United States Department of War
The United States Department of War called the War Department, was the United States Cabinet department responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army bearing responsibility for naval affairs until the establishment of the Navy Department in 1798, for most land-based air forces until the creation of the Department of the Air Force on September 18, 1947. The Secretary of War, a civilian with such responsibilities as finance and purchases and a minor role in directing military affairs, headed the War Department throughout its existence; the War Department existed from August 7, 1789 until September 18, 1947, when it split into Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force and joined the Department of the Navy as part of the new joint National Military Establishment, renamed the United States Department of Defense in 1949. Shortly after the establishment of a strong government under President George Washington in 1789, Congress created the War Department as a civilian agency to administer the field army under the president and the secretary of war.
Retired senior General Henry Knox in civilian life, served as the first United States Secretary of War. Forming and organizing the department and the army fell to Secretary Knox. Direct field command of the small Regular Army by President Washington leading a column of troops west through Pennsylvania to Fort Cumberland in Maryland in 1794 to combat the incipient Whiskey Rebellion on the frontier was an occasion never since used by American Presidents; the Possibility of re-organizing a "New Army" under nominal command of retired President and Major General George Washington and his aide, former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton to deal with the rising tide of maritime incidents between American commerce ships and the new French Republic was authorized by second President John Adams in 1798 and the remote possibility of land invasion was an interesting adventure. On November 8, 1800 the War Department building with its records and files was consumed by fire. Foundation of the new military academy at West Point along the Hudson River upstream from New York City in 1802 was important to the future growth of the American army.
In August 1814 during the Burning of Washington, the United States Department of War building was burned-however the War and State Department files had been removed-all books and record had been saved. The multiple failures and fiascos of the War of 1812 convinced Washington that thorough reform of the War Department was necessary. Secretary of War, John C. Calhoun reorganized the department into a system of bureaus, whose chiefs held office for life, a commanding general in the field, although the Congress did not authorize this position. Winfield Scott became the senior general until the start of the American Civil War in 1861; the bureau chiefs acted as advisers to the Secretary of War while commanding their own troops and field installations. The bureaus conflicted among themselves, but in disputes with the commanding general, the Secretary of War supported the bureaus. Congress regulated the affairs of the bureaus in detail, their chiefs looked to that body for support. Calhoun set up the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1824, the main agency within the War Department for dealing with Native Americans until 1849, when the Congress transferred it to the newly founded Department of the Interior.
During the American Civil War, the War Department responsibilities expanded. It handled the recruiting, supply, medical care and pay of two million soldiers, comprising both the regular army and the much larger temporary volunteer army. A separate command structure took charge of military operations. In the late stages of the war, the Department took charge of refugees and freedmen in the American South through the Bureau of Refugees and Abandoned Lands. During Reconstruction, this bureau played a major role in supporting the new Republican governments in the southern states; when military Reconstruction ended in 1877, the U. S. Army removed the last troops from military occupation of the American South, the last Republican state governments in the region ended; the Army comprised hundreds of small detachments in forts around the West, dealing with Indians, in coastal artillery units in port cities, dealing with the threat of a naval attack. The United States Army, with 39,000 men in 1890 was the smallest and least powerful army of any major power in the late 19th century.
By contrast, France had an army of 542,000. Temporary volunteers and state militia units fought the Spanish–American War of 1898; this conflict demonstrated the need for more effective control over its bureaus. Secretary of War Elihu Root sought to appoint a chief of staff as general manager and a European-type general staff for planning, aiming to achieve this goal in a businesslike manner, but General Nelson A. Miles stymied his efforts. Root enlarged the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and established the United States Army War College and the General Staff, he changed the procedures for promotions and organized schools for the special branches of the service. He devised the principle of rotating officers from staff to line. Concerned about the new territories acquired after the Spanish–American War, Root worked out the procedures for turning Cuba over to the Cubans, wrote the charter of government for the Philippines, eliminated tariffs on goods imported to the United States from Puerto Rico.
Root's successor as Secretary
James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr.
James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr. was a Republican politician from New York. He was the son of New York State Comptroller James Wolcott Wadsworth, the grandson of Union General James S. Wadsworth. Wadsworth was born in Geneseo, New York on August 12, 1877, he was the son of Louisa Wadsworth. His paternal grandparents were Mary Craig Wadsworth, his grandfather built a 13,000 square-foot house in Geneseo in 1835. Wadsworth attended St. Mark's School graduated from Yale in New Haven, Connecticut in 1898, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. After Yale, he served as a private in the Volunteer Army in the Puerto Rican Campaign during the Spanish–American War. Upon leaving the Army, he entered the livestock and farming business, first in New York and Texas, he became active early in Republican politics. He was a member of the New York State Assembly in 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910. In 1911, while Wadsworth was on a European tour, he met his aunt, Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie Adair, the widow of Irish businessman John George Adair.
She maintained residences at Glenveagh Castle in Ireland and at the JA Ranch in the Texas Panhandle that her husband had financed. Mrs. Adair invited Wadsworth to become general manager of the JA, located southeast of Amarillo; the ranch was begun by her second husband, John "Jack" Adair, his partner, the legendary Texas cattleman Charles Goodnight. Wadsworth accepted his aunt's offer and ran the ranch until 1915, when he took his U. S. Senate seat, he once joked that he "had no change of clothes for twelve days and expected the Board of Health to be after me." Wadsworth was succeeded as JA manager by Timothy Dwight Hobart. In 1912, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of New York on the Republican ticket with Job. E. was defeated. In 1914, at the first popular election for the U. S. Senate, Wadsworth defeated Progressive Bainbridge Colby. Wadsworth was the Senate Minority Whip in 1915 because the Democrats held the majority of Senate seats, he was re-elected in 1920, but defeated by Democrat Robert F. Wagner in 1926.
In 1921, Wadsworth was considered for the post of Secretary of War by President Warren G. Harding but was passed over in favor of John W. Weeks. Wadsworth was a proponent of individual rights and feared what he considered the threat of federal intervention into the private lives of Americans, he believed that the only purpose of the United States Constitution is to limit the powers of government and to protect the rights of citizens. For this reason, he voted against the Eighteenth Amendment. Before Prohibition went into effect, Wadsworth predicted that there would be widespread violations and contempt for the law. By the mid-1920s, Wadsworth was one of a handful of congressmen who spoke out forcefully and against prohibition, he was concerned that citizens could be prosecuted by both state and federal officials for a single violation of prohibition law. This seemed to him to constitute double jeopardy, inconsistent with the spirit if not the letter of the Fifth Amendment; the Fifth Amendment in criminal cases prevents two trials for the same offense in the same level of court, not two trials for the same charge in separate state and national jurisdictions.
In 1926, he joined the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment and made 131 speeches across the country for the organization between and repeal. His political acumen and contacts proved valuable in overturning prohibition, he served as a United States Representative from 1933 to 1951, like Alton Lennon, Garrett Withers, Claude Pepper, Matthew M. Neely, is one of the few modern Senators to serve in the House of Representatives. In the House of Representatives he opposed the isolationism of many of his conservative Republican colleagues, opposed anti-lynching legislation on state's rights grounds, rejected minimum wage laws and most of FDR's domestic policy. Although Wadsworth never ran for president, his name was mentioned as a possible candidate in 1936 and 1944. A confidential 1943 analysis of the House Foreign Affairs Committee by Isaiah Berlin for the British Foreign Office described Wadsworth as A newcomer to the committee. A respected and well-liked Congressman, who has voted in support of nearly all the President's foreign policy measures.
One of the most forceful and independent-minded men in Congress and a skilled parliamentarian. While not favoring any "World New Deal", he is in favor of American co-operation with the rest of the world and United States definite commitments to establish a secure peace, but disagrees with any attempt by the United States to interfere with other nations' internal politics or forms of government. A effective supporter of the Administration's foreign policies, who did yeoman service by his speeches and active lobbying during the recent Lend-Lease debate. Was in the Senate from 1915-27. A wealthy Episcopalian squire, sympathetic to Moral Re-Armament. Age 66. An internationalist, he was a hereditary companion of Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and was a member of the United Spanish War Veterans. Wadsworth was married to Alice Evelyn Hay, she was the daughter of former United States Secretary of State John Hay under President Theodore Roosevelt. Through her sister Helen Hay Whitney, she was the aunt of John Hay W
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U. S. history. As a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States; the loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery. Among the 34 U. S. states in February 1861, secessionist partisans in seven Southern slave states declared state secessions from the country and unveiled their defiant formation of a Confederate States of America in rebellion against the U. S. Constitutional government; the Confederacy grew to control over half the territory in eleven states, it claimed the additional states of Kentucky and Missouri by assertions from exiled native secessionists without territory or population.
These were given full representation in the Confederate Congress throughout the Civil War. The two remaining slave holding states of Delaware and Maryland were invited to join the Confederacy, but nothing substantial developed; the Confederate States was never diplomatically recognized by the government of the United States or by that of any foreign country. The states that remained loyal to the U. S. were known as the Union. The Union and the Confederacy raised volunteer and conscription armies that fought in the South over the course of four years. Intense combat left 620,000 to 750,000 people dead, more than the number of U. S. military deaths in all other wars combined. The war ended when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Confederate generals throughout the southern states followed suit. Much of the South's infrastructure was destroyed the transportation systems; the Confederacy collapsed, slavery was abolished, four million black slaves were freed.
During the Reconstruction Era that followed the war, national unity was restored, the national government expanded its power, civil rights were granted to freed black slaves through amendments to the Constitution and federal legislation. In the 1860 presidential election, led by Abraham Lincoln, supported banning slavery in all the U. S. territories. The Southern states viewed this as a violation of their constitutional rights and as the first step in a grander Republican plan to abolish slavery; the three pro-Union candidates together received an overwhelming 82% majority of the votes cast nationally: Republican Lincoln's votes centered in the north, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas' votes were distributed nationally and Constitutional Unionist John Bell's votes centered in Tennessee and Virginia; the Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured a plurality of the popular votes and a majority of the electoral votes nationally. He was the first Republican Party candidate to win the presidency.
However, before his inauguration, seven slave states with cotton-based economies declared secession and formed the Confederacy. The first six to declare secession had the highest proportions of slaves in their populations, with an average of 49 percent. Of those states whose legislatures resolved for secession, the first seven voted with split majorities for unionist candidates Douglas and Bell, or with sizable minorities for those unionists. Of these, only Texas held a referendum on secession. Eight remaining slave states continued to reject calls for secession. Outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan and the incoming Republicans rejected secession as illegal. Lincoln's March 4, 1861, inaugural address declared that his administration would not initiate a civil war. Speaking directly to the "Southern States", he attempted to calm their fears of any threats to slavery, reaffirming, "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States where it exists.
I believe I have no lawful right to do so, I have no inclination to do so." After Confederate forces seized numerous federal forts within territory claimed by the Confederacy, efforts at compromise failed and both sides prepared for war. The Confederates assumed that European countries were so dependent on "King Cotton" that they would intervene, but none did, none recognized the new Confederate States of America. Hostilities began on April 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter. While in the Western Theater the Union made significant permanent gains, in the Eastern Theater, the battle was inconclusive during 1861–1862. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal. To the west, by summer 1862 the Union destroyed the Confederate river navy much of its western armies, seized New Orleans; the successful 1863 Union siege of Vicksburg split the Confederacy in two at the Mississippi River. In 1863, Robert E. Lee's Confederate incursion north ended at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Western successes led to Ulysses S. Grant's command of all Union armies in 1864. Inflicting an ever-tightening naval blockade of Confederate ports, the Union marshaled the resources and manpower to attack the Confederacy from all directions, leading to the fall of Atlanta to William T. Sherman and his march to th
Croix de Guerre
The Croix de Guerre is a military decoration of France. It was first created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins; the decoration was awarded during World War I, again in World War II, in other conflicts. The Croix de Guerre was commonly bestowed on foreign military forces allied to France; the Croix de Guerre may either be awarded as an individual or unit award to those soldiers who distinguish themselves by acts of heroism involving combat with the enemy. The medal is awarded to those who have been "mentioned in dispatches", meaning a heroic deed or deeds were performed meriting a citation from an individual's headquarters unit; the unit award of the Croix de Guerre with palm was issued to military units whose members performed heroic deeds in combat and were subsequently recognized by headquarters. The Croix de Guerre medal varies depending on which country is bestowing the award and for what conflict. Separate French medals exist for the Second World War.
For the unit decoration of the Croix de Guerre, a fourragère is awarded. As the Croix de Guerre is issued as several medals, as a unit decoration, situations arose where an individual was awarded the decoration several times, for different actions, from different sources. Regulations permitted the wearing of multiple Croix de Guerre, meaning that such medals were differentiated in service records by specifying French Croix de Guerre, French Croix de Guerre, etc. There are three distinct Croix de Guerre medals in the French system of honours: Furthermore, the French collaborationist government created two croix during World War II; these croix are now illegal under French law and wearing them is outlawed: The Croix was created by a law of April 2, 1915, proposed by French deputy Émile Briant. The Croix reinstated an older system of mentions in dispatches, which were only administrative honours with no medal; the sculptor Paul-André Bartholomé created the medal, a bronze cross with swords, showing the effigy of the republic.
The French Croix represents a mention in dispatches awarded by a commanding officer, at least a regimental commander. Depending on the officer who issued the mention, the ribbon of the Croix is marked with extra pins. Mentioned in Despatches: a bronze star for those, mentioned at the regiment or brigade level. A silver star, for those, mentioned at the division level. A silver-gilt star for those, mentioned at the corps level. A bronze palm for those, mentioned at the army level. A silver palm stands for five bronze ones. A silver-gilt palm for those, mentioned at the Free French Forces level; the French Croix de guerre des TOE was created in 1921 for wars fought in theatres of operation outside France. It was awarded during the Indochina War, Korean War, other wars up to the Kosovo War in 1999; when World War II broke out in 1939, a new Croix de Guerre was created by Édouard Daladier. It was abolished by Vichy Government in 1941. In 1943 General Giraud in Algiers created another Croix de Guerre. Both Vichy and Giraud Croix were abolished by General de Gaulle in 1944, who reinstated the 1939 Croix.
The Croix de Guerre takes precedence between the Ordre national du Mérite and the Croix de la Valeur Militaire, the World War I Croix being senior to the World War II one, itself senior to TOE Croix. The Croix can be awarded to military units, as a manifestation of a collective Mention in Despatches, it is displayed on the unit's flag. A unit a regiment or a battalion, is always mentioned at the army level; the Croix is a Croix de Guerre with palm. Other communities, such as cities or companies can be awarded the Croix; when a unit is mentioned twice, it is awarded the fourragère of the Croix de Guerre. This fourragère is worn by all men in the unit, but it can be worn on a personal basis: those permanently assigned to a unit, at the time of the mentions, were entitled to wear the fourragère for the remainder of service in the military. Temporary personnel, or those who had joined a unit after the actions, mentioned, were authorized to wear the award while a member of the unit but would surrender the decoration upon transfer.
This temporary wearing of the fourragère only applied to the French version of the Croix de Guerre. The 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment of the British Army along with 5bty RA was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with palm for its gallant defence of Bois des Buttes on 27 May 1918, the first day of the Third Battle of the Aisne In the United States military, the Croix de Guerre was accepted as a foreign decoration, it remains one of the more difficult foreign awards to verify entitlement. The Croix de Guerre unit and individual award were presented with original orders only and entered into a permanent service record; the 1973 National Archives Fire destroyed most of the World War II personnel records which are needed to verify a veteran's entitlement to the Croix de Guerre award. However, foreign unit award entitlements can be checked and verified through official unit history records. Veterans must provide proof of service in the unit cited at the time of action in order to be entitled to the award.
Individual foreign awards can be checked through foreign government military records. Regarding the United States in WWI, on April 10, 12, 13, 1918, the lines being held by the troops of the 104th Infantry Regiment, of the 26th "Yankee" Division, in Bois Brûlé, near Apremont in the Ardennes, were bombarded and attacked by the German
Piedmont and Northern Railway
The Piedmont & Northern Railway was a heavy electric interurban company operating over two disconnected divisions in North and South Carolina. Tracks spanned 128 miles total between the two segments, with the northern division running 24 miles from Charlotte, to Gastonia, North Carolina, including a three-mile spur to Belmont; the southern division main line ran 89 miles from Greenwood to Spartanburg, South Carolina, with a 12 mi spur to Anderson. The railroad was electrified at 1500 volts DC, much of the electrification was abandoned when dieselisation was completed in 1954. Unlike similar interurban systems the Piedmont & Northern survived the Great Depression and was absorbed into the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1969. Although part of the railroad was abandoned between Greenwood and Honea Path and Belton to Anderson, much of the original system exists today as shortlines. Once part of CSX, it is now owned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which awarded a contract in May 2010 to Patriot Rail Corporation to restore the track and operate trains along the 12 miles line.
Although interurban railroads were not nearly as common in the sparsely populated and agrarian Deep South, there were a number of small electric networks constructed in the region throughout the early 20th century. Among them was the Anderson Traction Company, created on June 22, 1904, to build and operate within the city of Anderson; the railroad expanded to complete construction of an extension to Belton by 1910. The railroad was acquired by James B. Duke of Duke Power around the same time. On March 20, 1909, the Greenville and Anderson Railway was chartered and presided over by Duke; the company used the Anderson Traction Company rails terminating at Belton as a starting point for northward construction to Greenville and construction toward Greenwood to the south, with both cities connected in November 1912. An extension from Greenville to Spartanburg was completed in April 1914; the North Carolina division started with the Piedmont Traction Company owned by Duke, completed its route between Charlotte and Gastonia, North Carolina on July 3, 1912.
Both sections were electrified to 1,500 volts DC with power supplied from hydroelectric sources. Additionally both segments were built to steam road standards with minimal street running; the Piedmont & Northern was created in 1914 to consolidate both the Greenville, Spartanburg & Anderson in South Carolina and the Piedmont Traction Company in North Carolina. In 1916 the railroad completed a 3-mile spur to North Carolina. On numerous occasions the company sought to link the two disconnected segments and expand to Durham, North Carolina, the plans never materialized due to stiff resistance from the Southern Railway, which the P&N paralleled in both states. Although many railroads were hostile to the Piedmont & Northern, a friend was found with the Seaboard Air Line, which connected with the P&N at Charlotte and Greenwood. Throughout its existence the P&N stressed interchange traffic over its efficient electric lines, with good reason: the railroad shared numerous interchanges with several major railroads.
The P&N's network in 1964 was connected to the Clinchfield Railroad and North Western Railroad and Florida Railroad, Norfolk Southern, Seaboard Air Line Railroad, Southern Railway, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and Northern Railroad and Western Carolina and Ware Shoals Railroad. Though owned by Duke Power, the P&N operated coal trains over a branch from Mount Holly, NC, to Terrell, NC, supplying Duke Power's Lake Norman powerplants. Plans to connect the North and South Carolina divisions between Spartanburg, SC and Gastonia, NC, to expand northwards towards Winston-Salem, NC, were blocked by appeals by the Southern Railway and other entities in court cases in the 1930s PIEDMONT & N. RY. CO. v. UNITED STATES, 280 U. S. 469 and PIEDMONT & N R. CO. v. INTERSTATE COMMERCE COMMISSION, 286 U. S. 299. The P&N, though involved in passenger operations, was a heavy freight carrier; the most important commodity transported was coal and coke, but of significance were cotton and paper. Some of the electric locomotives were shipped to South America, the rest were scrapped.
The diesels were taken over by the Seaboard Coast Line in 1969 after that railroad took over the P&N. The interurban #2102, Office Car 2201 "Carolina" and Caboose x-23 are preserved and on display to the public at the Railroad Historical Center in Greenwood, SC. Only four of the stations built for the P&N, designed by Charles Christian Hook are still in existence today in North Carolina; the Thrift depot in the Paw Creek community in Charlotte, NC is the only remaining P&N station in Mecklenburg County, NC. The depot in Mount Holly, North Carolina is used as a hair salon; the former P&N depot in Belmont, NC has been restored and was a P&N museum until 2004, when the lease ran out and was not given extension by the owner. The former P&N station in Gastonia, NC, burned down in 1995. Lastly, the small depot of McAdenville, NC is still standing, though it has been relocated from its previous location. In South Carolina, at least five stations are still standing: Donalds, Greer and Anderson; the abandoned depot at Pelzer burned on the ni
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War", had been appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation between 1781 and 1789. Benjamin Lincoln and Henry Knox held the position; when Washington was inaugurated as the first president under the Constitution, he appointed Knox to continue serving as Secretary of War. The Secretary of War was the head of the War Department. At first, he was responsible including naval affairs. In 1798, the Secretary of the Navy was created by statute, the scope of responsibility for this office was reduced to the affairs of the United States Army. From 1886 onward, the Secretary of War was in the line of succession to the presidency, after the Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tem of the Senate and the Secretary of State.
In 1947, with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947, the Secretary of War was replaced by the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Air Force, along with the Secretary of the Navy, have since 1949 been non-Cabinet subordinates under the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary of the Army's office is considered the direct successor to the Secretary of War's office although the Secretary of Defense took the Secretary of War's position in the Cabinet, the line of succession to the presidency; the office of Secretary at War was modelled upon Great Britain's Secretary at War, William Barrington, 2nd Viscount Barrington, at the time of the American Revolution. The office of Secretary at War was meant to replace both the Commander-in-Chief and the Board of War, like the President of the Board, the Secretary wore no special insignia; the Inspector General, Quartermaster General, Commissary General, Adjutant General served on the Secretary's staff. However, the Army itself under Secretary Henry Knox only consisted of 700 men.
Parties No party Federalist Democratic-Republican Democratic Whig Republican Confederate States Secretary of War Bell, William Gardner. Commanding Generals and Chiefs of Staff 1775-2005: Portraits and Biographical Sketches. Washington, D. C.: United States Army Center of Military History. Grossman, Mark. Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet 1789-2010. Armenia, New York: Greyhouse Publishing. King, Archibald. Command of the Army. Military Affairs. Charlottesville, Virginia: The Judge Advocate General's School, U. S. Army
Henry Johnson (World War I soldier)
For the 1890 Medal of Honor recipient, see Henry Johnson. Not to be confused with African-American attorney and politician Henry Lincoln Johnson William Henry Johnson known as Henry Johnson, was a United States Army soldier who performed heroically in the first African American unit of the U. S. Army to engage in combat in World War I. On watch in the Argonne Forest on May 14, 1918, he fought off a German raid in hand-to-hand combat, killing multiple German soldiers and rescuing a fellow soldier while experiencing 21 wounds, in an action, brought to the nation's attention by coverage in the New York World and The Saturday Evening Post that year. On June 2, 2015 he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a posthumous ceremony at the White House. In 1918, racism against African Americans was common among white U. S. soldiers in the U. S. military, but French attitudes differed. Johnson was recognized by the French with a Croix de guerre with star and bronze palm, was the first U.
S. soldier in World War. Johnson died, poor and in obscurity, in 1929. From 1919 on, Henry Johnson's story has been part of wider consideration of treatment of African Americans in the Great War. There was a long struggle to achieve awards for him from the U. S. military. He was awarded the Purple Heart in 1996. In 2002, the U. S. military awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross. Previous efforts to secure the Medal of Honor failed, but in 2015 he was posthumously honored with the award. Johnson said that he was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on July 15, 1892, when he registered for the World War I draft, but he used other dates on other documents, so he might not have known the exact date of his birth, he moved to New York, when he was in his early teens. He worked as a redcap porter at the Albany Union Station on Broadway. Johnson enlisted in the United States Military on June 5, 1917, joining the all-black New York National Guard 15th Infantry Regiment, when mustered into Federal service was redesignated as the 369th Infantry Regiment based in Harlem.
The 369th Infantry joined the 185th Infantry Brigade upon arrival in France, but the unit was relegated to labor service duties instead of combat training. The 185th Infantry Brigade was in turn assigned on January 1918, to the 93rd Infantry Division. Although General John J. Pershing wished to keep the U. S. Army autonomous; the unreported and unofficial reason he was willing to detach the Afro-American/Negro regiments from U. S. command was that vocal white U. S. soldiers refused to fight alongside black troops. These regiments suffered considerable harassment by white U. S. soldiers and denigration by the American Expeditionary Force headquarters which went so far as to release the notorious pamphlet Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops, which "warned" French civilian authorities of the alleged inferior nature and supposed tendencies of African-American troops to commit sexual assaults. Johnson arrived in France on New Year's Day, 1918; the French Army and people had no such problem and were happy and welcoming to accept the reinforcements.
Among the first regiments to arrive in France, among the most decorated when it returned, was the 369th Infantry, which became famous as the "Harlem Hellfighters." The 369th was an all-black regiment under the command of white officers including their commander, Colonel William Hayward. The idea of a black New York National Guard regiment was first put forward by Charles W. Fillmore, a black New Yorker. Governor Charles S. Whitmore, inspired by the brave showing of the black 10th Cavalry in Mexico authorized the project, he appointed Col. William Hayward to carry out the task of organizing the unit, Hayward gave Fillmore a commission as a captain in the 15th Infantry Regiment, New York National Guard; the 15th New York Infantry Regiment became the 369th United States Infantry Regiment prior to engaging in combat in France. The 369th got off to a rocky departure from the United States, making three attempts over a period of months to sail for France before getting out of sight of land, their transport, which had stopped and anchored because of a sudden snow storm which arose before they could get out of the harbor, was struck by another ship due to the poor visibility.
The captain of the transport, the Pocahontas, wanted to turn back, much to the dismay of his passengers. The by now angry and impatient members of the 369th, led by Col. Hayward, took a dim view of any further delay. Since the damage to the ship was well above the water line, the ship's captain admitted that there was no danger of sinking. Col. Hayward informed the captain that he saw no reason to turn back except cowardice. Col Hayward's men repaired the ship sailed on, battered but undaunted. According to Col. Hayward's notes, they "landed at Brest. Right side up" on December 27, 1917, they acquitted themselves well once they got to France. However, it was a while; the French Army assigned Johnson's regiment to Outpost 20 on the edge of the Argonne Forest in the Champagne region of France and equipped them with French rifles and helmets. While on observation post duty on the night of May 14, 1918, Private Johnson came under attack by a large German raiding party, which may have numbered as many as 24 German soldiers.
Johnson displayed uncommon heroism when using grenades, the butt of his rifle, a bolo knife, his bare fists, he repelled the Germans, thereby rescuing Needham Roberts from capture and saving the lives of his fellow so