First organized in 1916 as the 15th New York National Guard Infantry Regiment and manned by black enlisted soldiers with both black and white officers, the U.S. Army’s 369th Infantry Regiment, popularly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” was the best known African American unit of World War I.
Federalized in 1917, it prepared for service in Europe and arrived in Brest, France in December. The next month, the regiment became part of the 93rd Division (Provisional) and continued its training, now under French instructors. In March, the regiment finally received its Federal designation and was reorganized and reequipped according to the French model. That summer, the 369th was integrated into the French 161st Division and began combat operations.