Event Theme: This event recognizes the activation the Regimental Infantry units on 28 July 1866. This will include the reading of City of Tucson Proclamation for “The Buffalo Soldier Resolution Day, July 28, 2014.
Masters of CeremoniesDr. Michael Engs, Buffalo Soldier Historian,
Trooper Floyd Gray, GSAAC Historian
Order of activities:
Invocation: Pastor Otis Brown, GSAAC Chaplin
Opening Remarks: Trooper Floyd Gray – Regimental Unit Activation (3 minutes)
Dr. Michael Engs – Buffalo Soldiers Nickname (3 minutes)
Proclamation Trooper Floyd Gray
Reading of the Councilman Richard Fimbres will read the proclamation
proclamation, and make some short remarks to the occasion (5 to 10 minutes)
The Event Speakers: Dr. Michael Engs
Medal of Honor Regimental Sergeant Aaron Plumb, 10th Cavalry Troop B
Recipient Foundation on Sergeant on Sergeant Major William McBryar
Speakers: (3 minutes)
Regimental Sergeant Major Bill McCurtis, 9th Memorial United States Cavalry, Inc on Wham Robbery (Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Corporal Isaiah Mays (5 minutes)
Trooper Sam Freeman, President GSAAC on Colonel Young and the Buffalo Soldier Legacy (3 Minutes)
Closing Remarks: Trooper Floyd Gray thanks those who attended.
Benediction: Pastor Otis Brown, GSAAC Chaplin
THEIR STORIES – OUR HISTORY
Buffalo Soldiers Background – (Floyd)
In 1866 Congress authorized, for the first time, African Americans to serve in the peacetime army of the United States. Two cavalry and four infantry regiments were created and designated the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry regiments and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st U.S. Infantry regiments. The four infantry regiments later became the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments. The all-African American regiments, commanded mostly by white officers, were composed of Civil War veterans, former slaves, and freemen.
Sources disagree on how the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers” began. (Michael)
According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1867. The actual Cheyenne translation was “Wild Buffalo.” However, writer Walter Hill documented the assertions of Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, who recalled an 1871 campaign against the Comanche tribe. Hill attributed the origin of the name to the Comanche based on Colonel Grierson’s assertions. Some sources contend that the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th cavalry. Other sources say that Native Americans called the black cavalry troops “Buffalo Soldiers” because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo’s coat. Still other sources point to a combination of both legends. The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African-American soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry, units whose service earned them an honored place in U.S. history.
Buffalo Soldier Medal of Honor Recipients (Michael)
The Medal of Honor, the highest award that can be given to a member of the U.S. military, is presented by the president. It is awarded to an individual who, while serving his country, “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” The Medal of Honor was authorized in 1862. It was awarded to 417 men who served in the frontier Indian Campaigns between 1865 and 1899. Eighteen were awarded to African American soldiers: 8 were presented to members of the 9th Cavalry, 4 to members of the 10th Cavalry, and 6 to members of the 24th Infantry (Schubert 1997). Five members of the 10th Cavalry received the award during the Spanish American War.
Three Buffalo Soldier who earned the medal in Southern Arizona were, Sergeant First Lieutenant William McBryar, Sergeant Benjamin Brown and Corporal Isaiah Mays
William McBryar (Aaron)
First Lieutenant William McBryar (February 14, 1861 – March 8, 1941) was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America’s highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor– for his actions during the Cherry Creek Campaign in Arizona Territory. McBryar joined the Army from New York city and by March 7, 1890 was serving as a sergeant in Company K of the 10th Cavalry Regiment. On that day, he participated in an engagement in Arizona where he “distinguished himself for coolness, bravery and marksmanship while his troop was in pursuit of hostile Apache Indians.” For his actions, Sergeant McBryar was awarded the Medal of Honor two months later, on May 15, 1890. McBryar later became a commissioned officer and left the Army as a First Lieutenant. He died at age 80 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
On May 11, 1889, the crack of gunfire split the midday quiet in a remote corner of southeastern Arizona, not far from the tiny Mormon settlement of Pima. From behind fortifications overlooking the Fort Grant – Fort Thomas road, at a place known locally as “Bloody Run,” a band of highwaymen ambushed army paymaster Major Joseph Washington Wham and his Buffalo Soldier escort, troopers from the 25th Infantry Regiment. Following a hard-fought battle, the bandits made off with more than $28,000. The money was never recovered. Eight of the twelve-man escort were wounded in the spirited defense of the army payroll, Sergeant Benjamin Brown refusing to give up his defense though shot in the abdomen and then wounded in both arms. Brown died in 1910 and was buried at the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
Corporal Isaiah Mays also received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Wham Paymaster Robbery in Arizona Territory. On that day, he was among the troops attacked during the Wham Paymaster Robbery. The next year, on February 19, 1890, Mays was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the engagement. After leaving the army in 1893, Mays worked as a laborer in Arizona and New Mexico. He applied for a federal pension in 1922, but was denied. He died at the hospital in 1925, at age sixty-seven, and was buried in the adjoining cemetery. His grave was marked with only a small stone block, etched with a number. In 2001, the marker was replaced with an official United States Department of Army headstone.
The Buffalo Soldier Legacy (Sam)
Throughout the period of the Indian Wars, about 20% of the U.S. Cavalry troopers and 8% of the infantry soldiers were African American. The Buffalo Soldiers rose above the challenges of harsh living conditions, difficult duty, and racial prejudice to gain a reputation of dedication and bravery. Thirteen Medals of Honor were awarded to Buffalo Soldiers during the Indian Wars, and five were awarded during the Spanish-American War. Stationed on the U.S. frontier from the 1860s to the 1890s, Buffalo Soldiers played a major role in the settlement and development of the American West. Following the first Buffalo Soldiers, African American regiments later served in the Spanish-American War, Philippine Insurrection, Mexican Punitive Expedition, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. In the 1950s, African American regiments were disbanded when all military services were integrated. At that time, for the first time, black and white soldiers served together in the same regiments.
National Park Service Units (if needed and/or time allows)
Buffalo Soldiers were known to have played a significant historical role in at least six parks in the American Southwest: Fort Davis National Historic Site (FODA) and Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GUMO) in Texas; Fort Larned N.H.S. (FOLS) in Kansas; and Fort Bowie N.H.S. (FOBO) and Chiricahua National Monument (CHIR) in Arizona. Buffalo Soldiers were also stationed at Fort Huachuca (still an active military installation) near Coronado National Memorial (CORO) in Arizona. Throughout these sites, the soldiers protected traffic on the San Antonio-El Paso Road, helped build Fort Davis into one of the largest posts in Texas, participated in campaigns against Native Americans, protected settlers and guarded stage stations, constructed roads and telegraph lines, and explored and mapped previously unmapped regions. Colonel Charles Young was the first African-American to head the National Park System.