This 19th century lithograph is a variation of the famous engraving of the Boston Massacre by Paul Revere. Produced soon before the American Civil War, this image emphasizes Crispus Attucks, who had become a symbol for Abolitionists. (John Bufford after William L. Champey, ca. 1856)
Studio portrait of the surviving Six Nations warriors who fought with the British in the War of 1812. (Right to left:) Sakawaraton a.k.a. John Smoke Johnson (born ca. 1792); John Tutela (born ca. 1797) and Young Warner (born ca. 1794). Taken in Brantford, Ontario.
“Burying the Dead at Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va.” (title from print). Title from Civil War caption book(?): “Fredericksburg, Virginia. Burial of Federal dead.” Shows four African American men digging graves; a bearded white man can be seen looking on, arms crossed, in the distance.
Andrew Jackson Smith, Color Sergeant, 55TH Massachusettts Volunteer Infantry, Medal of Honor recipient.
Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, commander who led the 54TH Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the attack on Fort Wagner, Charleston, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863.
General James Longstreet, Confederate Lieutenant General, “reconstructed rebel” and champion of ex-slaves enfranchisement rights during Reconstruction.
Segregated company of US Soldiers (likely Buffalo Soldiers), Camp Wikoff, 1898 –during the Spanish-American War National Archives and Records Administration.
Edward L. Baker, Jr., United States Army. Recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Spanish-American War.
Edward Allen Carter, Staff Sergeant, 56TH Armored Infantry Battalion, 12TH Armored Division, Medal of Honor recipient.
William Henry Thompson, Private First Class, 24TH infantry Regiment, 25TH Infantry Regiment, Medal of Honor recipient.
James Anderson, Jr., Private First Class, 3RD Marine regiment, 3RD Marine Division, Medal of Honor recipient.
Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa, first Native American woman mortally wounded in combat service, in the battle of Nasiriyah, Iraq, 2003.
Jessica Dawn Lynch, Quartermaster PFC, injured and captured during the battle of Nasiriyah, Iraq, 2003.
WAF Bugler A/2C Frances E. Courtney furnishes the bugle calls of taps and reveille for the 3452nd Student Squadron (WAF) at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base. It is believed that A/2C Courtney is the only WAF Bugler in the Air Force. 23 June 1953 (U.S. Air Force photo.)
Diana Barnato Walker climbing into the cockpit of a Spitfire while serving with the Air Transport Auxiliary.
Revolutionary WarAfrican-American women played major support roles during the Colonial period by providing help to the militia.Their assistance included roles such as moving into the “big house” to support the slaveowner’s wife when he went away to serve in the militia, taking care of wounds, and working alongside the men in building forts for safety from both the Indians and the British.African-American females also played a major role as spies during the Revolutionary War.They kept Colonial authorities informed on the British. With the promise of freedom from slavery as a motivating factor, the African-American woman found innovative ways to assist. According to Lucy Terry’s written accounts of the war, Black women disguised themselves as men and fought side by side with them against the British, and kept the homes so that White women could go near their husbands during engagements.Phillis Wheatley, a very literate Black woman, used her writing ability to praise and express appreciation for General George Washington during the Revolutionary War. He showed his appreciation by inviting her to visit him at his headquarters in February of 1776.
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was basically a naval war. Female assistance was limited to making bandages and tending the sick and wounded sailors. Additionally, Black women were able to take care of the farms so that the White men could leave their homes and families and go off to war knowing things would run smoothly.
Civil WarHarriet Tubman became an inspiration to all who loved and valued freedom. She served as a Union spy, an unpaid soldier, a volunteer nurse, and a freedom fighter. She loved freedom so much that she left her husband and brother behind when they chose not to run the risk of escaping from freedom. During the war, she earned the name “General” Tubman from the soldiers in the field.
Harriet TubmanAnother former slave, Susan King Taylor, became famous for her volunteer service during the Civil War. She escaped from slavery at the age of 12 and was teaching freedmen by the time she was 16. During the war, Taylor met Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, who inspired her. Taylor volunteered as a nurse and launderer for Black Civil War troops as she traveled with her husband’s unit, the 33rd United States Colored Troops. She formed the Boston Branch of the Women’s Relief Corps after the war. Her memoirs, published in 1902, became the only written record of Black volunteer nurses in the Civil War.
Spanish-American WarBlack American females again played the role of nurses. During this war, over 75 percent of all deaths resulted from typhoid and yellow fever. Many Black female volunteer nurses were told that they were immune to the diseases because their skin was darker and thicker. Because of this, many of them exposed themselves to the diseases and became casualties when they returned home. Because of segregated living areas, the Whites never knew the high rate of casualties that these women suffered. The Army was so pleased with the 32 contract Black nurses, however, that many congressmen tried but failed to create a permanent corps of Army nurses.
World War IFor the first time in military history, the African-American females had an official organization where they found leadership and direction to use their abilities. The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses had been founded in 1909. In 1917, the co-founder of the Red Cross urged Black nurses to enroll in the American Red Cross, although they were not accepted until two months before the war ended in November 1918. African-American females continued to serve by making bandages, taking over jobs that men held so they could be soldiers, working in hospitals and troop centers, and serving in other relief organizations as they had in previous wars. Many served in Hostess Houses operated by the Young Women’s Christian Association, where they wrote letters home for illiterate soldiers and read incoming mail to them.
World War IIIt was not until World War II (1942) that women were officially allowed to serve in great numbers in the armed forces. The Army had the Women’s Army Corps (WAC); the Navy had Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES); and the Coast Guard had the SPARS. The majority of African-American women served in the WAC. They remained in segregated units, as did the African-American men. Although the Navy intended to increase the number of African-Americans to 10 percent, there were still less than 50 Black WAVES by 1945. The U.S. Coast Guard had even less in the SPARS. Out of the highest number of women in the military during this period (271,000), only 4,000 were African-American women, simply because there just weren’t any opportunities for them. African-American women continued to serve from the Korean Conflict through Viet Nam to Operation Desert Storm.(Black enlisted women fared much worse in the Navy, as the website, Museum of Black WWII History describes. Even enlisted Black women who were nurses in the Army had to fight for respect and recognition before they were assigned to hospitals to tend to injured soldiers:
While there were 250,000 black nurses in the country, only 479 were accepted into the Army Nurse Corp. About 130 black nurses were sent to Europe even though the military was thinking of drafting white nurses because of a nurse shortage. It was thought to be socially improper to have black nurses care for white troops. Because few black troops were allowed in combat units, there were not enough black casualties for the black nurses to care for. Then the black nurses were assigned to P.O.W. hospitals. When the black nurses objected to this treatment they were finally placed in regular hospitals to care for all the wounded near the end of the war.
Lieutenant Harriet Pickens and Ensign Francis Wills were the only two black Wave officers in the Navy during the war. There were also 70 black enlisted women in the Navy.
The 6888th Postal Unit:
PDF]VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS • ENSURING RIGHTS, RECO… 2008, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. ….. Assigned to the 6888th Central. Postal Directory Battalion, these …http://www.vfwdepartmentresources.org/downloadFile.asp?file_… – http://www.vfwdepartmentresources.org/downloadFile.asp?file_id=2119
February 8, 1996-Vol27n17: Military sociology is Moore’s spe… A veteran of a six-year career in the Army, Moore reached the rank of staff … of the 850 members of the 6888th Battalion of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), … for ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II. … The Commission oversees the planning and construction of memorials on foreign soil. …
During WWII the first all black WAC group to serve overseas was the 6888th Postal Unit in England and then France. Here Major Charity Adams reviews the troops in Birmingham England. (National Archives).
Desert StormAfrican-American women served with distinction during Operation Desert Storm, as officers, noncommissioned officers, and enlisted soldiers. Of the 35,000 females who went to Desert Storm, an estimated 40 percent of them were African-Americans. According to SSG Betty Brown of the Washington, DC, Army National Guard, all of these women endured the heat and the primitive conditions: no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms, and the sanitation details (cleaning the 10 gallon trash cans that served as toilets).An African-American woman, LT Phoebe Jeter, who headed an all-male platoon, ordered 13 Patriots fired (anti-missile missiles), destroying at least two Scuds (Iraqi surface-to-surface missiles). (15:100) Another African-American woman, CPT Cynthia Mosely, commanded Alpha Company, 24th Support Battalion Forward, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), a 100-person unit that supplied everything from fuel to water to ammunition. Her unit resupplied fuel for all of the forward brigades because it was closest to the front lines.
Ensign Matice Wright, the Navy`s first black female naval flight officer,poses for DOD photograph.
Wright was assigned to Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3 (VQ-3). Date: 01 MAY 1993These women who served in the military since pre-colonial days have paved the way for new recruits and current active duty females to follow. When we look at the statistical data of African-American women entering the military, we find that Black women in FY 1993 comprised 33 percent of Army female recruits, 22 percent of Navy female recruits, 17 percent of Marine Corps female recruits and 18 percent of Air Force female recruits. (21:2-10) Today the statistics tell us that 30.3 percent of the military is African-American women; approximately 33.6 percent serve as enlisted, and 13.1 percent serve as commissioned and warrant officers.
Sgt Danyell E. Wilson, first black woman Tomb SentinelThe following African-American females have attained the rank of general officer: currently on active duty, BG Marcelite Jorden-Harris, Director Maintenance, Headquarters United States Air Force/LG, and retired from the U.S. Army BG Clara L. Adams-Ender and BG Sherian G. Cadoria.
BGEN Marcelite Harris.
- March 8, 1945, Phyllis Mae Daily, the first Black nurse was sworn into the Navy Nurse Corps in New York City.
- February 12, 1948, the first Black nurse joined the Regular Army Nurse Corps.
- In July 1974, Reverend Alice Henderson was commissioned as a chaplain, becoming the first female chaplain, Black or White.
- Also in July 1974, five Black women out of a group of 15 women became cadets at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.
- In May 1975, Lieutenant Donna P. Davis became the first Black woman doctor in the Naval Medical Corps.
- In November 1979, Second Lieutenant Marcella A. Hayes is the fifty-fifth woman out of 48,000 officers to graduate from the Army Aviation School in Ft Rucker, Alabama. She became the first Black woman pilot in the U.S. armed forces.
- In September 1979, Hazel Winifred Johnson became the first Black woman promoted to the rank and position of Brigadier General, Chief of the Army Nurse Corps
- In December 1980, Ensign Brenda Robinson became the first Black female aviator in the U.S. Navy assigned to the Fleet Logistics Squadron Forty in Norfolk, Virginia.
- On May 18, 1983, Angela Dennis of Arkansas became one of the first two Black women to graduate from the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.Source: Ms. Jacqueline Hodge, an Instructional Systems Specialist at the U.S. Armor School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, served as a participant in the Topical Research Intern Program at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) in March 1995. She conducted extensive research on African-American women and prepared this report. The Institute thanks Ms. Hodge for her contributions to the research efforts.
I found this excellent interview of one of the women veterans of the 6888th Postal Unit. Here is an except of the interview of Captain Violet Hill Gordon, interviewed by Judith Kent:
KENT: Today is March 25, the year 2002. This interview is being conducted in Palm Coast, Florida in the private home of Mrs. Violet Hill Gordon, the veteran who will be interviewed. The interviewer, Judith Kent, is present representing the Flagler County Public Library where both she and Mrs. Gordon are volunteers and trustees. Testing, testing. Mrs. Gordon, would you state for the record what branch of the service you served in?
GORDON: I served in the Women’s Army Corps, which originally was the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. KENT: In what war did you serve? GORDON: World War II. KENT: And your rank? GORDON: I was discharged as a Captain. I entered the training for the Officer Candidate class, the first one for women. That meant that I began as an enlisted person for training. At the end of the training period, which was, I believe six weeks; I earned the rank of what was then called, “The Second Commanding Officer”. KENT: Where did you serve during your enlistment? GORDON: My Officer Candidate Training took place in Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. At the completion of that I was assigned to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona where the first detachment of Black women were sent. There I served as the Second Commanding Officer. In other words, I was the Executive Officer. I served in that capacity until I was transferred to? until I moved with a detachment to Ft. Lewis, Washington. KENT: And from there? GORDON: I served there until I received orders to report, I believe to Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia for an overseas assignment. That involved assignment to? well; it involved going overseas to the European Theater where I served as an officer in the Six Triple Eight Central Postal Directory. [changed to 6888th Postal Battalion by Mrs. Gordon on 3/29/02] That was my assignment until I was discharged. KENT: Let’s go back now to 1942 and your enlistment. Where were you living at that time? GORDON: In Chicago, Illinois. KENT: Why did you join? READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.00146/transcript?ID=sr0001
There is also the National Association Of Black Military Women (NABMW) – A short outline on the NABMW history can be found at: National Association of Black Military Women Contact for the National Association of Black Military Women is:
c/o LTC Kathaleen Harris
5695 Pine Meadows Ct.
Morrow, GA 30260