Soldiers of the 369th (15th N.Y.) who won the Croix de Guerre for gallantry in action, 1919. Left to right. Front
row: Pvt. Ed Williams, Herbert Taylor, Pvt. Leon Fraitor, Pvt. Ralph Hawkins. Back Row: Sgt. H. D. Prinas, Sgt.
Dan Storms, Pvt. Joe Williams, Pvt. Alfred Hanley, and Cpl. T. W. Taylor
One of the first units in the United States armed forces to have black officers in addition to its all-black enlisted
corps, the 369th compiled a war record equal to any other U.S. infantry regiment. It earned several unit
citations along with many individual decorations for valor from the French government. The 369th Infantry
Regiment was the first New York unit to return to the United States, and was the first unit to march up Fifth
Avenue from the Washington Square Park Arch to their armory in Harlem. Their unit was placed on the
permanent list with other veteran units.
In re-capping the story of the 369th Arthur W. Little, who had been a battalion commander, wrote in the
regimental history From Harlem to the Rhine, that it was official that the outfit was 191 days under fire, never
lost a foot of ground or had a man taken prisoner, though on two occasions men were captured but they were
recovered. Only once did it fail to take its objective and that was due largely to bungling by American
So by the end of the 369th Infantry's campaign in World War I they were present in the Champagne – Marne,
Meuse – Argonne, Champagne 1918, Alsace 1918 campaigns in which they suffered nearly 1,300
casualties the highest of any US regiment.(Nelson 2009, pp. 203–4) The 369th also fought in distinguished
battles such as Belleau Wood and Chateau-Thierry.
The first African American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I were
nicknamed the Harlem Hellfighters, the Black Rattlers, and the Men of Bronze, which name was given to the
regiment by the French. The nickname "Hell Fighters" was given to them by the Germans due to their toughness
and that they never lost a man through capture, lost a trench or a foot of ground to the enemy