A letter from First Lieutenant James W. Alston to H. H. Brimley praising black soldiers, September 3, 1918.
James William Alston was a First Lieutenant in the 372nd Infantry, an all-black regiment, during World War I. Alston was born in Wake County, NC on January 16, 1876. In 1907, he started working as a janitor and messenger for the State Museum, later the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. During the war, Alston wrote several letters to H. H. Brimley, who was white. Brimley was a curator and the first director of the State Museum.
S.P. 179 France
Sep. [crossed out in MS: Aug] 3, 1918
My Dear Mr Brimley
I sure was glad to get your letter and to know that all is well in the good old North State. Everything is moveing [sic] fine over here so far and I think we have Fritz on the run, thanks to the good work of the people back home, and I hope we can keep him on the go until we can get a strangle holt [hold] on him, and then [underlined in MS] God help him. I want to see some of the German towns completely destroyed as I have seen the French.
He sure has put [crossed out in MS: what] the part of France that he held on the bumb [bomb?], but the French will repay him in a not far distant date. France is one continaus[continuous] camp and the troops are coming in all the time and every one moves forward all the time, and no one gets to the rear except the wounded, even the Eugmcus [?] in the rear of the line are constantly deserting [?] to go to the front, so much so that when they are given leave they go to the front, so you see that the whole movement is constantly towards Berlin. I have seen none of the boys from Raleigh as yet
but hope to when we all get together near Berlin. I am glad to know that my people are doing their bit to win the war, they sure make good soldiers and seem to take delight in sticking Fritz with a bayonet or clubbing him with the butt end of a rifle, but their main weapon is the hand grenade. I would send you some relies [?] for the Museum but there is a limited amount of transportation here and I am afraid that it would never reach you, but perhaps before I come back I can get something for you.
I wish if you write again that you would send me Bobs adress [address] as I would like to write to him and go to see him if I ever get close to his outfit. We have a captain Swift of Waynesville N.C. in our outfit he is commanding the Mehi [?] Gun. I have been commanding my company since July 30th and it is some job believe me. I took command while in the front line and have been in the front line all the month of August except 8 days. I hope to get a new Captain soon and if it is a white Capt. Let him be from
the south is my prayer. There is some friction between the officers over him but wherever it is known to exist the one in fault is promptly relieved, and wherever it exist it is generaly [generally] among the ones from the north. The officers from the south that I have met are good fellows one and all as a rule. I am writing to the new comdr. [commander] to-day asking for special duty as patrol officer and I hope I can get it as it affords a fellow a better chance for promotion and excitement all his own and then I have
a score to pay Fritz for leaving a scar on my face, and I want to get him where I can fix him to my own taste [?]. My best regards to Mrs Brimley, Mr & Mrs Adiekes [?] and all my friends, and write when you have the time to
yours very respectfully
James W Alston
372 R. J. N. [?] S.
S.P. 179 France