Pulitzer Prize-nominee Clinton Cox explores the powerful story of the Buffalo Soldiers, the black regiments used to fight Native Americans in the 1800s. Careful research, extensive quotations, and dramatic archival photographs illuminate a tragic chapter in African-American history, when thousands of recently-freed blacks were used to take freedom away from Native Americans.
In the years following the Civil War, the average young black man in America could work in the fields of the South or the factories of the North. Or he could go west with the 9th or 10th Cavalry Regiments, the first black soldiers in the history of the United States Regular Army. Though blacks served in the Union Army during the Civil War, only after an act of Congress in 1866 were they allowed into the regular army. Young black men enlisted for five-year terms at $13 a month, the largest number of them coming from southern states like Virginia and Louisiana.
From Kansas to the New Mexico territory, the black soldiers fought the Native Americans, among them the Cheyenne, who first gave them the name of Buffalo Soldiers, after the dark color of their skin and their honorable bravery and power on the battlefield. Ironically, the Buffalo Soldiers were fighting the Indians on behalf of the white settlers who were expanding the United States into Indian territories and taking away Indian homeland. These same white settlers generally treated the black soldiers as second-class citizens. Yet the Buffalo Soldiers fought valiantly to keep the peace in the west, even as the lives of their African-American brethren at home were anything but peaceful.
Also included are pages of stunning photographs and evocative drawings from the period further detailing not only the black men who made up the Buffalo Soldiers, but the great Indian chiefs whose armies they would fight for nearly 30 years. The history of the United States' westward expansion is one full of complexities and injustices, of heroic efforts and inconceivable tenacity, by all members involved: Native American, white settler and Buffalo Soldier. In The Forgotten Heroes, Clinton Cox tells the story of them all.
"A fascinating piece of American history... Challenges traditional visions of westward expansion...well researched, revealing." — Publishers Weekly
"Rich in carefully reconstructed episodes and acts of heroism." — Kirkus