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Letter from Hamilton Fish to His Father, April 8, 1918

Letter from Hamilton Fish to his father

Letter from Hamilton Fish to his father

New York State Library, NYSL_SC21149_19180408
Document Description
Letter from Hamilton Fish to his father, April 8, 1918.
From what country did Captain Fish write this letter?
Why do you think it is important to write letters to family members?
What was some information that the captain shared with his father?
What information did the captain give in his letter that showed how proud he was of his regiment?
Why do you think it was important to send the regiment’s flag to the governor of New York?
Historical Challenges
Find out about the controversy surrounding the awarding of America's Medal of Honor (the highest military award) to Henry Johnson. Do you think he should have received it? Support your response with specific information.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Using an atlas, figure out the distance that the 369th Regiment traveled from New York to France.
Science: What was the climate like in France, and how did the soldiers’ uniforms protect them from the weather?
English Language Arts: Pretend that you are Captain Fish’s father. Write a letter back to your son after learning about the regiment’s many accomplishments.
Hansen, Ole Steen. World War I: In the Trenches. Raintree Publishers, January 2001. ISBN: 0739827529
Granfield, Linda. Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited, March 2005. ISBN: 1550051466
Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie. Night the Bells Rang. Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, October 2000. ISBN: 0141309865
Preston, Diana. Remember the Lusitania! Walker & Company, May 2003. ISBN: 0802788467
Just the Facts- Documents of Destiny: The World War I Years (1917-1920). (VHS) Goldhil Home Media I, December 2003. ASIN: B0000E1WJI


About this Activity


Lesson Topic:

Historical Context
Hamilton Fish III (1888-1991) was a soldier and politician from Garrison, NY. During WWI he was Captain of the 369th United States Infantry Regiment, a unit of African American enlisted men.

When America entered World War 1 in 1917, one of the first groups of soldiers to arrive in France was the 15th Regiment New York Guard.  It became known as the 369th Infantry and was one of the most highly decorated groups of soldiers in the war.  Its nickname was the “Harlem Hellfighters.”  This was an all-black regiment commanded by white officers.  Blacks were not allowed to fight alongside white American soldiers in this war.

The 369th was greeted with open arms by the French soldiers with whom they fought.  Among the famous men from this group was Henry Johnson, an Albany, New York native.  He was awarded the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor, after fighting off twenty-four enemy soldiers with whatever weapons he could find.  The 369th also had another claim to fame.  It had a military band, but it played jazz.  The 369th was famous for introducing this upbeat style of music to Europe.
Essential Question
How does war impact a society?
Check for Understanding
Summarize the main idea of the letter and evaluate the impact of World War I on Hamilton Fish and his family.