Army

July 18, 2014

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

Tags:
Lori S. Tagg
USAICoE Command Historian
Untitled-1

Colonel Charles Young: Buffalo Soldier and Intelligence Officer

As a major and then Lieutenant Colonel, Charles Young served with the 10th Cavalry during the Punitive Expedition into Mexico in 1916.

This article was originally run in the June 7, 2007 edition of the Fort Huachuca Scout. It is reprinted here as a reminder of the exceptional life and contributions of a member of the MI Hall of Fame. Colonel Young School is located in the Old Post area of Fort Huachuca. To see this and other sites of historical interest, visit the Fort Huachuca MI History Virtual Tour at https://www.ikn.army.mil/apps/MI_HISTORY_TOUR/index.html.

More than 10,000 black men served in the regiments honorably called the Buffalo Soldiers. Some of these men, such as Henry O. Flipper and Benjamin O. Davis, are historically prominent and fairly well-known to students of American history. However, a great number remain unknown or their accomplishments buried as footnotes to history. One such man with a significant link to Fort Huachuca and military intelligence is Colonel Charles D. Young.

Charles Young was born in May’s Lick, Kentucky, in 1864. In 1889, he became the third African American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy. He was immediately assigned to the 10th Cavalry, stationed at that time in Nebraska. Over the course of the next 28 years, Young was assigned to the black regiments of the 9th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry, as well as the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Spanish American War. Young’s military career introduced him to a variety of responsibilities. He spent nearly four years as a Professor of Military Science at Wilberforce University, Ohio, and in 1903, he served as the acting superintendent of parks at Sequoia and General Grant (now Kings Canyon) National Parks in California.

One highlight of Young’s career and for which he is perhaps most renowned occurred during the Punitive Expedition in pursuit of Pancho Villa who had murdered American citizens in Columbus, New Mexico. On April 1, 1916, Major Young led his troops in a successful cavalry pistol charge against Villista forces at Aguas Calientes, Mexico, driving back approximately 150 enemy troops with no losses to Young’s squadron. Two weeks later, at the Hacienda Santa Cruz de la Villegas, Young again rode with his troops to relieve a severely wounded Major Frank Tompkins and his 13th U.S. Cavalry pinned down by Mexican government troops. Young’s reinforcement of Major Tompkins at a critical time is credited by many historians as preventing a larger war between the United States and Mexico. For Young’s brilliant and aggressive operations in Mexico, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the 10th Cavalry in 1916. A year later, he was promoted to colonel and served briefly as Fort Huachuca’s commander.

In addition to his brave service with the cavalry, Young’s lesser known accomplishments took place in the field of military intelligence, particularly as a military attaché. Young was the first African American appointed to serve in that capacity since the birth of the attaché system in 1889. He was an accomplished linguist fluent in Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, and German. From 1904 to 1907, Young served in Port Au Prince, Haiti, where he made an extended military reconnaissance of the country and the neighboring Republic of Santo Domingo and produced maps of much of the terrain. In 1912, he was selected for attaché duty in Liberia, where he advised the Liberian constabulary and supervised the construction of new roads to provide military lines of communication. For his services there, the NAACP awarded Young the Springarn Medal, an annual award recognizing outstanding achievement by an African American. Young remains the only member of the U.S. military services to receive this award since its inception in 1915. For his attaché service, Young was also inducted into the Military Intelligence Corps Hall of Fame in 1999.

Much to his dismay and despite an exceptional career, Colonel Young was medically retired in 1917 for high blood pressure and Bright’s disease purportedly incurred during his attaché service in Liberia. He was, at this time, the highest ranking African American in the U.S.
Army, and one of only three black commissioned officers. Anxious to command black troops in France in World War I, the 53-year-old colonel rode on horseback from his home in Ohio to the War Department in Washington, D.C., to demonstrate his fitness for duty. Nevertheless, Charles Young’s quest to serve during World War I was denied, a decision described by some historians as a product of prejudice on the part of senior leaders in the military and Presidency. Young, however, was recalled to active duty in 1919 to serve again as military attaché in Liberia. He died on January 8, 1922, in that post. At the time he was on a research expedition in Lagos, Nigeria. Although initially buried in Nigeria, his body was returned to the U.S. and interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. in 1923.

On a personal note, Charles Young married Ada Barr in 1903 and had two children, Charles Noel, born in 1907 and Marie, born in 1909. He counted among his friends the founder of the NAACP, W.E.B. DuBois, and Dayton poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. He was not only a fine soldier and leader, but also a poet, playwright, composer, and musician. He was known for his generosity, politeness even in the face of harsh racial discrimination, and dedication to his country and his race. Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt marveled at the man who “by sheer force of character…overcame prejudices which would have discouraged many a lesser man….He approached life with the single purpose of seeing what he could do for this nation….[W]hat he has done will remain with us in the country as a constant inspiration and guide of the generations to come.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
haynes3_62415_lakosil

Family, faith, focus Resiliency helps Soldier heal from extensive combat wounds

Maj. Jeremy Haynes, Warrior Transition Brigade, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Maryland, and wife Chelsea speak with Capt. Kate Degategno, Alpha Company, 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, in Alvarado Hall, F...
 
 
U.S. Army Photo by Lisa Tourtelot

RWBAHC welcomes new top doc to command

U.S. Army Photo by Lisa Tourtelot Lt. Col. Edgar Arroyo, the new commander of Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, accepts the command colors from Maj. Gen. Thomas Tempel, the commanding general of Western Regional Medical Comm...
 
 
Photo by Capt. Bee Vengthisane

Signal Soldiers celebrate regimental birthday at Fort Hood

FORT HOOD, Texas– Signaleers from Fort Hood and other installations around the country, celebrated the 155th Signal Regimental Corps birthday June 22-25 here. Signal week is a time when Soldiers in the Signal Corps reflec...
 

 

Sparks fly when fireworks are lit — know safety rules

During tomorrow’s July 4th celebration, sparks will fly as people light fireworks. It’s wildfire season, and misuse of fireworks can start a fire which could have devastating effects on the community. When using approved fireworks, be cognizant of the surroundings. The National Fire Protection Association reported that in 2011, fires started by fireworks caused an...
 
 
U.S. Army photo

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

More aerial intelligence systems used during Vietnam War During the Vietnam War, the Army possessed three distinct aerial intelligence capabilities. The U-6 Beaver fixed-wing airborne radio-direction finding (ARDF) platform was...
 
 
305thCeremony_6.26

305th Military Intelligence Battalion Change of Command Ceremony

Incoming Commander, Lt. Col. Jorge A. Arredondo, takes command of the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion during the passing of the colors at the change of command ceremony Friday.   Fort Huachuca’s 305th Military Inte...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>