boldly for equal rights of American citizens, regardless of color. It decided, in 1863, to enlist Negroes of New York State in the Union Army and within one month raised $18,000 for that purpose and in November, 1863, one thousand and twenty Negroes---a regiment---were in training on Riker's Island. There remained in addition six hundred men, who formed the skeleton of a second regiment which the club subsequently raised. These regiments were known during the Civil War. as the Twentieth and Twenty-sixth U. S. Colored Troops. Later the club assisted in the recruiting of two more colored regiments. The recruiting of Negro soldiers, however, was not regarded with general favor. The then Governor of New York State not only refused his authority, but withheld his sanction of the movement, and it became necessary for the Union League Club to obtain the proper authority from the War Department at Washington. It was not a matter of surprise, then, that the Union League Club decided to present a "stand of colors" to the 367th Infantry that comprised so large a number of colored draftees from New York City and State for service in the World War.
The 367th Infantry regiment was a part of the first contingent of the 92nd Division that sailed for overseas, leaving the port or embarkation at Hoboken, N. J., on June 19, 1918, and arriving at Brest, France, on June 29, 1918. The regiment made a notable record in France---the entire First Battalion of the 367th (Buffalo) Infantry being cited for bravery and awarded the Croix de Guerre, thus entitling every officer and man in the battalion to wear this distinguished French decoration. This citation was made by the French Commission because of the splendid service and bravery shown by this battalion in the last engagement of the war, Sunday and Monday, November 10 and 11, in the drive to Metz. This battalion went into action through a valley commanded by the heavy German guns of Metz, and held the Germans at bay. While the 56th. Regiment retreated, but not until it had suffered a heavy loss. In the record of operations of the 92nd Division as a whole, the detailed statement of the glorious part played by the 367th Infantry (see Chapters XI and XII) will be noted. It may be said that this unit lived up to its regimental motto---"SEE IT THROUGH."
Particular reference is made to this regiment (the 367th U. S. A.), not only because its splendid record at home and achievements overseas merits special mention, but also for the purpose of bringing out in bold relief the fact that it is possible for a white man born and bred in the South to learn to appreciate the real worth of the Negro soldier and, whenever placed in command of them, to treat them as all American soldiers should be treated and to accord to them a full measure of respect, opportunity, and credit. This has been notably true in the case of' Colonel James A. Moss, Commanding Officer of the regiment, who enjoyed the confidence and even the affection of the men of his command. It will be interesting, in this connection, to read the tribute which he paid to the Negro as a soldier and military officer, and which was issued as an "Introduction" to a booklet concerning his regiment of colored soldiers:
COLONEL JAMES A. MOSS, COMMANDING 367TH INFANTRY, U.S.A.
"Having been born and reared in the State of Louisiana, whose confines I did not leave until I went to West Point at the age of eighteen, and having served eighteen years with colored troops, including two campaigns, what I say about the colored man as a soldier is therefore based on many years' experience with him in civil life and in the Army---in peace and in war, in garrison and in the field.
"If properly trained and instructed, the colored man makes as good a soldier as the world has ever seen. The history of the Negro in all of our wars, including our Indian campaigns, shows this. He is by nature of a happy disposition; he is responsive and tractable; he is very amenable to discipline; he takes pride in his uniform; he has faith and confidence in his leader; he possesses physical courage---all of which are valuable military assets.
"The secret of making an efficient soldier out of the colored man lies in knowing the qualities he possesses that are military assets, and which I have named, and then appealing to and developing them---that is, utilizing them to the greatest extent possible.
"Make the colored man feel that you have faith in him, and then, by sympathetic and conscientious training and instruction, help him to fit himself in a military way to vindicate that faith, to 'make good.' Be strict with him, but treat him fairly and justly, making him realize that in your dealings with him he will always be given a square deal. Commend him when he does well and punish him when he is refractory---that is to say, let him know that he will always get what is coming to him, whether it be reward or whether it be punishment. In other words, treat and handle the colored man as you would any other human being out of whom you would make a good soldier, out of whom you would get the best there is in him, and you will have as good a soldier as history has ever known---a man who will drill well, shoot well, march well, obey well, fight well---in short, a man who will give a good account of himself in battle, and who will conduct and behave himself properly in camp, in garrison and in other places.
"I commanded colored troops in the Cuban campaign and in the Philippine campaign, and I have had some of them killed and wounded by my very side. At no time did they ever falter at the command to advance nor hesitate at the order to charge.
"I am glad that I am to command colored soldiers in this, my third campaign---in the greatest war the world has ever known.
(Signed) "Jas. A. Moss,
Colonel 367th Infantry."
Colonel Moss has the reputation of being one of the best-known military authors in the world. He has written twenty-six military books, of which several have been for years regarded as standard. His "Manual of Military Training" has been called the "Encyclopedia Britannica of the Army." His "Officers' Manual" a guide in official and social matters, is used by practically every young officer entering the Army. His "Privates' Manual" was adopted several years ago by the United States Marine Corps, and a copy is placed in the hands of every recruit. Other books of his, such as "Non-Commissioned Officers' Manual," "Army Paperwork," "Infantry Drill Regulations Simplified," "Field Service," "Riot Duty," "Company Training," and "Applied Minor Tactics," are also regarded as standards among all military men. Since his graduation from West Point in 1894 Colonel Moss's service has been distinguished. It includes a record of three campaigns. In addition, he was aide-de-camp for three years to Lieutenant-General Henry C. Corbin, during which time, although only a captain in the Regular Army, he had the rank, pay, and allowances of lieutenant-colonel. For three years he was instructor at the Army Service Schools, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1911 and 1912 he was on special duty in the office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Leonard Wood, by whom he had been specially selected to reduce and simplify the administrative work of the Army. Not only is he the father of the present system of Army correspondence, but he also gave to the service the new, simplified pay and muster rolls, and several other labor saving blank forms that have done much to reduce military administrative work.
Perhaps the secret underlying the splendid relations that continually existed between this Southern white Army officer and the colored soldiers and officers of his command, is partly disclosed in the brief biographical sketch of his military career given above, for, whenever a THOROUGHLY EDUCATED WHITE MAN meets the EDUCATED TYPE, AND BETTER CLASS OF NEGRO MEN, like most if not all of those comprising the officer group of the 367th Regiment, the difficulties connected with the so-called Race Problem are simplified and reduced to the minimum.
The success of the 367th U. S. Infantry therefore strongly suggests (1) that whenever white men are put in command of Negro troops they should be of that high intellectual and moral caliber that will enable them to appreciate bring forth, and develop the best that is in the colored men of their command; and (2) that Negro officers are more and more demonstrating their fitness and capacity to command men of their own race.
Chapter XIV. The Record of the "Old Fifteenth"
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