In the aftermath of America’s Civil War freedmen and former slaves served in the United States Army throughout the western frontier in all black units. This past Sunday, February 12th, members of the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers Association donned period uniforms to pay tribute to these men and woman (Cathay Williams enlisted in the Army under the pseudonym William Cathay– the only documented African-American woman to serve posing as a man.) The living historians at the Institute for Texan Culture in San Antonio wore uniforms representative of the 9th Cavalry and the 38th Infantry, proudly articulating the little known story of their forebears who, in spite of institutional prejudices and a hostile and unforgiving environment, mapped huge swaths of the American Southwest while protecting settlers, cattlemen, the U.S. mail service, and lines of communication stretching from east to west.
Their distinguished record of selfless service to this country is part of the story told in my novel.
The Buffalo Soldiers’ legacy would be similar to that experienced by generations of blacks serving in the United States Armed Forces. Their bravery and accomplishments would go unrecognized until long after their unmarked graves in the Trans-Pecos and the Southwest were overgrown and disappeared. – excerpt from Palo Duro.