92nd Infantry Division (United States)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

92nd Division
92nd Infantry Division (Colored)
US 92nd Infantry Division SVG.svg
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active1917–1919
1942–1945
Country United States
BranchSeal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
TypeInfantry
SizeDivision
Nickname(s)"Buffalo Soldiers"
Motto(s)"Deeds, not Words"
EngagementsWorld War I

World War II

Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj. Gen. Edward M. Almond
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia92 Inf Div DUI.png

The 92nd Infantry Division (92nd Division, WWI) was an African-American infantry division of the United States Army that served in both World War I and World War II. The military was then segregated. The division was organized in October 1917, after the U.S. entry into World War I, at Camp Funston, Kansas, with African-American soldiers from all states. In 1918, before leaving for France, the American buffalo was selected as the divisional insignia due to the "Buffalo Soldiers" nickname, given to African-American cavalrymen in the 19th century. The divisional nickname, "Buffalo Soldiers Division", was inherited from the 366th Infantry, one of the first units organized in the division.

The 92nd Infantry Division was the only African-American infantry division that participated in combat in Europe during World War II. Other units were used as support. It was part of the U.S. Fifth Army, fighting in the Italian Campaign.[1] The division served in the Italian Campaign from 1944 to the war's end.

History[edit]

World War I[edit]

Square Division example: 1918 US Infantry Division. On the far left can be seen two Brigades of two Regiments each
  • Activated: October 1917[2]
  • Overseas: 18 July 1918
  • Major operations: Meuse-Argonne less field artillery
  • Casualties: total: 1,647 (KIA: 120; WIA: 1,527).
  • Commanders: Maj. Gen. Charles C. Ballou (29 October 1917), Maj. Gen. Charles Henry Martin (19 November 1918), Brig. Gen. James B. Erwin (16 December 1918).
  • Returned to United States and inactivated: February 1919.

The 92nd Division was first constituted on paper 24 October 1917 in the National Army, over six months after the U.S. entry into World War I.[3] The division was commanded throughout most of its existence by Major General Charles C. Ballou and was composed of the 183rd Infantry Brigade with the 365th and 366th Infantry Regiments, and the 184th Infantry Brigade with the 367th and 368th Infantry Regiments, together with supporting artillery, engineer, medical and signal units attached.[4]

The division was organized on 27 October 1917 from draftees (Selective Service men) from the United States at large at eight camps. The War Department did not set up a single cantonment for this unit, and distributed the sub-units of men widely throughout the Midwest and East Coast: at Camp Funston on the grounds of Fort Riley, Kansas; Camp Dodge, Iowa; Camp Grant, Illinois; Camp Sherman, Ohio; Camp Meade, Maryland; Camp Dix, New Jersey; Camp Upton, New York. All of the enlisted personnel were African American, along with about four-fifths of the officers. But with few exceptions, the staff and field grade officers, supply, artillery, engineer, and quartermaster officers were all white.[5] For this division, 104 black captains, 397 first lieutenants, and 125 second lieutenants were trained at a "negro officers' camp" in Des Moines, Iowa.[6]

A special "negro zone" was to be built at the east end of Camp Funston, with "separate amusement places and exchanges." A.D. Jellison, a banker of Junction City, Kansas, gave a plot of land for a "community house," to be erected by the black trainees who had been drafted from seven states. [7]

As was the case with the 93rd Division, parts of the 92nd served under and alongside the French Army. The main American Expeditionary Force, adhering to the racial policies of Southern President Woodrow Wilson, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, and southern Democrats, who promoted the "separate but equal" doctrine, refused to allow African-American soldiers to serve in combat with white American soldiers.[citation needed]

Arriving on the Western Front, the 92nd was a green and untried unit that was not even given time to maneuver as a division before being committed to the line. After arrival, the 92nd, like all AEF units, trained for deployment in the trenches. They began to be introduced by company into the French sector front lines in mid-August 1918. The 92nd Artillery Brigade did not come on line until October 1918.[citation needed] Ralph Waldo Tyler was assigned to report on the 92nd Division by Secretary of War Newton Baker. Tyler was the first and at the time, only accredited African American reporting on the Great War.

The 92nd Division saw combat in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during November 1918.[citation needed]

Units[edit]

Officers of the 367th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division, on the Western Front, presumably in 1918.

92nd Division (1917–19)

  • Headquarters, 92nd Division[8]
  • 183rd Infantry Brigade
  • 184th Infantry Brigade
    • 367th Infantry Regiment
    • 368th Infantry Regiment
    • 351st Machine Gun Battalion
  • 167th Field Artillery Brigade
    • 349th Field Artillery Regiment
    • 350th Field Artillery Regiment
    • 351st Field Artillery Regiment
    • 317th Trench Mortar Battery
  • 349th Machine Gun Battalion
  • 317th Engineer Regiment
  • 317th Medical Regiment
  • 317th Field Signal Battalion
  • Headquarters Troop, 92nd Division
  • 317th Train Headquarters and Military Police
    • 317th Ammunition Train
    • 317th Supply Train
    • 317th Engineer Train
    • 317th Sanitary Train
      • 365th, 366th, 367th, and 368th Ambulance Companies and Field Hospitals

World War II[edit]

Triangular Division example: 1942 U.S. infantry division. The brigades of the Square division have been removed, and there are three regiments directly under divisional control.
The soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division enter the city of Montignoso (MS), Italy after having freed it from German troops, 8 April 1945.

The division was reactivated as an infantry division with the "colored" designation, under the command of Major General Edward Almond, on 15 October 1942, ten months after the American entry into World War II. They were assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona and trained in the United States for nearly two years. In late July 1944, the 370th Infantry Regiment was sent overseas to Italy and temporarily attached to the 1st Armored Division. The rest of the division was sent overseas in September of that year, and the division as a whole participated in heavy combat during the remainder of the Italian Campaign.

During the 92nd Division's participation in the Italian Front, the Buffalo Soldiers made contact with units of many nationalities: beyond the attached 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT), they also had contact with the colonial troops of the British and French colonial empires (Moroccans, Algerians, Senegalese, Indians, Gurkhas, and both Arab and Jewish Palestinians) as well as with exiled Poles, Greeks and Czechs, anti-fascist Italians and the troops of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB).[9][10][11]

The division's magazine was The Buffalo.[12] Its art director, Ted Shearer, later created the early African-American comic strip Quincy.[13]

Commanders[edit]

Major General Edward Almond, Commanding General of the 92nd Infantry Division, inspects his troops during a decoration ceremony, March 1945.

The division's commander, Major General Edward Almond, a native Virginian, was for a time highly regarded by General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff. They were both graduates of Virginia Military Institute (VMI). This was a major factor in Almond's promotion to major general and subsequent command of the 92nd Division, which was composed of African-American draftees. (The army was still segregated.) Almond held this position from the division's formation in October 1942 until August 1945. He led the division in combat throughout the Italian campaign of 1944–1945. General Marshall selected Almond because he believed the latter would excel at what was seen as a difficult assignment. But Almond performed poorly and blamed this on his largely African-American troops. Blaming them for his failure in combat, he advised the army against using African-American soldiers as combat troops.[14]

Combat chronicle[edit]

Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division operate a mortar, Massa, Italy in November 1944.

The 370th Regimental Combat Team, attached to the 1st Armored Division, arrived in Naples, Italy, 1 August 1944 and entered combat on August 24. It participated in the crossing of the Arno River, the occupation of Lucca, and the penetration of the Gothic Line. Enemy resistance was negligible in its area. As Task Force 92, elements of the 92nd attacked on the Ligurian coastal flank toward Massa, 5 October. By 12 October, the slight gains achieved were lost to counterattacks. On 13 October, the remainder of the division concentrated for patrol activities.

Elements of the 92nd moved to the Serchio sector, 3 November 1944, and advanced in the Serchio River Valley against light resistance, but the attempt to capture Castelnuovo di Garfagnana did not succeed. Patrol activities continued until 26 December when the enemy attacked, forcing units of the 92nd to withdraw. The attack ended on 28 December. The attacking forces were mainly from the Republic of Salò's Fascist Army, the 4th Italian "Monte Rosa" Alpine Division (four battalions), with the support of three German battalions. Aside from patrols and reconnaissance, units of the 92nd attacked enemy forces in the Serchio sector from 5–8 February 1945, advancing against the 1st "Italia" Bersaglieri Division, but enemy counterattacks soon reversed all 92nd Division advances.

After continuing poor combat performance, including many instances of unauthorized withdrawals upon meeting the enemy, low morale and malingering, the US Command concluded that the 92nd Infantry Division was of inferior quality and fit for only defensive roles. (According to a 1966 study by historian Ulysses G. Lee, German documents showed their command also had low opinions of these troops.)[15] Because African-American infantry replacements were in extremely short supply, this precluded use of the full division in sustained offensive action. In addition, the U.S. Fifth Army leadership was wary of the perception of poor performance; they decided to withdraw the division from the front lines and rebuilt it in early 1945.

The 365th Infantry Regiment became a training and replacement regiment for the division. The 366th Infantry Regiment was relieved from attachment to the division and was organized into two engineer general service regiments. The 370th Infantry Regiment remained assigned to the division, and was rebuilt by transferring outstanding enlisted men and officers from the other two African-American regiments assigned to the division. The 371st Infantry Regiment was relieved from assignment to the division and used under Fifth Army control. The 473rd Infantry Regiment, formed from unneeded antiaircraft troops, and the Nisei 442nd Infantry Regiment, made up of Japanese Americans and becoming noted for its high performance, was assigned to bolster the division's combat effectiveness.[15]

Since the late 20th century, contemporary historians have begun to reevaluate the combat record of the 92nd Division. Period reports of its honorable performance have continued to surface. Numerous veterans of the division believed that reports of poor performance were motivated by the racism of senior officers of the division. Even as evidence has mounted in support of the division's honorable conduct, some still seek to suppress these facts.[16]

Soldiers of the 92nd Infantry Division with a captured German soldier.

On 1 April, the 370th RCT and the attached 442nd Regimental Combat Team (Nisei) attacked the Ligurian coastal sector and drove rapidly north against light opposition from the German 148th Infantry Division. It was supported only by Italian coastal units. The 370th took over the Serchio sector and pursued the retreating enemy from 18 April until the collapse of all enemy forces on 29 April 1945. Elements of the 92nd Division entered La Spezia and Genoa on 27 April, and took over selected towns along the Ligurian coast until the enemy surrendered on 2 May 1945.

Casualties[edit]

  • Total battle casualties: 2,997[17]
  • Killed in action: 548[17]
  • Wounded in action: 2,187[17]
  • Missing in action: 206[17]
  • Prisoner of war: 56[17]

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

Note: The Medal of Honor was not awarded to these two men until 1997.

Capt. Ezekia Smith, of the 370th Infantry Regiment, receives treatment at the 317th Medical Battalion Collecting Station, for shell fragments in face and shoulders suffered near Querceta, Italy.

Order of battle[edit]

92nd Infantry Division (1942–45)

  • Headquarters, 92nd Infantry Division
  • 365th Infantry Regiment
  • 370th Infantry Regiment
  • 371st Infantry Regiment
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 92nd Infantry Division Artillery
    • 597th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
    • 598th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
    • 599th Field Artillery Battalion (105 mm)
    • 600th Field Artillery Battalion (155 mm)
  • 317th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • 317th Medical Battalion
  • 92nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized)
  • Headquarters, Special Troops, 92nd Infantry Division
    • Headquarters Company, 92nd Infantry Division
    • 792nd Ordnance (Light Maintenance) Company
    • 92nd Quartermaster Company
    • 92nd Signal Company
    • Military Police Platoon
    • Band
  • 92nd Counterintelligence Corps Detachment

Attached units:

Task Force 1 (February 1945):]

  • 3rd Battalion / 366th Infantry Regiment
  • Company B, 317th Engineer Battalion
  • 760th Tank Battalion
  • 84th Chemical Mortar Battalion
  • 27th Armored Field Artillery Battalion

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Video: U.S. Air For Allied Bombers Strike On Two Fronts Etc (1945). Universal Newsreel. 1945. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  2. ^ http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/023/23-2/CMH_Pub_23-2.pdf Order of Battle in the Great War P428
  3. ^ Wilson, p. 545.
  4. ^ McGrath, p. 173 – 174.
  5. ^ Scott, Emmett J. (1919). Scott's Official History of the American Negro in the World War. Chicago: Homewood Press. p. n.p.
  6. ^ "To Camp Funston," The Junction City (Kansas) Union, October 10, 1917, page 1
  7. ^ [1] "A Negro Zone at Funston," Junction City (Kansas) Weekly Union, 15 November 1917, page 2]
  8. ^ Infantry organization and History
  9. ^ Ready, J.Lee, Forgotten Allies: The Military Contribution of the Colonies, Exiled Governments and Lesser Powers to the Allied Victory in World War II
  10. ^ Motley, 1975. Pages 259-61, 274 and 288.
  11. ^ Ready, J.Lee, Forgotten Allies: The European Theatre, Volume I
  12. ^ Hodges, Robert Jr. (12 June 2006). "African American 92nd Infantry Division Fought in Italy During World War II". World War II magazine (World History Group, pub.) via Historynet.com. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  13. ^ Otfinoski, Steven (2011). African Americans in the Visual Arts. Facts on File Library of American History. p. 184. ISBN 978-0816078400.
  14. ^ Ricks, Thomaz E. The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today, Penguin Press, 2012 ISBN 9781594204043 pages 152-53
  15. ^ a b Lee, Ulysses G. (1966). United States Army in World War II, Special Studies: The Employment of Negro Troops. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 572-575.
  16. ^ Kesting, Robert W. (1987). "Conspiracy to Discredit the Black Buffaloes: The 92nd Infantry in World War II". The Journal of Negro History. 72 (1/2): 1–19. doi:10.1086/JNHv72n1-2p1. JSTOR 3031477.
  17. ^ a b c d e Army Battle Casualties and Nonbattle Deaths, Final Report (Statistical and Accounting Branch, Office of the Adjutant General, 1 June 1953)

References[edit]

External links[edit]