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[History] Buffalo Soldiers, 1877

Book on Buffalo Soldiers, 1877

Posted By: Bijan Bayne
Date: Monday, 12 January 2004, at 10:35 a.m.

And for those that had ancestors in the American Southwest, this title may prove insightful. It does quote court records with soldiers' names:

The first multifaceted narrative of this
harrowing misadventure
The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877
Paul H. Carlson

The year 1877 was a drought year in West Texas. In the middle of
that arid summer, a troop of some forty buffalo soldiers (African
American cavalry led by white officers) struck out into the Llano
Estacado from Double Lakes, south of modern Lubbock, pursuing
a band of Kwahada Comanches who had been raiding homesteads
and hunting parties. A group of twenty-two buffalo hunters
accompanied the soldiers as guides and allies.

Several days later three black soldiers rode into Fort Concho at
modern San Angelo and reported that the men and officers of
Troop A were missing and presumed dead from thirst. The "Staked
Plains Horror," as the Galveston Daily News called it, quickly
captured national attention. Although most of the soldiers
eventually straggled back into camp, four had died, and others
eventually faced court-martial for desertion. The buffalo hunters
had ridden off on their own to find water, and the surviving
soldiers had lived by drinking the blood of their dead horses and
their own urine. A routine army scout had turned into disaster of
the worst kind.

Although the failed expedition was widely reported at the time,
the sparse treatments since then have relied exclusively on the
white officers’ accounts. Paul H. Carlson has mined the
courts-martial records for testimony of the enlisted men, memories
of a white boy who rode with the Indians, and other sources to
provide a nuanced view of the interaction of soldiers, hunters,
settlers, and Indians on the Staked Plains before the final settling of
the Comanches on their reservation in Indian Territory.


PAUL H. CARLSON is a professor of history at Texas Tech
University in Lubbock, Texas, and a fellow of the Texas State
Historical Association. He has written many articles and several
books on West Texas history, including one on cavalry soldier
William R. Shafter and one on the Plains Indians, both published
by Texas A&M University Press.

What people are saying about this book
“Although this harrowing tale has been related in previously
published articles and book chapters, no one has offered more
thorough and balanced coverage than has Paul Carlson. . . .
Persons interested in the Southern Plains, Native American
history, frontier military life, and race relations within American
institutions will be pleased with all that this book has to offer.”
—Journal of Military History
". . . a grueling day-by-day, almost hour-by-hour account of the
ordeal from the viewpoints of its various participants . . . puts the
event into perspective in regard to time, place and conditions
which set the stage for disaster."—Elmer Kelton

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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