Monday, November 16, 2009

The Rastas Meet A Real Buffalo Soldier

Ending a nearly a week of remembrance, I am reminded of the day my father spoke to our Rastafarian Neighbors. In general they were regarded as a nuisance in our neighborhood. So when they moved into the house next door my Father was not pleased. Mostly because the kids ran around everywhere, including our yard, and my Father worked at night. So he needed to sleep part of the day, not easy when your neighbors are continuously blasting the street with Reggae.

But one day, he heard them play Bob Marley's 'Buffalo Soldiers'. So Dad called over the fence to them and asked about the song. Then he introduced himself as a real Buffalo Soldier.

Now in case you didn't know, there were real U.S. Infantry and Cavalry Regiments of African-American soldiers, given their name originally by the Plains Indians, who thought their hair resemble that of the Buffalo (American Bison).

He spoke often of his time training for Desert warfare in Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Donald and I had a chance to visit a few years ago. The 10th Cavalry was one of the original regiments and the most famous Black Regiment from the American Indian Wars (~1866-1885), and served under General John J. 'Black Jack' Pershing's during the Spanish American War (1898).

Can you guess why he had that nickname?


  1. I didn't know that was why the Black soldiers were called Buffalo Soldiers. Great little factoid.

    About Pershing, I should know this but don't. BTW, he's another link to your WWI Rembrance Week as he was overall US Commander of the AEF in 1918. But, I would guess (it can't be that obvious can it?) he was known as BlackJack Pershing for his cruel treatment of the Mexicans during the border fighting of the early 1900's.

  2. In 1878, after finishing high School, Pershing taught Black children at a local elementary school while awaiting entrance to West Point. After West point he commanded the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers. For most white Officers this was considered an insult, but his earlier experiences with Black people caused him to be more empathetic.

    After the Spanish American War, where he again commanded the 10th Cavalry, he was appointed to West point as an instructor. Students there thought he was too tough on them and called him something else "****" because of his appointments with the 10th Cavalry. It has been sanitized to 'Black Jack' for the current history books.

    I try to keep people in the time in which they lived, and not judge them by modern standards, but in regards to race relations he was well ahead of his time.

  3. And of course there were black regiments in the Civil War, in spite of a lot of pre-conceived ideas about whether and how well they would fight.

  4. How do you keep a people down? You 'never' let them 'know' their history.

    Keep telling that history; read some great military history.

    The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn't for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry. Read the book, ‘Rescue at Pine Ridge”, and visit website/great military history,