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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum

Buffalo Soldiers: What's in a name?????

I see that some folks are still upset that Hollywood types stuck the name Buffalo Soldiers on a movie about doper soldiers (black and white) in Germany.

I'd be interested to know if same level of anger is directed at publishers who stick the name Buffalo Soldiers into original titles about these soldiers where it was never used?
Some recent examples:
Recently Humanity Press reprinted a l904 original by Theophilus G Steward tiitled The Colored Regulars in the United States Army.
It is important to note that the author was black and the long-time chaplain of one of the Old Army's four regiments manned by blacks enlisted soldiers: the 25th Infantry.
"Colored regulars" was good enough for Steward--but not for the editors at Humanity Press who reissued the book with the modified title of:
BUFFALO SOLDIERS
The Colored Regulars in the United States Army

A bit earlier Bison Books division of the University of Nebraska Press put out a new edition of a l927 book by John H. Nankivell, ooriginally titled, History of the Twenty-fifth United States Infantry, 1869-l926. Nankivell was a veteran officer in this regiment and a Captain at the time he wrote the book. Seems to me a perfectly good--although somewhat dull--title. But, just in case the original title was not clear/specific enough for today's readers, the folks at Bison Books invented a new title:
Buffalo Soldier Regiment (in large type)
History of the Twenty-fift United States Infantry, 1869-1926 (in much smaller type).

Read through the ORIGINALS of Steward's and Nankivell's books-- and both are fellows who knew a thing about black regulars--you ain't going to find the term "buffalo soldiers". You still won't find the term in the reissued texts (although it is used in the introductions to both reprints)-but it is front and center in the "new" titles.

Producers use the name to sell tickets and publishers use the term to sell books.
This is called commerce, and therefore no reason to get upset.

Tom Phillips


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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