“On Patrol in No Man's Land”

Glenn Watkins

in Proof through the Night

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927896 | DOI:
“On Patrol in No Man's Land”

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All-black units served in the historically segregated armed forces of the United States as late as the Korean War. No fewer than 3,000 black soldiers, freed from slavery, had fought in the army of the American Revolution. Others figured in the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans of 1814, and as many as 200,000 served in the Union army and navy during the Civil War. During the Great War, there were four black regiments in the regular army. The role of black service musicians in maintaining high levels of morale was soon a matter of record among the Allies and Central Powers alike, and their musical contributions were destined to reverberate long after the Armistice. This chapter focuses on the so-called “hellfighters” of the 369th regiment, including John Philip Sousa and James Reese Europe; the continuous production of “coon songs,” some written by black musicians themselves; bandmasters and the birth of an American conservatory in Fontainebleau, France; and the idea of a readily identifiable “American Music.”.

Keywords: United States; Great War; black soldiers; hellfighters; John Philip Sousa; James Reese Europe; coon songs; black musicians; bandmasters; American Music

Chapter.  8154 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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