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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

"Buffalo Soldiers" sightings

I can't recall if I posted what follows about a year or so ago. Regardless, here's a list of all the uses of the term "buffalo soldiers" that I've found in nearly forty years of stumbling around in the story of the black regulars who served between the end of the Civil War anfd the start up of the Dance with the Dons in 98.

A few days back I posted material from the early l870s on Mrs. Roe and what I think is the first published use of the term from the Nation and later the Army and Navy Journal (hereafter ANJ).

Here's my list of discoveries--in chronological order:

l878
From the "Local" news section of the (Sidney, Nebraska) Telegraph, Sept 2l:

"The report that two companies of negro cavalry, from Texas, was to be located here as temporary Indian fighters does not seem to have much foundation. The Indians have supreme contempt for the darkies and call thgem "buffalo soldiers."

l880
The ANJ for April 3, reprinted part of a letter sent from Silver City, New mexico Territory to the Philadelphia Times:

"The "buffalo soldiers", as the Indians call colored troops, returning with interest, as they do, the intense hatret the savages have for them, have won the respect and regard of all our people, and prejudice existing against them at one time has entirely disappeared."

l882
From the ANJ, June 24:

"Although according to custom the Military Academy grtaduates of
'82 were allowed to make application for particuliar corps and regiments, some, it appears, are not satisifed with this privlege, but are making streenuous efforts for particular posts. Of course all cannot be gratified by getting into the desired rergiments. We are told that one young gentleman who said he was not particular where he went provided he was not put into a colored regiment, has been assigned to the "buffalo soldiers."

l885
May 26, letter from Helen Davis to Alice Grierson (wife of Col Benjamin Grierson, commander of the l0th Cavalry):

"The five companies of cavalry left a week ago to catch those Indians 50 in number, that left San Carlos Agency to do as they pleased because as thery said "buffalo soldier no shoot." They do not seem to think very highly of the colored soldiers fighting powers."

l889
April isasue of the monthly magazine, Century: contains article written and illustrated by Fredferick remington, A Scout with the Buffalo Soldiers."
This name appears only tweice in the story--in the title and here:

"We began to pass Indian huts, and saw them gathering wheat in the river bottoms, while they paused to gaze at us and doubtless wondered for what purpose the buffalo-soldiers were abroad in the land."

Note: in same article Remington also used "black man", "black troopers'" and "colored men" to refer to these soldiers. He also used "l0th United States Cavalry," "l0th Dragoons," and quoted an officer using "l0th Nubian Horse."

l889
I have been told this is from the May 4 issue of the The Express published in Vernal, Utah:

"Like hell," Thomas said, and pulled his gun, and looking directly at buffalo soldier William Carter remarked, "you black son of a bitch, I will kill you."

l890
ANJ, Dec 27

"Our cavalry has for soldiers negroes, and it is said that the troops here are the best two of "buffalo soldiers." in the service. Capts. Cusack and Garrard take much pride in keeping these fellows up to the mark. They are good riders, are cheerful in the performance of their duty, and are good rifle shots."

l892
From a July 27 editorial of the Boomerang (Laramie, Wyoning) that was reprinted in the St. Louis, MO, Republican:

"As a stamping groubnd for buffalo soldiers the new states of Idaho and Wyoming, may be set downb as a howling success. They have had great fub chasing enterprising white pioneer cattle famrer in Wyoming and are now amusing themselves supressing labor unions in Idaho. It may be necessary to add that in the lingo of the aboriginal red men of the far west, "buffalo soldiers" is the picturesque designation of the colored troops who are supposed to "fight nobly."

l894
Washington (D.,C.), Post, Feb 26--commenting on the "honor" cavalry garrison at nearby Ft Myer which included Troop K of the 9th Cavalry:

"K is a black troop both as to riders and horses--the colored troopers being knownm as :buffalo soldiers" by the Indians throughout the West, where all of them have served."

also from l894
ANJ, August 25

"Colonel Andrew Burt, commanding the 25th Infantry, is proud of his "buffalo soldiers,: as he has reason to be....

And that it--all I have found prior to the start of the Spanish American War.
I have no doubt that the term was used in other published forms (newspapers and periodicals) as well as in private correspondence.
I hope that in time these "sightings" will be discovered and added to the list I have just posted.
Keep one thing in mind--all of what I've cited comes--- not surprisingly--- from white observers.
Draw your own conclusions

Tom

Messages In This Thread

"Buffalo Soldiers" sightings
Re: "Buffalo Soldiers" sightings

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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