..."With Those Who Wait"
Provision for Technical Training of Draftees-Units That Did Not Get to France---Vocation al and Educational Opportunities Opened to Them---The Negro in the Students' Army Training Corps---In the Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
The progress of the war and the gathering up of miscellaneous men from civil life to serve as defenders of the nation, developed the fact that the education of the youth of the land had been woe fully neglected., even in the primary and secondary grades, but particularly in the matter of technical or vocational training. Thousands upon thousands of those inducted into the Army through the operation of the Selective Draft Law, who were ready and eager to battle for the safety of their country's freedom, were sadly deficient in practical knowledge of the simplest things essential to the well being of a military organization. Their experience had been confined largely to the routine of civil life, and the great majority called to the colors knew nothing of machinery, the handling of tools (as in carpentry, construction and repair), electrical work, woodwork, operation and repair of automobiles, horseshoeing, or the proper care of animals, etc. The number actually illiterate was alarming. It was surprising to those unfamiliar with scholastic conditions among the people of this country, that there should be so many men unable even to sign their names to the Army payrolls.
This deplorable situation led the military officials to cast about for
a means of raising the mental tone of the Army, to enhance its efficiency
by making provision for technical training, and to carry along with such
training a system of scholastic improvement, such as would enable the soldiers
to read and understand army orders, to comprehend the meaning and import
of signals, to grasp the true spirit of service that had brought them into
the great war, and to fit them for the largest measure of usefulness and
to be ready for
Schools Selected for Training
A Committee on Education and Special Training was afterward designated by the Secretary of War, and entrusted with the execution of this far-reaching program. Certain educational institutions were set apart under Government contract for the training of student-soldiers. Thirteen of the leading- colored schools of the land were among the number authorized to undertake the instruction of the colored soldiers. The schools selected and the courses of instruction decided upon, together with the number of soldiers allotted to the various terms were as follows:
HOWARD UNIVERSITY, Washington, D. C.---May 15 and July 15, 1918, 300 men, Capt. Jerome Lavigne, C. O.; bench workers, electricians, wireless operators.
ATLANTA UNIVERSITY, Atlanta, Georgia.---120 men, July 1, 1918; bench workers, general carpenters, army truck drivers, blacksmiths.
FLORIDA AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE, Savannah, Georgia.---125 men; July 1, 1918; blacksmiths, carpenters, electricians, whee1wrights.
GEORGIA STATE INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE, Savannah, Georgia.---200 men, July 1, 1918; army truck drivers, general carpenters, bench workers, blacksmiths.
HAMPTON NORMAL AND AGRICULTURAL INSTITUTE, Hampton, Virginia.---Capt. Robert H. Nealy, C. O.; June 15, 245 men; August 15, 1918, 245 men;
electricians, carpenters, whee1wrights, machinists, chauffeurs, auto repairers, truck drivers, master truck drivers, horseshoers, blacksmiths, pipefitters.
NEGRO AGRICULTURAL AND TECHNICAL COLLEGE, Greensboro, North Carolina.---Capt. C. C. Helmar, C. O.; 260 men, June 15; 280 men, August 15, 1918; chauffeurs carpenters, tractor operators, truck drivers.
BRANCH NORMAL SCHOOL, Pine Bluff, Arkansas.---120 men, June 15, 1918; carpenters, blacksmiths, auto mechanics.
TUSKEGEE NORMAL AND INDUSTRIAL INSTITUTE, Tuskegee, Alabama. Capt. Edgar R. Bonsall, C. O.; 380 men, May 15; 380 men, July 15; 380 men, Sept. 15, 1918; auto mechanics, carpenters, blacksmiths, general mechanics.
WESTERN UNIVERSITY, Quindaro, Kansas.---100 men, June 15, 1918; blacksmiths, carpenters, concrete workers, electricians, horseshoers.
PRAIRIE VIEW N. AND I. COLLEGE, Prairie View, Texas.---150 men, June, 15, 1918; auto mechanics, chauffeurs,' blacksmiths, carpenters.
WILBERFORCE UNIVERSITY, Wilberforce, Ohio.---180 men, July 15; 180 men, August 15, 1918; machine shop, auto gas engines, general mechanics, cobblers, carpenters, blacksmiths.
STATE AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE, Orangeburg, South Carolina.---240 men, July 1, 1918; auto mechanics, truck drivers, tractor operators, concrete workers, blacksmiths, bench woodworking.
WENDELL PHILLIPS HIGH SCHOOL, Chicago, Illinois.---170 men, July 1, 1918; auto mechanics, truck drivers, bench woodworking, electricity.
SUMNER HIGH SCHOOL, St. Louis, Missouri.---275 men.
These military units are listed under the bead of "Those Who Wait," although many of them so quickly assimilated the vocational instruction given them that in a few weeks they were ready for overseas service, and actually went over and served in several of the great offensives. The preparedness which was theirs, and the cheerfulness that characterized their every activity were large items in preserving the morale of the Negro people on this side of the ocean.
Value of the Vocational Detachments
The value of this vocational training cannot be overestimated. The mere
fact that the Government should be willing to assume the responsibility
for the mental, physical and technical development, pay all the bills, and
give these men a brighter outlook for the future, was a revelation to the
colored millions of America, and
When the armistice was signed more than 10,000 colored men were on the roster of these Vocational Detachment units and as members of the Students' Army Training Corps, this latter being an outgrowth of the success achieved by the Vocational Detachments.
The War Department recognized that there are many branches of army service in which preliminary technical training is a great asset. This training must be largely secured in intensive, short, practical courses, so that essential industrial production may not be impaired. Much was done at first to meet this need in voluntary classes organized by the Federal Board for Vocational Education, by various divisions of the Army, and by individual schools. Valuable as were the benefits thus secured, however, experience demonstrated that on a civilian basis the desired results could not be obtained; therefore, it was decided to conduct the training under military control.
In order to coordinate the training program with voluntary enlistments and the operations of the selective service regulations, there was established in the War Department, as already noted, the Committee on Education and Special Training reporting to the Chief of Staff. The functions of this committee as stated in the General Order creating it were:
"To study the needs of the various branches of the service for skilled
men and technicians; to determine how such needs should be met, whether
by selective draft, special training in educational institutions or otherwise;
to secure the cooperation of the educational institutions of the country
and to represent the War Depart-
The War Department undertook to provide this intensive technical training only for soldiers in the service who were under discipline and on pay and subsistence during the period of their training. For the purpose of training them the War Department made use of facilities now in existence, thus offering the different educational centers of the country an opportunity to contribute in a very important way to the preparation of our armies for service in France.
Since the men to be trained were soldiers under military discipline, the War Department was obliged to impose certain general stipulations on communities agreeing to undertake this work. These orders read:
"1. Men will be sent to civilian institutions for technical training in units of from 100 up. Few units will number less than 200 or more than 2,000.
"2. For the maintenance of effective military discipline it is necessary that men be housed and fed in groups of approximately 100-500. Communities and institutions which are willing to receive men for training should note that proper facilities for housing and feeding must be provided. In training centers already established this requirement has been met in various ways; for instance, by utilizing a dormitory or a hotel, by the conversion of a hall or an armory, by the erection of temporary barracks, etc.
"3. Sufficient space suitable for military drill and located at a convenient distance from the quarters must be available.
"4. Institutions providing training and arranging housing and feeding facilities will be compensated at a reasonable per them rate for each man which is intended to cover actual costs.
"5. Men will be ordered in some cases to the training centers directly upon their induction into the service; in this case they will bring extra clothing. They will be provided at once with overalls and, as soon as practicable after arrival, with service uniforms and other equipment. In other cases the men will come from the recruit depots, at which they will be equipped.
"6. It is expected that the work involved in the technical training courses will occupy six to seven hours daily, the remaining time available for training being devoted to military drill.
"7. Most of the men thus assigned are inducted under the selective service system. Any one subject to draft, not under call from the Provost
Marshal General, but desiring to volunteer, may be inducted on application to his Local Board, providing such Local Board has been called upon by the Provost Marshal General to supply a share of men and has not already filled the call, and provided he has the qualifications named in such a call. Under special authority given to recruiting officers from time to time this service may be opened also to men not of draft age who can volunteer as enlisted men in the Army."
Course of Instruction
The training required was such as to give the men some practical skill in the simple underlying operations of carpentry, metalworking, blacksmithing, auto mechanics, and other mechanical activities useful in the Army.
Only fundamental training was possible, and training therefore was thoroughly practical rather than theoretical. Most of the courses of training were two months in length. The work required included the following courses, for which the War Department provided definite directions and outlines:
1. AUTO DRIVING AND REPAIR.---Driving motor vehicles of various types, making all general repairs to motor trucks, cars, motorcycles, tractors.
2. BENCH WOOD WORK.---Splicing frames, joining, pattern making and fine wood work.
3. GENERAL CARPENTRY.---Use of the usual carpenter's tools and materials; practice in rapid rough work with hatchet and saw to qualify the man for building and repairing barracks, erecting concrete forms, rough bridge work.
4. ELECTRICAL COMMUNICATION.---Construction and repair of telephone and telegraph lines; repair, adjustment and operation of telephone and telegraph apparatus; cable splicing.
5. ELECTRICAL WORK.---Installing, operating and repair of electrical machines; inside wiring and power circuits.
6. FORGING OR BLACKSMITHING.---Jobbing blacksmithing; motorcycle, automobile, truck, gas engine and wagon repairing.
7. GAS ENGINE WORK.---Reconstructing and repairing automobile, motorcycle and airplane engines.
8. MACHINE WORK----General machine shop work on lathe, drill, press, shaper, planer, miller, grinder, etc.
9. SHEET METAL WORK.---Coppersmithing and tinsmithing; soldering, brazing and general repairing.
The widest publicity was given to this program as it affected colored soldiers, through the colored papers, in addition to the use of the official circulars of the War Department, and each of the schools under contract was flooded with applications sent by mail or brought in person to the institution by the applicant, to be considered by the Commanding Officers of the Training Detachments. Applicants already in the military service or of draft age and yet to be inducted, were required to have a grammar school education, and were assigned to the courses to which the applicant in question seemed best adapted by education, physical condition or experience.
For sympathetic counsel, practical suggestions and constant encouragement in getting the work of these vocational schools before the people and bringing to the Negro the full fruits of this beneficent program, the author was indebted in the largest measure to General Robert I. Rees, of the General Staff Corps, and Chairman of the Committee on Education and Special Training; Major Grenville Clark, of the Adjutant General's Department; Mr. William H. Lough and Dr. Ralph Barton Perry, executive secretaries, and Mr. C. R. Dooley, educational director, of the Committee on Education and Special Training of the War Department. The results of the training received by the thousands of young colored men in the selected schools, under the control of the Government, are reflected not only in the broader opportunities afforded for helpful service and advancement during the war, but in the wider area created for the soldier after the war, in the way of a more lucrative employment and a larger mental and moral endowment.
The Students' Army Training Corps
The success achieved throughout the country by the Vocational Detachments
of the United States Army in the utilization of the young manhood of the
Republic, led naturally to a further plan for enlisting the strength of
the student forces of the land. The regularly established camps and cantonments
were, in many instances, far away from the centers where thousands of youths
might be found and who were available for the army of the future, for no
one could know at that time how long the war might continue and it was deemed
advisable to marshal the entire man-power of the nation to be drawn upon,
if the necessity therefor should arise. It
The administration of this new instrumentality for the national defense was also placed in the hands of the Committee on Education and Special Training of the War Department at Washington. Through the prompt action of those entrusted with the welfare of the colored people of the land, provision was made for the participation of colored young men in this work, on equal terms with others, and units of the Students' Army Training Corps were established at colored schools which were able to meet the Government's requirements.
The primary purpose of the Students' Army Training Corps, as described in the military regulations, was to utilize the executive and teaching personnel and the physical equipment of the educational institutions to supplement the labors of the regular camps and cantonments in the training of the new armies of the nation. Its aim was to train officer-candidates and technical experts of all kinds to meet every need of the service. In the list of colleges, universities, professional, technical and trade schools of the country, totaling about 550, a score or more were conducted for the education of young colored men.
For administrative purposes the Corps was divided into two sections, the Collegiate or "A" Section, and the Vocational or "B" Section. The units of the "B" Section were formerly known as National Army Training Detachments, and their especial function, after being incorporated in the "S. A. T. C. " scheme was to continue the program of industrial development and to train soldiers for service as trade specialists in the Army. The colored schools carried into this program included:
Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Alabama; Hampton Institute,
Hampton, Virginia; Howard University, Washington,
The "A" or Collegiate Section, which was inaugurated October 1, 1918, was open to registrants of authorized colleges, universities or professional schools who were eligible for admission to the S. A. T. C. by voluntary induction into the military service. They thus became members of the Army on active duty, receiving pay and subsistence, subject to military orders, and living in barracks under military discipline in exactly the same manner as any other soldier. The housing, subsistence and instruction of soldiers in both branches of the Students Army Training Corps were provided by the educational institutions under contract with the Government to furnish the same. Students voluntarily inducted into the service were ordinarily allowed to choose the branch of the service for which they wished to be prepared, but this freedom of choice was not absolute, being subject to a very large extent to the particular qualifications of the individual and upon the needs of the service at any specified time. All students were required to meet the physical standards authorized.
The status of a member of the S. A. T. C. was that of a private; the pay was $30 per month. Students were at the beginning divided into four groups, according to age, and were given the same course of two months' military, industrial or other training, followed by a second two months of higher academic subjects of military value, if the soldier was found capable of greater advancement. Members of the Collegiate or "A" Section, who showed by their rating in academic and military work that they had unusual ability were given opportunities for transfer to a Central Officers' Training School; transfer to a non-commissioned officers' school; or assigned to the institution where they were enrolled for further intensive work in a specified line, as, for instance, in engineering, chemistry or medicine.
Those members of a Collegiate Section whose record was such
Men in "B" unit of the S. A. T. C. were given an equal opportunity with those in the college or "A" unit, to demonstrate their fitness for advancement and their qualifications for officers and noncommissioned officers' schools, or for continuance at institutions for more advanced study. The plan adopted provided that student-soldiers would be transferred to the army for active service at stated intervals, and their places would be taken at the school by new contingents, inducted fox similar training.
The colored educational institutions embraced in the "A" or Collegiate Section of the Students' Army Training Corps were: Howard University, Washington, D. C.; Lincoln University, Chester county, Pa.; Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tenn.; Atlanta University and Morehouse College (combined), Atlanta, Ga.; Wiley University and Bishop College (combined), Marshall, Texas; Talladega College, Alabama; Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va.; Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio.
An instruction camp for colored schools and colleges was held at Howard
University, Washington, D. C., August 1 to September 16, 1918. Howard University,
Washington, D. C.; Atlanta University, Atlanta, Ga.; Lincoln University,
Chester county, Pa.; Raleigh University, Raleigh, N. C.; Shaw University,
Raleigh, N. C.; Wilberforce University, Zenia, Ohio; Virginia Union University,
Richmond, Va.; Straight University, New Orleans, La.; Morehouse College,
Atlanta, Ga.; Talladega College, Talladega, Ala.; Bishop College, Marshall,
Texas; Benedict College, Columbia, S. C.; Allen University, Columbia, S.
C.; New Orleans University, New Orleans, La.; Florida A. & M. College
for Negro Youth, Tallahassee, Fla.; Biddle University, Charlotteville, N.
C.; Livingston, College, Salisbury, N. C.; the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial
Institute, Alabama; the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, Hampton,
Va., and Lincoln Institute, Jefferson City, Mo., were among the schools
which were asked to send a student representative for each twenty-five and
one faculty member for each one hundred of the male student enrollment.
These men were trained forty-seven days on temporary enlistment as
Where the Color Line Was Drawn
As no institution, however well-intentioned, is without its flaws in the administration of its purposes, the S. A. T. C. had its "fly in the ointment." The color question came to the fore, especially as related to those institutions which had not been in the habit of accepting colored students, or in which but few had previously been registered. Trouble on this score was reported by colored students who attempted to secure entrance to the military units at certain colleges in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and perhaps other states. A declaration was issued by the War Department officially discountenancing all discriminations based on color. This declaration as officially announced by the War Department was signed by Col. Robert I. Rees, an upstanding American. He always stood for justice and fair play so far as the men of the S. A. T. C. and the R. O. T. C. units were concerned. His declaration read as follows:
"No color line will be drawn in inducting men into the S. A. T. C. Colored men eligible for induction will be inducted at institutions which they attend and will not be required to transfer to other institutions. "
Such problems as arose in connection with attendance of colored students
at Northern institutions were left by the War Department to be settled by
the college authorities, the War Department refusing to be a party to any
program which would introduce the color line into those schools where it
is not already drawn. At the same time announcement was made that the War
Department did not seek through its program to break down the color line
in any institution
"Certain college authorities, acting under a misapprehension of War Department regulations, denied the privileges of the Students' Army Training Corps to colored students of Ohio and Nebraska colleges. In one case this action was taken upon instructions of the regional director of a section of the Training and Instruction Branch of the War Department Committee on Education and Special Training, and in another case by direction of the War Department's District Inspector. In the Ohio case inquiries were addressed to the War Department by the students themselves, by the National Office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and by the Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, branches. These branches and the students arranged for conferences with the college authorities on the matter. The following telegram on the subject, signed by Emmett J. Scott, Special Assistant to the Secretary of War, under date of September 25, 191S, is self-explanatory:
"'The War Department has not issued any instructions preventing Negro students from joining Student Army Training Corps at Ohio State University or any other institution. Any student mentally and physically qualified and accepted by the school officials is eligible for admittance into any Student Army organization.
'EMMETT J. SCOTT,
'Special Assistant to Secretary of War.'
"It is apparent from a reading of this telegram and from the statements of Mr. Scott made personally to the Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, while in Washington, on September 28, that the War Department has made no ruling requiring a separation of colored and white students in barracks or dormitory arrangements in the colleges, and that the acceptance of a student by a college under the terms and conditions usual to such colleges qualifies the student for admission to the Students' Army Training Corps provided he is able to qualify.
"The branches and the members of the Association generally are requested to put this matter clearly before the colored students who may desire to enter the Students' Army Training Corps. This will serve as a guide to appropriate action in case any colleges deny admission to colored students under a similar misapprehension to that alluded to above."
Demobilization of the S. A. T. C.
Although the country was keenly alive to the necessity for some system of general military training for the youth of the land that would serve as a medium for insuring the national safety, when the armistice was signed November 11, 1918, discussion arose at once as to the future of the Students' Army Training Corps. The War Department was at first of the opinion that the organization could be maintained with profit to itself and to the students until the end of the fiscal year at least, while others high in authority contended that the war emergency being over, the corps should be demobilized at once. Among the forces that desired the continuance of the S. A. T. C. was the Merchants' Association of New York City, which laid before the Department an offer of financial assistance, if necessary, to maintain the organization along the original lines.
Major Ralph Barton Perry, executive secretary of the Committee on Education and Special Training, administering this branch of instruction under the War Plans Division of the General Staff of the Army, replying to the communication of the Merchants' Association urging the continuance of the S. A. T. C., gave as follows the reasons why the War Department did not consider it practical to carry on the military training units in colleges:
"It was not, as had often been assumed, an educational measure, but a plan for creating a reservoir of officer material with which to supply the Officers Training Camps and the other needs of the army for specially trained men. There were certain strong reasons for continuing to June 30, 1919, but these reasons were not military reasons, and did not justify the expenditure of money appropriated for specifically military purposes. While this is the fundamental reason for the demobilization of the Students Army Training Corps, for various reasons it would have proved difficult, if not impossible, to continue it in any case."
According to Major Perry, about 25 per cent. of the institutions
"It should, however, be clearly borne in mind that no man was inducted into the S. A. T. C. on promise of an education at Government expense. He was inducted into the army for the purpose of receiving special additional training in connection with his purely military training, always with a view to the needs of the service."
To Train Reserve Officers for the Army
On December 21, 1918, Secretary Baker authorized the statement that, with the demobilization of the Students' Army Training Corps, the colleges of the country would turn their attention to another phase of military preparedness---that of establishing the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. This offered another opportunity for the training of youth, colored men along with others, for the national defense, and many of the colored educational institutions which had maintained the S. A. T. C. up to the period of its demobilization, filed application for units of the new R. O. T. C., and also asked that colored officers of experience and capacity be installed as instructors in military science and tactics.
R. O. T. C. Units and Their Military Instructors
Below is a complete list of the schools selected up to April 1, 1919, together with a roster of the officers designated as military instructors therein. Most of the instruction at the beginning was in infantry movements.
Howard University, Washington, D. C.---Major Milton T. Dean and First Lieutenant Campbell C. Johnson.
Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, Tuskegee, Ala..---
Captain Russell Smith, First Lieutenant James C. Pinkston and Second Lieutenant Harry J. Mack.
Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio.----First Lieutenant Percival R. Piper.
Negro A. and T. College, Greensboro, N. C.---Second Lieutenant Horace G. Wilder.
South Carolina A. and M. College, Orangeburg, S. C.---First Lieutenant Samuel Hull.
Hampton A. and I. Institute, Hampton, Va.---First Lieutenant Leonard L. McLeod.
Virginia N. and I. Institute, Petersburg, Va.---Second Lieutenant Ernest C. Johnson.
Prairie View N. and I. College, Prairie View, Texas.---First Lieutenant Walter A. Giles.
Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial School, Nashville, Tenn.---First Lieutenant Grant Stuart.
West Virginia Collegiate Institute, Institute, W. Va.---First Lieutenant John H. Purnell.
Branch Normal School, Pine Bluff, Ark.---First Lieutenant Elijah H. Goodwin.
Straight College, New Orleans, La.---Captain Charles C. Cooper.
One important change in the organization was worked out, allowing the units of the R. O. T. C. to specialize in training officer material for Field Artillery, Engineer, Coast Artillery, Ordnance, Medical, and Aeronautics Corps, instead of the uniform training for Infantry, which was the rule before the war. In addition to the collegiate units, plans were formulated for the establishment of junior units in secondary schools. The Committee on Education and Special Training was able to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the war to make available a large amount of scientific, and technical material, which bad been developed by the experience of Military leaders on both sides of the ocean, and in all units special emphasis is placed on physical training and mass athletics.
The formation of these units of the R. O. T. C. came in response to the
national demand for Military training for the youth of the land, to provide
the preparedness necessary as a safeguard to protect the general welfare.
The sentiment was everywhere heard that "Even if we have no wars, universal
military training will make bet-
The difference between the Students' Army Training Corps and the Reserve Officers' Training Corps is that the S. A. T. C. trained the private; the R. O. T. C. trained officers: the former took a short cut and laid stress on military training; the latter took the long way and laid stress on the general education of the individual and emphasized the value of administrative or executive ability. One taught the individual to obey without question; the other taught the individual to command judiciously and to get results from the correct application of military science. The Reserve Officers' Training Corps was designed to give a large number of capable young men (colored and white) such training as would qualify them to serve their country as officers in case of another war. All found to be qualified mentally, physically and temperamentally, have been placed on the reserve officers list subject to call in the event of another war. This branch of the service proved to be of inestimable value to hundreds of live and ambitious young men of the Negro race.
Chapter XXIV. German Propaganda Among Negroes
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