SQ: Buffalo Soldier - Team Irish Rover
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This is a SQ (Spirit Quest) cache. This means that you'll find the cache in a cemetary. Please be respectful of others visiting or mourning in the park. The cache is a 3x4x5 lock-n-lock container that is big enough to hold small trade items, coins or TB's without a bulky hitch-hiker. The hours on the cemetary are generally dusk until dawn but it may close by 7p in the summer. Please take a moment to read the cache description and enjoy the memorial.
This cache has been placed in order to share the largely unknown history of the many Buffalo Soldiers who fought in the Spanish-American war. The Buffalo Soldiers saw their participation in the fight for Cuba as a way to earn the respect of the American people.
By the late 1870s much of the optimism of emancipation had faded to the reality of the post-Reconstruction South. Thousands of blacks, landless and poor, decided to leave the South. Some blacks, especially those with Native American ancestry, found homes with Native American nations. Some African Americans went west with the U.S. military, as part of the all-black Ninth and Tenth Cavalry Units that Native Americans called Buffalo Soldiers. The nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" was originally given to the 9th and 10th Cavalry by Cheyenne warriors out of respect for their fierce fighting and the shaggy appearance of their hair. The Native American term used was actually "Wild Buffaloes", which was translated to "Buffalo Soldiers." In time, all African American Soldiers became known as "Buffalo Soldiers."
The 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry - "Buffalo Soldiers", were recipients of hand-me-down uniforms and boots, frequently lame or wild horses, low-quality weapons...and discrimination. Of all American soldiers, they had the hardest fight. Despite second-class treatment these soldiers made up first-rate regiments of the highest caliber and had the lowest desertion rate in the Army.
The Buffalo Soldiers comprised a full 39% of the regular cavalrymen under command in the Army. At the outbreak of the Spanish American War, the 9th and 10th Cavalries consisted of 875 African-American soldiers. The two cavalries also included 42 officers who, by law, had to be white. Buffalo Soldiers were the first to reach the crest of San Juan Hill in Cuba. Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders rushed from adjacent Kettle Hill to join the fighting on San Juan Hill after the Buffalo Soldiers were engaging Spanish forces along the crest. Generally, the "Rough Riders" are given the credit for taking the blockhouse atop San Juan Hill. What most people do not know is that the brunt of the fighting was borne by the soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. One eyewitness has written: "If it had not been for the Negro Cavalry, the Rough Riders would have been exterminated. The 10th Cavalry fought for 48 hours under heavy fire from the Spaniards who were in brick forts on the Hill."
During the battle of Las Guasimas in Cuba, on June 24, 1898, Major Bell of the 1st Cavalry had gone down with a wound to the leg. Captain C.G. Ayers attempted to carry him from the field, but his shattered leg bone broke through the skin causing so much pain that Ayers had to let him down. The fire was so intense that in one plot of ground fifty feet square, sixteen men were killed or wounded. Still, there was a fellow American soldier badly hurt and in need of assistance, and Private Augustus Walley-of the famed "Buffalo Soldiers,"- his compassion overcoming self-preservation, ran to help. Between Ayers and Walley, Bell was dragged to safety.
In recounts on their time spent in Cuba, many of the officers involved either directly with the Buffalo Soldiers or those who observed their service had strong opinions about their abilities, commitment and bravery.
A young Rough Rider, Frank Knox, wrote
"… in justice to the colored race, I must say that I never saw braver men anywhere! Some of those who rushed up the Hill will live in my memory forever."
Frank Knox, went on to become Secretary of the Navy during WWII.
A young lieutenant, a white officer assigned to the 10th, wrote of the battles in Cuba:
"White regiments, black regiments, regulars and Rough Riders, representing the young manhood of the North and South, fought shoulder to shoulder, unmindful of race or color, unmindful of whether commanded by an ex-Confederate or not, and mindful only of their common duty as Americans."
This young officer was John J. Pershing, who later commanded the U.S. Forces in Europe in WWI.
Perhaps it is fitting that in a time which saw growing racial tension throughout our country, General Wheeler’s Cavalry Division afforded the men of the 9th and 10th an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities, courage and dedication to so many. Their courage, no longer hidden in the trackless sands of the American Southwest, but now plainly visible to an entire generation of soldiers and praised by their officers and senior commander, opened small but enduring cracks in the walls of segregation.
The site of this memorial includes headstones for seven "Buffalo Soldiers".
William Holloway, 9th division U.S.Calvary
Randall Emphraim, 9th division U.S.Calvary
Forest Hampton, 10th division U.S.Calvary
Dosh Dean - Cook, 10th division U.S.Calvary
Walter Locket, 9th division U.S.Calvary
Reuben Kelley, 10th division U.S.Calvary
John W. Smith, 10th division U.S.Calvary
*****PLEASE -- be fair and honor the geocache code to trade same or better! No "McToys", please.
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum