Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology

Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology

Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology

Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology

Synopsis

In the decades following the Civil War, scores of African Americans served in the U.S. Army in the West. The Plains Indians dubbed them buffalo soldiers, and their record in the infantry and cavalry, a record full of dignity and pride, provides one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of the era. the lives they developed for themselves, their relationships to their officers (most of whom were white), their specialized roles (such as that of the Black Seminoles), and the discrimination they faced from the very whites they were trying to protect. In short, this volume offers important insights into the social, cultural, and communal lives of the buffalo soldiers. history of black soldiers in the West. Previously published in scattered journals, the articles are gathered here for the first time in a single volume, providing a rich and accessible resource for students, scholars, and interested general readers. Additionally, the readings in this volume serve in some ways as commentaries on each other, offering in this collected format a cumulative mosaic that was only fragmentary before. each of its four parts, surveying recent scholarship and offering an interpretive framework. The bibliography that closes the book will also commend itself as a valuable tool for further research.

Excerpt

This anthology—Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers Anthology— is the result of a collaborative effort by two historians, Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles, colleagues who became acquainted with each other while attending western history meetings over the years. During that time they discussed various aspects of African American western history such as black cowboys, white violence and intimidation, black soldiers, and the history of African Americans in the Lone Star State. Both Searles and Glasrud have been interested in the black soldiers in the West, Searles as a result of conversations with Frank N. Schubert as well as Searles’ involvement with re-enactment groups on the campus of Augusta State University, and Glasrud as a result of friendship and initial encouragement on studying the buffalo soldiers from William H. Leckie, subsequent conversations with James N. Leiker and Paul H. Carlson, and Glasrud’s eight-year residence near Fort Davis.

With that foundation, this book focuses on the buffalo soldiers, the African Americans in the latter years of the nineteenth and early twentieth century who were primarily engaged in soldiering in the western United States. They compiled a proud and honorable, albeit difficult and rigorous, record on the racial and military frontier of the United States. They reckoned with racism, they spent much of their military service on a violent and often lawless frontier, and they struggled to make a better, more equitable life for themselves in the U.S. West. As Frank “Mickey” Schubert put it in his essay, “Buffalo Soldiers: Myths and Realities:”

of primary importance is the fact that buffalo soldiers participated in
major mainstream American processes, the expansion of the United
States and its populations and the displacement of native peoples.
At the same time, because of white racism and the discrimination
that it spawned, they performed their duties and lived the lives of
soldiers under conditions that were peculiarly trying (p. 4).

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