Gone But Not Forgotten: Charles Young Posthumously Promoted to Brigadier Gen.

0 Posted by - February 22, 2022 - BLACKS IN THE MILITARY, Gone But Not Forgotten, IN THE NEWS

By Victor Trammell

Photo credits: U.S. Army Center of Military History

Charles Young (pictured) was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1864 and grew up in Ripley, Ohio, where he excelled in academics, music, and foreign languages. His father, a Union Army veteran, urged him to enroll at West Point, where he became the academy’s ninth African American student.

Young suffered academically after being shunned by his fellow cadets due to his ethnicity, and he had to retake his plebe year. Nonetheless, he persisted and became just the third African American to graduate from West Point with some assistance.

Young was promoted to the rank of captain while serving in the 9th United States Cavalry in numerous western stations. Later in his career, he taught military science at Wilberforce University, served two tours in the Philippines, became the first black superintendent of a national park, and served as a military attache in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Liberia.

During the Mexican Punitive Expedition, he commanded a troop of the 10th Cavalry and destroyed the Villistas at Agua Caliente without losing a single man, earning him a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

When the United States entered World War I, Young was well-positioned for advancement to brigadier general, a post no African American had previously attained. Instead, he was medically retired with the rank of Colonel by the War Department.

Young was reinstated to active service after riding 500 miles on horseback from Wilberforce, Ohio to Washington to show his fitness, although he spent the rest of his time as an attaché in Liberia. Benjamin O. Davis, Sr., one of his protégés, became the first African American brigadier general.

On February 1, 2022, Young was promoted to Brigadier General posthumously, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.


No comments