Brothers to the Buffalo Soldiers: Perspectives on the African American Militia and Volunteers, 1865-1917

By Bruce A. Glasrud | Go to book overview

“A Lot of Fine,
Sturdy Black Warriors”
TEXAS’S AFRICAN AMERICAN “IMMUNES”
IN THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR

after the United States declared war on Spain in April 1898, America’s martial spirits soared. Across the country, patriotic men prepared to enlist for military service in the conflict that would liberate Cubans, Filipinos, and Puerto Ricans from Spanish rule and avenge the sinking of the battleship USS Maine. Congress more than doubled the size of the small 28,000-man regular army and authorized a much larger volunteer army to augment it. After President William McKinley issued a “first call” for 125,000 troops to enlist for two years (unless sooner discharged), the War Department asked all the states, territories, and the District of Columbia to provide a quota of units based upon their respective populations. Texas’s fair share was determined to be four regiments—three infantry and one cavalry.1

More than one out of five Texans were black, and although hundreds of African Americans promptly volunteered their services, Gov. Charles A. Culberson followed the pattern of all but four states and refused to accept any black troops. After President McKinley issued a second call for seventy-five thousand volunteers in late May, four more states organized black units. Texas, however, raised another white infantry regiment and continued to ignore African American volunteers. Thus, black Texans who wanted to fight for their country could only enlist in one of the regular army’s four black regiments—the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry—or join the navy.2

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