Who were they?
Armory (MAAP) and Memorial (flickr.com) of Harlem Hellfighters
Croix de Guerre (Great Stories from the Great War.com)
After the war.....
Some of the Harlem Hellfighters (militarywatchbox.com)
They spent 191 days fighting, which was the longest of any other American infantry ( Woodfork). With the French, they fought at Belleau Wood and Château-Thierry. The Harlem Hellfighters also captured an important village, Sechault (Freedman, 141). Not only did they earn important war events, but they also introduced jazz to the people of Europe (Mikkelsen).
Because of their valiant capture of Sechault, the Hellfighters recieved the Croix de Guerre (Freedman, 141), and 170 individual men won medals, which included 2 personal Croix de Guerre (MAAP). They were the first Americans to earn the Croix de Guerre (MAAP) and their regiment earned the most awards of any American regiment (Mikkelsen). Although they weren't allowed in the victory parade (NYS Military Museum), when they arrived home on February 17, 1919, they were welcomed with a parade along 5th Avenue in Manahattan (Nelson). Their armory is located on One West 142nd St., with their memorial of a black granite obelisk across the street (MAAP).
Welcoming Parade from the film "Men of Bronze" by William Miles.
The Harlem Hellfighters were the 369th regiment infantry, one of the few completely African American infantries. Their main commander was Colonel William Hayward (Freedman, 141), who was also a New York attorney (Nelson). They dubbed themselves "men of bronze" (Mikkelsen), and were called "hell fighters" by their enemies because of the way they fought in battle (MAAP). "'They are devils,' (a captured Prussian officer) said. 'They smile while they kill and they won't be taken alive.'" (Woodfork).
What was their impact on the war?