We have had several programs this year in which excellent speakers have told us about the history of the early days of settlement of the Lakewood-Steilacoom area and its impact on the development of the area before and after Washington became a state and the Civil War ended. This week our speaker was Phil Raschke, representing the Lakewood Historical Society, who told us of the “Buffalo Soldiers” and their impact on settling and development of this area.
The Buffalo Soldiers were regiments of the U.S. Army of mostly African-Americans who, in the late 1800’s, after the Civil War and the Emancipation Doctrine were freed from slavery, but most were unqualified to succeed in employment because they were illiterate, untrained for employment other than menial labor and white people continued to discriminate against them. The Army offered careers for African- Americans which were not available in civilian society. The Army formed regiments to serve on the Western Frontier to protect settlers, fight Indians and help tame the Wild West, but always under the command of white officers. The remote areas they were assigned to were deemed undesirable. White officers were initially reluctant to take command of them, but eventually the Buffalo Soldiers proved to be such good and loyal soldiers that some white officers preferred to have them under their command than regular Army white soldiers.
Mr. Raschke’s presentation was so interesting that it was not possible to keep up with him, so attached is a bibliography he prepared for those who wish to learn more about this fascinating topic.
MEETING OF MARCH 21, 2023: AUSTIN NEILSON of SOUND TRANSIT on SOUTH SOUND TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT. With the postponement of the development, this promises to be a lively topic.
MEETING OF MARCH 28, 2023: JOE HILLYER OF HOME WATCH CARE. Joe is now a member of our club!
SAVE THIS DATE: Sunday JULY 16, 2023 5:30 – 8:30 pm OUR SUMMER PARTY AT THE HOME OF DICK AND MARY MURI. DETAILS WILL FOLLOW.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED, CO-SCRIBES CHUCK FOSTER AND PHIL SLOAN, whose mate has a Black Belt in Amazon shopping.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FRONTIER LIFE AND THE BUFFALO SOLDIERS:
From a very professional slide show presentation by Phil Raschke of The Lakewood Historical Society, we learned “Facts, Fictions and More” about the origin, history, lives, and accomplishments of United State Army regiments composed mostly of African Americans that became known as The Buffalo Soldiers. We learned that theses regiments were formed in the late 1800’s to serve on the western frontiers of the United States to protect settlers, fight Indians, and help tame the wild west. We learned that becoming a soldier offered a former slave a career and that the regiments were led by white officers, who originally viewed duty on a such remote posts as undesirable, but, ultimately, leading Buffalo Soldiers became the choice of some top white officers. We learned far more from this impressive presentation than may be recounted in this newsletter. He recommended the following books and movie for those interested in learning more about frontier life and The Buffalo Soldiers.
Soiled Doves by Anne Seagraves. This is a book on prostitution in the early American West.
Buffalo Soldiers (1997) – Danny Glover DVD
The Black Regulars, 1866 – 1898, by William A Dobak and Thomas D Phillips. In this book, “the authors shed new light on the military justice system, relations between black troops and their mostly white civilian neighbors, their professional reputations, and what veterans faced when they left the army for civilian life.”
Carbine and Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill Paperback – September 15, 1983, by Wilbur Sturtevant Nye The speaker strongly recommended this book which is described online as follows:
“Fort Sill, located in the heart of the old Kiowa-Comanche Indian country in southwestern Oklahoma, is known to a modern generation as the Field Artillery School of the United States Army. To students of American frontier history, it is known as the focal point of one of the most interesting, dramatic, and sustained series of conflicts in the records of western warfare.
From 1833 to 1875, in a theater of action extending from Kansas to Mexico, the strife was almost uninterrupted. The U.S. Army, Kansas militia, Texas Rangers, and white pioneers and traders were arrayed against the fierce and heroic bands of the Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, and Kiowa-Apaches.
The savage skirmishes with the southwestern Indians before the Civil War provided many army officers with a kind of training that proved indispensable to them in that later, prolonged conflict. When hostilities ceased, Sherman, Sheridan, Dodge, Custer, Grierson, and other commanders again resumed the harsh field of guerrilla warfare against their Indian foes—tough, hard fighters.
With the inauguration of the so-called Quaker Peace Policy during President Grant’s first administration, the hands of the army were tied. The Fort Sill reservation became a place of refuge for the marauding bands that went forth unmolested to raid in Texas, Oklahoma, and Mexico. The toll in human life reached such proportions that the government finally turned the southwestern Indians over to the army for discipline, and a permanent settlement of the bands was achieved by 1875.
From extensive research, conversations with both Indian and white eyewitnesses, and his familiarity with Indian life and army affairs, Captain Nye has written an unforgettable account of these stirring times. The delineation of character and the reconstruction of colorful scenes, so often absent in historical writing, are to be found here in abundance. His Indians are made to live again: his scenes of post life could have been written only by an army man.”