New website for SWABS

If you have been here before, you will notice that the website for the Southwest Association for Buffalo Soldiers is being updated. While most of the important information is now on the site, you'll see more and more in the future. If you want to be a part of the Association's exciting project on Fort Huachuca, please use the contact form to communicate with us. Thanks for your support and for your interest in this important chapter of American History!

SWABS Express Why

Fort Huachuca is the home of the African American soldier in the United States". The First African American troops to arrive in Arizona at Fort Huachuca were the Buffalo Soldiers in the l890’s; the 9th and l0th Cavalries. The Fort Huachuca Buffalo Soldiers distinguished themselves in the Spanish American War and the charge up San Juan Hill. They were part of the Punitive Expedition into Mexico and were sent to Camp Naco, Arizona, Camp Little in Nogales and other locations in Arizona to guard the Arizona Borders during the Mexican Revolution. The 24th and 25th infantry regiments served at Fort Huachuca until WW II.

During the WW II, Fort Huachuca was the home of the only two Black Divisions in the history of the U.S. Army, the 92nd & 93 rd Divisions and subsequently the largest concentration of black officers Over night, the old army post grew into a modem war installation and the third largest city in the state, with an enormous cantonment area of 1400 new wood framed buildings. They included barracks, hospitals, maintenance structures, offices, and warehouses. The larger of the two hospitals was the only black commanded and staffed hospital in the Army and me largest in the country.

New recreation facilities sprung up in this new war complex Foster Ball Field was named her Rube Foster the manager of the Chicago Negro baseball teams and the Father of Negro Baseball. Brock Baseball Field was named in honor of Sgt Fred Brock who was the first 92nd Division soldier to die at this post of duty. The 15,000 capacity football field was dedicated to Sergeant Andrew Wells. The training ring for Joe Lewis was just below the Mountain View Black Officers Club, which he visited almost daily.

In 1942 the Mountain View Black Officers Club opened its doors to hundreds of black officers. The only one of its kind ever designed for this purpose in the history of the United States. For the thousands of black officers and enlisted men it was their social center on Fort Huachuca It was the soldier’s clubhouse, their entertainment center.

Yes, Mountain View was one of a kind, alive and bristling with activity. The Fort Huachuca swing band members were the pick of the enlisted musicians in the West. It was alive with activities, performances, parties, weddings, sing- along, dancing shows and concerts. It had a hobby shop, game rooms, lounge, a library and a roomy balcony for candle light dinners or just a quiet time for letters to love ones. Outside celebrities performed in the club, Lena Horne, Pearl Bailey, Dinah Shore and others. Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis visited the club depicted African American military service in the U.S. Armed Forces from 1778 through World War One. Perhaps the one event that illustrated the role of the Mountain View Club as the center of African American activity at Fort Huachuca was the opening of an exhibit of paintings in May of 1943, by Vernon Winslow, Hale Woodruff and Sculptor Richmond Barthe, three of the nation’s outstanding figures in African American art. The song "Huachuca" was written and composed by Captain Joe Jordan, a famous composer and arranger while stationed at Fort Huachuca.

An original musical show produced and written at Fort Huachuca "GI Rhapsody," traveled the state and was filmed by Hollywood. in two War Bond drives, post bands raised over $3,000,000.00 for the war effort.

Today, on Fort Huachuca, the 17,000 square foot Mountain View Black Officers Club stands alone. It’s all gone, all the World War Two buildings, all the hospitals, barracks, mess halls, theaters and chapels, they are all gone, and in I998 the demolition of building 66050 had begun but stopped and the subsequent study of the 6605 0 revealed its past history as a Black Officers Club during WWII

If you go up close to the Mountain View Black Officers Club today, you can hear it crying out.

"What are you doing, you can’t be tearing me down, stop! You can’t do this, I have been here so long and I have tried so hard to prove that I belong here. I tried my best to stand tall with undying devotion to the soldiers stationed here. After the war, I was an NCO Club for the soldiers, then I had several other duties and my last one was a dinner theater. I supported and entertained thousands of people over the years; don't you know this, stop! Stop, you pulled all my lights down! My restrooms are gone, you have taken away my outside cooling system and the roads that lead people to my doors are almost gone, why, I have been so faithful, please don't do this! I still have so much to do and so many stories to tell you about, please, I have been waiting for over 60 years for someone to remember my past and open my doors once again. "

My history must not be taken away, who will remember me, and the brave soldiers who danced and sang songs on my ball room floors, used my tables for relaxing games and to write letters to love ones back home, my walls have so many good memories. If you just cease tearing me down, I can tell you about Lt. Vemon Baker who was one of only seven African Americans to receive the Congressional Medal Of Honor in 1997 for their heroism during World War Two. Please!! Stop, I want to tell about Sergeant Eddie Carter who was one of 2221 African American soldiers who volunteered to go into combat during the Battle of the Bulge and was one of the seven to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Wait!! Don‘t you understand, I want to tell you about, the Buffalo Soldiers of WWI whom the Germans called hell fighters; the four Buffalo Soldier Regiments who charged up San Juan Hill; the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers of the Indian Wars and, Stop!! Come back, don't you hear me? There were the Tuskegee airmen, the Navaho Code talkers, the up San Juan Hill, the stories of the Buffalo Soldiers of the Indian Wars and, Stop!! Come back, don't you hear me? There were the Tuskegee airmen, the Navaho Code talkers, the Filipino units of the United States Armed forces of the Far East, the Japanese Americans l00th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Point Montford Marines, the, 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion,” Red Ball Express, Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), and Women Air force Pilots of(WWII), the Mexican American troops whose stories I can tell you I have so much work left to do. Can’t you hear me?"

The Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers hears your cries. We see you, we understand and we will tell the world about you. The people of America also understand and they want to learn from you. You are no longer alone. Your stories are the stories of American soldiers who wanted freedom, equality, and justice not only for themselves but also for all the people of the world and many gave their lives for those ideals.

The National Park Service now hears you, they believe you’re the most significant WWII buildings left standing and they want to help you tell your story. The National Park Service is going to give you their Native American Buffalo Soldier Data Center. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a study of you and found you to eligible to he listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, the Buffalo Soldiers are telling America about you. More and more people of American are signing up every day to save you. The National Trust intends to place you on the Arizona most II endangered Properties List. The American Legion, Bill Carmichael Post 52 has pledged $5000,00 to save you, yes they do hear you, and more organizations will also join in. The University of Arizona has heard your plea; they are going to provide thousands of dollars to your Research Center

The people of America are going to open your doors once again. When your renovation is completed, you will stand tall and proud, as a living memorial to the troops of WWII and soldiers who served our county in conflicts long ago. You will be unique, one of a kind: A research museum complex with n theater. Yes, an ISO-seat theater, which will have the capability of producing plays from historical data, having the plays, recorded on cds with the latest electronic recording equipment. Your New Educational Outreach Center will then distribute the cds to educational institutions mound the United States. Your Museum or Historical Center will have up to 16 theme rooms telling the stories of African American military contributions to America never told or long forgotten. Your new Community Outreach Center will develop programs whereby individuals and community organizations will be able to interact with you. They will have the opportunity to learn and be inspired in your large lecture and exhibit halls. Individuals will be able to conduct research in your Library and make copies in your state of the art copy center. Most importantly after 60 years, your chambers and halls will be filled with the Buffalo Soldiers of today dedicated to preserving and telling your stories and of the stories of the men and women who were inspired to serve by the deeds of Buffalo Soldiers long ago.

Black Seminoles Original

By Christopher D. Kimball Special to the Huachuca Scout (Author's note: This month during Black History Month, we have seen several reminders of the Buffalo Soldiers and their triumph in difficult situations. Here is a little-known story about one group of men who went from fighting against the United States to becoming Buffalo Soldiers in one generation. Little is said about the black Seminoles, so I feel it is important that their story be told.) In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Florida was spanish territory. Many slaves from plantations in the Southeast escaped to Florida because it was the nearest international border. Once there, the former slaves were adopted by the Seminole Indians, who themselves had escaped from slavery and political unrest among the Creek Indians. The former slaves organized towns and fully adopted the Creek-Seminole customs and languages, and soon many blacks were born as free men. The black Seminoles had a voice in the head Seminole councils. They made political decisions and participated in seminole battles and raiding parties. The plantations could not tolerate the fact that their slaves were escaping to Florida in alarming numbers. Since the plantation owners ran the government in the south and made political decisions, the federal government became involved. From 1780 to 1818, border raids were constant between all sides. Plantation owners in Georgia and Mississippi territories wanted the Florida land and accused the Seminoles of taking their slaves. The Seminoles accused the slave owners of raiding them and taking their black Seminole allies. On top of that, the Creek Indians declared that the Seminoles were under their authority and demanded them back as slaves. The United States wanted Florida and thought it should be part of America. The Spanish government did not do anything to control the Indians raiding southern Georgia, and the United States did not do anything to control the plantation owners from raiding the Indians. The worst incident in the border skirmishes happened July 27, 1816. A group of black Seminoles had moved into a fort that the British had abandoned on the Appalachicola River in Florida, which became known as Negro Fort. An American supply ship travelling up river to Fort Scott, Ga., came upon the fort and both sides started firing. A lucky shot from the ship hit the fort's powder magazine and blew the fort sky-high. Most of the black Seminoles who were inside the fort were killed instantly. In 1818, Gen. Andrew Jackson took a force of 3500 Creek Indians, regular army troops and Tennessee volunteers, and attacked and destroyed several black Seminole towns in northern Florida. The black Seminoles put up the hardest resistance and held back Jackson's army while the villagers in northern Florida were evacuated. When the blacks retreated, they left only empty villages for Jackson, who burned and looted them. When the Spanish asked Jackson to explain why he attacked Spanish Florida, he said, "to chastise a savage foe, who, combined with a lawless band of Negro brigands, have for some time past been carrying on a cruel and unprovoked war against the citizens of the United States, and has compelled the president to direct me to march my army into Florida." Spain realized that it couldn't keep Florida and sold in to the United States for $5 million. As soon as Florida became United States territory, James Gadsden was authorized by Congress to negotiate a treaty with the Seminoles. He took the view that the whites in Florida were not safe as long as the Indians remained and as long as slaves could run and join the Seminoles. The Treaty of Moultrie Creek was signed in 1823, and one of the provisions was that escaped slaves be returned by the Seminoles to their former masters. By 1825, it was obvious that the Seminoles would not freely give up their black allies to the whites. Governor DuVal tried to persuade them, saying the blacks were no help to them and only caused trouble. Seminole Chief John Hicks responded that the whites had not treated them well since the Treaty of Moultrie Creek. After the Indian Removal Act of 1830, all the Seminoles and their allies were told to leave Florida by Jan. 1, 1836. By December 1835, it was clear that the Seminoles didn't intend to leave. It was decided to send two infantry companies, totaling 110 men under the command of Maj. Francis Dade from Fort Brooke at Tampa Bay, to the Indian agency at Fort King 100 miles away. Two-thirds of the way there, Dec. 28, 1835, the command was ambushed and completely destroyed by the Seminoles. Only a few miles away was a black Seminole village and their warriors came as soon as they heard ches in Texas, but the survivors of Coacoochee's party made it to Mexico and settled there. There are many descendents of the black Seminoles who live in Mexico today and also many along the Rio Grande in Texas. (Lake Seminole on the Rio Grande takes its name from them.) Horse was captured and wounded by a slave raiding party in 1852 and Coacoochee died of small pox in 1857. During the Civil War, many black Seminoles joined the First Kansas Colored Infantry in May 1863 and won a decisive battle against Confederate forces. When they had captured the Confederates, they noticed that they had brought back several hundred sets of handcuffs with them. The handcuffs intended for the black Seminoles were used against the Confederate soldiers instead. After slavery was abolished at the end of the Civil War, the Army sought help against Indian raiding parties along the Rio Grande. The Seminoles spoke the language and knew the land, making them valuable trackers. Many who had settled in Mexico crossed back over the Rio Grande and settled in Texas. From 1873 to 1881, the black Seminoles served as Buffalo Soldiers and scouts for the Army without a single man killed in 25 actions. They fought Comanche and Apache war parties and pursued them for months in the desert and cold without supplies or back-up forces. In July 1875, several black Seminoles were formed into a company of Buffalo Soldier scouts to pursue raiding Comanches in Texas and southeast New Mexico. The Comanches fled and scattered and no major battle took place. One thing the black Seminoles did accomplish during that campaign was to clear the whole area of Plains Indian raiding parties. In 1876, American forts along the border at the Rio Grande were constantly harassed by Indians in Mexico. Gen. E.O.C. Ord organized a large party of Buffalo Soldiers, including several companies of the 10th Cavalry and black Seminoles, to get into Mexico and attack the raiding Indians. They burned a Kickapoo village on the other side of the Rio Grande and scattered the raiders. Only one soldier was lost when he drowned in the Rio Grande. The black Seminoles continued into the next year fighting Indian raiding parties an Mexican revolutionaries around the Rio Grande area. The largest battle that the Seminole Buffalo Soldiers participated in took place in Mexico, near the Big Bend area of the Rio Grande. The Seminoles chased after a group of Kickapoos that were known to be hiding in Mexico, and found the location of the hostile camp high in the Santa Rosa Mountains. The battle took place around Nov.29, 1876, in the snow and the mountains. The Buffalo Soldiers continued without adequate clothing and supplies until they had defeated the Indians who had been raiding in the area. On Dec. 3, the Buffalo Soldiers received a warm welcome back at Fort Clark, Texas, and a rare commendation from the past commander. These days the families related to the former Buffalo Soldiers still get together and talk about the past. Few outsiders know about the amazing and heroic exploits of the black Seminole Buffalo Soldiers. A grave of one of the former scouts seems to sum up a lot, when it simply says, "Born in Florida."

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