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The Pink Flamingo is doing something a little bit different here.  I’m running today’s Wednesday’s Hero as my regular post. Here in New Mexico, there is a considerable legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers.  They were remarkable men, with remarkable heroism, and a tradition of valor that has helped make this nation great.  One of the things that fascinates me about their legacy, well two things, first is the fact that there is a good possibility, without the Buffalo Soldiers, there would have been no Negro Leagues.  As any baseball fan knows, without that legacy of Negro Leagues there would have been no Henry Aaron, Willie Mays, or Jackie Robinson.

The other truly fascinating trivia fact about the Buffalo Soldiers is their contribution to the Wild West cowboy traditions.  These men were so competent, when they did retire, they had no problems finding jobs as lawmen here in the Wild West, where many small towns had very well integrated police units.  They were also in very high demand for what were called ‘reps’.  In Wild West terms, a ‘rep’ was someone who worked for a big cattle ranch as an advanced man.  They were guides, scouts, buyers, and negotiators.  They were sent ahead to cattle towns to negotiate terms for the arrival of a herd.  They would deal with the railroad and help set up meetings with the cattle buyers from the East.  Because of their tradition of bravery and the fact that, almost to a man, they were far better educated than their white counterparts, the addition of a former Buffalo Soldier was something almost every profitable ranch and cattle company desired.

I sat for three days trying to figure out how to write this post and I couldn’t figure out how to do it right. The Buffalo Soldiers are such an important part of not only military history, but American history as well.

So how do you condense 85 years of history into a couple of paragraphs and not skip over something important? They were the first all Black military regiment. They played a role in every war from the Civil War to the Korean. They gave rise to the Park Rangers and the Tuskegee Airmen.

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And they’ve had 23 men be awarded the Medal Of Honor.

Buffalo Soldier Research Museum

Buffalo Soldier Research Museum

While not a forgotten part of history, the Buffalo Soldiers are certainly a part of it that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives just so others may get to enjoy freedom. For that I am proud to call them Hero.

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“...The Black soldiers of the 9th Cavalry also played an important role in the effort to maintain law and order in frontier New Mexico. They participated in both the Colfax County War in 1876 and the Lincoln County War in 1878. In an effort to quell the disturbances in Colfax County, Governor Samuel Axtell called in Black soldiers from Fort Union into Cimarron to arrest rancher Clay Allison who was one of the leaders of a group opposed to the Maxwell Land Grant Company. Axtell, who was allied with the interests of the company, thought that Allison, an unrepentant Southerner, would resist arrest by Black soldiers, but he did not and soon was released by the military. It was said that Axtell planned to have several leaders of the opposition killed by the troops, but this claim was never proven and an incriminating letter said to be written by Axtell was denounced as a forgery by him. The presence of Black troops in the tense situation existing in Cimarron led to a confrontation between several of them and some Texas cowboys. In March 1876 three Black soldiers were shot to death in the bar of the St. James Hotel. After the killings more soldiers were stationed in Cimarron where they stayed until the middle of April. A few months later the two Texas cowboys were caught and one of them killed by a sheriff’s posse.

Screen shot 2013-02-24 at 9.12.54 AMIn the Lincoln County War, Black soldiers stationed at Fort Stanton, were again used by the authorities in an effort to vanquish their enemies. Several times in the early months of 1878 Black soldiers came into Lincoln to aid law enforcement officers on both sides of the dispute between Alexander McSween’s forces and those associated with James Dolan. In July, 1878, a “five-day battle” began in Lincoln where McSween and his men were held under siege in his home. Sheriff George Peppin, a Dolan supporter, asked for help from Colonel Nathan Dudley at nearby Fort Stanton. Dudley soon arrived with a small squad of troops and officers including eleven Black cavalrymen. Dudley and his men were supposed to be neutral in the conflict, but in actuality they lent support to Dolan’s forces. When Dolan and his men set McSween’s house on fire, Dudley refused to do anything to help. In the desperate attempt to escape from the burning house, McSween and several of his men were shot and killed by Dolan forces. Dudley was later brought before a military court for his actions. Among the witnesses called were two Black ex-soldiers who were employees of McSween. Although they and others testified against him, Dudley was acquitted of all the charges….”

Their most famous unit was the 9th Calvary. The most famous member of the new disbanded unit is undoubtedly General Colin Powell.

Buffalo Soldier Research Museum

Those Who Say That We’re In A Time When There Are No Heroes, They Just Don’t Know Where To Look

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.

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Watch The Buffalo Soldiers in New Mexico on PBS. See more from Moments in Time.

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2 Comments

  • jose maria says:

    Interesting post! What exactly was their role at Wounded Knee? I know that the 7th cavalry, which conducted the massacre of the Lakota people, were supplemented by or in part by the 9th cavalry.

  • Erich Hicks says:

    Keep history alive and well by telling that history:

    Read the epic novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, where Buffalo Bill Cody meets a Buffalo Soldier, the greatest epic ‘novel’ ever written. A great story of Black Military History, the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers…5 stars Amazon internationally, and Barnes & Noble. The website is; http://www.rescueatpineridge.com Youtube commercials are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEgEqgNi2Is and
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVslyHmDy9A&feature=related

    Rescue at Pine Ridge is the epic story of the 9th Cavalry from its Congressional conception in 1866, to the rescue of the famed 7th Cavalry by the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, 1890. The 7th Cavalry was entrapped again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn’t for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of occurred, a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry. This story is about, brutality, compassion, bravery, gallantry, reprisal, heroism and redemption.

    I know you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote the story that embodied the Native Americans, Outlaws and African-American/Black Soldiers, from the east to the west, from the south to the north, in the days of the Native American Wars with the approaching United States of America.

    The novel was taken from my mini-series movie with the same title, “RaPR” to keep the story alive. The movie so far has the interest of major actors in which we are in talks with, in starring in this epic American story.

    When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for the United States Postal System in Montana, in the 1890′s, “spread the word”.

    Peace.


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