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Unjustly Dishonored

An African American Division in World War I

Robert H. Ferrell

Publication Year: 2011

 

        For nearly one hundred years, the 92nd Division of the U.S. Army in World War I has been remembered as a military failure. The division should have been historically significant. It was the only African American division of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Comprised of nearly twenty-eight thousand black soldiers, it fought in two sectors of the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne, the largest and most costly battle in all of U.S. history. Unfortunately, when part of the 368th Infantry Regiment collapsed in the battle’s first days, the entire division received a blow to its reputation from which it never recovered.   

 

  
 
            In Unjustly Dishonored: An African American Division in World War I, Robert H. Ferrell challenges long-held assumptions and asserts that the 92nd, in fact, performed quite well militarily. His investigation was made possible by the recent recovery of a wealth of records by the National Archives. The retrieval of lost documents allowed access to hundreds of pages of interviews, mostly from the 92nd Division’s officers, that had never before been considered. In addition, the book uses the Army’s personal records from the Army War College, including the newly discovered report on the 92nd’s field artillery brigade by the enthusiastic commanding general.

 

 
In the first of its sectors, the Argonne, the 92nd took its objective. Its engineer regiment was a large success, and when its artillery brigade got into action, it so pleased its general that he could not praise it enough. In the attack of General John J. Pershing’s Second Army during the last days of the war, the 92nd captured the Bois Frehaut, the best performance of any division of the Second Army.

 

 
            This book is the first full-length account of the actual accomplishments of the 92nd Division. By framing the military outfit’s reputation against cultural context, historical accounts, and social stigmas, the authorproves that the 92nd Division did not fail and made a valuable contribution to history that should, and now finally can, be acknowledged. Unjustly Dishonored fills a void in the scholarship on African American military history and World War I studies.

Published by: University of Missouri Press

Title page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-x

For many years the reputation of the Ninety-second Division, the only African American division in France in World War I, 1917–1918, has been tarnished, to say the least; in fact, the division has had no reputation except for failure. White Americans referred to its poor...

Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xviii

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One: Training

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pp. 1-16

The training of the Ninety-second Division did not differ much from training of other divisions organized by the War Department after the nation entered the world war in April 1917. After its organization in October 1917, the Ninety-second trained in the United States and then, upon arriving in France the next summer, began...

Two: Argonne

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pp. 17-41

Images

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pp. 42-48

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Three: Engineers and Artillery

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pp. 49-69

If one took the opinions of the three battalion commanders and the colonel commanding the 368th Infantry of the Ninety-second Division, it was evident that both black officers and black infantrymen failed in the Argonne. If, then, one took the...

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Four: Marbache

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pp. 70-88

In the Marbache sect or of the American line in France, where the Ninety-second Division spent the last month of its wartime service with the AEF, the African American company-grade officers leading African American troops did as well, even better, than officers...

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Five: Conclusion

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pp. 89-106

The reputation of the Ninety-second Division was not high before its 368th Regiment went into the Argonne Forest for five days. Thereafter it settled into the basement of divisional reputations. The reason was twofold. For one thing, the white officers of...

Notes

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pp. 107-114

Bibliography

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pp. 115-120

Index

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pp. 121-123


E-ISBN-13: 9780826272461
E-ISBN-10: 0826272460
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826219169
Print-ISBN-10: 0826219160

Page Count: 141
Illustrations: 13 photos, 4 maps
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1
Series Title: American Military Experience