Who Were The Buffalo Soldiers?
Some youngsters seeing the comic book, “Buffalo Soldier” for the first time, asked artist Stan Webb and writer Dion Lee, “are these people supposed to
be real or is this something you made up?”
They had never heard of the Buffalo Soldiers who played such an essential role in taming of the West!
It’s hardly surprising that these youngsters are so poorly informed, after all, who is to tell them? Probably their parents are not well informed, themselves. Most American history text books used in our schools largely ignore, or at best, give little attention to the accomplishments of our people, no matter how important we African Americans consider those accomplishments to be.
So that it is the intent of this publication to help fill the gap, to supply some of the missing pages of American history, to let our youngsters and other youngsters know that we too have produced heroic men and women whose achievements have gone unnoticed, but who nevertheless made significant contributions to the development of this country.
The characters and most of the incidents in our story are fictional. Since we lack the carefully documented personal accounts of the Buffalo Soldiers, we have let our imagination supply a story that might well have happened.
We plan to be as accurate as possible in terms of locale, actual events and personalities who are important to our story.
The Buffalo Soldiers
The 9th and 10th cavalry units, later called “The Buffalo Soldiers” by the Indians, were formed just after the Civil War. The personnel who made up these troops were ex-slaves. They were tough, hardy men long accustomed to hardship, strenuous labor and privation. These qualities served them well in their new roles as soldiers, because the challenges of their assignments required just such seasoned men.
These men were for the most part illiterate. During their former lives as slaves, they had little opportunity to learn to read and write. There were stringent laws in the slave states that forbade anyone to teach a slave to read, and a slave suspected of being able to read was liable to be punished severely. However, a surprisingly large number of slaves did learn to read in spite of the restrictions.
Some Buffalo troops fortunately had white officers, all officers were white in those times, and chaplains who took the time and trouble to teach some rudimentary reading skills to the troops.
Tragically, mainly because of their illiteracy, the Buffalo Soldiers were not able to leave detailed written personal accounts of their experiences. We consider that to be a most lamentable omission.