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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: More snap shot data
In Response To: Re: More snap shot data ()

Sure I'm angry. Angry at those who advance ideas based on far too little research time in the primary records and resting on a reading (often incomplete) of secondary sources that too often contain, at best, unsubstantiated information, or at worst,outdated material.

Let me to refer you to the editorial in the April 2003 issue of the journal, Wild West. This issue carried a lengthy article by William Dobak--"Black Regulars on the Frontier".

To "introduce" this piece, Gregory Lalire, editor of Wild West, provided an exchange between Dobak abnd Frank Schubert (and I would like to think that anyone who has anything to say about black regulars during the late l9th century has read all of Schubert's impressive body of work). Here's what Schubert had to say, beginning with comments on the use of the term "buffalo soldiers":

"[Schubert] says that using buffalo soldiers in a [book] title is important from a marketing standpoint, but he knows of only one soldier--Reuben Waller--whio used the term, and that wasn't until the l920's."

Lalire continues from Schubert, "Without examples of self-referential contemporary usage by the troops, it is impossible to prove all the claims about how it was a term of respect and how the soldiers adopted it with pride."

Again from Schubert, "The unit crest of the 10th Cavalry, with the buffalo, was adopted in the second decade of the 20th century. The myth of Indian respect is the basis for the rainbow coalition fantasy about empathy between the black soldiers and the Indians, as two non-white groups oppressed by the majority. This is imposition of present-day values on the past."

Lalire then notes, "He [Schubert] also challenges the myth that black soldiers were in harm's way more often that other soldiers, pointing out that blacks made up l2 percent of the frontier army and fought in l3 percent of the Indian engagements."

And once more direct from Schubert, "Willy [Dobak] and I agree about most things, but we disagree in that I think the blacks may have been somewhat better soldiers than the whites, because they stayed in the army longer."

So , according to Schubert--and for sure I would second his opinions--some deflated myths about: the use and meaning of term buffalo soldiers, its adoption as a symbol by the l0th Cav, Indian respect for black soldiers,and the combat/campaign contribution of black regulars.

Leaving--were blacks better soldiers because they tended to remain in the army (reenlist more often) than whites? Maybe, but I think Schubert would be the first to acknowledge that this will be a hard theory to prove. For sure this is an area calling for a lot more research.

Schubert and all those who have done their homework calm me down. Others who have been less diligent in their research and pronouncements make me angry.

Tom Phillips

Messages In This Thread

A snap shot, not a portrait
More snap shot data
Re: More snap shot data
Re: More snap shot data

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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