SOME OF WHOM WILL NEVER RETURN—START FOR SAN FRANCISCO MADE
AT 7 O’CLOCK LAST NIGHT
“You are taking our boys a long way from us. God bless you.”
An old negro uttered these words to Colonel Burt at the Union Depot last night. Clinging to his arm was a woman nearly as old as himself, and quite as gray. Tears streamed from the eyes of each.
“They are good boys and I’ll look after them,” replied Colonel Burt, as he shook hands with the aged couple.
The old negro couple were Hiram Meadows and wife of West Denver. They had come to the Union Depot to bid goodbye and perhaps farewell, to their sons Edward and John, who are privates in the 25th Infantry, which left at 7 o’clock last evening for San Francisco, bound for the Philippines.
Meadows and his wife were only two of the score or more who shook hands with the blunt colonel of the regiment. Many murmured prayers as they did so. To each he gave a word of cheer in his bluff, hearty way, and each went proudly back to the son, whom they might never see again.
There was mingled pathos and humor in the departure of the four companies of the 25th that had been at Fort Logan. Pathos in the parting of parents and son, and husband and wife, and humor in the partings of the soldiers to the four or five dozen colored girls who had come to say good-bye. The girls, dressed in their best clothes, and bedecked with ribbons began gathering in the waiting rooms of the Union Depot as early as 2 o’clock, although the departure of the men from the fort was not set until 3:30. Most of them carried baskets of luncheon and paper bags filled with fruit and candy and nuts for the sol’ diers.
By 5 o’clock the rooms and the walk inside the fence swarmed with colored people, young and old, and when the train bearing the soldiers came in from the Fort at 5:30 there was a rush for the gates. Finally the patient gateman fell back in his box and allowed the people to rush onto the platform.
As soon as the train came to a standstill the women ran for the coaches with their bundles and at once began flinging baskets and sacks through the windows and thrusting them into the out-stretched hands. The soldiers called to one another and to the women and the scene resembled a church excursion rather than troops going to war.
While the officers maintained military discipline, yet considerable freedom was allowed the men in order to afford them the last opportunity to bid their families goodbye. While most of the men were in excellent spirits, many had tears in their eyes as they met parents or wives. There was comparatively little time for the parting Godspeed.
The men were called out of the Colorado Southern cars, ranged in files on the platform, then marched to the Union Pacific tourist coaches on an adjoining track.
Colonel Burt looked after the soldiers and issued orders personally, dispensing with an orderly. A few minutes after 6 o’clock the transfer of the men had been made and each car was placed in command of a non-commissioned officer.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Buffalo Soldier Regiment: History of the Twenty-Fifth United States Infantry, 1869-1926. Contributors: John H. Nankivell - Author. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 200.
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