Letters from World War I

Private David Willey to Lieutenant Simmons

Refer to caption
Postcard of African-American troops at Camp Humphreys
National Postal Museum HSC.339


Courtesy Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

African-American officers and community leaders received messages in June 1918 from soldiers at Camp A. A. Humphreys, Virginia. The letters included accounts of physical abuse against African-American soldiers by white officers. Mistreatment by white officers and substandard living conditions were ongoing problems for the segregated African-American service members. The soldiers who wrote these letters felt unable to report the problems to superiors at Camp Humphreys and sought assistance through unofficial channels.

one page of a handwritten letter on YMCA letterhead


Camp Humpherys Va. June 21th. 1918

Dear Lieut Simmons

Sir Private Davied Willey requested that we of Battry F 350th FA are not being treated wright the first thing this morning when we got up the captian kicked me and called us all kinds of names I would be more than glad if you would take it up with the Curnel and tell him we are not being treated wright and would like to come back to camp Dix. I did not know who to take it to here so thought I would put it in your hand. so we are waiting for an erly reply I have the scares on me now where he kicked me. I went to the hospital and they didn’t do anything for me so we cannot stay out here if we can get back to Camp Dix don’t make any difernce if [page break] we are sick we have to work any way. So please answer soon yours as to be Private Daived Willey we are being treated worser than dogs outs here I am sorry we was sent here.

from Private Daved Willey Company C 522nd Eng Battlion

P.S. Camp Humphrays. Va. We are coming back anyway and look for us in returning mail.

My Fellow Soldiers