Officers of the 366th Infantry - WWI
Madison County During World War I
African/American Soldiers - Their Story
COLORED TROOP OF 60 START DRILL TOMORROW
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 9, 1917
Alton is to have a colored company of sixty men who will drill in the Naval Militia armory, and they will start tomorrow night. Gene Price, a colored chauffeur, is forming the company, and it has not been decided who will drill them. They will hold their first meeting tomorrow evening in the Naval armory, and make arrangements for their regular weekly drills. The young colored men of the city have been anxious to do something in the line of preparedness, and have been planning for some time to form a company here if enough men could be procured. They were successful to the extent of forming a company, and the plan is now assured and they will start at once.
“Gene” Edward Price, was the son of Joseph Henry and Emily Baker
Price. He worked for John Hayner until 1900, and then worked as a
chauffeur for the Levis family. Gene organized and led a company of
African-American men, who served in World War I. Nearly every night
between 8 and 9pm, in the vicinity of Five Points [intersection of
Piasa, Belle, and West 16th Streets], the men would drill with
broomsticks for rifles and sticks for pistols. They would rush
trenches and train in the art of warfare. Nearby residents would sit
and watch, encouraging the men as they trained.
Edward Price [in photo] is my maternal great uncle, who is mentioned
in the news article above. He drove for the Levis family and was
gassed in France
during WWI. He was a son of Joseph Henry Price and Emily Baker.
Joseph worked for John Hayner until 1900 and the family lived on the
place until about then. I knew uncle Gene because after he retired
from farming he lived in a small trailer home next to my parent's
home in Wichita
and died there in 1973. Submitted by Gene
COLORED TRAINING CORPS IS BUSY
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 19, 1917
Nearly every night between 8 and 9 o'clock, the residents of the vicinity of the Five Points are treated to exhibition drills by embryo soldiers, who use broomsticks and other present arms, rush trenches and perand [sic] shorter sticks for pistols. There are probably fifty in the company according to the Telegraph's informant, and they are all colored youths who are anxious to drill themselves in the art of warfare, so that if Uncle Sam needs them, he will find them ready and willing. They expect, too, to give a good account of themselves when they get to hunting Heinies [a derogatory term used for German soldiers that originated in World War I, short for Heinrich] in earnest. They are all of draft age, and expect to be called into service. They hay foot, straw foot, advance, retreat, ticks, for guns, cutlasses and swords, form many other stunts which they think all well regulated soldiers should be able to do, and every night the curbstones furnish seats for scores of delighted women and children, and yes, a fair sprinkling of men enjoy the drills.
[From American Heritage Magazine: ...."drill sergeants repeatedly found that among the raw recruits there were men so abysmally untaught that they did not know left from right, and hence could not step off on the left foot as all soldiers should. To teach these lads how to march, the sergeants would tie a wisp of hay to the left foot and a wisp of straw to the right; then, setting the men to march, they would chant, 'Hay-foot, straw-foot, hay-foot, straw-foot' - and so on, until everybody had caught on. A common name for a green recruit in those days was 'strawfoot.'"]
FAREWELL TO COLORED SOLDIERS IS GIVEN - REVEREND MASON STARTS MOVEMENT TO GIVE EACH BIBLE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 14, 1917
The members of the Union Baptist Church gave a farewell and banquet to the colored boys who are going to war, in their church Wednesday night, and there was a good attendance, and it was a patriotic meeting from beginning to end. J. D. McAdams of the exemption board spoke on why the colored boys are called for the army and what we are fighting for. Rev. Mr. Brewer of the North Side colored church read a letter from Dr. Samuels, and gave the young soldiers some excellent advice. Rev. Mr. Summers spoke on what duty and discipline mean, and Rev. Mr. Mason of the Baptist Church ended the program of speaking with a timely eulogy of the faithfulness of the colored man and prophesied that the colored boys from Alton would be a credit to the uniforms they will wear. Harry B. Coats was chairman and was toastmaster at the banquet given in the basement of the church when good things to eat and a cheerful farewell was given the soldiers who attended. The splendid banquet was prepared by the ladies of the church, and all in all the event was a most happy one and a most timely one. The colored troops will not leave September 20, but it is expected they will be called soon thereafter and that they will go to Des Moines, Iowa.
PROVISIONAL LIST OF NEGRO CONTINGENT - SUBJECT TO CHANGE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 15, 1918
The Alton local exemption board today issued a provisional list of names of young negroes who may be sent to Camp Grant the last of this month. It was stated today by the exemption board that the list was far from an accurate one, as it is believed a number of the men in the list have left the city and have entered the service by permission. At least one in the list is dead, and perhaps more. Contingencies have arisen which may make it desirable to hold back some of the men and send others in their places. The following is the list of names given out, with the understanding it is subject to radical changing:
FAREWELL SEND-OFF FOR COLORED SOLDIERS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 22, 1918
The colored citizens of Alton have completed arrangements for a big farewell reception and entertainment to be given in Dreamland Hall Thursday evening in honor of the thirty colored draft men who leave Friday for an army cantonment. A program of speaking and dancing has been prepared. Russell's orchestra will furnish the music.
NEGRO CONTINGENT LEAVES TONIGHT
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 29, 1918
The first contingent of negroes to go to training camp to prepare for military duty will leave Alton for Camp Grant tonight. Only one man out of the thirty names first on the list has so far failed to be found. The others are eager for the service and ready to go. They are as follows:
There will be a big farewell reception at the train this evening in which both whites and blacks will participate. It is desired to give the young negroes a good send off. They will be given farewell at Crowe's hall earlier in the evening. They have been given remembrances by their people, and they will be given a big send off. The whites and the negroes met this afternoon at 3 o'clock at the Y.M.C.A. for a count of heads. The men were put under orders and furloughed then to report later. The negroes will first be at Crowe's hall this evening. After the farewell given them by the committee in charge of that feature, they will be marched at 9 o'clock to the Y.M.C.A. where they will be lined up ready to march to the train, which will leave at 10 p.m. The party will halt on the way to the train, and there will be speechmaking at the stand at Broadway and Market streets. J. J. Brenholt and H. B. Coats are the speakers. The men will reach Camp Grant Tuesday morning. They will be fed in Chicago.
COLORED MEN TO BE CALLED TO CAMP
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 24, 1918
Ninety-one men will leave Alton between August 1 and 6 for training camp. The Exemption Board has prepared the list of men who are to go during those days. The Alton Exemption Board has been notified to hold the men in readiness for the call between those two dates. Many of the colored men on the list given out today have not appeared for examination. They have been placed on the list. Any of those may appear before the Exemption Board at 1 o'clock on Thursday afternoon for examination. In several days two or three boys will go from the same family in this call. The names of two presidents will be represented - George Washington and John Quincy Adams will go out with this quota. The following is the list of colored men who have been selected to go from Alton:
MORE NEGROES ADDED TO LIST
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 25, 1918
Seven more negroes were added to the list of those who are to leave between August 1st and the 6th. The men are to be sent out according to government instructions between those days. The following are the men added to the list: William Ringo, John F. Walker, John J. Cannon, Leo Mills, John E. Perry, Ben Ote, Zettie Gardner.
NEGRO CONTINGENT READY TO LEAVE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 5, 1918
The time for departure of the big contingent of negroes to clean up the 1917 class of negroes registered at Alton is 5:55 p.m. this evening. It is expected that there will be a big send-off for the departing contingent. The number will be short of that ordered to be furnished by Alton. The local board had reported itself ready to send out 91 men, but the discovery was made that six of them are out of the city and must be sent from where they are by other boards, and one could not be found. One or two of the number were found physically disabled, and it appeared likely that not more than eighty would entrain for Camp Dodge this evening. When the negroes were called into the Y.M.C.A. this morning, an early comer was playing lively tunes on the piano, and the drafted men would enter the Y.M.C.A. tripping over the smooth floor, cutting pigeon wings, doing buck and wing dances, and singing. It was withal the jolliest lot of drafted men so far summoned to attend a business meeting of the board. A send-off will be given the negroes this evening. The White Hussar Band will play, and there will be speechmaking. John Quincy Adams was selected to have charge of the transportation, and his aides will be Donnie Parry, Frank Jamerson, and Sol Bass. George Washington, one of the contingent, was not selected for official position. It is expected a regular army man will come here to escort the contingent to Camp Dodge. Some of these men are leaving families, and their circumstances are hard indeed. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that Dick Wilder, of the Labor Department at the glass works, told the exemption board that the draft of negroes had taken 32 men out of the glass works, and had crippled the plant because of the jobs they held. Out of the 88 men called, 83 appeared, the others being out of the city. There will be eight transfers of men to other places. The program prepared includes introductory remarks by Rev. Higgins, the principal address by Rev. Mason, and the prayer by Rev. Brewer.
13 NEGROES LEAVE FOR CAMP GRANT
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 17, 1918
Thirteen drafted negroes will be entrained for Camp Grant during the three day period, September 25-27. The exact date of entrainment has not been given to the local board. The principals and the alternates selected to make the trip to Camp Grant are:
ROBERT MOSBY WRITES OF THANKSGIVING THOUGHTS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 16, 1918
Robert Mosby of Co. 1, 366 Infantry, writes the Evening Telegraph from "Somewhere in France," that all the colored boys from Alton that have been sent overseas are well. Mosby says: "I saw a clipping out of your paper where Anse Martin wrote you a letter. It was a very good one in my opinion, so I thought I would write one also. All the boys from Alton who were sent overseas when I was are in the best of good health. They send their regards to all. They hope to return soon and find dear old Alton the same as when we left. All of us do not belong to the same company, but we get to see each other often. I have been made a First Private and a runner, and I am proud of my post. I am glad to know that Anse was lucky enough to be made a sergeant. I have not been lucky enough to see any of the white boys from home. You must tell everybody to eat plenty of fowl for Christmas. I and the rest of the boys can eat our chow and think of the next Thanksgiving to come, and of all the cranberries and pumpkin pie and other good eats. I would like to write a much longer letter, but I don't know what to say jsut now, only this French talk still gets my goat. I am learning some of it, but I just can't turn my tongue so many ways."
COLORED WARRIORS COME BACK HOME - NONE OF THEM HURT
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 26, 1919
Eleven young colored men who left Alton almost a year ago to enter the military service have been arriving home from France. They saw service in the fighting in the Argonne, and when the Armistice was signed they were on the Metz front. Robert Mosby, who wrote frequently to the Telegraph during his absence, paid a visit at the Telegraph office today. There were 31 of the boys went away at the time Mosby did, and they were separated after leaving here. Mosby and seven others left this country on June 5, and arrived in France June 28. They were put up near the fighting front in August, and stayed along the front all the remainder of the time until after the war was ended. Mosby says that although the Alton boys saw active service, where they had to shoot and shot fast to stay, there was not one of the eleven Alton boys who were in his division who got hurt. Mosby brought home a hand grenade for Mayor Sauvage. He said that he had many souvenirs, but he was unable to bring home what he wanted to bring. The soldiers were told the accommodations for carrying souvenirs home were limited. Mosby had to leave behind a helmet he had acquired, and that is one of the chief sorrows of his heart. Mosby says that he was a liaison man, carrying messages back and forth between the units. The other Alton boys were on the front line in the most active of service. All the Alton boys of his group came back in good shape.
BAND TO PLAY FOR COLORED SOLDIERS' PARADE
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 24, 1919
When the returned colored soldiers give their parade down town Wednesday evening, their line of march will be headed by the White Hussar band. When the colored soldiers left Alton the band gave their services to escort the soldiers from the hall on State street to the train, where they were given a send-off. At that time members of the band told the colored boys that when they came home the band would play for their reception. Now that the colored soldiers have decided on the date of their parade, the band has volunteered to keep the promise made to these boys before they crossed the Atlantic, and they are going to make good their promise. The parade will start from Second and Ridge streets at 7:15 o'clock, and will go down town.
MEETING FOR COLORED SOLDIERS
Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 26, 1919
The returned colored soldiers were guests of honor at the celebration given in their honor last evening. It was the opening of a two-day celebration which will close with a banquet this evening in Crowe's hall. The soldier boys are to be entertained with a banquet this evening. Following a parade down Broadway, in which the White Hussar band, the Upper Alton Drum Corps, the colored soldiers, and the colored Red Cross workers took part, a mass meeting was held at the Temple Theatre. All of the soldiers were seated on the stage with the speakers. R. L. Jones opened the meeting, and introduced Mrs. Gillis, who presided. Short talks were made by William Sauvage, Ed Beall, and J. D. McAdams. In his talk, Mr. McAdams called attention to the fact that the Alton Exemption Board had been caused no trouble by the negro boys. He also called the attention of the colored people to the work that the White Hussar band had done in contributing their services in a number of patriotic meetings. Miss Gallaway rendered a piano solo, and then Col. Otis M. Duncan, the speaker of the evening, was introduced. Col. Duncan is the highest ranking colored officer in the United States Army. He was an officer in the famous regiment of "Black Devils" at the time they helped make the charge that broke the Hindenburg line. Col. Duncan said that the Americans and the colored men did not win the war, but that all of the countries working together defeated the German machine. He did say, however, that the Americans, and especially the negro American troops, played an important part in stopping the German drive on Paris. He told of one battle near Soissons in which the colored troops were ordered to charge down one hill and up another. He said that he sent over twenty-four hundred soldiers, and one-half of this number were killed or wounded. Duncan said that the colored men went over the top in the broad daylight, waving their guns and yelling at the top of their voices, and that the approach of these troops terrified the Germans.
[Shown in the photo are officers from the 370th Infantry (8th Illinois), 93d Division, returning from France in 1918. From left to right: Major J. R. White, Lt. Colonel Otis B. Duncan (speaker at the meeting in Alton), and Lt. W. J. Warfield. All these men received the French Croix de Guerre.]
Copyright Bev Bauser. All rights reserved.