...The Record of the 372nd
A Regiment Made up of National Guard Troops and Drafted Men ---Attached to the Famous French "Red Hand" Division---Its Splendid Record in France---At Hill 304---Heroic Exploits of Individuals----The Regiment Decorated With the Croix de Guerre----Citations and Awards.
The 372nd Regiment of Infantry, United States Army, was a colored regiment composed of the First Separate Battalion of the District of Columbia; the 9th Ohio Separate Battalion; Company L of Massachusetts; the First Separate Company of Connecticut; the First Separate Company of Maryland---all these being National Guard troops, and 250 drafted men from Camp Custer, Michigan, recruited mainly from Michigan and Wisconsin.
It was the fortune of the 372nd Regiment, U. S. Army, to be brigaded together with the 371st Infantry, throughout its entire period of service overseas, with the 157th Division of the French Army, the famous "Red Hand" Division. Like every other fighting regiment of Negro Americans, whether Regular Army, National Guard, or drafted men who had never handled a rifle or known the meaning of a salute until after the United States entered the war, the men of the 372nd, like those of the 371st, bore themselves throughout with the utmost gallantry and won the highest praise for their military achievements.
No extended narrative of the war could tell as clearly and forcefully, and at the same time concisely just what the 372nd did from the time its members left America until they returned home a little more than ten months later, than the following chronological record:
"Regiment embarked from Newport News, Virginia, March 30, 1918, for overseas duty on board U. S. S. Susquehanna.
"Reached port at St. Nazaire, France, April 13, 1918. Landed April 14, 1918, and marched to rest camp.
"Left rest camp Base Section No. 1, France, April 21, 1918, and entrained for Vaubecourt.
"Arrived at Vaubecourt 7.00 P. M., April 23, 1918.
"Left Vaubecourt 8:30 P. M. Sd. (same day), and hiked in a very, heavy rain to Conde-en-Barrois, arriving there 2:00 A. M. April 24, 1918.
"Under special instructions with the 13th French Army Corps at Conde-en-Barrois from April 24, 1918, to May 25, 1918.
"Left Conde-en-Barrois 8:05 on the morning of May 28, 1918, in French motor trucks for Les Sennades, arriving at Les Sennades 1:30 P. AM. Sd.
"Regiment took sector "Argonne West" May 29, 1918.
"In front line trenches May 31, 1918.
"Regimental Headquarters moved to La Neufour, June 9, 1918.
"Regiment changed sectors June 29-30, 1918, and took over the Vacquois Sector, a sub-sector of the Verdun.
"The 157th Division being a reserve division at this point where the enemy was expected to attack.
"Regimental Headquarters moved to Camp Chillaz June 20, 1918.
"Regiment left Vacquois sector July 13, 1918, for "Hill 304" of the Verdun sector.
"Colonel Young relieved from command and Colonel Tupes assumed command at Locheres.
"Regimental Headquarters moved to Bois St. Pierre July 18, 1918, and moved again Sd. to Sivry La Perche.
"Regiment left Sivry La Perche where it had stopped awaiting orders to take over sector July 25, 1918.
"Arrived and took sector about 9:00 P. M. Sd. Usual trench duty.
"Severe shelling at Regimental P. C. August :3, 1918.
"Heavy shelling at Monzeville August 16, 1918, by a new regiment of Austrians which was opposing us, two American and one Frenchman wounded. Second Lieut. James E. Sanford, Co. A, 372nd Infantry, captured by German patrol August 20, 1918.
"Left Hill 304 September 8, 1918, being relieved by the 129th U. S. Infantry of the 33rd Illinois Division.
"Hiked in rain and mud to Bois de Brocourt, the trip being a long and disagreeable one.
"Left Bois de Brocourt September 12, 1918, for Souasems La Granges; the trip was a short one and the boys full of fun.
"Arrived at Souasems Sd.
"Left Souasems in motor trucks for Juzanvigny September 13, 1918, an all night trip, arriving at Juzanvigny 12:00 M. September 14, 1918.
"Left for Brienne Le Chateau 8:05 September 17, 1918, to entrain for Jussecourt. (Napoleon attended school at Brienne Le Chateau.)
"Arrived at Vitry La Francois 2:00 P. M. Sd. The city is a beautiful one and overlooks the battlefield "MARNE," the trip being in box cars.
"Left next morning for Jussecourt at 9:00 A. M. on the hardest hike to date and arrived at Jussecourt 8:00 P. M. September 18, 1918.
"Regiment left for Contault September 20, 1918, at 8:00 P. M., arriving there at 12:30 A. M. September 21, 1918.
"Left Contault for Dommartin 9:00 P. M. September 22, 1918. Arrived Sd.
"Left for Camp Des Mangnieux 9:00 P. M. September 23, 1918, arriving at 12:30 P. M. September 24, 1918.
"Left for Hans September 24, 1918, arriving and joining the 9th French Army Corps at Hans Sd.
"Left Hans to take position in attack; the 3rd Battalion leaving September 26, 1918, the 1st September 27, 1918, and the 3rd September 28, 1918.
"Over the Top" on September Morn
"'Over the Top' September 28, 1918, the 3rd Battalion started after the Boche. The first blow being delivered by the 2nd Moroccan Division of shock troops. The retreating Boches are still bombarding our position. Machine gun fire is thick and the 88s are falling like hail.
"On the morning of September 29, 1918, we are trying hard to keep up with the retreating enemy, which is retreating fast, unable to stand our assault. This afternoon it is raining which is unfortunate for our wounded, as there are many.
"Today is September 30, 1918, and we find that the 1st Battalion is on our right, and advancing fast in the rain and mud. Machine gun opposition is still stiff. Our casualties are small and we have captured a large number of prisoners.
"October 1, 1918, we are meeting with a stiff resistance from the enemy who has fortified himself in a hill during the past night. Owing to the bad condition of the ground we are not getting any support from the French artillery.
"October 2, 1918, we have driven the enemy out of Fountain-en-Dormois and are now in the village. Still we are giving the enemy no rest, they are retreating across the valley to one of their supply bases which has a railroad running into the same. The enemy is now burning the supplies which cannot be moved.
"October 3, 1918, we have advanced and captured the little village of Ardeuil and a considerable amount of war material. Our losses have been rather heavy during the past 24 hours, but we have inflicted a much heavier loss on the enemy. On our right the 1st Battalion has taken the village of Sechaut after some hard fighting by Company A.
"October 4, 1918, the 2nd Battalion is going in this morning, and we are resting at Vieox, which is about four kilometers from Monthois and is one of the enemy's railroad centers and hospital bases. The enemy is busy destroying supplies and moving wounded. We can see trains moving out of Monthois. Our artillery is bombarding all roads and railroads in the vicinity. The enemies' fire is fierce and we are expecting a counter-attack.
"October 5, 1918, the German artillery has opened up good and strong and we are on the alert. They attacked us and a stiff hand-to-hand combat ensued. Again he has been driven back, suffering an exceedingly heavy loss. We have taken many prisoners from about twelve different regiments. After resting a little, we continued our advance and are now on the outskirts of Monthois.
"October 6, 1918, the enemy is throwing a stiff barrage on our left where the 333rd French Infantry is attacking. The enemy is again being driven back. The liaison work of the 157th Division has been wonderful, not the slightest gap has been left open.
"October 7, 1918, our patrols entered Monthois early in the morning but were driven out by. machine gun fire, but returned with gun and its crew. We have just received word that we are to be relieved by the 76th Regiment, French, sometime during the night; we were relieved at 8:00 P. M. We hiked a very long distance over the ground. We fought so hard to take to Minnecourt where the regiment proceeded to reorganize.
"Regiment reached Somme Bionne Oct. 9, 1918. Regiment left Somme Bionne Oct. 11, 1918 to entrain for Vignemont. Left Valmy 8:00 A. M. Oct. 12, 1918 and arrived at Vignemont Oct. 13, 1918. Hiked 15 kilometers to St. Leonard and arrived Sd. Left St. Leonard for Ban de Laveline in the Dept. of the Bosges Oct. 15, 1918, arrived at Laveline 10:15 P. M. Sd.
"November 7, 1918, 1 officer and 22 enlisted men captured by German patrol. Nov. 10, 1918, a patrol of Co. A, took several prisoners from a German patrol.
Everybody Happy When the End Came
"November 11, 1918, everybody in the village of Laveline is happy over news of the abdication of the Kaiser and the signing of the armistice. Martial music is plentiful and the colors of the regiment are displayed from the P. C.
"The regiment left the 10th Army Corps Nov. 17th, 1918.
"Left Laveline Nov. 17, 1918 and hiked 45 kilometers to Granges, arrived at Granges the morning of Nov. 18, 1918. Usual close order drill at this station preparing for overseas duty.
"Regiment left 157th Division Dec. 13, 1918, the Commanding General thereof was down to pay his respects to the regiment.
"January 1, 1919, regiment left for Le Mans (forwarding camp). The 92nd Division was assembled here and we met many of our old friends. Left Le Mans January 10, 1919 for Brest (embarkation port). Left Brest February 3, 1919 for Hoboken. Arrived at Hoboken February 11, 1919 on world's greatest ship, The Leviathan, U. S. N. (formerly the Vaterland owned by Germany)."
On October 8th the 157th Division with others was transferred from the 9th Army Corps of the French to the 10th Army Corps. General Garnier Duplessis took this occasion to commend the division, particularly mentioning the American regiments in the following general order:
"P. C. October 7th, 1918
"9th Army Corps.
Staff 3rd Bureau
"The 157th, 161st and the 2nd Moroccan Divisions are leaving the Army Corps. The General commanding the 10th Army Corps addressed to them his most sincere thanks and his warmest congratulations for the glorious success achieved by their admirable ardour and their indomitable tenacity. He salutes the brave American Regiments who have rivaled in intrepidity their French Comrades.
"He cannot recount here the feats which have been performed for every one of the days of that victorious journey. They are inscribed on the conquered grounds, materialized by the trophies taken from the enemy and engraved in the heart of the chief who bows before the troops and salutes them profoundly.
GENERAL GARNIER DUPLESSIS,
Commanding the 9th Army Corps."
In transmitting this order to the several regiments comprising the Division, General Goybet reviewed the exploits of the Division in the following order:
"P. C. October 8, 1918.
General Order No. 234
"In transmitting to you with legitimate pride the thanks and congratulations of the General Garnier Duplessis, allow me, my dear friends of all ranks, Americans and French, to thank you from the bottom of my heart as a chief and a soldier for the expression of gratitude for the glory which you have lent our good 157th Division. I had full confidence in you but you have surpassed my hopes.
"During these nine days of hard fighting you have progressed nine kilometers through powerful organized defenses, taken nearly 600 prisoners, 15 guns of different calibres, 20 minenwefers, and nearly 150 machine guns, secured an enormous amount of engineering material, an important supply of artillery ammunition, brought down by your fire three enemy aeroplanes.
"'THE RED HAND' sign of the Division, thanks to you, became a bloody hand which took the Boche by the throat and made him cry for mercy. You have well avenged our glorious dead.
General, Commanding 157th Division.
But even greater distinction was to come. On the following day, October 8th, Colonel Tupes of the 372nd, received notice that his regiment had been recommended for citation in the general orders of the French Army. Following is a translation of the official order conveying this splendid news:
October 8, 1918.
"157th D. I.
"From: Colonel Quillet, Commanding 157th D. I.
"To: Colonel Tupes, Commanding 372nd Infantry.
"The Colonel Commanding the I. D. has recommended your regiment for citation in the orders of the- French Army worded as follows:
"'Gave proof, during its first engagement, of the finest qualities of bravery and daring which are virtues of assaulting troops.
"Under the orders of Colonel Tupes dashed with superb gallantry and admirable scorn of danger to the assault of a position continuously defended by the enemy, taking it by storm under an exceptionally violent machine gun fire. Continued the progression in spite of enemy artillery fire and very severe losses. They made numerous prisoners, captured cannons, machine guns, and important war material.
On October 8 General Goybet of the 157th Division, in a communication addressed to the commanding officers of the 371st and 372nd Infantry Regiments, U. S. A., said:
"Your troops have been admirable in their attack. You must be proud of the courage of your officers and men; and I consider it an honor to have them under my command.
"The bravery and dash of your regiment won the admiration of the, 2nd Moroccan Division who are themselves versed in warfare. Thanks to you during those hard days. The Division was at all times in advance of all other divisions of the Army Corps. I am sending you all my thanks and beg you to transmit them to your subordinates.
"I called on your wounded. Their morale is higher than any praise.
It is to be noted that at the date this communication was received, October 8, 1918, the 372nd had on its roster six colored line officers, who were later transferred to the 92nd Division.
After the Armistice
On the day of the signing of the Armistice, November 11, 1918, the regiment was at Ban-de-Laveline. How the termination of the war was celebrated is told by Sergeant Wm. J. Huntley of the 372nd Infantry, whose account follows:
"Ban-De-Laveline has today the signs of what one might term a "contented, mirthful, and prosperous village.' It was Ban-De-Laveline before the war. News of the abdication of the Kaiser, a symbol of the total collapse of the German empire, together with the official announcement of the signing of the terms of the armistice, putting an end to the fifty months of anguish, brought out all the legendary light-heartedness of the people of this vicinity.
"One of the most inspiring scenes I ever witnessed was today about 11:05 A.M. The Regimental band played 'Marseillaise', 'The Star Spangled Banner' and 'God Save the King.' As soon as the last note was sounded, hilarious cheers, by both soldiers and civilians, were almost deafening. Old men jumped and threw up their hats, women, whose hearts were heavy from a strain caused by a relentless war, waved their hands and aprons in exultant joy and children romped joyously up and down the streets. The bell and chimes on the church, which had been previously silent, sent their resonant peals far and near. Indeed, they rang out 'glad tidings of joy.' In the meantime, the band struck up a lively march and started up the street followed by 'Old Glory', the regimental colors and soldiers, Americans and French. The scene was a beautiful blending of colors---the khaki and the blue. It seemed as if they wanted to assemble in one great family to celebrate the glorious events, and to see the reflection of their own gladness in the faces of their fellow comrades. The street was filled with a solid, slowly-moving and seething mass of humanity. It appeared to me that the brotherhood of the trenches was heralding the brotherhood of men.
"I should have mentioned one incident in connection with the parade, namely: When the band marched up the street around by the church toward the trenches, which was only about two kilometers, the procession was met by a party bringing to the infirmary a Boche who had been captured and also wounded in the early morning by our boys. This party joined the procession and in regular cadence these stalwart fellows marched in review with their Boche, who later was the occasion of much curiosity. I am quite sure this prisoner rejoiced silently that the horribleness of such hideous work of bestial ferocity, that only the Germans know, was at an end, for according to his own statement he declared his comrades were satisfied with peace negotiations and also stated that the Kaiser must abdicate. Thankful for human hearts, be was not allowed to suffer but was immediately relieved of his humiliation and pain and such were the scenes, mingled with sadness and gladness, the most inspiring, significant, and most impressive I have ever witnessed.
"Elaborate preparations were made for the grand entertainment which was a part of the day's program. The decorations, prepared by both Americans and French, were as pretentious as though prepared for the metropolis city of France. At nightfall the streets were lighted with electricity (a thing which had not been done since the beginning of the war) with jack o' lanterns, lamps and flares of every description. Long before the hour to begin the program the theatre was filled by civilians from neighboring villages and with soldiers of the cantonment.
"At 7:30 the master of ceremonies announced the beginning of the program and at this time the building's seating capacity was taxed to its utmost and standing room at a premium. The program began with an overture by the band. The significance of the occasion, a most enthusiastic audience that eagerly waited, the contagious gladness which permeated the atmosphere, created an environment in which the band has never appeared to better advantage. At the conclusion of the number, men and women applauded frantically and the American contingent whistled itself breathless.
"The program composed of solos, quartettes, dancing, comic skit by our boys and solos, duets, comic monologues and a pantomime with characters representing Alsace, Lorraine, France, and America, by the French. Some of these were entertaining and some were otherwise. But considering the events of the day, not one left disappointed and felt that the evening was spent without profit. As a closing number, Collins, the Caruso of the Regiment, sang in a pleasing manner "Perfect Day."
"And thus Monday. the eleventh day of the eleventh mouth, 1918, was passed."
The praise and compliments of the French for the 372nd did not terminate with the cessation of hostilities, for on November 17th, General Vandenberger, commanding the 10th Army Corps, issued the following general order:
November 17, 1918.
"10th Army Corps.
"It has been an honor for the 10th Army Corps to receive and welcome the 157th Division after its successes in Champagne.
"During the few weeks that the Division belonged to the Army Corps its Regiments of Americans and French have by their conduct and biting activity produced the best impression.
"It had prepared in its sector the ways of penetrating in Alsace and it should have deserved the honor of entering it.
"But military necessities bring today the higher command to consider its use in another part of the front and to give to the Americans a part of the front facing Belgium, Luxemburg and a corner of Lorraine.
"The General commanding the 10th Army Corps sees with pain the gallant Division and her Chief General Goybet move away from him. He cannot defend himself from the painful thought that General Goybet will not have the consolation of treading with his Division that reconquered land that keeps the remains of one of his sons.
"To all he wishes good luck and expresses the hope of meeting again one day.
"General, Commanding the 10th Army Corps."
When the orders were finally issued for the return to America of the 371st and 372nd, Colonel Quillet, commanding the 157th Infantry Division, addressed the following message of farewell to Colonel Miles and Colonel Tupes, commanders respectively of these two Negro regiments::
December 15, 1918.
" Staff of the Infantry.
ORDER OF THE DIVISIONAL INFANTRY NO. 100
"The 371st and 372nd Infantries are leaving France after having carried on a hard campaign of six months with the I. D. 157.
"After having energetically held a series of difficult sectors, they took a glorious part in the great decisive battle which brought the final Victory.
"In sector, they have shown an endurance, a vigilance, a spirit of devotion and a remarkable discipline.
"In battle they have taken by storm, with a magnificent animation, very strong positions doggedly defended by the enemy.
"In contemplating the departure of these two fine regiments which I commanded with pride, I desire to tell them all how much I think of them and also to thank them for the generous and precious concurrence which they brought to us at the decisive period of the great war.
"I shall keep always in my soldier heart their loyal memories and particularly those of their distinguished commanders who have become my friends: Colonel Miles and Colonel Tupes.
"Commanding the I. D. 157.
On the same day, General Goybet, Commander of the entire 157th Division also took occasion to praise the work of these American fighters.
H. Q., December 15, 1918.
GENERAL ORDERS NO. 245
"On the 12th of December, 1918, the 371st and 372nd R. I. U. S. have been replaced at the disposal of the American Higher Command.
"With a deep feeling of emotion, on behalf of the 157th Division, and in my own personal name, I come to bid farewell to our brave comrades.
"For seven months we have lived as brothers at arms, partaking in the same activities, sharing the same hardships and the same dangers. Side by side we took part in the great Champagne Battle which was to be crowned by a tremendous victory.
"Never will the 157th Division forget the indomitable dash, the heroical rush of the American Regiments up the Observatory Ridge and into the plain of Monthois. The most powerful defenses, the most strongly organized M. G. nests, the heaviest artillery barrages, nothing could stop them. These crack regiments overcame every obstacle with a most complete contempt for danger; through their steady devotion the RED HAND Division, for nine whole days of severe struggle, was constantly leading the way for the victorious advance of the 4th Army.
"Officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, I respectfully salute our glorious comrades who have fallen, and I bow to your colours, side by side with the flag of the 333rd Regiment of Infantry they have shown us the way to VICTORY.
"Dear friends from America, when you will be back again on the other side of the ocean don't forget the Red Hand Division. Our brotherhood has been cemented in the blood of the brave and such bonds will never be destroyed.
"Remember your General who is proud of having commanded you, and be sure of his grateful affection to you all for ever.
"General Goybet, Commanding the 157th Division.
(Signed) GOYBET. "
Washington Men Win Honors
In the 372nd Infantry was the First Battalion of the District of Columbia National Guard, whose heroes were prevented by the Armistice from winning added glory. It would have fallen to its lot to have the honor of being the vanguard of the French Army of Occupation. Of the nearly 600 District of Columbia colored men who were with the 372nd, at least 200 were wounded more or less seriously, and about 33 were killed; probably the first to fall with a fatal wound was Private Kenneth Lewis.
The District of Columbia men proclaimed Sergeant Ira Payne as the hero of heroes among the District of Columbia fighters. He wears the Croix de Guerre and "isn't afraid of the devil himself," according to the men of his company.
Sergeant Payne speaks modestly of his exploits. He says: "During the fighting at Sechault the Germans were picking off the men in my platoon from behind a bush. The Germans had several machine guns behind that bush and kept up a deadly fire in spite of our rifle fire directed at the bush. We did our best to stop those machine guns, but the German aim became so accurate that they were picking off five of my men every minute. We couldn't stand for that, so I decided I would get that little machine gun nest myself and I went after it. I left our company, detoured, and by a piece of luck got behind the bush. I got my rifle into action and 'knocked off' two of those German machine gunners. That ended it. The other Germans couldn't stand so much excitement. The Boches surrendered, and I took them into our trenches as prisoners."
Another hero is Benjamin Butler, a private, awarded the Croix de Guerre. His citation reads: "For displaying gallantry and bravery and distinguishing himself in carrying out orders during the attack on Sechault on September 29, 1918, under heavy bombardment and machine gun fire." Butler said: "I did very little. During this fight with several others, I carried dispatches to the first line trenches from headquarters. They decorated me, I suppose, because I was the only one lucky enough to escape being knocked off."
Private Charles E. Cross was awarded the Croix de Guerre for "his speed and reliability in carrying orders to platoons in. the first line under the enemy's bombardment on September 29, 1918." "In some cases," Cross said, "I had to creep across No-Man's-Land, and a greater part of the time I was exposed to enemy fire."
First Sergeant John A. Johnson was termed in his citation and award of the Croix de Guerre " a heroic soldier." "Near Sechault, during the time the District men were making a big effort to capture the town, I was put in the front line not fifty feet away from the enemy," Johnson reports. "A greater part of the time I was exposed to machine-gun fire. I suppose I got my medal just because I stuck with my men. Quite a few District boys were bumped off at this point."
Private William H. Braxton, a member of the Machine Gun Company of the regiment, received the Croix de Guerre for displaying "zealous bravery." "An enemy party," his citation reads, "having filtered through his platoon and attacked same in rear, Private Braxton displayed marked gallantry in opening fire on the enemy and killing one and wounding several others, finally dispersing the entire party." "The men who stuck by me when death stared them in their faces, deserve just as much credit as I," Braxton said. "I was only temporary leader of the men.
The official list of the Washington men of the First Separate Battalion of the District of Columbia who were decorated follows: First Sergeant John A. Johnson, Company B; First Sergeant Ira A. Payne, Company A; Sergeant James A. Marshall, Company B; Sergeant Norman Jones, Company B; Sergeant Homer Crabtree, Company B; Sergeant Norman Winsmore, Company C; Corporal John R. White, Company B; Corporal Benjamin Butler, Company C; Corporal March Graham, Company D; Private Warwick Alexander, Company B; Private George H. Budd, Company B; Private Thomas A. Frederick, Company B; Private John S. Parks, Company B; Private Charles H. Murphy, Company C; Private William N. Mathew, Company D; Private Ernest Payne, Company D; Private Joseph McKamey, Company A; Private William Dickerson, Company' A; Sergeant Major Samuel B. Webster.
Decoration of the Regiment
A special correspondent of the Paris edition of the New York Herald transmitted a report to that publication of the distinguished honors shown the 372nd when Vice Admiral Moreau, French Commander of the Port of Brest, decorated the colors of the regiment with the Croix de Guerre and palm for distinguished service in the Champagne offensive, just before the regiment sailed for America. During September and October, 1918, individual honors had been previously conferred as chronicled above. The ceremonies in which Vice Admiral Moreau took part were held at Cours Dajot, overlooking the Port of Commerce and was witnessed by thousands of French civilians and soldiers and sailors of several nations.
The Herald report says: "The American fighters, numbering about 3,000, were with the famous French 'Red Hand' division. They became heroes on many fighting-fronts, and were in the Vosges Mountains when the Armistice was signed.
"Vice Admiral Moreau arrived at about 2:30. Major General Helmick, of the American post of Brest, was present as a spectator. The regimental band added much to the program with 'Keep the Home Fires Burning,' patriotic selections, and 'Caesar's Triumphal March.'
"The basis of this citation was included in the Army orders in favor of the 372nd Infantry, which Colonel Quillet, commanding the I. D. of the 157th, submitted to the Commanding General after the Champagne offensive battle.
"The substance of Colonel Quillet's commendation was included in Admiral Moreau's words, to the regiment.
"After the delivery of the Croix de Guerre to the regiment, Admiral Moreau conferred the Croix de Guerre and palm on Adjutant Walsh and read quotations from Colonel Quillet's commendations quoted above, dated and signed December 15, 1918. "
A Monument to the Dead
The regiment did not immediately leave France, however. While waiting for transport, it was decided by the officers and men of the regiment that they would erect a monument with the permission of the French Government, to mark the ground on which so many of their comrades had fallen in battle. For the carrying out of this plan, General Goybet and Colonel Quillet were requested to act as Trustees for the regimental monument fund, in the following communication from Colonel Tupes:
"HEADQUARTERS 372nd INFANTRY
A. P. 0. 762.
January 9, 1919.
"From: Commanding Officer.
"To General Mariano Goybet and Colonel Augustin Quillet.
"Subject: Trusteeship for Monument.
"1. It is the desire of the officers and enlisted men of this regiment to erect a monument upon the ground where we have fought in memory of those who have fallen on the field of battle. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary that the regiment have representatives residing in France. Due to the high regard we have for our former French Commanders, it is the request of all ranks of the regiment that General Mariano Goybet, commanding the 157th D. I. .and Colonel Augustin Quillet, commanding the 157th I. D., act as trustees of a fund that has been donated by all ranks for the erection and maintenance of a monument. The fund, consisting of 10,744 francs, has been deposited with the Credit Lyonnais at Le Mans Sarthe, to the credit of the above mentioned trustees. The trust fund so deposited is for the purpose of securing a site, purchasing and erecting a monument upon the site, erecting a suitable fence or safeguard for the monument and covering all expenses incidental to the purchasing, erection and maintenance of the monument and fence or safeguard and for making and forwarding a limited number of photographs of the monument after it is erected.
"2. It is the desire of the members of the regiment that the monument shall be a plain shaft of granite or other durable stone with the following inscription in English:
In Memory of the Members of the
372nd U. S. Infantry, killed in action September 26,
1918, to October 7, 1918
"3. It is the desire of the regiment that the monument be erected if practicable, in a conspicuous place near a public roadway and near the most forward point of the advance of the regiment. It its the request of the regiment that the two trustees take all legal measures to put the above in full force with the least possible delay.
"4. It is requested that 24 photographs of the monument, taken after its erection on the site selected, be forwarded to the present Commanding Officer of the 372nd U. S. Infantry.
The trust was accepted by the Gallant French officers, and under their direction there is to be erected in France a massive granite memorial to the heroic American Negroes of the 372nd. May they rest in peace!
Chapter XVIII. Negro Heros of the War
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