Submitted by Emily Molina, SHMA liaison to the Friends of the Steilacoom Library.
Patrick L. Hughes Sr. from the Greater Puget Sound Chapter of the National Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association greeted guests at the Steilacoom Historical Museum on Friday, October 11th as Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier played in the background.
I’m just a Buffalo SoldierBob Marley
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
In September of 1866, what began as the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments of the U.S. Army, along with the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments, emerged as the Buffalo Soldiers. Although assembled, they must await white commanding officers, a post refused by many. Colonel Edward Hatch would become the first commander.
According to Hughes, the name derived from Native Americans, either for the winter duty “buffalo” coats that these African American soldiers wore, or the great respect the natives had for the majestic buffalo.
Although the famous Stivers commissioned prints portray the soldiers gallantly, such as the Redoubtable Sergeant (pictured); historically, the Buffalo Soldiers were given inferior equipment, and horses. They also faced racial prejudice. Despite this, they would successfully thwart hostile natives, vastly outnumbered, yet succumbing to very few casualties.
Hughes points to the fact that although many brave campaigns were fought during the period between 1866 through 1891, Buffalo Soldiers received under 4% of Medals of Honor that were bestowed.
The infamous Black Jack Pershing served with the Buffalo soldiers between 1895 to 1897 where he gained the utmost respect for them. He would fight alongside of them again in 1898 in Cuba, during the Spanish-American War.
Hughes taught guests about the Bicycle Infantry, or Bicycle Corps, which had its beginnings in 1969 with the 25th Infantry, one of four Afro-American units. He educated them about Henry O. Flipper, the first black West Point student to graduate, where today a highly esteemed award continues in his name. He enlightened them about Cathay Williams, or better known as, William Cathay, a woman who joined the Buffalo soldiers by dressing as a male, eluding detection for two years.
Hughes shared some local history with the American Lake Maneuvers of 1904. Along with a great number of U.S. Army and National Guard members, the black 9th Cavalry came to our region to practice in mock exercises which eventually led to the Army choosing the land that became Fort Lewis.
Hughes and the Greater Puget Sound Chapter of the National Buffalo Soldiers 9th and 10th (Horse) Cavalry Association always welcomes newcomers and meets regularly at the Steilacoom Library. They are involved in many charitable events, appearances, and reenactments with the primary goal of carrying on the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers.
Please join our next Steilacoom Library Speaker Series: From the Streets of Shakespeare to the Court of Elizabeth on Friday, November 8, 3 p.m. at the Steilacoom Historical Museum.Print This Post