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Title: My Colored Battalion
Author: Ross, Warner A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: MAJOR WARNER A. ROSS]



  My COLORED
  BATTALION

  BY
  Major Warner A. Ross

  DEDICATED TO THE
  American Colored Soldier

  WARNER A. ROSS, Publisher
  7367 North Clark St.
  CHICAGO



Copyright 1920 by Warner A. Ross



MY COLORED BATTALION


You have done me this honor tonight because you know that I was the
commander of a wonderful fighting Infantry Battalion composed entirely
(myself excepted) of American colored officers and colored men.

You know, too, that for some time, during the Great World War, we
were in the very front lines of that magnificent wave of determined
Allies in France who held and at last swept back the fiendish forces of
autocracy and tyranny and made it possible for liberty loving people to
continue their slow but steady progress toward true Democracy.

You would like to hear a great deal about that battalion from its white
commander because you know it was made up of brave men and backed by
brave women of your own color who did their duty by you and by their
country and did it well. Your presence here and the expression on your
faces proves that you are deeply, hopefully interested in the integrity
and in the advancement of your race.

You would like to know something about me as a soldier too, I suppose,
because you have been told I was the best friend the colored soldier
had. I am afraid that word _best_ makes it unjustly strong, for the
colored soldier has many white friends. Nevertheless, I am glad I had
the privilege and the opportunity to prove that my efforts in the
common cause, the Allies’ cause, were not one bit hampered or lessened
because my officers and men were colored.

One thing is certain, there was no doubt about the Americanism of my
outfit, no question of hyphens, no fear that their love for or their
hatred of some other nation exceeded their love for our own. The
devotion, the patriotism, the loyalty of the American Negro is beyond
question. My only claim is that I treated him justly--that’s all he
needs or asks.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Second Battalion of the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth United
States Infantry (the battalion we are considering) was a remarkable
organization, in many ways, in spite of many things, a wonderful
organization. In the battle line and out of the battle line, before
the armistice and after the armistice, there was not a phase of
military art or of the awful game of war at which this battalion did
not excel. At going over the top, attacking enemy positions, resisting
raids and assaults, holding under heavy shell fire, enduring gas of
all kinds, at patrolling no-man’s land, at drill, on hard marches, in
discipline and military courtesy, at conducting itself properly in
camp or in French villages, and in general all around snappiness, it
excelled in all.

Much of this could be seen by going over the battalion and regimental
records. But the greatest thing about that battalion is not a matter
of direct record in the written data and reports. It is a matter
of undying record in the minds and hearts of the men who were that
battalion. I speak of the magnificent _morale_, their mutual pride,
their teamwork, their spirit of earnest, cheerful willingness and their
unsurpassed endurance and bravery in the performance of duty.

It will seem strange to most of you, almost impossible to many who
saw service in other outfits, when I tell you that during my entire
service with the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry, which I began
as a Captain in December, 1917, and ended as a battalion commander
when the regiment was broken up at Camp Upton, New York, in March,
1919, _not one_ colored officer under my command was ever placed under
arrest, and _not one_ colored officer was ever threatened with an
efficiency board. And during the many trying months that I commanded
the Second Battalion, both in and out of the front lines, only two
enlisted men were tried by me as summary court--and they were acquitted.

The same is true of the nine hundred officers and men from all units of
the regiment who live in or near Chicago that I brought from Camp Upton
to be mustered out of service at Camp Grant. Those of you who were in
Chicago remember how proudly the Camp Grant Detachment of the Three
Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry paraded through the streets on March
10th, 1919, without a hitch or a single breach of discipline.

No doubt that is hard to believe, for it does upset a host of time
honored theories and teachings and honest convictions about military
discipline and efficiency, but the facts as stated can be verified.
Members of that Battalion and Regiment are right among you. Ask them.
These were by no means specially selected or picked outfits. The
officers and men were of all kinds, all conditions, mostly draft men
and from all sections of the United States. They were representative
of their race as a whole, yet in every instance a little company or
military police discipline or, in rare cases, a short conference
with the captain or major did the work. Considering the excellent
service rendered by the units in question and especially by the Second
Battalion of that Regiment, I regard this as a great tribute to our
American Colored Soldiers. There is much, very much that is worthy of
serious consideration about the discipline, the efficiency and the
morale of that organization.

And now at the outset, before I go any further with this lecture, I
wish to tell you, my colored friends, that I am proud to have been the
commander of that battalion. My talk necessarily will be mostly about
that Battalion, for I commanded it during the Regiment’s experience in
the battle lines and during the greater part of my service with the
Division. And now more than ever I believe, as I had ample reason to
believe then, that no battalion of any army whether white or black or
of some other race or color could have done the same things and done
them any better than did the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred
and Sixty-fifth Infantry, One Hundred and Eighty-third Brigade,
Ninety-second Division of the United States Army in France.

It may interest you to know, especially after what I have said about
methods of securing discipline--for results count--that I won my
commission as a major and what was far more, my job as a front line
infantry battalion commander for efficiency under fire. I have a
few citations and letters and one signed testimonial by white and
colored officers who were witnesses, for coolness, bravery and the
like. Thirty-five or forty officers and men were cited for bravery
in Division orders. Medals? No, I have received no medals or special
decorations. Nor has any living member, officer or man, of my
Battalion. In fact, to my knowledge, not one living officer or man of
the entire Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry has received any
decoration or medal of any sort whatever--American, French, Belgian or
any other kind. This, on the face of it, to anyone who knows the facts,
would seem either a most glaring injustice or mistake.

Many of the members of my Battalion and of the Regiment, especially
those who were with us at the time of the armistice and during all or
part of the awful days and weeks just preceding it, feel and resent
this most keenly. In the army you know everything must go through
“military channels”--from company to battalion to regiment to brigade
to division and on up. I recommended some of my officers and men for
decorations. And if I know anything about meritorious conduct, real
achievement, bravery, valour and the like, they richly deserved them.
These recommendations reached brigade headquarters. It is my opinion
that certain regular army officers saw fit to head them off.

Soon after the armistice we had a succession of strange regimental
commanders, who showed no interest in pressing our case and so
because of a combination of unfortunate circumstances the Regiment is
medal-less. I understand our Brigade has received some recognition. I
do not begrudge any officer or man his medal or medals if he actually
earned them, but I do regret it that my Regiment and my own Battalion
could be thus ignored. You may believe it or not when I say that I care
nothing about medals for myself. What little I did in the cause of
Democracy--by that I mean what I did for my Colored Battalion as well
as in trying to help whip the enemy--is a matter with me and my own
better self.

The citations of which I am incomparably more proud than of the
citations I did get or the medals I didn’t get were not printed with
ink nor stamped on metal. They were written with a point of fire into
the brave, true hearts of my colored soldiers.

And who knows (if I may indulge in a little sentiment)? Who can tell?
Perhaps those who bravely endured the tourtures of hell, because
of the foolishness of vain oppressors in this wicked world and who
uncomplainingly and unselfishly gave all they had, all any one could
give--_gave their lives_--in defense of our great nation and in the
cause of Democracy. Perhaps, I say, some of the spirits of that
Battalion’s dead have already whispered in the glorious Realm beyond
where the great, all-powerful God of justice, of love, of peace reigns
supreme and with Whom man’s character is the only thing that counts.
Perhaps they have whispered or will whisper, “Our Commander not only
braved the fury of the Hun, but he scorned the petty prejudices of a
few white persons and treated _us_ like officers and men.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Officers designated for service with the Eighty-sixth Division, which
was to be formed at Camp Grant, Illinois, were ordered to report for
duty August, 28th, 1917. I so reported and was assigned to the Three
Hundred and Forty-first Infantry. Being a captain I was selected to
command “G” Company. I received my quota of the first drafted men to
arrive, on the second of September. They continued to arrive and in
a few weeks I had two hundred and ninety-two men in addition to my
five training camp lieutenants. The new organization had just gone
into effect. Arms and equipment arrived slowly. There was more or less
confusion; no one was right sure what to do and a company commander had
a real job on his hands. Day and night I labored--drilled, studied,
taught, did paper work, and then after three months or a little over,
just when I was beginning to pride myself, like all the other captains,
on having the best company in the regiment, and when we were all
seeing visions of entraining for France, they began transferring our
men--thirty or forty from a company at a time--to other divisions, and
our hearts sank.

I tried to get transferred myself, for like many others, I wanted to
soldier in France, not at Camp Grant. Company commanders were not being
transferred to other camps, but just before Christmas I was ordered to
report to the One Hundred and Eighty-third Brigade, a part of which
was attached at Camp Grant. I was then assigned to the Three Hundred
and Sixty-fifth Infantry, a regiment of that Brigade and of the
Ninety-second Division (colored). I felt sure that the Ninety-second
Division, since it was the only complete colored division, and there
was not much danger of its men being transferred, would go to France
long before the Eighty-sixth--and it did.

For a time I was with the supply company. Then I was transferred to the
headquarters company, a rather uncertain and complicated organization
in those days, with an authorized strength of seven officers and three
hundred and fifteen men. I remained with that company until after our
arrival in France.

In the infantry regiments of the Ninety-second Division the lieutenants
and captains were colored with the exception of the regimental staff
captains and the captains of the headquarters and supply companies. The
majors commanding the battalions and the lieutenant-colonel and the
colonel were old regular army white officers.

We had been in training in France but a short time when I was made
regimental intelligence and operations officer. Here again was
another phase of the actual war game to learn. I was in charge of
a large number of selected and specially trained men who made up
the intelligence and scout sections, and at the same time was the
regimental commander’s assistant in preparing our own movements
and operations. I had direct charge of all that had to do with our
knowledge and information of the enemy. I was also a member of the
highest division court-martial--the one that had power to inflict the
death penalty.

I received orders to take the battalion intelligence and scout officers
and part of the intelligence and scout personnel into the line several
weeks ahead of the Division’s final arrival there, to study and learn
the sub-sector our regiment was later to occupy. I was never sent away
to schools or on special missions and was never on leave or in hospital
but was on duty with fighting troops continuously.

I have mentioned these things to show you that I had had a large and
varied experience under the new army organization and in the new
methods of fighting that had developed during the Great War. It was
just the sort of training and experience to fit one for the hard and
responsible task of commanding an infantry battalion in the front
lines. I had been in direct command of both white and colored officers
and men. I knew the colored enlisted man. And I knew the recently-made
colored officers as well, fully as well, as did any white officer in
our army.

As I just said, I was sent into the lines ahead of the Regiment to
study the sector, learn about the enemy opposite and about conditions
in general. When we arrived within hearing of the big guns and a
little later when our trucks came within range just north of St. Die,
I was all interest and all attention, for at last I was getting into
the sort of place I had been reading and thinking and wondering about
since 1914, and had been working and training for every minute since I
entered the training camp at Fort Sheridan, May 10th, 1917. It’s hard
work getting ready to be killed in a modern war.

The Regular Army Fifth Division, already experienced in the line, was
then holding this sector. For several days I was busy at regimental
headquarters located in what was left of the village of Denipere. Then
with the assistance of guides, I started out to thoroughly cover and
learn the sector. This was by no means a small task: it meant many
miles of walking and hard climbing for many days, to say nothing of
thrills and mental exercise. Our boys had turned a quiet sector into a
very lively one and a few days before the Fifth Division moved out they
reduced and were partly successful in holding the Chapelle salient.
Taken all in all it was somewhat exciting for a novice exploring the
very first lines.

There were three battalion fronts or sectors in the front our regiment
was to occupy. Each of the three battalions had two companies in front,
one in support and one in reserve. The companies were shifted every
nine or ten days. French artillery would be behind us. Ours was in
training near Bordeaux. The center battalion sector was called C. R.
Fontinelle. I soon learned that it got most of the enemy’s fire and
raids because of the nature of the terrain, meaning lay of the land.
This would be held by our Second Battalion, but I had little idea then
that I would soon command it.

The entire front in France was divided into battalion sectors or
centers of resistance, called C. R.’s. The battalion was the infantry
fighting unit in this war. When in the line, it had everything attached
to it to make it a complete organization in itself--machine gun
companies, engineer troops, one pounder and Stokes mortar outfits,
supply equipment, medical personnel and so on. Regimental and brigade
fronts varied in size and in the way they were held. Often a regiment
had but one battalion in front, sometimes two and rarely three, as in
our portion of the St. Die sector.

There were three lines or systems of defense in this sector. First,
the front or first line system of works and trenches, combat groups,
dugouts, communicating ways, machine gun implacements, trench mortars,
wire and, well, it would take a long time to even name them all. An
entire evening easily could be spent telling about any one little phase
of the thing. From two to three miles farther back in this sector was
the secondary lines or system with trenches, wire and everything,
all ready for occupancy. A little to the rear was most of the light
artillery. Several miles farther back was the third line system and
the heavy artillery. The front line system was most interesting and by
far the most dangerous. There was this about it, too: In case of enemy
attack they held. In other words, their occupants stayed and fought to
the last man. Those were standing orders and at that time in my eyes it
added a sort of awful fascination to the front line trenches and men.

One of the things that impressed me during my first days in the line
was the extent, the magnitude of the works, the prodigious amount of
labor that had been required to excavate and build these positions
while under fire, the cutting and tunneling in many places through
solid rock, also the military knowledge that had been brought to
bear in the locating and construction of combat groups, observation
posts, fields of fire and the like and the amount of system and pluck
and energy required to hold them. But one awful, ugly, discouraging
word, from a world standpoint, seemed written all over the
enterprise--Waste--waste of life, waste of time, waste of governments’
money, waste of all those things misguided humanity loves and fights
for. What a shocking, what a saddening lesson from the standpoint of
_waste_ alone!

Then as I became accustomed and somewhat hardened to the idea of
appalling and foolish waste, another thing began to appeal to me more
strongly. The beauty of the scenery and the invigorating air and
sunshine of the mountains. It was summer, radiant, glowing, glorious
summer. All nature vibrating and tingling with life and kindness. The
sky so bright, the air so crisp, so bracing; the trees so green and
fresh. The flowers, the grass, even the weeds and the very moss on the
rocks seemed charged and melodious with joy.

Little rivulets, cold and sparkling, leaped over great boulders through
shaded ravines and joined the hilarious stream away below which farther
on, where the big ravine had widened, calmly wound its way amid the
ruins of the quaint village called Denipere and out through the wide
valley beyond. And what a panorama that valley was from the road on a
mountainside north of the town, especially at evening with the parting
kiss of a great red sun glowing on the winding river between its green
banks and its clumps of willows, and glistening on the tile roofs of
the remaining white stone houses, the various colored fields and the
patches of wood, the white roads and their rows of tall trees, the
hills and shaded depressions, and the gorgeous background of mountains
in the distance. It looked different each time I viewed it, but always
there was the peaceful glow and glory of God’s handiwork. Here, indeed,
was La Belle France.

Many a time, at first, I used to forget myself, lost in buoyant
meditation, as I gazed over that enchanting valley or walked along the
stately mountain roads enveloped in dense foliage, or as I traveled
down some secluded pathway or lover’s lane beside a rippling brook,
inhaling deeply the pungent odor of growing things and cool damp earth.
Then, with a start, I would come back to the realization that those
screaming shells, those metallic cracks, those weird, jarring blasts
were meant to _mangle_ and _kill_! That an enemy bent on destruction
was only a mile or so away; that those glittering airplanes buzzing
high above were on missions of hate and murder; that those little
mounds I saw everywhere with wooden crosses at one end were the graves
of fine young men who had been mangled and slain by their fellow
beings. All the surroundings so inspiring, so beautiful; all nature
so smiling and so harmonious, and poor, deluded, vain man so out of
harmony. Somewhere, somehow, something was wrong--terribly, damnably
wrong.

Then down in the very front lines in the edge of the “abomination of
desolation” called no-man’s land, I watched those fine young men of
our Fifth Division, standing silently by their automatics or rifles,
gazing with ashen faces and staring eyes over that torn dreaded expanse
that separated them from a cunning and deadly foe, and gradually my
feelings changed from happiness due to health, the mountain air and
the charms of nature, to feelings of depression and sadness, and
hatred toward those who advocate and perpetuate in their blind vanity
and self-righteous greed those principles and policies that lead to
strife, to heart-ache and to war.

Here, accentuated by the glories of nature, was the horror of war and
the awful proof of the degradation of humanity--despite its so-called
Christian civilization.

Graves and danger and death. Death over head, death under foot,
death in every direction--suffering, loneliness, longing, agony,
death--_Death!_ But the greedy fiends really responsible were not
there. And a sort of awe came over me and a feeling of tender pity for
those brave, unselfish men, mere boys, many of them, standing silently,
majestically--facing death in those front line trenches.

Time passed quickly, for like all officers of our army who entered the
lines, regardless of previous training, I had very much to learn. There
was so much to wonder and think about, too, for my job took me to all
parts of our sector and necessitated a careful study of the enemy. For
example, I had soon noticed that the men of units occupying the most
dangerous positions and suffering the greatest inconvenience and strain
seemed most care free and calm. There was an expression on their
faces, an atmosphere about them that had not been there during the
training period behind the lines. This opened great fields for thought,
and I’m still thinking.

Then one day, before I realized that it was time, I saw little groups
of blue-clad soldiers--the soldiers of France, standing about in
Denipere, and on the roads I saw more little groups; next day there
were more, and the following morning, as though it had happened by
magic, I found the entire position, front lines and all, occupied and
held by those quiet, tired-faced, sturdy heroes of France. The boys of
our Fifth Division had moved out during the night. The following night
my regiment moved in. The French infantry left several days later when
we had become established in our position. A short time after that
I was placed in command of our Second Battalion, holding the center
sector called C. R. Fontinelle.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day I took command the enemy put over one of his famous raids.
For two and one-half hours he laid a heavy concentrated fire on the
Second Battalion’s front line system, then changed it into an almost
perfect box barrage around the two front companies and jumped us
through our left flank. The raiding was done by one of their notorious,
specially-trained shock battalions sent to the sector for that purpose.
By excellent work on the part of the two front companies and the
support company assisted by a company of engineers, they were soon
driven out. They managed to drag most of their dead and wounded with
them, but left considerable equipment including several machine guns
they had brought over and set up in our trenches.

It would take all evening to tell about that one action, or Fontinelle
Raid, alone. There is so much I could tell you about my Battalion,
funny things, as well as serious, to say nothing of our Division or the
French soldiers and people and what not, that I hardly know what to
tell.

But I do know we haven’t much time so I think we’ll make a long jump,
skipping things equally interesting, the bombardments, the patrols,
the raids, the experiences and trials at Fontinelle, then the hard
marches, the sleepless, shelterless nights in cold rain and mud, the
hardships of the Argonne and our part during the early days of that
famous American drive, our tiresome movement from that front and our
taking over from the French on the night of October 6th and 7th of C.
R. Musson, an important section of the Marbache sector’s front, on the
east bank of the Moselle River just south and a little west of Metz.

I’ll pass over the many interesting and trying happenings and
experiences of the thirty-one straight days--intense, nerve-racking
days and nights that we occupied that position, and take it up a
few days before the armistice, or just before the preliminary to
the long-talked of drive for Metz. I’ll only have time to tell you
briefly of a small part of that, but perhaps you may gain some faint
realization of how the boys fought and suffered and won.

First, just a few words to show you the way in which the Ninety-second
Division had taken over and held the Marbace sector. At three o’clock
on the morning of October 6th, after marching all night, the Second
Battalion of the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry arrived at
Aton, a village about three miles behind the front lines. All that day
I spent at the front with the commander of the French battalion then
holding the C. R. During the afternoon my officers and part of the
non-coms. came up and went over the positions assigned them. That night
we stealthily moved in and the French moved out.

This was a key position. Through it, varying from two to five hundred
yards from the bank of the river, ran what was known as the Great
Metz Road. We held a front of about a mile and a half. I wish I had
a big map or a blackboard and time to show you. I can see it all now
as plainly as if I were there. Across the Moselle adjoining us on our
left at that time was a white division. About two weeks before the
armistice the C. R. next to us and adjoining the river, was taken over
and occupied by a battalion of the Three Hundred and Sixty-seventh
Infantry of our Division. The C. R. on our right was taken over the
night following our arrival by the First Battalion of our Regiment. The
First and Third Battalions took turns holding that C. R. The Three
hundred and Sixty-sixth Infantry kept one battalion in line on their
right. Adjoining it were the French. Our own division artillery got
into position behind us only a few days before the end. At first our
Division had three battalions, and during the last two weeks, four
battalions in the front line. We held a front line section several
times as long as did any other battalion of the Division, in the
Marbache sector. Thirty-one straight days was a long, hard stretch for
a battalion in an important and far from quiet front or first line
position.

Finally, on the night of November 6th-7th we were at last moved back
about five miles to the second line of defense. The officers and men
were almost completely worn out, many of them bordering on nervous
collapse. But even now the Battalion was to get no rest. On the 7th,
in compliance with orders from the Commanding General, we put over an
operation in which “H” Company and half of “E” went over the top, and
on the 8th I was up in front again on very short notice in command of
a daylight contact patrol in which I used all of “F” Company, half of
“G” and part of the regimental machine gun company.

So during those two days in the second line, instead of resting, almost
the entire Battalion had been all the way back up to the front, over
the top, and back again. These were small but extremely trying--tired
as we were--and also rather costly operations. I say small--I mean
comparatively small as to the numbers of officers and men engaged, but
to the individual engaged they were large, quite large. A number were
killed and many wounded, including two captains, Mills, commanding “F”
Company, and Cranson, commander of “G.”

This Battalion had caught most of the hell in the St. Die sector, had
done its full share in the Argonne, though, due to the fortunes of war,
I suppose, little if any mention is made of it, and in the Marbache
sector had held the most important C. R. continuously up to the night
of the 6th and 7th, and after the operations of the 7th and 8th just
mentioned, you can judge what condition my outfit was in on the morning
of November 9th.

Nevertheless, on the morning of November 9th, I received word that
the Commanding General had just arrived at Regimental Headquarters
in Loisey and wished to see me at once. So, dog-tired, aching all
over and dead for sleep, I got into a sidecar and went back. Just
as I expected, he handed me an order, Brigade order, that had been
sanctioned by Division Headquarters, G. H. Q., and the High Allied
Command covering our Brigade’s part in the inauguration or preliminary
to the Metz drive. It started something like this: “Major Warner A.
Ross, commanding the Second Battalion, Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth
Infantry, will at five o’clock on the morning of November 10th, attack
enemy positions--named them--to the east of the Moselle River, will
advance to the northern edge of Bois Frehaut and to such and such a
point on the river bank and hold until further orders,” etc. That
evening I received a similar order, changed somewhat from the first
one, but what it all meant was that it was up to us--the Battalion--to
capture and above all to hold this strong key position just up the
river from Metz.

In so far as we were concerned it was a frontal attack on the general
position of Metz. How far the Allies intended or expected to drive
straight on toward Metz I do not know. The long advance was to be
southeast of us with the idea of eventually isolating Metz. Judging by
what happened to us and to the attackers on our flanks during the tenth
and eleventh, it would have been foolish, if not impossible, to advance
further along the Moselle. That is why the capturing and holding of
Bois Frehaut was especially glorious.

The generals commanding our Division and Brigade seemed very anxious
that this operation prove a success. Up to this time the Division had
not accomplished anything very startling in the way of capturing German
strongholds, but here, before the expected armistice went into effect,
was an opportunity to prove the Division’s ability and worth and refute
any whisperings that might be in the air. In other words, to quote one
of my high ranking superiors, full and real success here would forever
give the division a leg to stand on.

Mine, then, was the honor of being in direct command of the main
operation which started the long discussed Allied move to capture
Metz, said to be the most impregnable German stronghold. Mine, too, was
the opportunity to give a colored battalion a chance to prove its worth
beyond all peradventure, to help them disprove the widely circulated
report that colored troops could not advance and hold under real and
prolonged heavy fire, to help them dispel the impression so many had
that colored officers--platoon leaders and company commanders--could
not successfully handle colored soldiers. In short, to give them a
chance to win a victory that will stand out more clearly as the years
go by, a victory requiring all the virtues that soldiers, individually
and collectively should possess--a victory clear cut, unaided, complete
and unquestionable, where others had failed and against a stronghold, a
part of and guarding a strategic position that at all hazards the enemy
meant to hold.

The Second Battalion of the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry
was chosen, despite its long and continuous work in the front lines,
its greatly depleted ranks and shortness of officers. Reinforced by
other units, other men and other officers of the Three Hundred and
Sixty-fifth Infantry, the Second Battalion at last met its supreme
test--its golden opportunity. I shall try briefly to tell you what it
did, for “Bois Frehaut,” under the guns of Metz, will remain a memorial
to the discipline, the efficiency, the bravery, and devotion to duty of
an American colored battalion.

The Three Hundred and Sixty-seventh Infantry, as previously mentioned,
had recently taken over one battalion sector or C. R. just across the
river. They, too, had orders to advance. A battalion of the white
division on their left also was to advance. On our right a small part
of a battalion (to be exact, two platoons--about half of one company)
of the Three Hundred and Sixty-sixth Infantry was to advance through
our Third Battalion, then occupying that C. R.

I may as well tell you, what many people know, that although this was
the beginning of the great Allied movement to reduce the strategic
stronghold of Metz, with division after division massing behind us
and to our right, the battalion of the white division to the left of
the Three Hundred and Sixty-seventh rushed ahead at zero hour on the
morning of the 10th, lost one hundred and fifty-six men in less than
five minutes and withdrew to their trenches. The attack battalion of
the Three Sixty-seventh sized up the situation and barely left their
trenches so withering was the fire.

The troops of a part of a battalion of the Three Hundred and
Sixty-sixth on our right rushed out to take a small wood that laid
east of the positions we were to take, got almost to their objectives
and rushed back owing to the accuracy and intensity of enemy fire. But
it didn’t matter much outside of leaving my battalion’s right flank
entirely wide open, for Bois de la tete d’Or and Bois Frehaut of our
position far outflanked it and made it untenable for the Germans. A
map of the positions involved tells the story. I tell you this not to
discredit or belittle units on our right and left, but to prove that
what the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry
there accomplished was far from easy and that when it came to defending
Metz the enemy was decidedly on the job.

Bois Frehaut is a hilly, dense wood about five hundred yards east of
the Moselle River, rising from low, flat, boggy land. This low ground
extends around and eastward south of the wood, between it and the
northern edge of East Pont-a-Musson, in the form of a broad swale
gradually narrowing and rising from a point south of the center of the
wood. This broad swale was no-man’s land. Behind Bois Frehaut to the
north enemy ground continued to rise, culminating in a very high hill
or mountain overlooking the wood, no-man’s land, Pont-a-Musson and the
entire country for miles around. Near its summit was an exceptionally
fine observation post, reached by a long tunnel.

In speaking of the action of Bois Frehaut or the capture of Bois
Frehaut the places called Belle Aire Farm, Bois de la Tete d’Or and
Ferme de Pence are included. They are parts of and join Bois Frehaut.
This position was a separate and distinct place entirely surrounded
by clear ground and most ideally situated for the enemy for defense
purposes. My knowledge of what was done by units on our right and left
was gained during the action through my efforts to keep in touch with
and to establish liaison with those units on our flanks.

On three separate occasions during the preceding four months Allied
troops had attempted to capture this Bois Frehaut. Once a French
outfit, after considerable artillery preparation, got into the edge of
it by a turning movement and stayed about ten minutes. Later French
Senegalese troops penetrated its east flank a short distance and stayed
less than one hour. At the time American troops reduced the St. Mihiel
Salient they made a frontal attack on Bois Frehaut and Ferme de Belle
Aire, an outpost position in front of and about half as wide as the
wood proper. This advance or pinch was supposed to start east of Bois
Frehaut and take it with the big salient, but it had to pivot on Bois
Frehaut instead of straightening the line from Momeny, for this was
near Metz and one of the strong outlying centers defending it, so the
attackers never got through the outside systems of wire. As a result of
this the Allied first line on the west side of the river was several
kilometers in advance of our line on the east bank before we took Bois
Frehaut and straightened it. I remember that as we went through the
Ferme de Belle Aire wire I counted twenty-six American bodies or parts
of bodies in one small section. They had been lying or hanging there
since about September 13th.

Such, then, was the position the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred
and Sixty-fifth Infantry, short two captains and nine lieutenants, its
ranks badly thinned and the whole outfit dead tired, was ordered to
capture and to hold. This was the morning of the ninth, the companies
were widely separated, we were almost five miles behind our front line
and we were to attack at five o’clock the next morning.

There was not a minute to lose. Early in the afternoon we were up
in East Pont-a-Musson. We would spend the night completing our
preparations there. Our first lines at the point where I had decided
to leave them were just north of the edge of the town. From there, for
several kilometers, they ran in a north-easterly direction, but my
orders called for a _head-on_ attack along the entire enemy front.
Prospective casualties for us seemed not to concern those of my
superiors and their assistants who had laid down the general outline
for this affair and for several previous affairs. I haven’t time here
to go into details as to that statement, but I assure you I am not
telling anything imaginative or that I can not substantiate. I am
saying little or nothing of any battalion or organization other than
my own. What I say of it and things pertaining to it are not meant to
apply to anything else. They are the result of personal knowledge and
experience.

The commanding General had wished me luck and departed. The Lieutenant
Colonel practically had put the regiment at my disposal and gone to
Loisey. The whole thing was now up to us. There were a thousand things
to think of and do and very little time in which to do them. I called
the officers together and gave instructions about equipment of all
sorts--ammunition, gas masks, sag paste, rations--things that had to be
sent back for, and so on.

I sent for certain units of the Headquarters Company, and annexed a
part of the officers and men of the First Battalion. By the way, its
Major had been killed by the Germans a few days before. I also sent for
the Regimental Machine Gun Company, for I had a foreboding that the
company of the Brigade Machine Gun Battalion designated to report to me
in the orders would not arrive in time. So I played safe. Then I spent
about two hours inspecting and watching the preparations go forward.
At six P. M. I sat down to study in detail and to systematize our plan
of attack. Everything must be thought out and arranged in advance. All
contingencies must, if possible, be foreseen and provided for. The foe
we were going against was highly organized and knew his position. He
was experienced, efficient and crafty in the art of war.

Promptly at eight-thirty, as ordered, the officers assembled at the
house we were using as temporary Battalion Headquarters. The company
from the Machine Gun Battalion had not arrived and for what we were
about to undertake, machine guns were important. So I called Captain
Allen and his lieutenants of our Regimental Machine Gun Company into
the conference. Had the other company arrived, Captain Allen of the
company I had sent for on my own initiative, probably would not now
be lying buried in France. So works fate, as some call it. It’s a sad
thing to have to order officers and men on missions of almost certain
death, especially when they are so willing, even anxious to go, and
when you know them as well as I knew mine, but such is war.

For hours in a dimly candle-lighted room we worked. Studied charts
and blue prints, planned each move of each detachment and platoon in
detail. Company and platoon commanders laid their courses, drew maps
and studied them carefully, for they would have to travel independently
and by compass after entering enemy wire. We carefully rehearsed our
plans of liaison. In short, every detail was gone over; all emergencies
we could conceive of were discussed, so that each captain and each
platoon leader (some were non-coms.) knew his part and its relation to
the whole. Each one explained aloud just what he was to do and when and
how, and how such and such developments were to affect his actions.
For you must know that nothing but well-nigh faultless team work would
enable us to accomplish our mission.

To capture and to hold this strong and seemingly impregnable key
position under the big guns of the world renowned fortress of Metz,
to say nothing of its other means of defense, with but one battalion
and but five minutes’ artillery preparation, did not mean to rush out
with a whoop and sweep all before us. It required a thorough, practical
knowledge gained by experience of all the complicated phases of trench
and open warfare. It required officers and non-commissioned officers
of iron nerve and cool judgment under fire, and brave troops of
exceptional discipline and the finest training. Whether those higher up
expected us to succeed or could have expected any battalion to succeed,
I doubted. So I had made up my mind we would succeed.

At one thirty-five A. M. I received word by telephone from the Brigade
Adjutant that Zero hour would be seven o’clock instead of five. At
three A. M. I said, “I’m going to lead you over and into that place.
I’ll be with you and I’m going to _stick_. I’ll never come back except
on orders from proper authority unless carried back unconscious or
dead. This meeting is adjourned.” For fully a minute they remained
perfectly still--not one moved. Then one at a time they got up, shook
my hand and filed out into the cold and darkness--the vast, ominous
outdoors. And I knew then by the look on each leader’s face that we
would be annihilated or win.

They roused their men, for they had been ordered to get what rest they
could, and there in the chill and dead of night, explained to them just
what was to be done; explained each man’s part, for each man has a part
in a job like that. Certain things had arrived during the night. These
were distributed, final inspections were made and by five o’clock all
was in readiness for the start. The four companies of infantry, “H,”
“G,” “E” and “F,” the Regimental Machine Gun Company, the One-Pounder
and Stokes Mortar Platoons, the Pioneer Platoon and Signal outfits from
the Headquarters Company, the specialty detachments from Division
Headquarters, the Doctors and Stretcher Bearers--all were there lined
up in battalion front, at increased intervals, along the great Metz
road.

For a moment I paused, feeling or sensing, as it were, my Battalion,
for I could see only the shadowy forms of a few who were nearest. I
wondered if those at home knew or could have any realization of what
these men were doing and suffering for them. All through that awful
night I had heard not one word of complaint. Not a grumble had reached
my ears, and I smiled as I remembered the many times before, even away
back in the Argonne or St. Die (it seemed ages ago then), how, when I
had approached within hearing of disconsolate looking groups of men,
shivering all night long, perhaps in deep mud and cold rain, because of
mistakes higher up or for unavoidable causes, some old fellow in the
group had started to sing or said some silly thing intended to be funny
and how all the others had _laughed_--for my benefit. And these were
the men I was about to lead out there where it looked to all of us like
sure annihilation. These were the remnant of that Battalion, and I--,
but the hour had come.

I started at the right of the line, which would be the rear when they
swung into column, followed by my Adjutant, Lieutenant Pritchard. It
was just before dawn, that most spookey and shivery of all hours--a
few degrees above freezing, but the cold, fleecy mist that enveloped
us seemed to penetrate our very bones. Just enough light was filtering
through for me to recognize each officer and man as I walked slowly
close to the line. Not a word was spoken--not a sound, save the never
tearing _screech_ of an occasional shell with its ugly blast, or
the rattling, echoing _tat, tat, tat-a-tat!_ of a machine gun or an
automatic rifle in the distance.

Along the whole wide front I moved--sadly, looking into the face of
each man, each so busy with his thoughts. How pinched, how tired--how
worn they looked. Many cheeks were wet with tears. Each man made an
effort to smile. Many chins and lips trembled. The very chill and the
darkness seemed charged and potent with _death_. But every head was
high. Every form was rigidly erect. “They are just great children,” I
thought, “so proud in their sacrifice, so brave, so true in this awful
preliminary hour--great trusting, innocent boys suffering for the sins
and for the sakes of others, and mine the sad, oh, _unspeakably sad_,
duty of leading them to death, or to horrors and suffering even worse.”
Had I not been going _with_ them I could not have faced them then. I
reached the end of the line. My staff and runners fell in behind me.
The Captain of the leading company gave a signal, repeated down the
line. They swung--“_Squads left!_” And the Death March had begun.

No band was playing, no colors flying, no loved ones and friends
admiring, cheering--just on through the ghastly night--and I could feel
the very heart beat of those twelve hundred and fifty brave men behind
me as plainly as I could hear the muffled tread of their hob-nailed
shoes. For I loved that Battalion. It was the pride of my life. And
there was not one among all those hundreds of big, black heroes of mine
that would not have gone through _hell_ for his Major. And no one knew
it better than I.

On, on, thump, thump, thump, up the familiar road, under the great bare
trees, past the deserted, shell marked houses, and damp, tomb-like
ruins that had once been happy homes. Then we were in the outskirts of
the town. On the left was the arch, the big iron gate and the ruined
house under which were the dugouts of the battalion infirmary. Soon we
were passing the Battalion graveyard to our right, with its rows of
mounds and wooden crosses barely discernible.

And strangely enough, at a time like this, I thought of one very dark
night, much darker than this, with flares and star shells and colored
rockets lighting no-man’s land, not far away, and the flash and roar
of big guns and screaming shells, when we buried our first man there,
killed the night we first moved into the sector. And I remembered how
helpless and small he seemed as they gently laid him in his shallow
grave, and then when we bent near to conceal the brief glare of a
pocket flashlight, how _proud_ he looked, with a great hole through his
chest torn by a flying chunk of jagged steel, and only a blanket for a
coffin, and the expression of peace on the young black face, for he
had stuck and died at his post. And then when the little, muddy grave
was filled, how pitiful and how lonely he seemed, as we left him to
darkness in that blood soaked foreign soil--so far from his loved ones
and home.

Like thousands in that hellish war, he had made the supreme sacrifice,
had unflinchingly laid down his life to save others. He was a true
American soldier. I hope they still keep flowers on his grave.

I could see the very mound there on the end as we passed, for already a
faint, cold brightness was breaking through the mist. On we marched, up
and off the road, through the labyrinth of grave-like trenches, till at
last we reached the broad maze of our most advance wire. New paths or
openings had just been cut and men of the Battalion Scout Platoon were
waiting to guide us through.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was still impossible to see more than twenty-five or thirty yards
through the fog, so with compass in hand I led the column through
no-man’s land like a skipper would pilot a ship, among shell holes,
through small gulleys, clumps of scrubby brush and patches of dead
weeds, and as we neared and entered enemy wire, past ghastly, stinking
objects that reminded us most keenly of the attempts our predecessors
had made to do what we had to do. I also reflected, when I saw the head
drop off of one as a man jarred the wire it hung over, that my own
carcass or the carcasses of a king or even a queen, or of some wealthy
notable, would look no better if it had been lying or hanging out in
the weather for about two months with these horrible objects that had
once been fine young American soldiers. (During the time we occupied
the sector patrols had brought in and we had buried a number of these
bodies.)

There was almost a mile of no-man’s land at the point where we had
crossed it, for we traveled on the lowest ground because the mist was
denser there. But at last we had come to the acres of wire before the
enemy outpost position called Belle Aire Farm, in French “Ferme de
Belle Aire.” This was several hundred yards in advance of Bois Frehaut,
the main position, which occupied higher and rising ground. Part of
the battalion, led by Captain Green of “H” Company, which was to lead
on the right, moved around to the east to take their places ready for
the attack. The rest cut through the Belle Aire wire, one detachment
cutting in on the flank to _bayonet_ machine gunners, for we worked
quietly at this stage, and we worked fast, taking advantage of the
now rapidly thinning mist. This whole thing had been planned by us to
outguess the enemy and in so far as possible to avoid casualties, for
dead and wounded men can not take and hold positions such as that.

It was at this point that I saw two of my men knocked over by machine
gun fire, the first to fall in this affair, and as we hugged the ground
waiting for our flanking party to reward those machine gunners, I could
have dictated quite a story, had there been any one to take it down,
on the subject of Militarism and War in general. I wondered how many
wars there’d be and how long they’d last if the people who profit by
them or hope to profit by them had to be up there with us. I was in a
nasty mood, as I usually was, when I thought of most any phase of the
war except of the glorious men who personally faced the _real_ danger
and who did the actual fighting. I doubt whether that story, as I would
have dictated it then, would be very popular with people who didn’t
honestly and actually suffer in or because of the war, or with those
who think they believe in militarism and war.

We were not delayed long. Then with Belle Aire Farm behind us, we
rapidly deployed and took up our formation in platoon and half platoon
columns facing and about one hundred yards from the wire of the main
position. The entire command took cover in shell holes, in depressions,
behind mounds or clusters of dead weeds ready to spring forward in
force at the proper moment. I had time to make sure that all was in
readiness as planned and get back to the center. The mist had lifted
and enemy machine gunners near the edge of the wood, especially those
with nests in trees, were blazing away recklessly.

Promptly at six fifty-five (all watches had been synchronized) our
big guns, miles behind us, almost simultaneously began to bark and
boom. Then came the shells, a low moaning roar at first, the sound
rising in pitch something like a slowly operated steam siren whistle,
then increasing in volume and shrillness till it seemed like a mighty
tornado coming right at us. The noise was so great and so sudden that
it was almost unbearable. Then they began to explode all along, most of
them just in front of us. Words are utterly inadequate to describe this
awful cataclysm as it felt and seemed to us.

We had figured that the enemy would drop his barrage first in front
of Belle Aire Farm. That’s why we had gotten through that position so
hastily and it was fortunate that we advanced as far as we did even at
the risk of being too close to our own barrage, for almost immediately
the dirt and rocks began to fly behind us--not in front of the Belle
Aire wire, but right on the position itself. Some one had been
telephoning. We were too close to our own barrage, but I knew it would
advance in a few minutes, and the enemy barrage was entirely too close
behind us. Talk about being between two fires. A curtain of fire from
our own artillery just ahead of us and a wall of the most intense and
concentrated fire from batteries guarding Metz falling immediately in
our rear, the shells passing each other not far above our heads. A few
from each side fell short.

To be killed or rendered unconscious is easy, but to have to live
through a situation like that right out in the open is beyond all power
to describe. Our chances for survival and success hung in the balance,
the suspense was maddening. The enemy barrage would soon be lowered
in front of the main wire--right where we were. It might be lowered
any second. I decided that if he lowered it we would rush into our own
barrage rather than stay where we were, for as many of us as possible
must get through that wire.

I kept looking at my watch, ready to give the signal that would be
relayed along our line. It was six fifty-eight, then finally six
fifty-eight and a half; at last it got to be six fifty-nine. If that
enemy barrage lowered then, our casualties would be enormous and our
chances for success almost gone. It was bad enough as it was. That was
the longest minute I ever spent.

Promptly at seven, as scheduled, our barrage jumped and in a few
seconds practically all of our shells were falling beyond the wire.
This was our time to get through and quickly, if ever. All along
the front our boys went for those entanglements. Talk about wire
entanglements. They had recently been repaired and strengthened.
Most of the wire was the heavy new German type, with barbs an inch
and a half long and less than an inch apart. It required heavy
two-handed cutters with handles two and a half feet long to cut it.
Small cutters were useless for cutting here. The wide belts were not
only criss-crossed back and forth in all directions on stakes and on
chevaux-de-frise, but woven in every conceivable way as high as a man’s
head back among the trees.

There were pits and trenches with wire thrown in loose and in coils
covered with light limbs and leaves for men to fall into. We had no
tanks. They set off mines, many of which blew holes sixty to seventy
feet in diameter. Grenades and bombs were suspended from limbs and in
the brush in such a way that stepping on or touching a certain stick or
wire would explode them. Machine guns were placed at varying distances
back in the wood, some on little camouflaged platforms in trees, some
in trenches and some in cement “pill boxes” located so as to sweep and
enfilade every section of the wire.

High ranking officers from the rear as well as low ranking ones who
swarmed up to visit the place after the armistice were amazed at the
strength of the position, and when they saw it at close range the
predominant question was, “How did they ever get through?” And they
only saw it from the outside edge, for no one was allowed into the
wood. It was saturated with gas for days.

The entire Bois Frehaut, which means Frehaut Woods, was wired every
few hundred yards in front of trench systems and enfilading machine
guns. There were deep rocky ravines, steep hills, large patches of
heavy undergrowth filled with wire, traps, mines and pitfalls of every
description, also magnificent dugouts and a most complete system of
’phone and signal lines.

The platoons and half platoons went through in single file, strong men
in front taking turns at cutting wire and those behind bending back
or securing the loose ends as well as possible with the small cutters.
There was from a hundred and fifty to two hundred yards interval
between detachments. It was impossible for them to see each other after
entering the wood, so that until their objectives were reached each
outfit to all intents and purposes was an independent command.

Practically every one had penetrated the first or outer entanglements
when the enemy laid his barrage right on us. The first men through
were going after the machine guns and snipers that were bothering them
most, crawling around behind or flanking them, using hand grenades and
bayonets, firing with automatic rifles and taking pot shots at those in
trees. Being through the first system of wire we could scatter somewhat
and take advantage of shell holes, trenches, even hollows.

But how any one lived under that fire is still a mystery to me. Enemy
artillery had gotten word by telephone or airplane, probably both,
that we were into the wood, and had decided to end us right there.
Stones, dirt, shrapnel, limbs and whole trees filled the air. The
noise and concussion alone were enough to kill one. Talk about shell
shock. The earth swayed and shook and fairly bounced with the awful
impact. Flashes of fire, the metallic crack of high explosives, the
awful explosions that dug holes fifteen and twenty feet in diameter,
the utter and complete pandemonium and the stench of hell, your friends
blown to bits, the pieces dropping near--even striking you. If anything
can be more terrifying, more nerve-breaking in this world than a
concentrated fire from heavies such as that, I am unable to conceive
of it. It’s many times worse than the worst thing one can imagine.
It can’t be described because there is nothing you have experienced,
unless the thing itself, with which to compare it.

There were many guns defending Metz and this was a concentration of
heavy caliber fire--we were the only ones advancing just then. After
what seemed a lifetime he lowered it still more to the point where our
barrage was dropping ahead of us, then it slowly crept back over us to
the Belle Aire wire. Several times it passed over us, rather on us, in
this combing process, before we reached our goal. Other batteries were
shelling our back areas and still others were shelling us promiscuously.

But the boys kept on, taking advantage of any available cover at times,
but resuming, silencing machine guns that still were active, bombing
dugouts and bayoneting or shooting all the enemy that had lingered too
long. Only by special effort did I secure three live Huns.

By nine thirty-five all platoons assigned to the first line, but two,
were represented on the line of our objectives. As prearranged this
word reached me through runners. The two outfits had been delayed by
machine gun nests, but they soon came up. By ten o’clock liaison was
fully established, combat groups had been located and were digging in,
machine guns and trench mortars were being placed, and in other ways we
were getting ready to withstand counter attacks as well as artillery
fire, which, if we held, soon would include more gas. I had sent two
platoons of the support company to help protect our right flank, which
was the eastern edge of the wood.

So I wrote a message, put it into the small aluminum shell on the leg
of a pigeon. The man released him and we watched him rise and circle,
then head southward with word for the Commanding General fifteen
miles back at Division Headquarters in Marbache that Bois Frehaut was
ours--all objectives reached, were holding and would continue to hold.

Then I took my staff and Artillery Liaison officers and my runners
and went back to a prearranged locality in the edge of the wood and
established my permanent headquarters or P. C. in an open shell hole. A
few men set to work with spades and picks to shape it up and give it a
little level floor space.

A Bosch airplane appeared over the edge of the wood flying low and saw
us. He circled a few times and dropped out some signals. In just four
minutes by my watch we heard two big shells, one just behind the other,
coming right at us. After a few months’ experience you get so you can
tell from the sound just about where a shell is going to hit. One of
these struck twenty-five yards beyond us, the other almost the same
distance to our left. In less than a minute we heard two more coming
the same route. One struck twenty yards short, the other not quite so
short, but a little to the right. They had the range. The guns were
five and a half or six miles away.

After the sixth shot had just missed I ordered everybody out of the
hole. They occupied others a short distance away. The airplane, so
low that the men were shooting at it with their rifles, noted this
scattering, but he evidently noted, too, that I had remained, so
the firing continued. I felt a sort of pride about sticking to my
headquarters. The thirty-sixth shell fired at it struck right near the
edge and covered me up. Oh, yes, I was given energetic assistance in
getting out. We cleaned out the hole and resumed business. Now that the
airplane had signaled “a hit” and gone, it was as safe as any other
place in that locality.

People said it seemed miraculous that with so many big shells fired at
it and hitting on all sides in such a small area, each one had failed
to hit directly in that big hole. But I was not conceited enough to
think that the Huns were firing shells that curved by magic for my
special benefit. I had estimated during the “Death March” just before
dawn that I had one chance in three of coming through that operation
alive and one in twelve of escaping serious wounds or gassing. I
believed in God all right, but I did not think then and do not now
believe that He was down there taking an active part in that horrible
orgy of suffering and destruction. I felt that if anything other than
vain humanity was fighting on or with either side it must be his
Satanic Majesty. I was not trying to palm off on God the things that be
Caesar’s. However--well, that calls for another lecture. But don’t any
of you get an idea that I’m trying to belittle true religion. I think
it’s the greatest thing by far in the world or accessible to the world
today.

This little digression about something besides the battle, I suppose,
is the result of a habit I got into in the front lines of thinking when
things were unusually dangerous and there was nothing to do but let it
work for the time being, of something pleasant and wholly unassociated
with the nasty business in hand.

I remember how Lieutenant Stuart, my Battalion Scout Officer (he
was half Indian) when we had finished discussing the details of a
patrolling expedition he was going to lead in a few minutes--and it
took a lot of nerve to prowl around no-man’s land in the dead of
night--would pause, then with a broad smile and chuckling, a little,
would tell me some trifling story, usually about something that
occurred when he was a small child away back in Arizona. Then, still
grinning and chuckling, he’d get up and say: “Well, Major, it’s time to
pull out. The boys are waiting. See you as soon as I get back.” I never
felt right sure he’d come back.

My Adjutant, too, when we’d be waiting for some terrible thing to
happen during the night, expecting an assault, shells dropping
promiscuously and perhaps a bombing plane buzzing overhead, used to
tell some of the most outlandish stories of his experiences while a
regular in Hawaii or the Philippines or some place. I suppose all men
exposed to real danger had some way of “kidding” themselves along under
most any conditions. If they didn’t have they were in a bad way.

Soon after I was resurrected from the shell hole a runner from the
right front company (by the way, he was sighted in Division orders
and should have had a medal for the way he got to me) stumbled in
exhausted, with a note from Green (who, under machine gun fire, had
climbed a tree to get a better view) advising me that the enemy was
preparing in force to rush our right flank. Two platoons, one from
the support, the other from the Reserve Company, and my two remaining
reserve machine guns had barely time to reach the spot to which they
were ordered when the assault started. By flanking our would-be
flankers as they came over a ridge, they saved the day. Several attacks
against our front failed to succeed because of well directed fire.

And still the bombardment continued without a pause. It seemed to
me that almost all the big guns that side of Metz were firing on
Bois Frehaut and the old no-man’s land just behind it. And I learned
afterward that they were, for we were the only ones that had taken and
were holding any special territory. They had been expecting a drive on
Metz for some time and their artillery especially was well prepared.
Shrapnel and high explosive contact shells of all sizes fell on all
parts of the area. They knew more about the armistice than we did and
his artillery seemed to want to do all the damage it could while the
war lasted. Just before dark on the tenth he began throwing over great
quantities of gas and continued to mix it in all night long. They
seemed determined to run us out or exterminate us.

For twenty-eight long hours we advanced and _held_ under a bombardment
that in my opinion had not been surpassed if equalled on a similar area
held by American troops during a similar length of time. The enemy
had allowed the Allies some time before to get as close to Metz as he
intended they should get--that was the outside wire of Bois Frehaut. We
were not attacking in great force after hours of artillery preparation
with almost innumerable big guns supporting us, though what artillery
was in action behind us did excellent work. Neither was the enemy
fighting a rear guard action while his main forces beat a hasty retreat.

At ten o’clock the night of the tenth I received a copy of orders
indicating that a battalion was to enter the western part of the
wood during the night and advance on the enemy through my left front
company, “G,” at five o’clock next morning. I smiled in my gas mask,
for I had watched the efforts of a certain battalion backed by another
battalion, to come up into the woods during the afternoon. They got
as far as Ferme de Belle Aire--part of them--and at dark withdrew.
Very early the morning of the eleventh the “attacking” battalion got
within the outer wire of Bois Frehaut. By five A. M. two officers and
a handful of men had worked their way as far as the headquarters of a
certain “G” Company platoon. Our barrage started on the dot. The two
officers, followed by the handful of men, advanced beyond our front
line and looked about. One of the officers was promptly wounded,
and--well there was no attack.

During that entire twenty-eight hours Signal Outfits from Division
Headquarters were trying to get a telephone line up to my P. C. But the
wire was always either shot in two or the men were and I had no ’phone
until after the armistice. It was almost impossible for runners to get
between me and our old front lines behind us, and still more difficult
for my runners to get between me and my own Company and Platoon leaders
in the woods. But they did it.

All day, all night and up to eleven o’clock next morning it lasted. By
midnight the entire wood fairly reeked with gas. No one dared eat or
drink because of it. Despite all our precautions and efforts, we were
rapidly being wiped out. I have heard of officers and of men and of
units--large ones and small ones, white and also colored, that became
panic stricken and useless under fire that was feeble and light both in
intensity and duration compared to this, but I am ready at any time to
testify that twelve hundred and fifty officers and men (colored) _did_
advance and that the command did hold _without showing the faintest
symptoms of panic or retreat_.

All of you who were with the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry
prior to September twenty-third, 1918, know Colonel Vernon A. Caldwell
of West Point and the Regular Army. He organized and commanded the
Regiment until he was made a Brigadier General and left us on the date
named. To him I attribute much of the credit for our success in taking
and holding Bois Frehaut. He had taught us “simple and direct means
and methods” and had taught us to “think tactics” in a way that proved
of inestimable value under the supreme test. For Colonel Caldwell
was one of our professional officers who did not have to pose as a
“disciplinarian” to get by.

You might like to know about that action from the standpoint of tactics
and how it was that many of us survived without permanent injury. It is
very interesting. I wish I might explain it in detail. To me it is more
interesting from the standpoint of courage, efficiency and unswerving
devotion to duty displayed by both officers and men. It was a fitting
climax to an enviable battalion record of front line service, and an
accomplishment most creditable to the American Army and to its colored
soldiers.

I wish I had time to tell you of the many especially glorious deeds of
heroism performed by officers and men. I use the word _glorious_, for
to me, even that is a weak word to use in describing the heroic actions
of a man utterly and deliberately, premeditatedly indifferent to his
personal safety and bent solely on duty plus a desire to help and save
others. And to me, too, that is the only thing about war, unless it is
the fortitude of those left at home in suspense and unselfishly doing
all in their power to help, that comes any way near being _glorious_.

If they’d only kill them outright instead of leaving them to suffer and
die in agony perhaps hours (even months) later. To see them suffering
and be powerless to help them, and to know that many might be saved if
it were possible to stop the slaughter long enough to give them proper
medical attention. Many men died in Bois Frehaut or afterward who might
have been saved, could they have been promptly and properly attended.
What a hell of a game for _Christian_ nations to be playing and getting
ready to play again, in the Twentieth Century A. D.

One little scene has bobbed up in my memory--the death of an “E”
Company Runner. Late on the afternoon of the tenth I left my P. C.
to get a view of a certain position. I had gone but a short distance
when I stepped on something that attracted by attention. It was a
human hand! Near it was a large spot of blood and a trail as though
something had been dragged in the general direction of where our First
Aid Dressing Station had been before it was blown up. My course lay a
little to the right, but I followed the gruesome marks for about fifty
yards and there huddled up in a little gulley laid the “E” Company
Runner I had sent out with a message for Captain Sanders about two
hours before.

Not only was his right arm off at the elbow, but his right side and leg
were badly mangled. I thought he was dead, but bent over and put my
hand on his forehead. His eyes opened. In them was a wistful, faraway
look. I spoke, and with an apparent effort he got them focused, they
brightened with recognition, and immediately, almost to my undoing, his
body straightened! His right shoulder and the stub of an arm jerked!
Utterly helpless, trembling on the very brink of eternity, he had come
to “Attention” and had _saluted_ his Major!

Then I noticed he was making a pitiful effort to talk, and in some
way, I can’t explain just how, I got the impression that there was
something in his pocket he wished to see. I took out a wallet and found
what I knew he wanted. It was a post-card photo of a pretty colored
girl holding in her arms a dark, smiling baby. Shells were screeching
over. Just then one tore the earth nearby and sprinkled us with dirt.
I propped his head against my knee and held the picture close to his
eyes. A proud, satisfied look came into them, then a calm, tired smile.
He seemed looking farther and farther away. Another terrific, bouncing
jar and the bloody, mud smeared form relaxed. Another brave comrade had
“gone west.”

A little farther on I saw a big private leaning against the splintered
trunk of a tree, his bowels all hanging out. No one else was near. He
seemed to be in delirium and was crying pitifully like a little child
for “Mamma.” When he saw me he stared for an instant, then jumped
up and yelled, “Major Ross is with us! Go to it, boys!” and fell
over--dead. Then I thought about all I had heard to the effect that
you have to treat soldiers like dogs--especially colored ones--to gain
discipline and inspire respect. I thanked God I didn’t have to.

I might tell you how that morning during the advance, I happened to
be looking at a non-com. section leader a little way to my left when
there was a wicked crack and a blinding flash just above and in front
of him, and how I saw his headless body--the blood gushing--actually
step and lunge forward against a rock. I could tell you about strong
men who went raving mad (and were still insane when I last heard) in
that horrible turmoil. I could tell for hours about awful things in
Bois Frehaut--let alone previous experiences in other places--the
days were bad but the long weird nights. They are too gruesome, too
sickening to talk about long at a time even here where we’re all safe,
rested and well. No wonder the men who actually, personally underwent
such suffering won’t talk about it much. But the memory of those awful
things, pass it off as they may, is seared deep into their very souls
and will haunt them at times until their dying day.

There were people in America and also in France who wore officers’
uniforms and had the time of their lives and there were some who,
if there is justice to come, will surely pay for their ridiculous
arrogance during and following the war. Militarism is one of the
disgusting institutions I fought to help eliminate. Yes, it will be
eliminated--and prevented. At a glance just now on the surface, in most
nations, things look much as before. The same old gang is in control,
but lying and allying, brow beating, scheming a little more than was
necessary heretofore. Since the World War (the result of worldly
success and money worship) started in 1914, things have happened. For
instance, the acceleration of the change in woman’s status. Votes are
merely a result of that change. This phase alone, and what goes with
it--the new state of sex affairs--_necessitates_ and will help bring
about a changing of human viewpoint.

Whether or not certain persons and classes of persons like it,
Democracy is in the world to stay, and staying will increase and
flourish as the people learn. Reversion for the masses to ignorance,
feudalism, slavery is unthinkable--impossible. Is the Almighty God
a human fool? Has humanity ever or will it ever get away with the
assumption that He is? Think of those fine young victims I mentioned
lying in and hanging on the wire in front of Belle Aire Farm.

More important than militarism and war, or than politics, or than how
to acquire fortunes, or than anything else is the learning--not just
about it--but _how to attain_ righteousness, peace, contentment, true
happiness. I put righteousness first for there’ll be none of those
things humanity longs for without it. There’ll be plenty of hypocrisy,
but not much genuine righteousness until more of us get our minds, our
hearts, our aspirations set on something higher than materialism and
worldliness. You can not _legislate_ righteousness into the hearts of
humanity.

A host of thinking people are beginning to suspicion this to such
an extent that they are interested in finding out the truth--the
_remedy_. Now there are persons rushing about, others lying in wait
to tell you the “truth.” Or they will hand you a pamphlet or sell you
a book or refer you to one written by some person who makes great
claims or insinuations about having “inside information.” There may
be enough truth to it to fool the thoughtless or credulous and it may
be insidious enough to worry even the wise. There are several that
make startling claims, but none have _yet_ overcome any material laws.
There are numerous courses of study and “systems,” not claiming to be
Christian or religious, that guarantee to, and no doubt do, help you in
business, add to your success, cure your ailments--some of them--and
benefit your health.

Almost innumerable panaceas for all ills are advanced. Some of those
religionists and uplifters with the “inside information” and “special
revelations,” etc., may be sincere and many people may believe
whatever it is. The same is true of the Turks and the South Sea Island
Head-Hunters.

But in so far as I can find out there never lived on this earth
but _one Man_ who taught the things we need to and want to know
about--who absolutely lived up to them Himself and who proved them and
demonstrated them beyond all peradventure. You will find by honest,
careful study, experiment and thought that these things and these
alone are _practical_. That Man was born in a stable, died on a cross
and left an estate consisting of the clothes He wore. He’s the man
who said, “Love your enemies.” “Lay up your treasures in Heaven.” “My
Kingdom is not of this world.” “If you love me, keep my commandments or
sayings.” “Except a man be born again....” “By their fruits shall ye
know them,” etc., etc. And He’s the One Christendom claims to follow.

Fortunately certain men who knew Him personally and others who knew
His Apostles personally wrote about Him--what He said and what He
_did_. Some of those writings were gotten together and compiled into
a book. That book is called “The New Testament.” Now with all due
respect and consideration for the motives and intentions of many of
those who have since written, some of whom claim or infer “special”
or “inside” information, I humbly suggest that the logical, safe,
reliable place for each of us to learn about Christ is in the New
Testament. Let’s find out whether He really said anything applicable
and worth while _now_, whether He meant it, whether He lived it and
proved it, and, above all, let us stick to it until we find out _what
it was and is_. The world needs it badly--needs it pure and undiluted,
unadulterated--needs to know what it is without concessions and without
reservations. If the people are smart enough to govern themselves (and
I think they are and that they’re improving in that ability right
along) they are now at last smart enough to study the New Testament
itself by themselves and for themselves. How can any Christian
logically object to that?

The only solution for humanity’s problems and difficulties lies in a
_correct_ understanding of the teachings of Christ--not some vanity
tickling subterfuge. Some persons think they know all about it now.
No human is raising the dead or stilling the tempest these days and
that “know it all” attitude is the result of fleshly vanity--not
knowledge. So let’s start or review, beginning in the primary grade
or the kindergarten. Many seem to have started in the post-graduate
courses or at least in the senior class. I have a suspicion that
selfishness, vanity, swell headedness, worldly pride, material ambition
(whether called material or not), and so on, are the direct opposite to
Christianity.

I thought I knew a lot about religion, but after they led me out of
Bois Frehaut I started in in the primary grade to try to learn about
Christianity--so to speak. The world must learn _what it is_, then
begin learning to apply it or live it. It will be done. The churches
will help. They’ll help or quit. Many of them are about through now.
But Christianity as Christ taught it won’t quit. It will soon be
the paramount subject of conversation and consideration. The world
has reached a stage of material advancement. The people are awake,
enlightened and organized to such an extent that things will become
unbearable--impossible without it.

I couldn’t very well leave out all mention of Christianity in this
lecture, for the things my Battalion fought to help make possible
and to bring about in the world are in one sense closely allied
to Christianity. There couldn’t be much real Christianity without
Democracy and there can’t be any real Democracy without Christianity.
I don’t claim to be much of a Christian, but I wish I had time to tell
you what I think it is, and why I think so and what _makes_ me think
so, and so on. You look into it yourselves. And now we must get out of
Bois Frehaut.

Not until ten-thirty o’clock on the morning of November eleventh did I
receive orders relative to an armistice. The third runner sent out got
through to me with a Division order. I was in direct command of the
principal advancing done in attempts on the tenth and eleventh toward
Metz and this was the first definite word I had about the armistice.
We had heard that such a thing was expected but I supposed it would be
several days, maybe weeks, before it went into effect. We knew that
German officers had gone through the lines under a flag of truce to
meet representatives of the High Allied Command, but we did not know
what the result of those parleys had been. Some thought hostilities
would not cease for months.

Therefore, imagine our joy in that unbearable shellhole, when we found
the war had but _thirty minutes_ to last. Of those with me at the
time some shouted for happiness and some stared in amazement fearing
it was too good to be true. I sent the word out to my leaders and sat
looking at my watch. Artillery fire increased in intensity if any
difference and enemy machine gunners elevated their pieces and were
spraying the wood with bullets. It would have been hard luck to get hit
then. Promptly at eleven o’clock all fire began to lessen and in a few
minutes had ceased. The World War had stopped.

Not only our men but the Germans also seemed overjoyed. Soon after
the buglers had sounded “cease firing” the Huns rushed out of their
positions and our men met them between the lines. They actually shook
hands and slapped each others’ backs. They traded trinkets and were
holding a veritable reception until our officers succeeded in getting
the men back into the lines. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t seen it.

During the afternoon I received word that our Lieutenant-Colonel,
commanding the Regiment, together with some members of his staff, had
been badly gassed in a dugout at Regimental Headquarters and forced
to go to the hospital and that I, being next in rank, was temporarily
in command of the Regiment. My face was so swollen that I could see a
little only with one eye. My ears had been bleeding and I had to be
yelled at to hear. I was scratched and bruised and my voice refused to
work. A sort of reaction had set in and I felt weak and sick. We passed
a row of dead and pieces of dead and some more dead and finally reached
the limousine that had been sent for me.

We were proceeding slowly because of shell holes in the road when one
of the men with me said, “There’s a man ahead singing and waving his
arms like he’s crazy.” I could see that he was rared back and singing
or yelling and every few steps he stopped and waved his arms and
executed some strange dance movements. When we overtook him I stopped
the car and asked him what was the matter. “Sir--Major,” he said, his
eyes beaming, “I--I just can’t praise God enough for letting me come
out of that woods alive.”

The outfit was too tired to move far that day. But the next morning
the regimental band came to me in a body and asked permission to march
up the road a mile or so to meet the Second Battalion, which under my
orders was coming to Loisey, where there were comfortable billets, to
rest. I walked out into the village square, as Regimental Commander, to
welcome my heroic battalion--the battalion that had _earned_ undying
fame for itself, its regiment, its brigade, its division and for the
American colored race.

Soon I heard the band playing as it never played before and they came
into view marching up the main street of the town. There at the head,
limping and dirty, was my big senior captain, Sanders. Farther back
I could recognize Green, captain of “H,” stocky and ragged, marching
abreast of his company guide. Others I noticed, and the absence of
others, and many thoughts flashed through my mind as I watched them
marching toward me.

Sanders saw me and knew what to do. I never gave many fancy orders,
it wasn’t necessary in that outfit. When the middle of the column was
opposite he bawled in a hoarse voice--but they, too, knew what to
do--“Squads left--March! Battalion--Halt!” Those heels clicked. Their
rifles, like one piece, in three clear-cut movements, snapped down
to the “order.” Again he yelled, or tried to yell, “Present, arms!”
Again two distinct and snappy movements. Sanders faced about standing
at salute and there before me at “present arms”--not much larger than
one company should be, stood all that was left of my wonderful Second
Battalion!--My heroes of Bois Frehaut!

Note: Many were wholly incapacitated for many days, whose names were
not turned in in final reports of “casualties.”

I brought them to the “order” and stood spell bound. It was by far the
most touching, the most thrilling, the most awe-inspiring ceremony I
ever experienced or witnessed. There they stood--covered with mud,
stained and spattered with blood, their clothes, what was left of them,
torn and ripped to shreds. They looked emaciated--haggard, but about
those erect, motionless figures, those big steady eyes, about their
whole proud, manly bearing was something of that true nobility of
unselfishness and sacrifice that is beyond description.

These men had suffered the tortures of the damned. They had faced all
the engines of terror and destruction that fiendish man could invent.
They had endured the shriek, the smash, the roar and pandemonium of
hell. They had seen their comrades blown to bits or torn and mangled,
and choked by gas. They had listened, powerless to help, through long,
ghastly hours, to the pitiful, heart-breaking moans of the wounded and
dying.

Yes, they had been tried, they had been tested, they had been weighed
in the balance, they had been through a fiery crucible--and they were
true gold. For many hard, long, weary weeks they had suffered and
endured, and all for what they believed to be the preservation of our
country, the advancement of Democracy and the betterment of mankind.
I stood there looking, thinking--torn and choked by emotion--thrilled
with admiration, and a feeling rapidly growing that I would make my
soldiers a speech--an oration. But _what_ could I say? How could I say
it? What could anyone in my place _say_? After several attempts I moved
closer and whispered as loudly as I could, “Officers and men, your
Major is proud of his Battalion!”



APPENDIX


History will concern itself as nearly as possible with _facts_.
Relative to the World War the world believes and will believe what
is stated by those who were in supreme authority and by those whose
business it is dispassionately--mercilessly to ascertain and state the
truth. Statements or accounts to the contrary, or that do not coincide,
are merely ridiculous and can not stand.

Commonplace, every-day occurrences, occurrences that had no unusual
bearing on anything of special importance, occurrences that were not
exceptional, feats that were not particularly noteworthy from the
standpoint of things as a whole, attempts that were not successful
or were only partly successful--or if they cannot be logically and
adequately proved--no matter how tremendous and how commendable they
may be and may seem to those directly concerned--do not interest or
convince very many, certainly not the general public--even now, and, of
course, never will.

All accounts of American colored soldiers in France lay much stress
on the Ninety-second Division’s attack, just preceding the armistice,
on the defenses of Metz--conceded to be the most impregnable inland
fortress or position in the world. To attack the world’s strongest
fortress _means_ something, and if you attain any actual, clear cut,
unquestionable success, and if the world knows about it, it means a
great deal. Especially in a Democracy is public opinion of importance.

At the time this attack was launched, namely, the morning of November
10th, 1918, the Division had had sufficient experience in the line and
was sufficiently well organized and equipped to be taken seriously
as a combat Division. But, unfortunately, our activities against the
defenses and under the guns of Metz, coming, as they did, immediately
preceding the cessation of hostilities, a time when so much of interest
and importance was transpiring, received little if any general
publicity.

But, imagine my state of mind, having made a lecture to two colored
audiences and having told my white friends about the wonderful
accomplishments of my Colored Battalion, when I read an Associated
Press article sent out from Washington which contained a paragraph in
a letter credited to General John J. Pershing, which read as follows:
“The Ninety-second Division, astride the Moselle, attacked at 7 a. m.,
November 10th and at 5 a. m., November 11th, advanced a short distance,
but the troops had retired to cover in the face of repeated heavy fire
when the commander of the attacking Brigade received information at
7:18 a. m. that an armistice would be effective....” etc.

My friends or any one’s friends reading or hearing of this statement
credited to the Commander-in-chief of the American Expeditionary Forces
would believe that the colored soldiers of the Ninety-second Division
(the only complete colored combat division) had _attempted_ something
against the fortifications of Metz but that they had _FAILED_!

It made Bois Frehaut a hoax. It made me a liar. It made any
colored citizen a laughing stock who spoke of the great deeds and
_accomplishments_ of colored soldiers under the guns of Metz.

Generalizations, even if authentic, are not _convincing_. Sweeping
summaries about units differently engaged at different times and
places change few opinions. Something specific, complete in itself,
_satisfactorily provable to the skeptical_ must be shown, so it seemed
up to me to secure and to preserve for the American colored soldier and
for the American Negro, the credit for a most exceptional and glorious
_achievement_. Immediately I wrote to a member of Congress, Hon. Will
R. Wood, sent the extract from the Indianapolis Sunday Star of January
11th, 1920, and also the facts about the Ninety-second Division’s drive
toward Metz.

After General Pershing had returned to Washington, following his
tour of inspection, and had had the records fully looked into he
wrote a letter to Mr. Wood dated March 1st, 1920. Mr. Wood sent the
letter to me. General Pershing said that the paragraph as published
was incorrect--that what he actually said in his letter was: “The
Ninety-second Division, astride the Moselle attacked at 7 a. m.,
November 10th, and at 5 a. m., November 11th, renewed the attack. The
renewed attack started at 5 a. m., November 11th advanced a short
distance, but the troops had retired to cover in the face of reported
heavy fire....” etc.

Even this statement, while perfectly true as to the attempts to advance
on November 11th, gives a general impression of failure on the part of
the Division in its advance toward Metz. It does not, however, make it
impossible or untrue that the key position, Bois Frehaut, was captured
in its entirety on the 10th and _continuously held_ until the armistice
went into effect. The holding was really of more importance than the
capturing. The orders were “capture and hold” and great emphasis was
laid on the “hold.” But General Pershing goes on most fully and justly,
as you will note, to state and show that the Second Battalion of the
Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth Infantry did _take_ and did _hold_ the
Bois Frehaut, and that _this Battalion fully accomplished_ its mission.

The General’s letter was published as part of an article, under the
heading, “Pershing Sends Correct Report,” in the Indianapolis Star of
March 9th, 1920. It was also copied in other papers. The letter in full
follows:

                   AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES

                  OFFICE OF THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

                                                          March 1, 1920.

  My dear Mr. Wood:

  I regret that my absence from Washington has delayed this reply to
  your letter of January 17th enclosing a letter of January 12th from
  Major Ross.

  Major Ross quotes a paragraph from a letter written by me as
  published in the “Indianapolis Star” and objects to this paragraph as
  unjust in so far as his battalion (2nd Battalion, 365th Infantry) is
  concerned. As quoted by Major Ross the paragraph to which he objects
  reads as follows:

  “The 92nd Division, astride the Moselle, attacked at 7 a. m.,
  November 10th and at 5 a. m., November 11th, advanced a short
  distance, but the troops had retired to cover in the face of repeated
  heavy fire when the commander of the attacking Brigade received
  information at 7:18 a. m. that an armistice would be effective at
  11 a. m. The Brigade Commander reports that he ordered all firing
  stopped by 10:45 a. m. and that the firing was so stopped.”

  The above quotation is incorrect. The paragraph as actually written
  in my letter of November 21st was as follows:

  “The 92nd Division, astride the Moselle, attacked at 7 a. m.,
  November 10th and at 5 a. m., November 11th, renewed the attack. The
  renewed attack started at 5 a. m., November 11th, advanced a short
  distance, but the troops had retired to cover in the face of reported
  heavy fire when the commander of the attacking Brigade received
  information at 7:18 a. m. that an armistice would be effective at
  11 a. m. The Brigade Commander reports that he ordered all firing
  stopped by 10:45 a. m. and that the firing was so stopped.”

  You will note that in the correct paragraph the reference to the
  retirement of troops relates solely to the _renewed_ attack started
  at 5 a. m., November 11th and does not concern the attack of November
  10th. I think a careful examination of Major Ross’s letter shows
  that his statements as to the work of his battalion do not assert
  that any advance was made by the 2nd Battalion on November 11th.
  Examination of the records shows that the 2nd Battalion did take
  the Bois Frehaut on November 10th and that this battalion held this
  position until the armistice went into effect.

  The orders issued by the 183rd Brigade on the evening of November
  10th for the operation of November 11th contemplated putting the 1st
  Battalion of the 365th into position in the western part of Bois
  Frehaut and--“the 2nd Battalion, 365th Infantry will be held in
  support in its present position in the Bois Frehaut.” This clearly
  shows that the 2nd Battalion, 365th Infantry, was not expected to
  attack on November 11th; and taken with other evidence shows that the
  2nd Battalion, 365th Infantry, held, on November 11th, the positions
  which it had gained on November 10th.

  The actual statements made by me in my letter of November 21st were
  correct, based on the reports of the several commanders, and I think
  that Major Ross will agree that there is nothing in what I have said
  that reflects in any way upon the work of the 2nd Battalion, 365th
  Infantry. That battalion appears to have done what was expected of
  it on November 10th and on November 11th. As shown in the quotation
  I have given above from the order issued November 10th for the
  operation of November 11th, the 2nd Battalion was in support and was
  not in the attacking line on the morning of November 11th.

  I am enclosing herewith the papers enclosed with your letter of
  January 17th.

                                                 Very sincerely,
                                          (Signed)     John J. Pershing.

  The Honorable Will R. Wood,
    House of Representatives,
      Washington, D. C.

In view of the general opinion prevailing among American forces in
France, and the impression of the American public at large relative
to the Ninety-second Division’s drive toward Metz also relative to
its experience in the Argonne as represented by the Three Hundred
and Sixty-eighth Infantry in the attacking line, it seemed to me
advisable to state what the result was of work done by attacking units,
other than the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth
Infantry, in the advance on Metz fortifications on November 10th
and 11th. It is especially well that I mentioned them since General
Pershing says in effect (and the General knows and is regarded as an
authority) that the Second Battalion, Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth
Infantry _fully accomplished_ its mission, and also that attacks made
on the 11th “advanced a short distance, but had retired to cover....”

No doubt, before reading my lecture, _some_ were of the opinion that
the Ninety-second Division was rushing with irresistible force past
and over strong points, regardless of all defenses, sweeping all
before it and was only prevented from battering down the walls of the
city of Metz itself by the armistice. As nearly every soldier, from
General Pershing down, knows and as the final battle line as compared
with the line on November 9th clearly proves, such was not the case.
Had I indulged in glittering generalities to that effect, had I even
inferred it, or had I left an impression that all units concerned,
accomplished their missions, that is, succeeded in carrying out their
orders, I would lay myself open to serious and just criticism, for
as leader of the attack on the key position, which was the central
position, it was my business to _know_ what happened on my front and on
my flanks. I would be considered untruthful or at least an exaggerator,
and all that I have said, if it has any effect at all, would detract
from rather than add to the credit due the American colored soldier.

“Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War,”
written and compiled by Emmett J. Scott, special assistant to the
Secretary of War, contains the general reports, less appendices and
details, of the Commander of the Ninety-second Division and of the
Commander of the One Hundred and Eighty-third Brigade relative to
operations of November 10th and 11th. For your convenience I shall cite
pages in Dr. Scott’s work.

I said something to the effect that the battalion of the white division
on the left of the 367th’s front attacked, lost about 156 men in a
few minutes and retired. I also said that the 367th Infantry on our
left--just across the Moselle failed to accomplish its mission.

Page 151, Brigade Report, “At 10:30 a. m. a message from the Division
was received that the attack of the 367th Infantry, 184th Brigade had
been repulsed (on our left), but that two companies were being sent
forward to reinforce their attack.”

Page 159, Division Report, “10 Nov. 9:30 hr.--Attack by 367th Infantry
west of Moselle not prosecuted because of failure of 56th Infantry, 7th
Division, to capture Preny. The report of the C. O., 367th Infantry at
pages 2 and 3 shows the facts and reasons.”

Page 160, Division report, “Inasmuch as the 367th Infantry west of the
Moselle made no advance due to the fact that it was necessary that
the 7th Division should first capture Preny before an advance was
practicable, no report is made here of enemy units engaged west of the
Moselle.”

That, I take it, is enough to prove that no success was achieved by
units advancing or to advance on our left. It is necessary to prove
_that_ for the benefit of only a very few, for the overwhelming
majority of Americans (owing to the effort to give all units equal
credit and imply that all concerned succeeded) are ignorant, or
seriously in doubt whether the 92nd Division or any of its units
achieved any real success _anywhere_.

Now let us see about our brigade--the 183rd, which comprised the 365th
and 366th infantry and the 350th Machine Gun Battalion. The Brigade
report says, latter part of paragraph 2 on page 149, same book, “The
object of this attack was to capture and hold the Boise Frehaut and the
Bois Voivrotte (Bois Voivrotte is the name of the small wood I spoke of
in the lecture, to our right) with the object of advancing the line of
observation of the Marbache sector to the northern boundary of these
woods.” So our brigade orders were to capture and hold these two woods,
and, as we were advancing from the south, the line we were to hold
respectively, was the _northern boundary_ of both these woods.

Page 149, paragraph 3 of Brigade report: “The attack was to be made
on the Bois Frehaut by the 2nd Bn. 365th Inf., Major Warner A. Ross,
commanding. The attack on the Bois Voivrotte was to be made by two
platoons, 2nd Bn. 366th Inf. At the zero,” etc.

At the early hour of 8:12, the report says, page 150, a message had
been relayed from Division headquarters to Brigade headquarters to the
effect that Bois Voivrotte was completely occupied. It was very small
compared to the positions the 2nd Bn. 365th Inf. was attacking. And
the next entry, as given on page 150, is: “At 9 a. m. a message was
received that sharp fighting by machine guns was going on in the Bois
Voivrotte and the Bois Frehaut.” This was the case in Bois Frehaut at
that time and at 8:30 when I sent that particular message relative to
Bois Frehaut by pigeon. Now, the fact that machine gun fighting was
going on in Bois Voivrotte means that either the 8:12 message about
it being completely occupied was premature or that machine guns had
been sent in by the enemy after the platoons of the 2nd Bn. 366th Inf.
“completely occupied” it. For if enemy machine gunners were occupying
and fighting in the wood it could not be said to be “completely
occupied” by our troops.

After the 2nd Battalion, 365th Infantry had completely occupied Bois
Frehaut and established our line along the northern boundary and also
the eastern boundary of that wood (it was much farther north than
the northern boundary of Bois Voivrotte) it became impracticable for
the enemy to send or keep troops in Bois Voivrotte unless he drove
my Battalion from Bois Frehaut. He was still at liberty, however,
to rain artillery fire upon it. But here it is officially from the
commander of the 2nd Bn. 366th Inf. On page 151, Brigade report:
“3:05 p. m. Telephone message from C. O. 2nd Bn. 366th Inf. that he
had withdrawn his lines to southern edge of Bois Voivrotte because of
heavy enemy shelling--high explosives and gas in woods.” This final
cessation of their efforts to hold Bois Voivrotte and withdrawal of
their lines to the _southern_ edge of it was _one_ reason for the
next entry on same page: “3:55 p. m. Orders received from Commanding
General 92nd Division not to launch attack as planned for 5 p. m., but
to consolidate positions gained, holding them at all costs against
possible counter attacks.” For how could the other units that were
supposed to attack through the units supposed to be holding Bois
Voivrotte advance beyond its northern boundary when as a matter of
fact according to the Battalion C. O.--directly in command--they were
only _holding_ the _southern_ boundary. Obviously it was necessary to
_recapture_ Bois Voivrotte and _hold_ it--all of it, before they could
consider capturing anything beyond, or north of it.

The _other_ reason for the calling off by the Division Commander of
the attack scheduled to be launched from the northern boundaries of
Bois Frehaut and Bois Voivrotte at 5 p. m., on the 10th, was equally
obvious. For how could the units scheduled to attack through the
2nd Battalion of the 365th then holding the _northern_ boundary of
Bois Frehaut, be expected to advance _beyond_ us when they had never
succeeded, due to enemy artillery fire, in reaching even the _southern_
boundary of Bois Frehaut.

At the time when the attack _beyond_ Bois Voivrotte was almost due to
be launched by other units of the 366th they were _not holding_ Bois
Voivrotte but had withdrawn their line to the southern edge and were
holding what previously had been no-man’s land--very much narrower
there than in front of Ferme de Belle Aire. As can readily be seen,
this failure to hold, on their part, left me in a precarious condition
should the enemy in force attempt to envelop us through Bois Voivrotte.
This was largely the cause for the order to the artillery mentioned in
the Division Report, page 160: “11 Nov. 3:59--Artillery directed to put
down barrage on northern edge of Bois Voivrotte, this point not being
occupied by our troops.” I think, bearing in mind General Pershing’s
brief remarks relative to attacks on the 11th of November, that this
covers them all, including troops of the 7th Division attacking through
the C. R. adjoining the 367th on the left.

What does all this mean? It means that of all the battalions concerned
or engaged in attacking toward Metz during the drive that started the
morning of November 10th, the only battalion that accomplished its
mission, or in other words, the only one that was able to carry out
its orders--the only one that captured and held anything, was the 2nd
Battalion of the 365th Infantry. Had this battalion _not_ succeeded in
capturing and holding Bois Frehaut, in fact had it not succeeded in
all of its various missions at all times, and had its companies, as
companies, not succeeded in all their various missions, I would not be
publishing any book about it at all, let alone praising the battalion
as I have.

But let us see some more quotations from things included in Dr. Scott’s
History. Ralph W. Tyler, the colored war correspondent, writing,
necessarily from hearsay mostly, at a time when the confusion and
din of battle made it impossible to foresee results, could, however,
see the landscape in general and he knew who was attacking and later
who was holding Bois Frehaut. He also visited Bois Frehaut after the
armistice, so among other things he wrote, page 289: “... and so the
2nd Battalion went into action with but one white officer, the Major.
No unit in the advance had a more difficult position to take and hold
than the position assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 365th. The Bois
Frehaut was a network of barbed-wire entanglements, and the big guns in
Metz had nothing to do but sweep the woods with a murderous fire, which
they did most effectively. French and Senegalese in turn had failed
to hold these woods, for it was worse than a hell--it had become the
sepulchre of hundreds. I (Ralph W. Tyler) was over and through these
woods; I saw the mass of barbed-wire entanglements; I saw the nests in
the trees in which Germans had camouflaged machine guns that rained a
fire upon the Allied troops.

“It is impossible to describe this scene of carnage. The order to
the colored men of the 365th was to ‘take and hold’ although it was
believed, almost to a certainty, that they could not hold it, even
if they did take it. But they did take and hold it, and these men
of the 2nd Battalion, with Spartan-like courage; with an endurance
unbelievable, would be holding the position at this writing had not the
armistice been signed or had they not received orders to retire.”

He also says that “the Major commanding stated to me that the world
had never produced gamer fighters than the colored men who made up
his battalion of the 365th infantry.” But his next three paragraphs
as quoted in “Scott’s History” are mostly erroneous as to previous
conditions. The records will show (the necessary records are not in
that book), but every one who was in the 365th Infantry and most
every one in the Division knows that the 2nd Bn. 365th held the
front line battalion sector east of the Moselle called C. R. Musson
_continuously_ for thirty-one days, then went back, occupied the
second line of defense for three days (during which time various units
marched up and engaged the enemy to ascertain his strength), returned
to Pont-a-Mousson on the 9th and attacked on the morning of the 10th.
During this time the 1st and 3rd Battalions took turns holding the C.
R. on our right--C. R. Les Menils. I had not read Dr. Scott’s book at
the time I made my lecture. During the Division’s occupancy of the St.
Die sector this battalion held a front line sector continuously. In the
Argonne it did road work as close to the advanced line as any of the
battalions. The Division was praised by General Pershing for its work
in facilitating traffic during the Argonne Meuse drive, that is, the
early part of that drive. Elements of the 368th Infantry were in the
attacking line for a short time. Early in October the entire Division
was moved out of the Argonne-Meuse section and to the Marbache sector.
No battalion of the 368th Infantry ever held a front line position in
the Marbache sector.

To show you how Mr. Tyler was impressed with Bois Frehaut I will quote
from his writings again. Page 286, Dr. Scott’s book: “The armistice
stopped their advance into Berlin, but they did reach the nearest point
to the German city of Metz in what was designed as a victorious march
to Berlin, and the valor they displayed, their courageous, heroic
fighting all along that advance, won for our men in the 92nd Division
high praise from superior officers, including the corps and division
commanders, for they never wavered an instant, not even in that awful
hell, the Frehaut Woods, upon which the big guns of Metz constantly
played, which the Senegalese were unable to hold, but which our colored
soldiers from America did take and did hold, until the signal came
announcing the cessation of hostilities.”

I shall now give a few more extracts from the Brigade Commander’s
report. On page 150, same book: “At 10 a. m. (Nov. 10th) a runner
message was received from the Commanding Officer, 2nd Bn., 365th Inf.,
to the effect that they were being heavily shelled in the Bois Frehaut
by enemy artillery, and requesting counter battery fire; it was also
stated that their advance had almost reached the northern edge of Bois
Frehaut. Heavy artillery was asked to counter-fire on enemy artillery,
which they promptly did.” I sent this message about 9 o’clock.

On page 151, Brigade report: “At 11:15 a. m. a message from the C.
O. 2nd Bn. 365th Inf. to the effect that Bois Frehaut was completely
occupied, that Boches were shelling woods with gas and high explosives,
and requesting counter battery fire.” This was the message spoken
of in the lecture that I sent at 10 o’clock by pigeon to Division
Headquarters. It was read there and relayed to Brigade Headquarters
(situated in another village).

Page 152, Brigade report: “Our advance was for a depth of about three
and one-half kilometers. When this Brigade took over the sector just
east of the Moselle river there was a deep re-entrant next to the
river, due to the St. Mihiel drive which advanced the line several
kilometers on the west bank of the Moselle river, while the line on the
east bank remained in place.”

The reason it “remained in place” was that neither French, Americans
nor Senegalese troops had succeeded in getting into it (Bois Frehaut)
very far--let alone taking and holding it.

Page 153, Brigade report: “Full use was made of auxiliary arms,
machine guns, 37 millimeter guns, Stokes mortars and rifle grenades.
All of these weapons, except Stokes mortars were brought into play in
the heavy fighting in the Bois Frehaut to combat enemy machine gun
nests. 37 mm. guns were pushed well to the front when direct fire at
enemy machine gun positions could be obtained. It was to the extensive
use of these weapons that the rapid advance through Bois Frehaut was
due. Machine guns were used frequently to cover the flanks of the
attacking infantry. They aided materially in protecting the N. E.
corner of the Bois Frehaut from an enemy counter attack from Bouxières.
Trench mortars were placed in position after the Frehaut woods were
taken, to cover the new front.”

Page 154, Brigade report: “The lines held by the Germans were unusually
strong, being the result of four years of stabilization in that
sector. Their artillery was most active, as unquestionably during
these years they had registered on every point of importance in the
sector. Furthermore, their positions were the first line of defense of
Metz. The troops occupying them were young, efficient men and not old
soldiers from a rest sector.”

I wish to state here that our Division artillery rendered excellent
service. This is especially true when we consider that it had been in
the line only a few days.

But a very apparent inconsistency appears in the Brigade report and
is embodied in the Division report, page 161: “The attack was renewed
on the morning of the 11th, the lines being advanced to the northern
edge of the Bois Frehaut a distance of three and one-half km. from an
original line.” The _Division_ report says, as you notice, that the
line was advanced on the 11th to the northern edge of Bois Frehaut, the
Division commander well knowing that the line never was advanced beyond
the northern edge of Bois Frehaut, for the next paragraph refers to
the final battle line, which the co-ordinates show _was_ the northern
edge of Bois Frehaut, but the Brigade report upon which this part of
the Division report is based by a Division commander who took command
just after the armistice says, page 152: “The attack on the morning of
Nov. 10, by units of the Brigade wiped out this re-entrant by advancing
our lines on the east bank of the Moselle river a distance of two and
one-quarter km. The advance thus made was held against heavy artillery
and machine gun fire and high concentration of gas. The attack was
renewed on the morning of Nov. 11, lines being advanced a distance of
three and one-quarter km. an original line.”

That would indicate an advance of one km. on Nov. 11th. I don’t care
to discuss that further than to say that it is _incorrect_. The final
battle line shows as the northern edge of Bois Frehaut. The Division
report says, “the attack was renewed on the morning of the 11th the
lines being advanced to the northern edge of Bois Frehaut, a distance
of three and one-half km. from an original line.” Since, as clearly
shown, the line was never advanced beyond the northern edge of Bois
Frehaut _where_ was _that_ advance made? Speaking of this mysterious
advance of the 11th the Brigade report says, “Our liaison with troops
west of the river was thereby greatly improved,” indicating that the
said unexplainable and vague “advance” was near the river--hence on my
front.

General Pershing says that “examination of the records shows that the
2nd Battalion did take the Bois Frehaut on November 10th and that this
battalion held this position until the armistice went into effect.” How
could he say that we took the Bois Frehaut on Nov. 10th if there was a
km. (which is almost a mile) remaining of it to be taken on Nov. 11th?
Of the advance of the 11th he says, “advanced a short distance but _had
retired_ to cover.”

This same Brigade report shows that at 10 a. m., Nov. 10th, a message
was received showing that the 2nd Bn. 365th Inf. had almost reached the
northern edge of Bois Frehaut, and that at 11:15, Nov. 10th a message
was received showing the Bois Frehaut was _completely occupied_. The
quotation above from the same report says that the re-entrant was
wiped out by advancing our lines on the east bank of the Moselle on
November 10th and that the advance thus made _was held_ against heavy
artillery and machine gun fire, etc. The Brigade order for the attack
on November 11th--the order from which Gen. Pershing quoted, plainly
shows that that attack was to be launched from the northern edge of
Bois Frehaut--our front line.

It is too bad to have to spend time correcting such a discrepancy as
that, but that’s the way it reads in Dr. Scott’s book and I have no
reason to think that the Brigade and Division reports are erroneously
printed in that book. It _might_ give a wrong impression to a casual
reader. Some might not take the trouble to _see_ that _no_ advance was
made and held on the 11th of November. The line was advanced to the
northern edge of Bois Frehaut on November 10th and never receded so
much as one foot for a single instant. Few enough colored battalions
had the opportunity to prove their true worth. I do not propose to
leave a single cloud on the record of the glorious _success_ and
_achievements_ of _one_ colored battalion. This does not in the least
detract from the glory of other units but will _add greatly_ to the
prestige and standing of colored soldiers as a whole.

In another place the report of the general commanding our Brigade says,
page 154, Dr. Scott’s book: “The commanding officers of units making
the attack, and also of the artillery, were constantly stating that
they were hurried into these movements without proper preparation.
Had they been familiar with such operations, the time allowed would
have been sufficient.” The Major General, commanding the 92nd Division
who made the Division report on the operations of November 10th and
11th says, page 162, same book: “The attack was made on very brief
preparation, too brief in view of the strength of the enemy positions,
which were very strongly held.”

I told in the lecture what the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred
and Sixth-fifth Infantry had undergone in the Marbache Sector and how
we worked all of the night preceding the attack on things that _had to
be done_ regardless of familiarity with anything. I do not remember
that I made any complaints about the shortness of time for preparation.
Possibly I did, for I was at all times doing anything and everything to
insure success against the enemy. But whether the time was too short or
too long I again call your attention to the fact that _this_ battalion
accomplished its mission, fully, completely, magnificently, under the
guns of Metz.

Lieutenant Colonel A. E. Deitsch, a veteran of the Regular Army, who
was my immediate superior and was in command of our Regiment during
that drive, and who, before coming to our Regiment, had served in other
Divisions in the battle line, said in a letter to me: “The handling
of your battalion during the ninth, tenth and morning of November
eleventh, 1918, (which lead to the capture of Bois Frehaut) could not,
I believe, have been conducted any better. As you well know the capture
of this position is credited to you and your battalion.”

On page 154, same book, the Brigade report, speaking of the work of the
Brigade as a whole, says: “There is no doubt that some details of the
operation were not carried out as well as might have been done by more
experienced troops. These were the results of mistaken judgment due to
lack of experience rather than to lack of offensive spirit.”

This is true of the Brigade as a whole and the report from which it is
copied is a very general statement of the work of the _entire_ Brigade
in that series of operations. I say and have shown and am ready to
prove more exhaustively if necessary that the above statement does not
concern _one_ of the six infantry battalions of that Brigade, namely,
the Second Battalion, Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth.

Suppose I should admit or should say that the battalion that captured
this seemingly impregnable position and held it continuously under the
defenses of Metz, was only a very mediocre battalion, or suppose I
should admit or should say, “Oh, yes, the men were anxious enough and
after they got going fought savagely with razors or knives or bayonets,
but the colored officers had no judgment and could not handle their
men and it was a pretty poor battalion.” What then could be said, what
would _have_ to be said of the _other_ units of the Ninety-second
Division and of units engaged of the Seventh Division that _failed_
utterly to accomplish their missions during the same attack?

The truth is that those other battalions and units that failed to
advance and hold against the world’s strongest position--Metz--were
excellent troops and in many instances did most heroic work. They were
fully equal on the average to battalions and units of the foremost
American Divisions. The truth is equally clear to every one who knows
or _wants_ to know that the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred and
Sixty-fifth Infantry was a most _exceptional_, a most _wonderful_
battalion, fully equal in _all_ respects to the very finest battalions
in the American Army or any army that fought in the Great World War. I
challenge any one to disprove this statement.

They _were_ wonderful fighters with the trench knife and bayonet, but
they were equally efficient and energetic with all other infantry arms.
Take the other extreme from fighting--paper work. The paper work that
had to be done in a company of our army was staggering. It required
ceaseless work and absolute accuracy. The companies of this battalion
were unsurpassed. “H” Company, for instance, as is well known, did and
turned in paper work that was practically perfect at all times. Then
there was march or road discipline. Some of the marches made were very
trying. As an example, the Second Battalion of the Three Hundred and
Sixty-fifth Infantry marched from Camp d’Italien in the Argonne Forest
to Camp Cabaud north east of Les Isilett during the night, through mud
and through the confusion and blockade of traffic you have all heard
about, just preceding the Argonne Offensive, and _arrived_ with every
man who started. _Not one straggler._ I furnished signed certificates
before it could be believed by my superiors. I have already referred
to the very significant fact that no officers were ever placed under
arrest or sent before efficiency boards. Every statement I have made
and every inference I have drawn is based on a personal knowledge of
_facts_.

My efforts to make that Battalion a real success were due solely to the
fact that it was an American Battalion engaged in the fight against
our Nation’s enemies. My enlisted men were colored and they wore the
American uniform. My Officers were colored and they were commissioned,
_not by me, but by the United States Government_. If you are colored or
if perchance you are white and care to do some thinking about me and
about my Battalion and about many things in general, read on pages 433
and 438 of the book I have been referring to. By the way, the Battalion
Commander there referred to relieved me (he was then a Lieutenant
Colonel) of the command of the Regiment (Three Hundred and Sixty-fifth
Infantry) the second day after the Armistice took effect.

It is my idea of justice that the race--namely the American Negro--that
produced men who served their country so loyally, so bravely, so
capably both as officers and as enlisted men under my command, should
_know the truth_ about my battalion. It would matter little whether the
outfit were a division, a brigade or a battalion. It happens to have
been a battalion. And it matters little _what_ colored battalion it
was, but it does matter a great deal and mean a great deal to Colored
Americans that one of the very finest and greatest battalions in the
American Army and in the world was an American _colored_ battalion.

If what I have said about my Colored Battalion shall in any way aid,
or shall inspire and stimulate Colored Americans in their struggle for
advancement and for the attainment of Righteousness that “Exalteth a
nation,” I shall be gratified.

The following is the _testimonial_ I referred to. It substantiates some
things spoken of in the lecture.

                                        HEADQUARTERS 365TH INFANTRY.

  Major Warner A. Ross, 365th Infantry, commander of the 2nd Battalion,
  while leading his battalion and part of the First Battalion into
  action in the “Bois Frehaut” on the east bank of the Moselle River
  north of Pont-a-Musson and under the guns of Metz, on the morning of
  November 10th, 1918, with Brigade orders to capture and hold this
  strong German position, displayed most exceptional bravery, coolness
  and efficiency under heavy fire. He personally led his forces and
  established his first waves in their firing position in no-man’s
  land immediately in front of the enemy’s observers, machine gunners
  and snipers. He then, after encouraging his men through enemy wire,
  under heavy barrage established his Post of Command in the edge of
  the “Bois Frehaut” in what just before was enemy territory. This Post
  of Command was a shell hole with no protection from artillery fire
  and was established in this place so that runners coming back from
  platoons and companies could follow the edge of the wood and easily
  find him. This he maintained as his P. C. until 10:30 o’clock on the
  morning of the 11th, when news of the Armistice reached him.

  Major Ross refused to move his Headquarters despite the fact that a
  hostile plane had located it and that others abandoned it. Shrapnel
  burst over it and high explosive shells tore great holes all around
  it. The sides were caved in and he was once almost completely buried.
  During the night it became filled with mustard gas. He ordered lime
  sprinkled in it and a fire built and remained. By moving to a less
  exposed position or to a dugout his liaison would have been impaired.
  It was excellent liaison that enabled him to send in reinforcements
  to meet counter attacks and flank movements attempted by the enemy.

  The bravery of Major Ross and his indifference to personal safety in
  his determination to win this battle are considered worthy of special
  recognition. Such conduct is far in excess of the ordinary line
  of duty of a Battalion Commander. The “Bois Frehaut,” “Belle Aire
  Ferme,” “Ferme de Pence” and “Bois de la tete d’Or” were taken from
  the enemy and the battle line changed by this victory.

  Witnesses (Signed):

                                         EDWARD B. SIMMONS,
                             _Major, Medical Corps, Regimental Surgeon._

                                         F. E. SWEITZER,
                                 _Captain, 365th Inf., Regtl. Adjutant._

                                         T. C. HOPKINS,
                     _Captain, 365th Inf., Regtl. Intelligence Officer._

                                         WALTER R. SANDERS,
                  _Captain, 365th Inf., Second in Command at that time._

                                         WM. W. GREEN,
                         _Captain, 365th Inf., Comdg. Co. H, 365th Inf._

                                         JOHN F. PRITCHARD,
                             _1st Lieut., 365th Inf., Adjutant, 2nd Bn._

                                         GARRETT M. LEWIS,
              _1st Lieut., 365th Inf., Comdg. Reserve Co. at that time._

                                         U. J. ROBINSON,
                                     _1st Lieut., 365th Inf., Chaplain._


THE END



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Italicized text is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.





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