Letters from World War I

Private Silas Bradshaw, to Lieutenant Graster, June 22, 1918

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 handwritten letter


Camp a.a. Humphreys. Va.

June 22, 1918

Lieut Graster dear Sir there are some different in this camp and camp Dix they are not treating me right they have all white officers and no colored and we hafter eat in the rain nowhere to wash our cloths and nowhere to take a bath only the Macomack River no Latrine and sleeping in tents with no floor and nothing to sleep under only what we brought with us and the [page break] captain is a hard tast master he knock one of our men down and – cursed him because he was sick and not able to double time and made him chop wood all day and has Put one in the guardhouse for going to the Y. M. C. A. if you can do anything for me Please do so for I don’t want no trouble with these white officers

Your cencear frind

Private Silas Bradshaw CO. C. 522. Service B. 20. Camp a. a. Humphreys. Va.

My Fellow Soldiers