Buffalo Soldiers Stationed at the Presidio Garrison

As an African American veteran, I am always grateful for the opportunity to highlight the contributions of Black warriors who have defended this country. Although they fought foreign and domestic enemies, they faced daily another insidious adversary, racism. Despite being exposed to racism on a day to day basis, they fought with courage and valor and did not flich when asked to lay down their lives for this country. This website acknowleges their "Esprit de Corps

The 9th Cavalry Regiment consisted of three squadrons, each of which was assigned to a different post on the West Coast. The 3rd Squadron, consisting of four troops or companies, were garrisoned at the Presidio of San Francisco. Commanded by Major Joseph Garrard, the 3rd Squadron arrived in San Francisco in October 1902. The commander of "I" Troop was Captain Charles Young, the only African American troop commander in the regular army. A man of many talents, Young was the only Black graduate of West Point still serving in the army. Garrison life at the Presidio was uneventful for Captain Young and his troops. Most soldiers occupied their time with the usual mundane military activities of work details and guard mount. Off duty enlisted men who stayed on post participated in various sports. Each company fielded its own team, with baseball being a particularly popular sport in the army at the time. The soldiers also socialized with San Francisco's small but closely knit African American community.

Presidio Barracks

Pulpit rock

This barracks was built in 1902 to house enlisted men in the Coast Artillery Corps before Fort Winfield Scott was constructed in the 1910s. After those soldiers moved to Fort Scott, cavalry troops lived here because it was adjacent to the new stables built in 1914. It is very unlikely that the 9th Cavalry soldiers lived here during their stay in 1903-04, but Buffalo Soldier units passing through the Presidio during later rotations in and out of the Philippines may have lived here for short periods.

Presidential Honor Guard

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Captain Young and the men of I and M troops remained at the Presidio for one last duty before being dispatched to patrol Sequoia Natioanl Park. Their duty was to serve as special escort to the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, on his West Coast tour of California. The President visited San Francisco on May 12th through 14th. Thousands of people turned out to greet the Chief Executive. Accompanying the President through the streets of San Francisco were Buffalo Soldiers on horseback flanking several carriages of honored guests. (29) Captain Young was attired in his dress blues; the soldiers were resplendent wearing their neat but simple blue uniforms with a pill box cap, white canvas leggings and gloves. The troops provided not only an escort and security for the distinguished guest, but also served as "Guard of Honor." The San Francisco Call lauded Troops I and M as two "crack military organizations that had the honor of forming Roosevelt's escort." (30) For many of these men, the escort duty had been a reunion of sorts, having last seen "Colonel" Roosevelt on the crest of San Juan Hill in 1898. Although Roosevelt had praised the Black soldiers shortly after the battle, he had since incensed them by making disparaging remarks about their worth as professional soldiers in Scribner's magazine. The use of the 9th Cavalry to provide his escort may have been seen by some as an apology of sorts. Having Captain Young as I Troop commander certainly gave the President a first hand look at a Black man who was a competent commander and troop leader.

Patrolling Sequoia National Park

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Six days after escorting President Roosevelt, Captain Young led Troops I and M on a 323-mile road march from the Presidio to Sequoia National Park. The journey across the state took sixteen days of serious horseback riding averaging over twenty miles a day. Since 1891 the U.S. Cavalry had provided troops to manage and protect California's national parks each summer. With the prior movement of Troops K and L to Yosemite National Park, and now the movement of Troops I and M to Sequoia National Park, 1903 was the first time African American soldiers were given the responsibility of park patrol for an entire summer season. Previously in 1899, the 24th Infantry patrolled Yosemite.On June 3rd, M and I troops arrived at Three Rivers (Kaweah). As the senior officer present, Captain Young achieved another first for a Black officer, being appointed as "Acting Superintendent" of Sequoia and the smaller adjacent General Grant National Park (later renamed Kings Canyon). Young immediately set his troops to work establishing a general supply camp. Detachments were sent to Cedar Creek, Cold Spring, Clough's Cave, and General Grant to begin patrols. Their mission was the same as that of Troops K and L at Yosemite, to "enforce the rules and regulations of the Department of the Interior" and to secure the Park from "injury and depredations.

Information Source

I wish thank the National Park Service for the information on these webpages. http://www.nps.gov/prsf/historyculture/buffalo-soldiers.htm