October 27, 2014 Harlem Rattlers – African-American Combat Unit in World War I – Is Subject of Book Discussion
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Members of the Harlem Rattlers, the African-American combat unit that grew out of the 15th New York National Guard, achieved mythic status for their role in World War I, in which they were said to have never lost a man to capture or a foot of ground that had been taken.
The 369th Infantry Regiment, as the Rattlers were formally known, is the subject of a new book by Jeffrey T. Sammons and John H. Morrow called “Harlem Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African-American Quest for Equality” (University Press of Kansas, 2014). The authors will discuss and sign their book on Monday, Nov. 3, at noon in the Mumford Room, located on the sixth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. SE, Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond event, co-sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Veterans History Project, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.
On May 15, 1918, a French lieutenant warned Henry Johnson of the 369th to move back because of a possible enemy raid. Johnson reportedly replied: “I'm an American, and I never retreat.” The story, even if apocryphal, captures the mythic status of the regiment.
Jeffrey Sammons is a professor of history at New York University. John Morrow is Franklin Professor of History at the University of Georgia.
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