AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
Re: Harlem Hellfighters
In Response To: Re: Harlem Hellfighters ()
Thanks for your insight as always. Now, re: the inferior equipment, etc. etc. SIGH, I have already gotten six emails on this posting and reply, so rather than respond to each one, will use this forum:
FIRST OF ALL: Inferior equipment/supplies ad nauseum. EVERYBODY in the western posts suffered the same supply problems. Just look at it rationally for a minute. 1. All the posts were a long ways from the major supply posts. Supplies had to come hundreds and thousands of miles over very slow, torturous and dangerous routes via wagon, flatboat and train. Storage and transportation were not what they are today. Meat spoiled, flour, hardtack and crackers got weevils. Food got wet during rain and river crossings and spoiled, bottles and crockery got broken. Supply trains/wagons were subject to the vagaries of weather (including drought, flood, tornadoes, mud, snow, on and on), Indian attack, unscrupulous suppliers-who used their government contracts to provide inferior products knowing it was difficult to prosecute them. (How can you prove on a journey of weeks and months that the flour started out weevily and the meat spoiled?)
2. Uniforms. At the end of the Civil War, the Government had a huge surplus of uniforms-they came in two sizes, small and medium. They were rather a motley assortment of styles until they put out new contracts, increased the size ranges and made them-as it were, uniform. Again, it was a long way for supplies to come. It was only normal for the troopers to supplement their uniforms with hats that had broader brims, providing more protection than the kepi, and other items of clothing.
3. Desertion-absolutely-the rates were much lower-but again, look at the facts. The military provided a career. For many men, it was the best career they could find-and if they were from the deep South, the reality was, they may not have had much to return to-especially if they had lost family during the war. The military gave them a home, work, companionship, a steady income, security. Granted it could be rigid discipline, boring posts, isolation and hardship-but it offered opportunity that was all too limited elsewhere. Marksmanship-again, absolutely. There are many records that show the quality of the Black troops in many respects-marksmanship, drill, patience under trying conditions, attention to their equipment.
4. Tony, you have answered the MOH question admirably-I will leave it alone, except to say that for every Black soldier in the USCT and the Regular army during the Indian Wars and later who received a MOH, there were probably a hundred who deserved it.
Please remember also-that above all these soldiers were men. There were rogues and cowards as well as heroes, just as with any group of people. American Black Military history is full of true to life heroes-whose stories should be voiced loudly for all to hear. Please, study those stories and share them-but the myth and stereotypes need to be left behind. If you hear a story-look for the facts behind it. Thanks!
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