A Brief History of the 10th U.S. Volunteer Infantry

by Christopher Rucker   
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General:

The following is a brief history of the 10th U.S. Volunteer Infantry, an African American Regiment, and an "immune" regiment. The regiment did not see service outside of the continental U.S.

Unit History:

On 26 May 1898 General Order No. 55 authorized regiments of persons of color. These were known as the “Immune Regiments” in the belief that Black recruits were acclimatized to the heat and diseases of the theater of war. Four Immune Regiments were ultimately formed: the 7th; 8th; 9th; and 10th US Volunteer Infantry. The 10th was authorized on 1 June 1898.The regiment was mustered in between 2 July and 22 July, 1898. At the time of mustering in, the regiment consisted of forty-four officers and 964 enlisted men.

The soldiers of the 10th came mostly from Georgia, Virginia and South Carolina, with its twelve companies being recruited at the following locations:

Company A - Atlanta, Georgia
Company B – Richmond, Virginia
Company C – Alexandria, Virginia
Company D – Washington DC
Company E - Pocahontas, Virginia
Company F -  Hampton, Virginia
Company G – Augusta, Georgia
Company H - Spartanburg, South Carolina
Company I - Rome, Georgia
Company K - Darlington, South Carolina
Company L - Jacksonville, Florida
Company M - Aiken, South Carolina

The 10th U.S. Volunteer Infantry began training at Camp Dyer, near Augusta, Georgia, and by 13 July, half of the companies were present. Its first commander, Major Jesse Lee of the 9th US Infantry, chose to return to the 9th rather than accept the colonelcy of the 10th U.S. Volunteer Infantry where he would be expected to eat in an integrated mess. He was replaced with Thaddeus Jones, who had twenty-five years of command experience with the African American Cavalry regiments known as the "Buffalo Soldiers". Col. Jones arrived at Camp Dyer on 2 August, and by October, the regiment moved to Weil’s Farm in Lexington, Kentucky where it was brigaded with the 7th U.S> Volunteer Infantry, another "immune" regiment. The 10th stayed there until November, then moved to Camp Haskell near Macon, Georgia.

The "10th Immunes" never made it into the fight with Spain. An armistice was reached with Spain on 12 August, 1898 ending the war's fighting, though the war did not officially end until 10 December, 1898 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris.

The regiment's history was marked by the racial tension which characterized the late nineteenth century. Its soldiers would later recall the antagonistic attitude of the civilian population near the camps, and the situation boiled over when the regiment mustered out on 8 March 1899. The press offered sensational accounts of soldiers looting saloons and stores as the trains carried them back to their homes. The Georgia militia was called out when guns were fired, a brakeman was killed, and the citizenry demanded protection. The incidents only confirmed the negative opinion of the white majority as to the professionalism of Black soldiers. The officers of the 10th U.S. Volunteer Infantry defended the men, pointing to the unjust prejudice which they had endured during their service.

At the time of muster out, the regiment consisted of forty-five officers and 898 enlisted men. During its term of service, the regiment lost fourteen enlisted men to disease, one to an accident, two were murdered and twenty-five deserted.



Bibliography:

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Correspondence relating to the War with Spain And Conditions Growing Out of the Same Including the Insurrection in the Philippine Island and the China Relief Expedition. Vol. 1 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1902) 627.

Cunningham, Roger D, LTC., U.S. Army, Retired, "The Black "Immune" Regiments of the Spanish American War," Army Historical Foundation. http://armyhistory.org/the-black-immune-regiments-in-the-spanish-american-war/



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