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Henry U. Johnson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Johnson in 1896.
Johnson in 1896.

Henry Underwood Johnson (October 28, 1850 – June 4, 1939) was a U.S. Representative from Indiana.

Born in Cambridge City, Indiana, Johnson attended the Centerville Collegiate Institute and Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana. He studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1872 and commenced practice in Centerville, Indiana. He moved to Richmond, Indiana, in 1876 and continued the practice of his profession. He served as prosecuting attorney of Wayne County 1876-1880. He served as member of the Indiana State Senate 1887-1889.

Johnson was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-second and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1891-March 3, 1899). He served as chairman of the Committee on Elections No. 2 (Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Congresses). He was not a candidate for renomination in 1898. He was affiliated with the Democratic Party upon the expiration of his congressional career. He moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 and continued the practice of law until 1900 when he returned to Richmond, Indiana, to resume his former law practice. He died in Richmond, Indiana, June 4, 1939. He was interred in Earlham Cemetery.

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  • ✪ Henry Johnson And The Harlem Hellfighters I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?


They served for 191 days under fire, the longest deployment of any American unit during the war, but never lost a foot of ground or had a man taken prisoner. They were officially the 369th infantry regiment, based in Harlem, but they’re known far better by the name the Germans gave them - Hellfighters. I’m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War Special Episode about the Harlem Hellfighters. They were originally the 15th infantry regiment of the New York National Guard. This was created before the war by pressure from black communities that wished to serve in the National Guard. When the US joined the war and began sending troops to Europe, the 369th was shipped out December 27, 1917, arriving New Years Day 1918, and joining the 185th infantry brigade in France. They were not given combat training though, but were assigned labor duties like digging latrines, and they experienced a lot of racial harassment from army officials. US Commander General John Pershing “loaned” the 369th to the French 161’s division April 8th, 1918, and it was after that they would earn their combat honors. The unofficial reason for this loan was that some white soldiers refused to serve alongside African-Americans. Actually, the American Expeditionary Force even released a pamphlet, which can only be described as “incredibly racist” to the French Army, called “Secret Information Concerning Black American Troops”, or SICBAT. SICBAT requested that French troops, most of whom did not share the prevalent racist views of their American counterparts, stop treating African-Americans as equals. It warned of their tendency towards rape, claiming, “the black American troops in France have, by themselves, given rise to as many complaints for attempted rape as the rest of the army.” The pamphlet requested that the French not eat with them, shake hands with them, nor commend them too highly, as this would lead to them thinking themselves more important than they were, which could be harmful to American society after the war. The French Army, for its part, just welcomed the reinforcements. In mid-April, they were assigned to 4.5 kilometer stretch of the front in the Argonne, under the command of General Henri Gouraud, with French equipment like rifles and helmets. They still did not receive combat training, though. Interestingly enough, they made up less than 1% of all American troops in Europe at the time, but held 20% of their assigned territory. As I said at the beginning, they served for over 6 months, and they suffered 1,300 casualties, the most of any US Army regiment. Despite their obvious bravery, they weren’t well treated. Combat troops were taken out of the line to serve as orderlies; pay was stopped to nearly the entire regiment, things like that. Even when they left France in early 1919, their regimental band, which I’ll talk about in a minute, wasn’t allowed to play as they marched to the transport ship. In February 1919, the Harlem Hellfighters returned to New York and had a victory parade along 5th Avenue, led by Sgt. Henry Johnson, who I’ll also talk about in a minute. The parade showed that whatever had happened overseas, it was not reflected back home, since it was all-black; the Hellfighters and other African-American regiments were not allowed to participate in the main victory parade, as it was segregated. The French government, though, awarded the Croix de Guerre, its highest military honor, to 170 soldiers of the 369th, including Henry Johnson, for their efforts and achievements during the war. Their motto was “God Damn, Let’s Go”. Johnson had performed some of the most remarkable feats of this, or any other, war in May 1918 when still a Private. On the night of the 14th, he and Private Needham Roberts were on sentry duty. He would later remark that he had thought it was crazy to send untrained men out, but told his Corporal he’d “tackle the job”. Well, the two came under fire from German snipers. Pinned down in their dugout, they lined up a box of grenades in case the Germans raided. Just after 0200, Johnson heard the sound of wire cutters at the perimeter fence and told Roberts to go back and alert the French. Johnson threw a grenade and the Germans answered with grenades and gunfire. Roberts turned back to help Johnson but was hit by grenade shrapnel and badly injured. Johnson got him back to the dugout. They were outnumbered by 20-30 Germans advancing from multiple directions. Johnson ran out of grenades and took a few bullets, but carried on firing his rifle into the darkness. He continued until he accidentally loaded American ammunition into his French rifle, jamming it. The Germans were then on top of him, so he used the rifle as a club until the stock splintered. He took a blow to the head and went down. However, when the Germans tried to capture Roberts he got up again and attacked with his bolo knife, his only remaining weapon. He stabbed one German, killed a Leutnant, took a pistol shot to the arm, and stabbed another German who’d climbed on his back. The Germans then retreated since they’d heard French and American arriving. Johnson reportedly killed 4 Germans and wounded over two dozen; he had sustained 21 wounds. He said later, “there wasn’t anything so fine about it. Just fought for my life. A rabbit would’ve done that.” This earned Johnson the nickname “Black Death” and postwar he would do lecture tours around the states. On the tours he was supposed to talk about racial harmony in the trenches, a big lie. In St. Louis he certainly did not do this, talking instead about the abuse and harassment he and his comrades took. Contrary to what multiple sources claim, he did receive disability pay from the US Government, and also contrary to multiple sources, when he died in 1929, it was from myocarditis and not alcoholism. Henry Johnson was not awarded any medals by his army and his government until long after his death. And as for the regimental marching band. They played to boost morale, and by the end of the war were one of the most famous bands in Europe. In February and March 1918, they traveled thousands of kilometers playing for British, French, and American military and French civilian audiences, introducing early jazz music to Europe. James Reese Europe, the leading figure of the African-American New York music scene of the teens, was the bandleader. His story is tragic, though. He was stabbed by one of his musicians May 9th, 1919 during an argument in a show’s intermission. It was only with a penknife and he and his bandmates thought the wound- in the neck- was superficial. He told the band to finish the set, but the hospital was unable to stop the bleeding, and he died a few hours later. He was the first African-American ever to have a public funeral in New York City. Johnson and Europe are just a couple of the luminaries of the 369th, and there are quite a few more. You are very much encouraged to look up more about them and the Harlem Hellfighters in general to get a better idea of the unit, the men, their service, and the trials they faced because of their skin color, in addition to be front line combat they fought in the war to end all wars. Thank you Jack Salthouse for the research for this episode. If you want to learn more about another American fighter in WW1, you can click right here for our episode about Dan Daly. Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to learn more about World War 1. See you next time.


  • United States Congress. "Henry U. Johnson (id: J000138)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website

Patrick said wig

External links

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Thomas M. Browne
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
James E. Watson
This page was last edited on 9 October 2019, at 22:19
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