Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000 Page: 39
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Ratliff, Austin; E.M. & Rosalyn Rosenthal,
Fort Worth; Dr. & Mrs. Rodney & Pamela
Schmidt, Austin; Edwin Schramm, Seguin;
Linda Team, Austin; Arthur Weinman,
Hon. & Mrs. James A. Baker, Austin;
Roger A. Bartlett, Austin; Billy Becker,
Marble Falls; Dan R. Beto, Bryan; Mr. &
Mrs. Terrell Blodgett, Austin; Clell Bond,
Austin; James Burnett, Shiner; T.G. Caraway,
Austin; John L. Carter, Houston; Center
for East Texas Studies, Nacogdoches;
W.E. Chilton, Fort Worth; Shannon &
Lori Clyde, Katy; Araceli Davis, San Antonio;
Mr. & Mrs. Louis E. De Moll Jr., Austin;
Mark Felton, Round Rock; Mark E.
Fennel, Austin; Valerie Fogal, Dallas; Barbara
S. Hankins, Austin; Martha Lel
Hawkins, Austin; C.B. Hoppy Hopkins,
Fredericksburg; Dr. Nina Kay, Marlin; William
H. Kellar, Houston; Cherry Beth
Luedtke, Austin; Mr. & Mrs. Kemp Maer
Jr., Houston; Ed Magruder, Midland; Martin
County Historical Museum, Stanton;
McDaniel & Co., Schulenberg; Sara May
Meriwether, Austin; Mr. & Mrs. Alan
Minter, Austin; Sammye Munson, Bellaire;
Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors
Bureau, Nacogdoches; Nacogdoches Public
Library, Nacogdoches; Martha Neely,
Rusk; Mrs. John Newport, Fort Worth;
Chris Pasch, Austin; Ken Poston, Vidor;
Benny Poulson, Lorenzo; Alexander Pratt,
La Marque; William F Quinn, El Paso;
Peggy Riddle, Grapevine; Martha Ray,
Rosenberg; Beverly Redwine, Austin;
Kathy Reiff, Austin; John Rowell,
Childress; Elizabeth Sasser, Lubbock; Ms.
C. S. Searight, Austin; Rosie Sedillo, Marlin;
Leslie Carl Seiler, Baton Rouge, LA;
W. S. Shepherd, Beaumont; Ted Siff, Austin;
Linnea Smith, Austin; Frank Sprague,
Hamilton; Linda Stevens, Forte Jr. High
School, Azle; Mrs. Homer Stuck, Fort
Worth; Dr. Chester Upham Jr., Mineral
Wells; Ross Waggoner, Glenside; Mr. &
Mrs. Percy Woodard Jr., Denton; Ronald
L. Wyatt, Galveston; El Camino Real Market
Mark your calendars for the
Annual Historic Preservation
Conference, May 4-6 in San
Antonio; co-sponsored by THF.
Where history, people, and places come together
BY OLIVER FRANKLIN
On August 6,
1880, a major milestone
was achieved in -
the settlement of
West Texas and New
Mexico. That was the
day that Victorio, the
chief, turned his back
on the Texas TransPecos,
Battle of Rattlesnake
A year earlier, after
being contained at
a reservation in New
Mexico,Victorio, with a band of men and
a flurry of gunfire, escaped and headed for
Reports indicated that Victorio and his
men intended to reenter the United States.
Where, no one knew. However, educated
guesses anticipated the Apaches' return
either to their old New Mexico home or
into the rugged Guadalupe Mountains,
where they knew they could hide.
Col. Benjamin Grierson, commander of
U.S. forces in the Trans-Pecos, felt that the
only way to defeat Victorio and his troops
was to station men at every watering hole
in the region. Victorio might be fast and
mean, but no man could weather the Sierra
Diablo for long without water.
After several brief engagements, five
companies of cavalry and infantry engaged
Victorio and his soldiers at Rattlesnake
Springs. As the Indians approached the
well-guarded springs, they were met with
U.S. gunfire. When the smoke cleared, 30
braves lay dead. Only one U.S. soldier gave
his life. Victorio and his disillusioned men
disbanded, ending the Apache menace of
the Trans-Pecos West.
All of the enlisted men in this small but
critical event in Texas history were Buffalo
soldiers, black Americans in the U.S.
Army. Given their sobriquet by Native
Americans for their hair's resemblance to
that of their namesake, the Buffalo soldiers
were segregated into the Twenty-fourth and
Twenty-fifth Infantry Regiments and
Ninth and Tenth Cavalry
Regiments. For more
than 20 years, they served
at Forts Griffin, Ringgold,
Concho, and Davissome
of the harshest garrisons
in the U.S. Little
is known about the lives
of the Buffalo soldiers,
and few pictures exist.
But for the years between
the late 1860s and
early 1880s, the Buffalo
soldier was a vital force in
Texas. Brief periods of
rapid deployment and intense conflict were
separated by endless loneliness, hard labor,
and racial animosity. Towns that owed
their earliest infrastructures, if not their
very existence to Buffalo soldiers, enforced
their exclusion from city limits.
Along with the roads, buildings, and
tales of division and sacrifice that are the
legacies of the Buffalo soldier, there is
something else -- a tangible item--that remains:
the regimental banner of the
Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment.
Founded in 1869, the Twenty-fourth's first
home was Fort McKavett.
Their flag, a large blue regimental banner
with an Eagle surrounded by a circle,
and their federal banner, the Stars and
Stripes, featuring 38 stars, are sitting
unconserved at the National Army Museum
Few images are more symbolic and patriotic
than flags. The Historic Flags of
Texas Project is underway, seeking to identify
and conserve the state's historic banners.
Adopting the Twenty-fourth Infantry
Regiment flag would be easy and inexpensive.
It should be done. For without the
Buffalo soldier, much of what we think of
today as Texan would not exist.
Franklin is executive director of the Texas Historical
Image above is of Seminole Buffalo soldiers.
Courtesy of Sul Ross State University.
HERITAGE * 39 * WINTER 2000
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 18, Number 1, Winter 2000, periodical, Winter 2000; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45388/m1/39/?q=%22buffalo%20soldiers%22: accessed September 16, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.