The Call to the Colors
Source of the entire series: "SCOTT'S OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO IN THE WORLD WAR" by Emmett J. Scott, A.M., LL.D., Special Assistant to the Secretary of War.
Negro Troops That Were Ready When War Was Declared - The Famous 9th and 10th Cavalry, U.S. Army - The 24th and 25th Infantry - National Guards Units of Colored Troops - The 8th Illinois - The 15th New York - National Guard Units of Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and Tennessee - First Separate Battalion of the District of Columbia - How All of These Responded to the Call.
Nearly 400,000 Negro Soldiers served in the United States Army in the Great World War. About 367,710 of these came into the service through the operation of the Selective Draft Law. How this selective draft operated and how the Negro responded to the call to the colors, will be discussed later. It is a matter of pride, however, to realize that at the instant of the declaration of war, there were nearly 20,000 soldiers of the Negro race in the United States, uniformed, armed, equipped, drilled, trained and ready to take the field against the foe. Proportionately to the total Negro population of America, this was a splendid showing.
Many of these Negro soldiers of the Regular Army anf the National Guard had already seen as long and as active service in the field as any of the Regukar Army or National Guard regiments of white soldiers. About 10,000 of these Negro troops that were ready when war was declared were in the original four colored regiments of the Regular Army. It was the 9th and 10th Cavalry, the Negro troops of the U.S. Regular Army, that saved the day at San Juan Hill for Colonel Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and helped to give him much of his military prestige and fame. The story of the famous charge of these black troops who rushed the Spanish stronghold singing "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," is a familiar story to everyone.
In the war with Spain, in the Philippines, on the Mexican Border, these Negro troops and the two colored infantry regiments of the Regular Army, the 24th and the 25th, won high distinction and merited praise.
Besides these 10,000 Negro soldiers already in the Regular Army, there were nearly 10,000 more in the National Guards of several States, such organizations as the 8th Illinois, the 15th New York, the First Separate Company of Maryland, the 9th Battalion of Ohio, the First Separate Company of Connecticut, Co. L of Massachusetts National Guard and Co. G of the Tennessee National Guard. Some of these, when the United States became a belligerent in the World War, had only recently seen service on the Mexican border.
In the regular army one colored man, Charles Young, of Wilberforce, Ohio, a graduate of West Point, rose to the rank of Colonel, prior to his recent retirement the highest rank attained by any colored man. Benjamin Oliver Davis, of Washington, D.C., rose from the ranks, entering during the Spanish-American War, to Lieutenant-Colonel, and is now stationed with the 9th U.S. Cavalry in the Philippines. Walter H. Loring, retired, another Washingtonian, served with distinction as bandmaster of the Philippines Constabulary Band, and is now a Major. Several colored chaplains of the Regular Army retired with rank of Major, as did one paymaster, Major John R. Lynch, of Chicago. Quite a number of colored men were Colonels and Majors in the various National Guard organizations.