Fred Hart

Photo: Courtesy of the Hart family

Photo: Courtesy of the Hart family

McDUFFIE COUNTY, GEORGIA

First Sgt. Fred Hart wrote a series of letters to the War Department detailing racial strife at Camp Tyson, Tenn. Hart’s letters, on file at the National Archives, offer an important window into abuses and violence at the base in 1943. Hart was angry after a demotion to private, which could have happened if a white non-commissioned officer was assigned to his unit. Black soldiers were not allowed to outrank whites. After the shooting death off base of a black private from the 320th, racial tensions were at an all-time high. Hart wrote: "There is a tense feeling there will be a race riot here. ... They feel they would rather die here then (sic) on a field of battle."

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