Another former slave, Susan Taylor King who was raised on an island off the coast of Georgia, became famous for her volunteer service during the Civil War. In April 1861, Major General Hunter assaulted Fort Pulaski and freed all of the slaves in the area, including Susan Taylor King. When Union officers raised the First South Carolina Volunteers (an all-black unit), she signed on as a nurse. Able to read and write, she started a school for black children and soldiers (womensmemorial, 2010). King later worked with Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross; she also did the laundry for black Civil War troops as she traveled with her husband's unit, the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops (Hodges, 1995).
Army between the Civil War and World War I. I found their history intriguing and important because they were pioneers in post-slavery America, the first black soldiers allowed to serve in the regular Army, staking their claims on citizenship by serving their country and doing so within a pervasively racist context that limited their occupational mobility, caused humiliation, and sometimes put them at personal risk.
Buffalo Soldiers of the American West
Named by the Indians partly because of the Negro's dark and strange kinky hair was so similar to the buffalo, but most importantly it was a sign of respect. The Indians felt that like the mighty buffalo, the Buffalo Soldiers fought ferociously to the end. Their motto became "Ready and Forward."
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By December a force of Kickapoos, Lipans, Mexicans and some white renegades, estimated at nine hundred strong, attacked the bivouac of Captain William Frohock and K Company at Fort Lancaster, some seventy-five miles (as the crow flies) east of Fort Stockton. This was the Buffalo Soldiers first opportunity to face their foes "toe to toe". It turned into a vicious three- hour fight, leaving K Company in possession of the field. Their victory was twenty dead and a large number wounded. But they had also suffered, the loss of three herd guards. Privates Andrew Trimble, William Sharpe and Eli Boyer were taken by surprise, roped and dragged away. Now missing and presumed dead. But this fight proved the virtues of hard work, discipline and a sense of purpose. It showed the Ninth that they were combat effective, at least to the ones that fought that day.
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That leaves the myth of the untold story. On the scholarly side this myth found expression as recently as 1999 in historian Charles Kenner’s assertion that the Buffalo Soldiers' "lives and deeds have largely been overlooked." Only the year before, Bruce Glasrud's bibliography on African Americans in the West contained over twenty-four pages and more than 300 entries devoted to the black regiments. On the popular level, General Colin Powell’s highly publicized dedication of the buffalo soldier statue at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in the summer of 1992, made the buffalo soldier into a well-known, widely familiar cultural icon, adorning tee shirts, refrigerator magnets, phone cards, jigsaw puzzles, and coffee mugs. Buffalo soldiers also became the subjects of western novels, bodice rippers, children's books, plays, movies, and popular songs. By the turn of the 21st century, there were also statues of black frontier-era soldiers at five western posts, most recently one dedicated at Francis E.
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Since the filming of "Glory," there has been mentioned of the Negro soldier several times in documentaries, such example as "Buffalo Soldiers", Re-discovering America, narrated by David Hartman. All this has sparked a growing interest, which has brought a whole new group of re-enactors onto the playing field. Many have chosen to portray the Negro soldier of what is referred to as the Indian War period, the Buffalo Soldier. As I write, not more than a hundred and fifty miles away in southern Arizona, a movie about the Buffalo Soldier has just been filmed by Turner Productions. It stars Danny Glover and will probably be release later this year. I await, curiously, their interpretation. We, as re-enactors have to give Hollywood credit in TRYING to clean up, this past anachronism to their new movie making.