A.H. Scott: Men of Bronze

Cover of VHS tape Men of Bronze
Men of Bronze

Text by A.H. Scott, Copyright 2021




Now, as you read that title,” DON’T TREAD ON ME, GOD DAMN, LET’S GO!”, you might think these words are of those who beat their chest in some sort of patriotic braggadocio of the modern day. 

But, in actuality, this IS the motto of the 369th Infantry Regiment, otherwise known as the Harlem Hellfighters. 

Nicknamed the Men of Bronze (Hommes de Bronze) by the French troops which they fought with and Hell-fighter (Hollenkampfer) by the Germans that they battled for almost two-hundred days in the trenches, during World War I; these were the American soldiers that exemplified courage and an unstoppable will. 

Nowadays, you hear armchair warriors speak in giddy tones of an enraptured melding of manhood and war-hood with a peppering of patriotism as a side dish. America the strong! America the brave! America, America, America! Patriotism is mine and mine alone, say-eth the armchair warrior!

“The Negro will follow the American flag wherever it may lead. There are now over 250,000 Negroes in the army. The Negro is intensely loyal and patriotic. By the record he has already made in France he has earned the right of all the benefits of full citizenship – that act of simple justice his heart craves more than anything else.” – Dr. Robert R. Moton[1], principal of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University)[2] 

Men that have gone off to war and fought in hand to hand combat against a military foe aren’t so eager to drunkenly divulge what they’ve seen and done in the sobriety of war theater, as if to rattle off their past actions in some sort of grotesque confessional for trivial consumption. 

One of these military veterans was Frederick H. Williams, a kind and loving human being who was my great-grandfather. 


Portrait of Frederick H. Williams |||
Frederick H. Williams 


I can remember seeing a scar on my great-grandfather’s leg when I was a little girl. As a kid, I never really paid much attention to it whenever I saw him pulling on his socks and putting on his shoes. That discolored patch of skin with slight disfigurement on his leg was something that never was talked about much. 

As I’d gotten older and he’d talked a little bit about his younger days from time to time, he told me that the scar was from a shrapnel blast he’d incurred from fighting on the front-lines during World War I. 

The documentary titled, “Men Of Bronze” [3], details the Harlem Hellfighters’ valor on the battlefields of France. Directed by William Miles, who had spoken at my great-grandfather’s funeral when he died in 1978, it is narrated by the unmistakable, towering voice of Adolph Caesar.

On September 15, 1918 during a major allied battle offensive in Meuse-Argonne my great-grandfather and the rest of the French 4th Army had started up the hill and all hell broke loose; leaving many of the men in the squad broken of flesh and bone, but not of will. 

Final war report of the battle of Meuse-Argonne had been casualties of the four black infantry regiments of the 93rd division whom were 3,925 killed and wounded. Frederick was so badly injured, he returned to the United States on a casualty ship, not expected to live past nine months. Yet, he survived and thrived until his death in 1978.

But, now as an adult I definitely remember those little things about him. From his ability to make the most amazing stovetop biscuits with tiny chunks of cheddar cheese, orange marmalade he made from scratch and even fresh peanut butter. I guess my love of plants and flowers must have been passed down through the family from him also. Oh, but the one thing I remember was the scent of the pipe he used to smoke. He even used to make this beep-beep, kind of whistling sound with his lips that would make me giggle when I was a little girl. Gee, I guess I’m just a pushover for all things sentimental. 

Wow, history of over a century ago has a way of coming around to be remembered and honored at present time, as I’ve seen recent news about the Harlem Hellfighters receiving the Congressional Gold Medal and it made me think back to my great-grandfather’s military service in World War I in France. 

When I saw the report on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir about the Harlem Hellfighters [4] and United States President Joseph R. Biden’s August 25th signing the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal [5] to the 369th Infantry Regiment, my mind snapped back to listening to those stories he used to tell me about his younger days. 

Introduced in the House of Representatives by New York Representative Tom Suozzi, H.R. 3642 reads as the following:

H.R. 3642, the “Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act,” which provides for the award of a Congressional Gold Medal to the 369th Infantry Regiment, commonly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” in recognition of their bravery and outstanding service during World War I.

Sometimes you might not realize the enormity of your roots. My advice to anyone who is young today, please take a listen to those elders in your life. Be it a family member or a neighbor who might be up in age. In the moment they may be speaking to you about something, you might not even really be listening to them. But, then as you get older, you remember one thing here or another thing there. You never know what history they have to tell you. 


American-Negroes_-Glorious-Fighting-Record World War 1 paves citizenship
Bismarck Daily Tribune


Know your past, before you assume the future! 

Watch the entire documentary, “Men Of Bronze”[6] online here: https://youtu.be/Gx73edFoZUY




1. “American Negroes’ Glorious Fighting Record Gives Them Right to Benefits of Full Citizenship,” Bismarck Daily Tribune (Bismarck, ND), Aug. 9, 1918 – https://blogs.loc.gov/headlinesandheroes/2019/02/harlem-hell-fighters-african-american-troops/

2. Tuskegee University Presidents – 


3  IMDB – “Men Of Bronze” – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0281999/

4. ABC World News Tonight with David Muir – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-TnE9p2NKY

5. President Biden Signs Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act – 


6. Men of Bronze – Black Medal of Honor American Heroes 8111977 –https://youtu.be/Gx73edFoZUY?t=1


About The Author: A.H. Scott is a poet based in New York City and frequent contributor to Tony Ward Studio. To read additional articles by Ms. Scott, go here: https://tonyward.com/a-h-scott-dont-stop-the-dance/

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