Why Buffalo Soldiers Served Among the Nation's First Park Rangers

Why Buffalo Soldiers Served Among the Nation's First Park Rangers

Among the earliest stewards of the nation’s national parks were soldiers from segregated Black regiments. Starting in the 1890s, the Buffalo Soldiers, who had earned valor fighting in the Indian Wars and Spanish-American War, added park ranger to their titles and played a critical role in protecting and building the infrastructure of the country’s vast public lands.

The first step toward Black soldiers’ peacetime service began after the end of the Civil War in 1865. At this time, the army had discharged more than one million soldiers, reducing the military to 16,000 men. But with a war-torn nation in need of rebuilding and a growing desire to expand into the western frontier, Congress enacted legislation that changed the trajectory of black soldiers in the U.S. Army.

First Professional U.S. Black Soldier Units Are Added

Although approximately 180,000 African Americans had served in the Union Army during the Civil War, they were not allowed to be a part of the regular peacetime Army. In 1866, however, Congress passed the Army Reorganization Act, a law that doubled the size of the regular Army, including the addition of six African American regiments, the first professional Black soldiers in the United States Army. By 1869, these six regiments were consolidated into four units, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry.

These men came to be known as the Buffalo Soldiers, a name reportedly given to them by Native Americans for the soldiers’ curly dark hair that resembled Buffalo fur; though some historic accounts state the name was given as a nod to the Black soldiers’ strong fighting power.

With the country’s efforts to expand into the western frontier, the Buffalo Soldiers forced Native Americans off their land in often violent and deadly battles. The coveted regions in the West also attracted the attention of white settlers who had already begun to put down roots in the frontier.

READ MORE: Who Were the Buffalo Soldiers?

Yellowstone National Park Established—Without Park Service

With a growing concern to preserve the natural landscape during the western expansion, including protecting timber, lakes, wildlife and minerals, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Act of March 1, 1872, which established Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s first national park, located in the territories of Wyoming and Montana, “as a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."

Management and control of Yellowstone and subsequent national parks that followed, such as California’s Sequoia and General Grant national parks, both established in 1890, fell under the Secretary of the Interior; however, securing the vast terrains became a problem.

“Congress created all these national parks, but they didn't create the National Park Service to protect them,” says historian Brian Shellum, author of Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young.

“Farmers and herders would just come in and run roughshod over the land. The farmers knew the trails into the Sequoia long before anybody else, so they would graze their sheep and damage the natural resources.”

U.S. Army Steps in as Park Rangers

The solution became the U.S. Army, which had the organization, mobility and logistics to protect the parks, says Shellum. Until the National Park Service was created by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, security fell to troops stationed at forts and bases located near the parks.

The Buffalo Soldiers became Park Rangers in the late 1890s, according to an official study commissioned by the National Parks Service.

Approximately 500 Buffalo Soldiers served as Park Rangers at Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant National Parks, in 1899, 1903 and 1904. Their duties, which were the same as white regiments, included evicting timber thieves, putting out forest fires and building roads and trails.

The 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps Cycles to Yellowstone

The Buffalo Soldiers were also involved in testing different ways bikes could be used in warfare that was eventually incorporated into park patrols. The 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, the first of its kind in the U.S. Army, rode from Fort Missoula, Montana, to Yellowstone in 1896. The first regiment of Buffalo Soldiers assigned as park rangers was reportedly the 24th Infantry in Yosemite in 1899.

The Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry, specifically those in Troop L, stood out as park rangers because of their leader. Unlike other Black troops that were in regiments led by white officers, Troop L of the 9th Cavalry was commanded by Captain Charles Young, the highest ranking African American officer in the U.S. Army at the time, before he was named colonel in retirement.

Captain Charles Young Leads Projects at Sequoia

Garrisoned during the winter at the Presidio of San Francisco, Young rode with his men to the Sierra Nevada for the summer, where they were stationed, undertaking significant construction park projects.

The Buffalo Soldiers constructed new infrastructure, including the wagon road leading into the Sequoia’s Giant Forest, the trail to the top of Mount Whitney, and the arboretum in Yosemite. In addition, they patrolled local businesses in the surrounding areas, keeping poachers at bay. In addition to Yosemite, Sequoia and General Grant Parks, the Buffalo Soldiers also served as rangers in Hawaii and Glacier National Parks.

In 1903, Young was named acting superintendent of Sequoia National Park, the first African American to hold that position.

The contributions that Young and the Buffalo Soldiers made in the development of the national parks had a profound impact. Young, a lover of ecology and nature, made suggestions to the Secretary of Interior on preserving vegetation and stopping erosion, says Shellum. And the presence of Young and the 9th Cavalry protecting the terrain helped to diffuse some of the racist perceptions of African Americans that whites held.

In 1903, when President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to San Francisco to visit Yosemite, the 9th Cavalry served as his escort, a historic honor for Young and his men.

“He always held himself to a much higher standard than anybody else,” says Shellum. “He always knew that in order to be successful in the Army, he had to walk this color line. And he always had to be much better than any other officer, in order to gain some measure of acceptance.”

READ MORE: Black Heroes Throughout US Military History


The Living History of Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers

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Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson, Buffalo Soldier reenactment Photo: Photo by Keith Walklet courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy

Yosemite ranger Shelton Johnson was walking among outcrops of grey metal filing cabinets and cascading rows of books in the Yosemite Research Library when he caught sight of a black-and-white photograph.

He stopped and leaned in closely. It was from 1899. He peered at the five Black men sitting up straight on horseback wearing Army uniforms. They were lined up along a trail in Yosemite, their matching hats bearing a striking resemblance to his own ranger hat. Frozen in time, they stared back at him.

Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers, c1899 National Park Service, Public Domain

“A lot of stories make it sound like I was Indiana Jones knocking down a sarcophagus to discover this photo, but it was hanging on the wall,” Johnson says, laughing out loud. “Research librarians like people to think deeply about the past, and a historic image that goes against the grain of Hollywood’s version of the American West can make a provocative statement.”

Still, Shelton was stunned. While Althea Roberson, the first African American female ranger in Yosemite, had told him Black soldiers were among the first protectors of the park, he was struck by how he felt seeing their faces. Yosemite’s well-known, early stories of the park often centered around conservationist John Muir and his work that led to the creation of Yosemite National Park in 1890. But standing before Johnson were people that looked like him, protecting the park.

It turned out the five men were part of the 24th Infantry. Known as Buffalo Soldiers, they and Black troops in the 9th Cavalry carried out mounted patrol duties in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, 150 miles away, in 1899, 1903 and 1904. Many were from the South and enlisted as a way to escape the narrow job opportunities confined to sharecropping and the like. Records indicate that many fought in the Philipine-American War.

“The Buffalo Soldiers were citizens of the country because of the 14th Amendment,” Johnson says. “They had the right to vote because of the 15th Amendment. But as “Colored” men living in the South, they knew those rights only existed on paper. The end of slavery, as a result of the 13th Amendment, created just another phase of systemic oppression and struggle. Consequently, they were not just fighting for themselves. They were fighting for their people.”

Inspired by the Buffalo Soldiers, Johnson decided it was time for their contributions to be known by more than a few in the park. But in order to tell their stories, he had work to do. He dug into a number of archives. He studied old Yosemite stereographs depicting the troops to get the right look for the outfit he would wear. He enrolled in Yosemite horse patrol school to feel what it was like to patrol Yosemite’s backcountry on horseback.

Before long, his ranger walks that educated visitors about the Buffalo Soldiers turned into a one-person play held at the Yosemite Theater in the Yosemite Valley. He’s been doing the play since 2010.

“Shelton is a treasure, and he brought to life this chapter that was largely forgotten and linked it to Yosemite,” says Frank Dean, president and CEO of Yosemite Conservancy, the non-profit fundraising arm of the park. “He is a gifted and talented performer and park historian.”

Dean says Johnson’s powerful performances have left him teary-eyed. And having that kind of impact is exactly why the charismatic Johnson says he does his one-act play.

“I am still learning new things about the history,” says Johnson, who wrote a novel, Gloryland, that follows Elijah Yancy, son of slaves, including his time as a Buffalo Soldier in Yosemite. “I am always thinking of new ways to keep the story alive.”

That has included coverage on National Public Radio, in The New York Times and on ABC World News. But his real break came when he appeared in Ken Burns’ 2009 PBS documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea in which he described his work as a ranger in Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks. His role as interviewee and series advisor garnered him an invitation to the White House for a private screening with President Obama.

He also wrote a letter to Oprah Winfrey, urging her to visit Yosemite National Park. She never responded and instead surprised him by showing up for her first camping trip ever with her friend Gayle King. And while Johnson’s initial reaction was excitement, he quickly lost the wind in his sails when he learned he was asked to do his performance on horseback at her campsite rather than in the theater.

While Johnson has enjoyed the media buzz that his Ken Burns and Oprah appearances received, he remains focused on his one true passion: Getting more people, especially youth of color, to experience national parks. And his favorite tool is historical entertainment. He reenacts the history of Yosemite’s Buffalo Soldiers in an ever-evo. Army Infantry in 1899. These guys were charged with protecting the park from poachers and squatters. I started researching it and realized this was a story of national significance that had been forgotten. This is something that African-Americans should be proud of.

“There were somewhere between 50-70 campers wandering around her campsite, and I am pretty sure no one was looking at me because Oprah was right there,” he recalls, laughing and recalling the shock he felt when he found out she was in the park. “I am pretty convinced it was the worst Buffalo Soldiers performance I’ve ever given.”

But he had asked Winfrey to come to Yosemite because he saw so few Black Americans in the parks, and he hoped her star power would encourage them to hit the road and explore them. The overwhelming majority of park visitors are white with about 7% of visitors identifying as Black. African Americans represent 13% of the U.S. population, rolling up to a U.S. population that is about 40% minority, according to U.S. Census numbers. Often, Johnson meets families who have traveled from Japan and France, but it’s far rarer to see Black families from Chicago, Los Angeles or New York.

If you ask Johnson why he thinks Black visitation to parks like Yosemite is so low, he’ll pause and ask with a laugh, “How much time do you have?” He and some of the greatest minds focused on Blacks in the outdoors today will tell you the answers are scattered along the dark, overgrown path to today that began in 1619. That was the year the first ship of African slaves landed in the United States.

For 400 years, the thorny perception that Black people are threats to white people’s safety, whether on a hiking trail or a city sidewalk, has never been eradicated.

“There’s a thread in a web that connects slavery all the way to Christian Cooper,” said author James Mills while moderating a panel Johnson served on called “Anti-Racism in Our National Parks” in August 2020. He was referring to the Black birder and New York City Audubon Society board member who video-recorded dog owner Amy Cooper in Central Park as she called police, claiming a Black man was threatening her in 2020.

Yosemite Ranger Shelton Johnson Photo: Grant Ordelheide

For Johnson, that thread does not stretch too far back in the distant past. His mother’s parents were Black Indians from the Oklahoma Territory.

“When I looked into my grandfather’s eyes, I was looking into the eyes of someone who, when he was a child, looked into the eyes of people who had been enslaved, who had walked the Trail of Tears,” Johnson says. “I’m 62. I can still hear my grandfather’s voice. I can still hear his cadence that was slightly Southern. It’s not ancient history.”

And while the country and the racial climate is not the same one his grandfather or the Buffalo Soldiers inhabited, there’s still so much work to be done. The gaining momentum of the Black Lives Matter Movement in 2020 pushed present-day racism to the forefront of the nation’s collective conscience.

Telling the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers is one of the ways Johnson feels he can educate visitors about the diverse people who helped make the park what it is today. To help uncover more of the park’s African American history, the Yosemite Conservancy, which donated $14 million to the park in 2020, is funding a grant in 2021 to research and tell stories about the African Americans who have lived, worked and spent time in the park during the past 150 years.

“George Monroe was a Black stagecoach driver who worked in the south end of the park in the late 1880s and brought three U.S. presidents into the park,” Dean says. “He was such a magnetic character, and there are so many stories like his that could be relevant to new audiences.”

Meanwhile, Johnson is itching to get back on the stage after Yosemite Theater shut down in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“It’s important for people of color to know that this is part of their heritage and even though it seems far away, it is part of what it means to be an American,” he says. “But we also need to ask, “Who was here before us?”

There’s no national park in the United States that’s older than 150 years, Johnson points out, “but the land that serves as the foundation of our democracy is still the homeland of the first people.”


Buffalo Soldiers as national park pioneers

It is difficult to imagine California history without gold miners, Spanish missionaries or the Chinese immigrants who built large segments of the transcontinental railroad.

Now, imagine California's history being told without including the Buffalo Soldiers. For many readers, that's an easier task. Why? Because it's very likely they have never heard of them, and unfortunately they aren't aware of the soldiers' unique and important contributions to our state's history.

Without knowing it, many Californians have been to the very places where the Buffalo Soldiers once made camp. The Buffalo Soldiers were the Army's first peacetime all-black regiments, established by Congress in the late 1800s. They were given this nickname by Native Americans, possibly because of their dark skin and curly hair. Since the buffalo was revered among Native Americans for its brave fighting spirit, the troops accepted the title as a badge of honor.

Despite fighting for their country in the Spanish-American War, where they gained legendary status as fearless fighters alongside Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders, the Buffalo Soldiers lacked equal rights at home and faced racism and discrimination as they performed their duties on the frontier.

The Buffalo Soldiers were our nation's first park rangers, and they played a critical role in the early stages of developing our national park system. In the latter half of the 19th century, the soldiers were stationed at the Presidio. Their mission was to protect lands in what would later become Sequoia and Yosemite national parks. Each May, they rode south along El Camino Real through San Mateo County, embarking on a 13-day trip covering 280 miles from San Francisco to Yosemite. The trek to Sequoia spanned 320 miles and took 16 days.

These soldiers were true pioneers. They blazed trails, built roads and protected lands for visitors. They helped make the dream of our national parks a reality.

Frontier work was difficult and often dangerous business, demanding hard labor that was a challenge even for many of these battle-tested veterans. During one trip, 40 to 50 men and up to 12 horses labored through the season to construct more miles of road than had been built in the previous three seasons combined. Discrimination made their job a heavier burden still. More than 100 years later, the road they built is still in use as a Sequoia National Park hiking trail.

Our legislation, the Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act, instructs the National Park Service to study and commemorate the Buffalo Soldiers' legacy in our parks. Creating a national historic trail that marks the route traveled by the Buffalo Soldiers is a good place to start.

The vote by the House last week to approve the bill was only one step toward the rightful recognition of these soldiers. Just as we recently honored and remembered on Memorial Day those who died in service to our country, let us also honor the service of those who often have gone forgotten - the Buffalo Soldiers. All Californians owe these troops a great debt for their service, and it is essential that their story be included in California's rich and diverse history.


The Buffalo Robe

Krewasky A. Salter , Museum Curator and Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director, NMAAHC

The buffalo robe, a type of fur overcoat, is an iconic object linking African American soldiers with Native Americans and white explorers in the nineteenth century, in both fact and myth. Native Americans made buffalo robes from the skin and hair of buffaloes and some wrapped their dead in the robes before placing them on scaffolds. White explorers on the Lewis and Clark trail coveted the robes for the warmth provided and African American soldiers were known for wearing the buffalo robes on the western frontier.

American bison hide coat, mid-19th to early 20th century: The Army first purchased American buffalo (bison) overcoats in 1869 but never officially adopted them. Because winter supplies were inadequate, many soldiers independently acquired buffalo robes to stay warm. See more.

For scholars who have curated exhibitions on the African American military experience, coats like this one bring to mind images of the 9 th and 10 th Cavalries and the 24 th and 25 th Infantries, known as “Buffalo Soldiers.” These all-black regiments were led mainly by white U.S. Army officers—the three black officer exceptions were West Point graduates Henry O. Flipper, John Hanks Alexander, and Charles Young.

White explorers on the Lewis and Clark trail coveted the robes.

These black soldiers helped protect the nation’s westward expansion by building roads and participating in significant military actions, such as the Red River War (1874-1875) and the Battle of San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War (1898). The brave men also served among the first national park rangers. Black soldiers used military service as a strategy to obtain equal rights as citizens. Paradoxically, they sought to achieve this by engaging in government-led wars meant to overtake the Southwest and Great Plains from Native Americans.

Buffalo Soldiers were among the first rangers in what became the National Park Service. Duties would have included protecting against the poaching of wildlife, preventing private livestock from grazing on federal lands, and building roads and trails. See more.

According to popular lore, Native Americans coined the term “Buffalo Soldiers” either because the soldiers’ dark curly hair resembled a buffalo mane or because the soldiers fought like the fierce Great Plains buffalo. Its origin notwithstanding, African American soldiers embraced the moniker by World War I when the 92nd Infantry Division adopted the buffalo as the symbol for its unit patch. The regiments have been immortalized in popular culture through songs like reggae giant Bob Marley's “Buffalo Soldier,” television productions like 1997's Buffalo Soldiers starring Danny Glover, and in films like Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna, which chronicles the Buffalo Soldiers who served in the invasion of Italy in World War II.


The Park&rsquos First Protectors

The Buffalo Soldiers posted in national parks faced particularly challenging work. Between 1891 and 1913, before the Park Service was born, the military was the sole protector of these nascent parks. During the summers of 1899, 1903, and 1904, the duty fell to regiments of Buffalo Soldiers. Over those three years, about 500 men made the 200-plus-mile marches to Yosemite and Sequoia from Monterey, California.

Though the parks had regulations, there were no courts or judges to enforce those regulations, so the soldiers resorted to clever methods of discouragement. In some instances, they would deposit an offending sheepherder at one corner of the park and the herd at the other, 125 miles away.

Despite the challenges, the soldiers managed to keep illegal grazing down, fight forest fires, build trails and roads, and expel poachers who wiped out wildlife at alarming rates when unchecked. It’s easy to imagine that even though the terrain was rugged, these soldiers found solace in the magnificent scenery that surrounded them.


Why Buffalo Soldiers Served Among the Nation's First Park Rangers - HISTORY

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

I was this day old when I learned this, cool

But I always thought the "Buffalo soldiers" moniker came from their hair, at least I remember reading that years ago

thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

It's part of the reason I laugh a bit when people think they need a special "gravel bike" to do their weekend 20 mile romp on some smooth hardpack dirt roads.
People have been pushing the limits of what bicycles can do since bicycles were invented. Just go ride.

Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

Why do you hate the veterans?

thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

I bet they were doping. There wasn't testing back then

camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

And while wearing wool pants and wool coats and cotton/wool blend shirts and wool socks, and full-length cotton flannel drawers. And smooth leather soled bootees

MDI_BugMan: thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

It's part of the reason I laugh a bit when people think they need a special "gravel bike" to do their weekend 20 mile romp on some smooth hardpack dirt roads.
People have been pushing the limits of what bicycles can do since bicycles were invented. Just go ride.

I don't like skinny tires. They feel weird on dirt and snow, and I always think I'm going to eat sh*t.

thealgorerhythm: camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

[wompampsupport.azureedge.net image 700x393]

Quite frankly I have no idea what the moron is even trying to say. Bringing up Black history topics during Black History Month is "breeding resentment"? Who feels resentment over Black history topics, outside of klansmen and other white supremacists?

rosekolodny: MDI_BugMan: thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

It's part of the reason I laugh a bit when people think they need a special "gravel bike" to do their weekend 20 mile romp on some smooth hardpack dirt roads.
People have been pushing the limits of what bicycles can do since bicycles were invented. Just go ride.

I don't like skinny tires. They feel weird on dirt and snow, and I always think I'm going to eat sh*t.

How narrow are you considering to be "skinny" for dirt? I raced CX on a pair of (claimed to be) 32mm which mic'd out at 30.5mm, and they were my all-rounder tires grass-crit dry courses all the way to swampy muddy crap.
There's lots of old touring frames out there, and a bunch of new "endurance road" bikes which can clear 35 - 38mm tires which is plenty wide for average gravel roads.
Snow. That's a whole different thing, though. I roll some 2.6" XC knobbies, and recently swapped out for 2.25" deep-lug studded tires because I'm rolling over a few miles of iced over bike path pavement and side streets on my daily commute.

NM Volunteer: thealgorerhythm: camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

[wompampsupport.azureedge.net image 700x393]

Quite frankly I have no idea what the moron is even trying to say. Bringing up Black history topics during Black History Month is "breeding resentment"? Who feels resentment over Black history topics, outside of klansmen and other white supremacists?

NM Volunteer: thealgorerhythm: camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

[wompampsupport.azureedge.net image 700x393]

Quite frankly I have no idea what the moron is even trying to say. Bringing up Black history topics during Black History Month is "breeding resentment"? Who feels resentment over Black history topics, outside of klansmen and other white supremacists?

I'm translucent, and I wish there were other months dedicated to the other minorities' histories. I certainly didn't learn about the buffalo solders, much less the Bronner brothers, and barely heard about Harriet Tubman when I was in school. I remember distinctly when my elementary school integrated and how the county did everything they could to drag their feet on it. But now, I find all kinds of articles and documentaries about black history, at least in February. Unfortunately, I still have to wander around if I want to read up on, say Asian immigrants. I vaguely remember the Opium wars being discussed in World History classes, but I can't recall a single teacher showing how that impacted American policies. Even more, I really couldn't tell anyone much of anything about Central and South American immigration. But, I can tell you all about Irish and Italian immigration, and no one cares about that

My wife's father served at Ft. Huachuca, home of the Buffalo Soldiers.

We revisited the place a couple of years ago, and I can't imagine serving there in the 19th century. It would be like Death.

cherryl taggart: NM Volunteer: thealgorerhythm: camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

[wompampsupport.azureedge.net image 700x393]

Quite frankly I have no idea what the moron is even trying to say. Bringing up Black history topics during Black History Month is "breeding resentment"? Who feels resentment over Black history topics, outside of klansmen and other white supremacists?

I'm translucent, and I wish there were other months dedicated to the other minorities' histories. I certainly didn't learn about the buffalo solders, much less the Bronner brothers, and barely heard about Harriet Tubman when I was in school. I remember distinctly when my elementary school integrated and how the county did everything they could to drag their feet on it. But now, I find all kinds of articles and documentaries about black history, at least in February. Unfortunately, I still have to wander around if I want to read up on, say Asian immigrants. I vaguely remember the Opium wars being discussed in World History classes, but I can't recall a single teacher showing how that impacted American policies. Even more, I really couldn't tell anyone much of anything about Central and South American immigration. But, I can tell you all about Irish and Italian immigration, and no one cares about that

So, basically we need more history awareness efforts, not resentment for those who are having their history be broadcast in the news and on social media.

MDI_BugMan: rosekolodny: MDI_BugMan: thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

It's part of the reason I laugh a bit when people think they need a special "gravel bike" to do their weekend 20 mile romp on some smooth hardpack dirt roads.
People have been pushing the limits of what bicycles can do since bicycles were invented. Just go ride.

I don't like skinny tires. They feel weird on dirt and snow, and I always think I'm going to eat sh*t.

How narrow are you considering to be "skinny" for dirt? I raced CX on a pair of (claimed to be) 32mm which mic'd out at 30.5mm, and they were my all-rounder tires grass-crit dry courses all the way to swampy muddy crap.
There's lots of old touring frames out there, and a bunch of new "endurance road" bikes which can clear 35 - 38mm tires which is plenty wide for average gravel roads.
Snow. That's a whole different thing, though. I roll some 2.6" XC knobbies, and recently swapped out for 2.25" deep-lug studded tires because I'm rolling over a few miles of iced over bike path pavement and side streets on my daily commute.

For a long time rules limited the tire width to 32 and I started riding gravel with them 10 years ago because it was the widest you could get. These days I'm somehow able to fit 38 gravelking SKs in that 11 year old cx frame. I do kinda want a modern gravel bike just for hydro disc brakes, these old fingers can't modulate cantis any more on 35mph gravel descents.

NM Volunteer: "Buffalo soldiers. Buffalo soldiers and the white man killed my people. My ancestors are up there! And I don't appreciate you being here."
-Anonymous Native American woman at a Wounded Knee cemetery, Racial Borders: Black Soldiers Along The Rio Grande by James N. Leiker, page 4.

Thats real sad, but the Irish are the most persecuted race in history

NM Volunteer: thealgorerhythm: camarugala: Why would anyone think this is needed, unless hey are really into the over saturation of god knows what at this point?
Hate to break it to you woke folks but less is better than more.
At this point all you're doing now is breeding resentment.

[wompampsupport.azureedge.net image 700x393]

Quite frankly I have no idea what the moron is even trying to say. Bringing up Black history topics during Black History Month is "breeding resentment"? Who feels resentment over Black history topics, outside of klansmen and other white supremacists?

Dumbasses don't realize that history is *additive*, not some zero-sum thing where learning about the Buffalo Soldier Bicycle Corps makes you forget Paul Revere.

It gives us *more* history, not less.

MDI_BugMan: rosekolodny: MDI_BugMan: thealgorerhythm: [Fark user image 425x274]

These guys had to have legs of iron. Single speeds with gear on that terrain.

It's part of the reason I laugh a bit when people think they need a special "gravel bike" to do their weekend 20 mile romp on some smooth hardpack dirt roads.
People have been pushing the limits of what bicycles can do since bicycles were invented. Just go ride.

I don't like skinny tires. They feel weird on dirt and snow, and I always think I'm going to eat sh*t.

How narrow are you considering to be "skinny" for dirt? I raced CX on a pair of (claimed to be) 32mm which mic'd out at 30.5mm, and they were my all-rounder tires grass-crit dry courses all the way to swampy muddy crap.
There's lots of old touring frames out there, and a bunch of new "endurance road" bikes which can clear 35 - 38mm tires which is plenty wide for average gravel roads.
Snow. That's a whole different thing, though. I roll some 2.6" XC knobbies, and recently swapped out for 2.25" deep-lug studded tires because I'm rolling over a few miles of iced over bike path pavement and side streets on my daily commute.

I've got some 2.35" tires on the bike and they feel comfortable to me. I just looked at my friend's bike over here and it's got 35mm on it, which is about as narrow as I would want to go. I just don't like those little road bike tires.

zez:
For a long time rules limited the tire width to 32 and I started riding gravel with them 10 years ago because it was the widest you could get. These days I'm somehow able to fit 38 gravelking SKs in that 11 year old cx frame. I do kinda want a modern gravel bike just for hydro disc brakes, these old fingers can't modulate cantis any more on 35mph gravel descents.

I'll admit that hydros are pretty damned nice, whether you're talking about a speedy road bike, adventure/gravel rig, or loaded touring setup. Heck, I even put some low-end hydros on my 'round-towner and I can feel the difference in stopping power when I'm hauling a trailer loaded with groceries.

rosekolodny:
I've got some 2.35" tires on the bike and they feel comfortable to me. I just looked at my friend's bike over here and it's got 35mm on it, which is about as narrow as I would want to go. I just don't like those little road bike tires.

I suppose for me it depends on the bike and the conditions. I've got a bike that the company classifies as a proper gravel racer, and I use it mostly for distance road rides and some light overnight camping trips. That one rolls on 38mm puncture resistant tires they're not a fast rolling tire, but for everything from paved roads to brick roads to crappy alleyways and hardpack dirt/gravel, they get the job done. I don't think I'd go back to anything narrower than 38mm these days. I think back and can't believe I used to race on 23mm tires.
My singlespeed MTB won't fit anything bigger than 29 x 2.25" so that's what I'm running on it. With a short travel suspension fork, it's fine for what the trails throw at me here in central Ohio. Heck, even in the PNW I was only running 2.3" tires on my enduro sled.
My loaded adventure touring rig can fit 29 x 3.0 if I ever wanted to go that big. When I'm rolling on pavement and non-muddy hardpack conditions, I have some 2.4" slick street tread. On a rigid loaded touring rig, they help soak up any road bumps. I've got some 2.6" knobbies for off-road trail touring, and it's the one I put 2.25" studded tires on for my winter commuter. Less volume, but I also run them at only 30psi, so they're slow but super grippy and cushion all of the bumpy ice on my route.


Buffalo Soldiers story / Yosemite ranger tells of tour of duty in Sierra parks

2 of 3 It was this 1899 Photo / Celia Crocker Thompson, 1899 that led Shelton Johnson to uncover a history that had been lost. HANDOUT from Deb Schweizer, Park Ranger, Media Relations, Photo / Yosemite National Park, (209) 372-0529. Permission given to use this photo. Show More Show Less

2003-02-01 04:00:00 PDT Yosemite National Park -- A couple of years ago, ranger Shelton Johnson made an amazing discovery deep in the archives of Yosemite National Park -- he came face to face with his own history.

It was a faded 1899 photograph of five U.S. Army cavalry troopers on horseback, rifles slung over their shoulders, on patrol in a pine forest deep in the Yosemite backcountry. Like Johnson, these soldiers were African American. Like Johnson, these soldiers were acting as park rangers.

He had discovered a nearly forgotten piece of the past of San Francisco and the Sierra Nevada -- for three years, African American regular Army troops from the Presidio, the famous Buffalo Soldiers, patrolled Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.

The discovery was a surprise to Johnson. There are no black faces in the pantheon of heroes of the Sierra. All of them, from the explorer Joseph Walker to the naturalist John Muir to the photographer Ansel Adams and everyone in between, are white.

Johnson, 44, became so absorbed by the story of the Buffalo Soldiers in the Sierra that he has taken on the persona of one of them, and gives presentations at schools throughout the San Joaquin Valley. His presentation is part story, part music, part living history of people he calls "the shadow soldiers."

'HISTORY IS LIKE AN ICEBERG'

"Most of history is like an iceberg," Johnson said the other day. "It's hidden. Most of history is an act of revelation."

The more Johnson looked into the record of the Buffalo Soldiers, the more he was hooked.

The Army patrolled the parks after they were founded in 1890, a role the military carried out until the National Park Service was created in 1916. Army soldiers were America's first park rangers, patrolling the backcountry, building trails, chasing out the sheep and cattle herders and poachers.

It was good duty, away from the spit and polish of the Presidio of San Francisco, duty on horseback in the mountains, nobody to fight. A cavalryman's dream. Regular Army units were rotated in and out, and in 1899, 1903 and again in 1904, Buffalo Soldiers from the 24th Mounted Infantry and the 9th Cavalry drew the assignment.

In his mind's eye, Johnson sees the black troops mount up and ride out the Presidio gate though San Francisco and out into the country.

It must have been quite a caravan -- the long line of cavalry strung out on the road down the Santa Clara Valley, over the Pacheco Pass and across the San Joaquin Valley. The soldiers bivouacked every night, and the rhythm of their lives was regulated by bugle calls. It was the old Army, slouch hats and bedrolls, jingling spurs and cavalry sabers.

There were typically four troops of cavalry -- about 400 men and their supply wagons. They rode through the west San Joaquin Valley town of Firebaugh,

down to Dos Palos and at Madera, they split. Two troops went up the Merced River road to Yosemite, two troops south, up one of the forks of the Kaweah River to Sequoia park.

A SOLDIER'S LIFE

In his talks, Johnson wears the uniform of Sgt. Elizy Boman, Troop K, 9th Regiment of Cavalry, U.S. Army. Johnson found Boman on the muster roll in the park archives. In real life, Boman was really only a private, "but I decided that after a hundred years, at least he could get a promotion," Johnson said.

Johnson is an accomplished storyteller: His nature walks in Yosemite are favorites with visitors, and last year he won the Park Service's Western region award for outstanding achievement in interpreting the park.

When he becomes Boman, Johnson tries to put himself in the Buffalo Soldiers' boots, and tries to show ethnic minorities that the national parks are part of their heritage.

He reads from letters the soldiers wrote home from the Spanish-American War in Cuba and draws on his own knowledge of Yosemite. "When you see a backcountry ranger today, riding on horseback," he said, "try to imagine the country a hundred years ago, with African American Army soldiers doing the same job."

They worked in Wawona, near the park's south boundary, and in the deep wilderness, in Spiller Canyon, Matterhorn Canyon and other places in the little-visited northern part of the park.

Those were very different times: The Army was segregated, and nearly all the officers were white. The only black line officer in the Army was Capt. Charles Young, who was acting superintendent of Sequoia National Park in 1903.

"He is the only black superintendent of any national park," Johnson said, 'so far."

Boman was an old soldier, a veteran of the Spanish-American War and the U.S.

war against the Filipino insurrection in 1901. The 9th Cavalry had fought beside Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in the famous charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba.


Honoring the History of the Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Soldiers are part of America’s lexicon and collective legend. Perhaps this is because of our love of anything “Wild West.” Maybe, it is a little part hero worship. And of course, there’s that Bob Marley song. But beyond the mystique, there are some core truths: Those who were originally known as the Buffalo Soldiers were the first all-black standing units of the United States military in 1866. One of the groups, the 10th Cavalry, was formed and based here in Kansas, at Fort Leavenworth. According to historian Robert Morris, the Buffalo Soldiers were recognized for their courage and discipline at a time when many white settlers on the frontier commonly thought black soldiers were disease carriers, cowards and likely deserters.

In fact, their courage may be why it is believed some of the Native Americans they encountered gave the cavalry soldiers of the 10th, and their counterparts in the 9th, the unique moniker. Comparing these soldiers to the buffalo𠅊 creature that fights fiercely even when wounded or cornered—would seem apropos. Of course, another story that the Indians thought the soldiers’ thick hair resembled the curly tuft of fur on the buffalos’ backs could be applicable as well. Either way, the animal would have been sacred to the Natives, and the soldiers came to wear the nickname with pride.

The Buffalo Soldiers rode out into a nation that was full of expansion and conflict. Excited to stake claim on their own piece of land and make a fresh start, Euro-American settlers had begun to pour into the frontier. The government, battered and exhausted from five years of the Civil War, turned to formerly enslaved persons as a new way to fill the army’s ranks. For their part, the African-American men who joined the ranks had compelling reasons to enlist.

“One of the things that attracted African-American men to join the army is that they were surrounded by people just like themselves,” explains Shelton Johnson, who has done extensive research about Buffalo Soldiers as a park ranger with the Division of Interpretation and Education at Yosemite National Park. “Moving from the South saved many black people’s lives back then. Some saw joining the army as a way to escape the oppression of civilian society. The original Buffalo Soldiers were men who literally could not be men in the South without being dead men. These men joined the army for a sanctuary. They would not have lasted long in the South immediately after the Civil War. They would have been lynched.”

Barrie Thompkins, a Buffalo Soldier reenactor and member of the Nicodemus Buffalo Soldiers Association, Kent Cavalry Company F, believes the men’s reasons were probably pretty practical. “Joining the army gave them a purpose,” he says. “This was at the end of slavery, so where else would they go and what else were they going to do? For many black men, it was a better option than sharecropping.”

Glory and reality

Once they became soldiers, the men quickly realized the honor and glory would have to come after other things. Historian and filmmaker Kevin Willmott explains, “The Buffalo Soldiers were given the worst duties—things the white soldiers didn’t want to do like digging ditches, latrines and graves. And it wasn’t without harassment from white soldiers and settlers. That was an ongoing obstacle.” The Buffalo Soldiers were given hand-me-down everything. From uniforms, to weapons and tools, even to horses. According to historian Tracy Barnett, the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Leavenworth were told they had to put their housing in the lowest, swampiest areas. The result was sickness and death for some soldiers.

Even with these conditions, the Buffalo Soldiers were given some of the most difficult tasks: to remove Native Americans in the Great Plains and Southwest and relocate them to “Indian territory,” which is now known as Oklahoma. It ended up being a three-decade-long campaign. They had been taught that Indians were “savages” who must be shown the 𠇌ivilized” way of life.

Denise Low, a former poet laureate of Kansas who is part Lenape and Cherokee, notes that by riding out against the Native peoples, the Buffalo Soldiers achieved an unfortunate parity with the whites who marginalized them. She writes that by serving under the flag, the soldiers became “part of the forces that sought to eradicate the Indigenous way of life.”

The journals and letters of the Buffalo Soldiers indicate that some of them were aware of this tragedy. 𠇎very individual who put on the uniform had his own story, but many realized they were instruments of the government, helping to fight another group of people and aiding their own oppressors in displacing a people from their land,” says Johnson.

Previous legacy

African-American men had faced dilemmas in serving in the U.S. military even before the Buffalo Soldiers had come along. The first American to die in the Revolutionary War was a former slave named Crispus Attucks. And in the Continental Army, 5,000 troops were black while thousands others fought with the British, who in notable cases advanced and protected their status as free men. Black soldiers participated in 39 major battles and 410 lesser skirmishes during the Civil War. Fifteen states contributed volunteers to the United States Colored Troops (USCT), the official designation given to nearly all black formations in 1864. The 1st Kansas Colored Infantry and the 1st South Carolina Regiment were the first two black formations to be recruited and sent into combat.

Two Civil War heroes, Edward Hatch and Benjamin Grierson𠅋oth white—were the first colonels assigned to the 9th and 10th cavalries. “Hatch and Grierson were considered quite progressive back in that day, to head colored units,” explains Johnson. “George Armstrong Custer was one of the first people offered those units and he turned it down. He thought being in charge of units of black soldiers would be bad for his career.” Thompkins adds, 𠇌uster said he did not ‘want anything to do with those brunettes.’”

In that sense, says Johnson, the story of the Buffalo Soldiers was the story of all African-American men who fought for the United States. “They were fighting the same battles over and over again, fighting on two fronts: the enemies of the United States and the internalized racism that existed in the United States itself.”

Riding out

Upon formation, the 9th Cavalry was assigned to the Texas area and fought in many campaigns of the “Indian Wars,” including tracking down and capturing famous Apache military leaders like Geronimo and Victorio, a master strategist. The highly trained and experienced U.S. Army embarked on a year-long chase to find Victorio and his people. And just when they thought they had him, he would trick them and effectively elude them. The Buffalo Soldiers were able to finally track him down. And once they did, “the Buffalo Soldiers and Victorio’s troops fought for so long, for over 14 days nonstop,” explains Thompkins. “They literally had to decide to take a timeout because both sides were exhausted.”

Beyond the Plains

After the frontier battles, the Buffalo Soldiers were sent to various places, for a variety of campaigns𠅋oth major and minor. The 9th and 10th cavalries were sent to Cuba in 1898 to fight in the Spanish-American War. And even there, they continued to face prejudice. Signs in certain businesses told the black soldiers to stay away. They were instructed by their superiors to stay on the docked ship they arrived on while their white counterparts were allowed to leave the boat and travel about as they pleased. In the tropical Cuban climate they were not given lightweight uniforms to wear. Instead, they were expected to continue donning their heavy woolen uniforms. At the time, future president Theodore Roosevelt was second in command of the armed forces in Cuba. The famous “Rough Riders” he headed were in quite a jam when they lost their weapons and found themselves surrounded by heavily armed Spanish fighters.

“When the movies have depicted that battle, you rarely if ever see portrayals of the Buffalo Soldiers. When, in fact, they saved the day,” says Johnson. Willmott elaborates, “Roosevelt admitted that the Buffalo Soldiers saved his troops and helped win that battle. He made the famous statement of ‘they can drink from our canteens’, which at that time really meant something.”

Five black cavalrymen won the Congressional Medal of Honor for their bravery during that campaign. Unfortunately, Roosevelt’s gratitude didn’t last. He later told newspaper reporters that the Buffalo Soldiers had been slow and cowardly. The record, however, belies his words.

Other officers, however, became advocates for the Buffalo Soldiers. One of these was General John Pershing, who went on to command American forces during World War I. As a first lieutenant in 1895, he took command of the 10th Cavalry to help find and apprehend the famous Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. He personally chose the 10th for this assignment. Though they were unsuccessful, Pershing never forgot the tenacity and work ethic of his soldiers. Years later, General Pershing would be instrumental in having the all-black 92nd and 93rd infantry divisions fight in WW I, but under French command (because of newly enacted Jim Crow laws the soldiers were, in effect, shut out from fighting for America). They were the first Americans to fight in France in WW I and would continue to fight in that country for the duration of the war. Due to his association with the Buffalo Soldiers, Pershing was given the name of 𠇋lack Jack.” Although it was meant as a slight on his character, he liked it and kept the nickname.

National Park Service

Americans love their national parks so do visitors from other countries. But how many people are aware that the Buffalo Soldiers were among the first park rangers? In 1899 and then in 1903�, the soldiers worked in both Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. “The military stewardship of the parks started because once those areas were designated as national parks, the people who at one time chopped down trees to build their houses and killed deer to feed their families had to be removed,” explains Johnson. “The army was already set up to enforce law and order in the Wild West. The military brought a sense of safety and security to the newly formed National Parks. In 1903 the Buffalo Soldiers built the first trails on top of Mt. Whitney, which at that time was the highest peak in America. They also built the first usable wagon road through Giant Forest in the Sequoia National Park, and in 1904 they created a nature trail in Yosemite, which is considered the first in the National Park system.”

Johnson notes the soldiers would go on to serve at locations that were or would become national parks and sites across the United States: the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Site in Alaska, the Haleakal National Park and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii and Glacier National Park in Montana. In a sense, any visitor to these locations owes a debt of gratitude to the Buffalo Soldiers.

“The way I see it is when someone does a good job, they deserve to hear a thank you,” continues Johnson. “Part of my job as a ranger and educator is to make sure that their contributions are not forgotten.”

Legacy

After President Truman desegregated the U.S. military in 1948, the Buffalo Soldiers’ days were numbered, and the all-black units were disbanded between 1951 and 1953. However, their legacy endures.

Barrie Thompkins wants people to know the soldiers were men of many talents. “Some say all the Buffalo Soldiers did was build forts and roads. In all, there were 23 who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. They’re the highest decorated cavalry regiment in all of U.S. military history, so how can anyone say all they did was build roads?” says Thompkins. “They helped settle the West. They strung telegraph lines. They delivered the mail when Pony Express ended. Their contributions are numerous and great.” “Their spirit lives on in various forms of the civil rights movement,” says Johnson. “Whether it was W. E. B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, or Malcolm X, the soldiers’ courageous spirit is seen in them. The Buffalo Soldiers had to keep fighting the same battle over and over again. That battle was to prove that they could fight.”

“It’s a complicated legacy,” says Willmott. “Their challenge was that they were second-class citizens at best. The reality was that they were fighting for white society against another people of color. They were in challenging racial and ethical situations, but they thought if they succeeded, that would push civil rights along. They felt they were fighting for a bigger cause even though they were fighting for a nation that didn’t want them.”


The often forgotten Buffalo Soldiers must be remembered

They served in battles on the Great Plains, Cuba, Mexico, the Philippines and France. They fought the Native Americans, protected American pioneers, took on ranchers to protect farmers, battled with Pancho Villa, protected our southern border, charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt, served under Black Jack Pershing, served as the first park rangers for our National Parks, inspired the Smokey Bear and Drill Instructor hat, had Bob Marley write a song about them and earned Medals of Honor along the way.

They also did all this in the face of extreme racism and prejudice from the people they served with, people they protected and the government who put them in harm’s way.

The Buffalo Soldiers first came into existence immediately after the Civil War. The Union Army had seen the bravery of African Americans in the war and set about creating units for them. In 1866, they drew up what would eventually be 2 Cavalry Regiments (9th and 10th) and 2 Infantry Regiments (24th and 25th)

The United States reduced the number of its soldiers to 25,000 at the end of the war, and African Americans made up 10% of the Army’s ranks. They were paid a month, which was the same as a white man who served (which was unheard of at the time). They were also prohibited from being stationed East of the Mississippi River as Congress and the Army feared reaction to black troops (especially in the South during Reconstruction) would not be civil.

So the newly formed units were sent West.

The origins of the name ‘Buffalo Soldier’ are contested to this day. Some believe they were given the name as a sign of respect from the Cheyenne or Comanche. Others say it was because they wore buffalo hide coats to keep warm on the prairie or because they fought with the nobility of a buffalo. Another legend that is less politically correct is that the Apaches saw the hair of the African American soldiers and likened it to a buffalo’s mane. In any case, the troops gradually adopted the name as their own and wore it as a badge of honor.

The first part of the history of the Buffalo Soldiers takes place during the Indian Wars. Americans were expanding out West and into direct conflict with the Native Americans who fought to maintain their lands. The Buffalo Soldiers had plenty of tasks outside of fighting. They built roads, protected mail carriers, enforced land settlement disputes, protected farmers from free-range cattlemen and fought the Native Americans.

Fighting over 177 engagements, the Buffalo Soldiers went up against the Apache, Comanche, Kiowas, Cree, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe Indians. They worked to keep Indians on reservations, protected settlers from raids, and protected settlers’ interests from as far north as Montana down to southern Texas. They also enforced settlement rules, making sure that land wasn’t (ironically) illegally taken by settlers.

In the midst of all this, the Buffalo Soldiers experienced extreme racist behavior from their fellow soldiers and the people they were protecting. African Americans, for a long time, could not become officers and command Buffalo Soldiers. White officers would sometimes refuse to take commands in Buffalo Soldier units, thinking it was beneath them. George Custer famously refused to command black troops convinced they wouldn’t fight (they came to his rescue later on). They were also subject to abuse from the very people they were protecting. White settlers would ask for help only to attack Buffalo Soldiers when they were the ones who were sent to help.

(Who knew Blazing Saddles was based on a true story?)

At the turn of the century, as the Indian Wars wound down, the Buffalo Soldiers were sent overseas as part of America’s foray into foreign affairs. They were sent to the Philippines to help put down insurrections and also fought in the Spanish-American War. When Teddy Roosevelt charged up San Juan Hill, the Buffalo Soldiers charged alongside him. One of their 1st Lieutenants was a young man named Jack Pershing.

Cuba was not Pershing’s first command with the Buffalo Soldiers, nor would it be his last. Pershing was so impressed with the courage of the soldiers he commanded, he sought for other units to emulate their discipline and standards. Ironically when he ended up at West Point as an instructor and tried to enforce the same standards, he earned the despicable nickname N***** Jack. This was eventually softened to ‘Black Jack’ Pershing. Pershing would later command the Buffalo Soldiers on the border but bow to political racism when it came to the Great War.

After Cuba, the Buffalo Soldiers were sent to California. At the time, several National Parks had been established and there was a need to protect the lands. At Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, the Buffalo Soldiers became the first park rangers chasing after poachers, ejecting settlers and squatters, keeping illegal logging in check, and building infrastructure so that people could visit.

On a side note, the Buffalo Soldiers adopted the ‘Montana crease’ in their hats in Cuba. When they ended up at Yosemite the creased hats became synonymous with the park. The style was later adopted by park rangers, Smokey Bear, border patrol agents, highway patrolmen, and your ferocious drill instructor.

In the lead up to World War I, the U.S. at first took an isolationist role. That said, there was worry that the Germans would try to interfere with U.S. sovereignty. The Buffalo Soldiers were sent to the border with Mexico as the Mexican Revolution had caused instability on the border, and the U.S. was worried about Mexican and German interference with the border.

Back under the command of Black Jack Pershing, the Buffalo Soldiers chased after Pancho Villa after his incursion into New Mexico. They later battled Mexican forces and German military advisors in the Battle of Ambos Nogales in 1918.

Although successful in that battle, there was a bittersweet element to it.

The Buffalo Soldiers watched as Black Jack Pershing, one of their biggest advocates, took command of the American Expeditionary Force as they headed over to Europe to fight in the Great War.

The Buffalo Soldiers did not go. President Woodrow Wilson was openly racist and did not want them to fight alongside white soldiers. They were kept home, while segregated support units were sent to work behind the lines. It only added to the hurt when some of those support units were lent to the French to fight under their command.

In World War II, the reorganization of the Army led to the creation of the 92nd Infantry Division, the Buffalo Division. Other segregated units were organized, and many took on the name and traditions of the Buffalo Soldiers.

After World War II, the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers was instrumental in desegregating the Army. By the time the Korean conflict started, the descendant units of the Buffalo Soldiers were absorbed into other units as part of integration.

The legacy of the Buffalo Soldier cannot be denied. Given the opportunity to serve, African Americans came through time and time again, even in the face of racism and prejudice. The history of these men goes hand in hand in the expansion into the West, the establishment of our National Parks, protection of our borders and the fight for freedom.


Yosemite Water Safety

“It’s deceiving. Its coldness is deceiving, its strength is deceiving, and the things it hides from you are deceiving.”

From stunning waterfalls to the Merced River, water is an ever present force in Yosemite. It is responsible for many of the park’s geological formations and is one of the most recognizable elements of the park itself. Although incredibly beautiful, water can quickly pose a hazardous, or even fatal, risk to your visit. Each year, 15 to 20 visitor rescues are directly associated with unprepared victims finding themselves in the water either on purpose (swimming, boating, rafting) or accidentally (falling while hiking, crossing streams, scrambling on rocks).

Yosemite National Park


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