Buffalo Soldier

Buffalo Soldier


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Seventeen years ago, the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, in support of African-American veterans, declared and established the last Saturday in February as a day to commemorate African-American defenders of America.



Books on Blacks in the Military

Elevating The Race:  Theophilus G. Steward and The Making of An African-American  Civil Religion, 1865-1924

Up from Handymen  / Colored Regulars in the United States Army  / Chaplains of the United States Army

The Buffalo Soldier: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West / Voices of the Buffalo Soldier

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Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The nickname was given to the “Negro Cavalry” by the Native American tribes they fought; the term eventually became synonymous with all of the African-American regiments formed in 1866:

9th Cavalry Regiment   / 10th Cavalry Regiment  / 24th Infantry Regiment  / 25th Infantry Regiment

Although several African-American regiments were raised during the Civil War to fight alongside the Union Army (including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the many United States Colored Troops Regiments), the “Buffalo Soldiers” were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army.

On September 6, 2005, Mark Matthews, who was the oldest living Buffalo Soldier, died at the age of 111. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Sources disagree on how the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1867, the actual Cheyenne translation being “Wild Buffalo.” However, writer Walter Hill documented the account of Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against Comanches. Hill attributed the origin of the name to the Comanche due to Grierson’s assertions. Some sources assert that the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th cavalry. Other sources assert that Native Americans called the black cavalry troops “buffalo soldiers” because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo‘s coat. Still other sources point to a combination of both legends. The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African-American soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry, units whose service earned them an honored place in U.S. history.

10th Cavalry Regiment (United States) #Buffalo Soldier name

In September 1867, Private John Randall of Troop G of the 10th Cavalry Regiment was assigned to escort two civilians on a hunting trip. The hunters suddenly became the hunted when a band of 70 Cheyenne warriors swept down on them. The two civilians quickly fell in the initial attack and Randall’s horse was shot out from beneath him. Randall managed to scramble to safety behind a washout under the railroad tracks, where he fended off the attack with only his pistol until help from the nearby camp arrived. The Indians beat a hasty retreat, leaving behind 13 fallen warriors. Private Randall suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder and 11 lance wounds, but recovered. The Cheyenne quickly spread word of this new type of soldier, “who had fought like a cornered buffalo; who like a buffalo had suffered wound after wound, yet had not died; and who like a buffalo had a thick and shaggy mane of hair.”—Wikipedia

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African-American Patriots Consortium, Inc.

African-American History Month

Schedule of Activities, Spring 2003

Buffalo Soldiers Day in Maryland

February 20, 2003


50th Anniversary of Korean War (1950-1953)

February 23, 2003  & Conference –April 16-19, 2003


April 16-19, 2003—The African Americans in the Korean War Conference will convene at Morgan State University, Cold Spring Lane and Hillen Road, Baltimore, Maryland. Scholars, veterans, researchers and special guests will pay tribute to our nation’s African American veterans through panel sessions, conversations with members, interpretive tours at historic sites, exhibits at Morgan’s new James E. Lewis Museum of Art, seminars, benefits and services for Korean War veterans displays, special awards recognition in Baltimore. The theme is “No Longer Forgotten: African Americans in the Korean War, 1950-1953.” The conference will focus on the role and unique contributions of African Americans who served in the United States Armed Forces during the Korean War.

The conference will conclude on Saturday evening with a Banquet and tribute to the soldiers who are “No longer forgotten.”

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For Souvenir Booklet Ad Rates, call Gerald Eldridge (410) 323-4606 or Jackie Lanier (410) 947-5601

For Tickets or Ads, call Clarence Davis (410) 366-0483

AAPC, Inc. / Post Office Box 33167 / Baltimore, MD 21218 / (410) 366-0483

For Korean War Conference 16-19 April 2003, contact Dr. Charles Johnson, Jr., (443) 885-1796/3190 or Mrs. Constance Burns (202) 685-2470

February 20, 2003—By Maryland Statute February 20, 2003 is Buffalo Soldiers Day in Maryland. African-American Patriots Consortium, Inc. (AAPC, Inc.) will host the Annual Banquet at the Sheraton Barcelo in Annapolis, MD. The 2003 Banquet promises to be historical in that the 90-year-old daughter of CPL William O. Wilson (awarded the Congressional medal of Honor in 1889), Ms. Anna Jones, will present CPL Wilson’s Congressional Medal of Honor for perpetual display at the Reginald F. Lewis Maryland African American Museum. In addition to the dinner-banquet, a VIP reception with the CPL Wilson’s family is planned.*

February 22, 2003—Seventeen years ago, the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, in support of African-American veterans, declared and established the last Saturday in February as a day to commemorate African-American defenders of America. This year’s celebration will conclude three years of recognition for the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War (1950-1953), The theme for this year’s celebration is “Building A More Perfect Union,” to focus attention on the extraordinary accomplishments of all Korean War Veterans, who for the fist time in American’s history, fought in legally integrated units. These warriors created a national atmosphere which led to Brown v. Board of Education and initiated the thrust for a diverse society of equality and justice.*

*Supported by a Maryland Black Caucus Foundation Grant

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Clarence “Tiger” Davis is a member of the Maryland General Assembly.  He has been a State Delegate, (Democrat, District 45), representing East Baltimore for almost 20 years. 

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Mark Matthews (August 7, 1894 – September 6, 2005) was an American veteran of the Second World War and a Buffalo Soldier. Born in Alabama and growing up in Ohio, Matthews joined the 10th Cavalry Regiment when he was only 15 years old, after having been recruited at a Lexington, Kentucky racetrack and having documents forged so that he appeared to meet the minimum age of 17. While stationed in Arizona, he joined General John J. Pershing‘s Mexico expedition to hunt down Mexican bandit Pancho Villa.

He was later transferred to Virginia, where he took care of President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor‘s horses and was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers’ drum and bugle corps. In his late 40s, he served in combat operations in the South Pacific during World War II and achieved the rank of First Sergeant. He was noted as an excellent marksman and horse showman.

Leaving the United States Army a few years before it was integrated, Matthews then took a job as a security guard in Maryland, rising to the rank of chief of the guards and then retiring in 1970. After the war, he told stories of military experiences and grew to represent a symbol of the Buffalo Soldiers. He met with Bill Clinton and Colin Powell in his later years, and dedicated a barracks in Virginia in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers. Having experienced excellent health for most of his life, Matthews died of pneumonia at the age of 111 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was recognized as the oldest living Buffalo Soldier as well as the oldest man, and the second-oldest person, in the District of Columbia.—Wikipedia

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Marker to Honor Graves

of African American Soldiers from the Civil War

The metal plaque will be the result of a campaign by a local Civil War re-enactor who serves in a U.S. Colored Troops unit.

“I just wonder why it took so long to get done,” said Fred Johnson, who spends his spare time as a sergeant in Battery B, 2nd U.S. Colored Light Artillery, a re-creation of an actual Civil War unit.

Johnson will be on duty this weekend at the Cameron Art Museum for its annual Civil War living history event, marking the 146th anniversary of the Battle of Forks Road. A Philadelphia native and a Korean War veteran who retired to Wilmington in the 1990s, Johnson became interested in the Civil War through studying his family history

His great-great grandfather, Peter Quomony, served in the U.S. Colored Troops from 1863 to 1865.

Another ancestor who died in the war is buried in an unmarked grave at the New Bern National Cemetery. Johnson said he became interested in the U.S.C.T. graves back in 2003, while touring the Wilmington cemetery, which opened in 1867. Thousands of Union dead from Fort Fisher and the Wilmington campaign were reburied there.

Some 3,300 African-American soldiers in two brigades served in this area, according to Fonvielle. During the assault on Fort Fisher, they held a line at Kure Beach to prevent Confederate forces from relieving the fort. Later, they formed the vanguard on the east bank of the Cape Fear River as Gen. Alfred Terry’s Union forces advanced on Wilmington.

Many of these Colored Troops were North Carolinians and ex-slaves, Fonvielle said. One of their regiments, the 37th, included men from New Hanover and Brunswick counties. The troops served as occupation forces in this area after the war, and many of the soldiers stayed on after their discharges.

“Postwar Wilmington was a mecca for African-Americans,” Fonvielle said. Many of these resident veterans were buried at the National Cemetery, well into the 1900s. Records identified 92 U.S. Colored Troops buried at Wilmington National Cemetery. However, further research by Bill Jayne, former cemetery development director with the National Cemetery Administration, indicated that many more bodies were moved to the cemetery between 1867 and 1882—perhaps as many as 500 in all.—


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History of Buffalo Soldiers  / Bob Marley—Buffalo Soldier  / 92nd Infantry Division Buffalo Soldiers / For Love of Liberty

“Buffalo Soldier” is a reggae song co-written by Bob Marley and Noel G. “King Sporty” Williams from Marley’s final recording sessions in 1980. It did not appear on record until the 1983 posthumous release of Confrontation, when it became a big hit and one of Marley’s best-known songs. The title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments, known as “Buffalo Soldiers”, that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. Marley likened their fight to a fight for survival, and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance

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History! Army Selects First Black Woman As Two Star General—October 3, 2011—Marcia Anderson, born 1958, became the first African-American woman given a second star as a general in the U.S. Army during a ceremony at Fort Knox. It’s a day, Anderson said, that black soldiers who fought during the Civil War or the Tuskegee Airmen could never have imagined. . . . Anderson, who will leave her post as deputy commanding general of the Human Resources Command at Fort Knox on Friday, received the promotion after a three-decade long military career. She is moving to the office of the chief of the U.S. Army Reserve in Washington, D.C.

Anderson’s father, Rudy Mahan of Beloit, Wis., served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, but never got to fulfill his dream of flying bombers. He drove trucks instead. It’s something Anderson attributes to the narrow options available to blacks at the time. . . . Her military career started almost by accident. When she was a student at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., Anderson signed up for ROTC after being told the “military science” course would fill her science requirement. . .  .

She stayed with the military, fulfilling her eight year commitment before deciding to re-enlist in the reserves. Anderson, an East St. Louis, Ill., native, said she was a captain, working on training soldiers “just off the street,” when it occurred to her it was a job she enjoyed and wanted to keep doing. . . . The military promoted Anderson periodically and, when she became a brigadier general, Anderson became the highest-ranking African-American woman in the Army. She arrived at Fort Knox about a year ago to work on combining the Army’s Human Resources Command under one roof from stations in Richmond, Va., St. Louis and Indianapolis.—


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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788

By Pauline Maier

A notable historian of the early republic, Maier devoted a decade to studying the immense documentation of the ratification of the Constitution. Scholars might approach her book’s footnotes first, but history fans who delve into her narrative will meet delegates to the state conventions whom most history books, absorbed with the Founders, have relegated to obscurity. Yet, prominent in their local counties and towns, they influenced a convention’s decision to accept or reject the Constitution. Their biographies and democratic credentials emerge in Maier’s accounts of their elections to a convention, the political attitudes they carried to the conclave, and their declamations from the floor. The latter expressed opponents’ objections to provisions of the Constitution, some of which seem anachronistic (election regulation raised hackles) and some of which are thoroughly contemporary (the power to tax individuals directly). Ripostes from proponents, the Federalists, animate the great detail Maier provides, as does her recounting how one state convention’s verdict affected another’s. Displaying the grudging grassroots blessing the Constitution originally received, Maier eruditely yet accessibly revives a neglected but critical passage in American history.—Booklist

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 6 April 2010 




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Related files: Military Industrial Complex   Dwight David Eisenhower   Military Intervention in Ivory Coast    Black Chaplains  Black Chaplains 2   Buffalo Soldier

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