World War I Podcast

The 93rd Division in World War I



In 1917, war mobilization plans included no black combat divisions. With only four black regiments in existence at the time, all the new African American volunteers and draftees presented the U.S. Army with a bit of a problem. Where did they fit in? Where could they go? Initially the Army began organizing these men into provisional, unarmed labor units. This was unacceptable to African American leaders who believed that a demonstration of patriotism and sacrifice on the battlefield would benefit the quest for civil rights. The concerns of these leaders reached the Secretary of War, Newton Baker. Baker ultimately ordered the creation of two black combat divisions. One of these was the 93rd Division. Against all odds, the combat regiments of the 93rd made it to France. Set aside for service and supply duty on arrival, in the spring of 1918 they were “loaned” to the French. Wearing French gear, carrying French weapons, and under French command, the men of the 93rd saw combat in most of the major sectors