|Black, Brave, & Bold Part 2 - African American Congressional Medal of Honor Winners - The Indian Wars & The Interim Period|
New scholarship acknowledges the role of these Black soldiers in aiding America's westward imperialist expansion
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"They (Blacks) come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them," Scalia said.
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The Indian Wars and The Interim Period were conflicts from the end of the Civil War to the turn of the 19th century (1870s-1890s). During this time, 24 Black men earned the Congressional Medal of Honor (aka the Medal of Honor), most of them from the famed Buffalo Soldiers. There were also several Black sailors who won medals.
The period of the Indian Wars and the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in them has become problematical in recent decades. New scholarship acknowledges the role of these Black soldiers in aiding America's westward imperialist expansion and the forcible taking of land from Native Americans while these same African Americans were themselves victims of White racist oppression.
This predicament was aptly symbolized by a 1970 film on the subject entitled "Soul Soldier." The tagline of the film was "They were Black troopers who fought and killed the Red man for a White government that didn't give a damn about either one."
Even more paradoxical was the fact that four of the Medal of Honor winners during this time were themselves Black Seminole or "Indian Scouts" who were of African and Native American descent. After the end of the Civil War, the Army dramatically reduced the number of African American regiments. They fell from well over 100 to just four, the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry, all of which were sent to posts on the western frontier.
The Indian Wars
Here are the stories of a few of these brave men from the Indian Wars period:
Emanuel Stance - First African American Medal of Honor winner in the post-Civil War period. He was born enslaved in Carroll Parish, Louisiana in 1843. He enlisted in the Army in October, 1866 and was assigned to Company F, 9th U.S. Cavalry. He was barely five feet tall.
He rose through the ranks relatively quickly because he was able to read and write. He soon earned a sergeant's stripes.
During a two-year period, he saw battle against Native Americans five times. In May of 1870, Stance led a scouting party in search of two captured children and some stolen horses. When he and his men encountered the Indians and the stolen horses, he ordered his men to charge, scattering the Indians and recovering the horses. As they reached Kickapoo Springs, Texas near Fort McKavett, Stance and his men disrupted an Indian attack on a wagon train. They captured more horses, routed the Indians, and recovered the missing children. As a result of his courage, leadership, and exhibiting "gallantry on scout after Indians," he was awarded the Medal of Honor May 20, 1870.
By the 1880s, the 9th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. However, the years of western service and the life of blood and black powder made him into a harsh taskmaster. Easy garrison duty in the Midwest, however, did not require the same intense discipline Stance was used to administering to his men.
In a horrible twist of fate, his lifeless body was found on Christmas Day, 1887, near Crawford, Nebraska, three miles east of the fort. He is believed to have been murdered by some of his men. In 1888, the Columbus, Nebraska Journal reported that a U.S. Deputy Marshal Showalter had taken Miller Miles "who is charged with murdering First Sergeant Emanuel Stane(sic) on the Fort Robinson military reservation" to Omaha for safekeeping. Showalter also brought along three witnesses.
Three years later, the Grand Rapids, Michigan Telegram-Herald described the arrest of a "colored deserter" W.V. Gilmore for the "assassination" of Stance. The paper noted that "a large reward was offered for the murderer's capture."
Thomas Boyne - The only Medal of Honor winner born in Prince Georges County, Maryland. Born in 1849, Boyne first entered military service during the Civil War as a member of Battery B of the 2nd Regiment, U.S. Colored Light Artillery. When the unit was mustered out in March, 1866 in Texas, Boyne soon joined the 25th Infantry Regiment. After many years of duty there, he joined Company C, 9th U.S. Cavalry.
In 1879, Boyne was cited for "bravery in action" in two engagements with hostile Apaches in New Mexico. The first took place in the Mimbres Mountains on May 29, 1879. The second occurred on the banks of the Cuchillo Negro River near Ojo Caliente on September 27, 1879. His actions in these battles included rescuing one of his commanding officers while under fire.
Sergeant Boyne was discharged from the service because of a disability in 1889. The following year, he was admitted to the Soldiers Home in Washington, D.C. He died there on April 21, 1896 at the age of 47.
Pompey Factor - A Black Seminole Scout Who Won the Medal of Honor. He was 26-years-old when he was cited for extreme courage in action when "with three other men he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol" near Pecos River, Texas on April 25, 1875. In this engagement, Factor and the other two Black Seminole scouts, Issac Payne and John Ward, also rescued Lieutenant Bullis, their commander; carried him to safety in a hail of Comanche bullets and received Medals of Honor.
Factor was born in Arkansas. Payne and Ward were born in Mexico. The Black Seminoles had spent many years in Mexico after originally leaving the United States to escape enslavement. Later they spent many years soldiering on the Texas-Mexico border.
The Interim Period
While the Indian Wars were raging in the western states, the U.S. Navy was expanding into a blue water fleet that spanned the globe. In far-flung ports and stateside harbors, well over a hundred sailors demonstrated incredible courage including seven African Americans. Most of these medals were awarded for saving their fellow sailors from drowning including:
Robert Sweeney - The only black man to receive two Medals of Honor. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society cites Sweeney's bravery with the following words: "Serving on board the U.S.S. Kearsage, at Hampton Roads, Va., 26 October 1881, Sweeney jumped overboard and assisted in saving from drowning a shipmate who had fallen overboard into a strongly running tide.
He earned his second award serving on board the U.S.S. Jamestown, at the Navy Yard New York, 20 December 1883. Sweeney rescued from drowning A.A. George, who had fallen overboard from that vessel.
Robert Augustus Sweeney was born in 1853 in Canada. He came to the United States and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He left the Navy in 1890 and remained in the U.S. until his death.
From Our Archives: Black, Brave, & Bold Part 1 - African American Congressional Medal of Honor Winners -
During the Civil War, Sergeant William H. Carney became the first Black to win the award.
Publisher’s Note: Part 3 of this 5 part series will appear in an upcoming issue of Port Of Harlem.
This week, the Center for Global Policy Solutions released a new paper showing that the 2014 implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has had a promising start in providing health insurance for all Americans. All racial groups experienced substantial increases in their health insurance coverage.
Yet, evidence from Massachusetts’ health insurance reform—a model for ACA—suggests that Obamacare is not going to completely eliminate racial and ethnic inequalities in health insurance coverage. Only a more extensive expansion of government-sponsored health insurance is likely to achieve that goal.
While social media has been lighting up with discussion on Donald Trump’s comments dealing with intolerance, some have overlooked the comments from Supreme Court Judge Anthony Scalia.
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less -- a slower-track school where they do well," Scalia said, according to the transcript. "One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don't come from schools like the University of Texas."
"They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they're being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them," Scalia said. "I'm just not impressed by the fact that the University of Texas may have fewer. Maybe it ought to have fewer. And maybe some -- you know, when you take more, the number of blacks, really competent blacks, admitted to lesser schools, turns out to be less."
Credo and Daily Kos are circulating a petition asking Congress to censure Scalia. “They are appointed for life and never have to answer to the American people. That is why it is so critical that our elected representatives in Congress speak clearly and with a single voice,” says Credo and Daily Kos.
The liberal leaning groups are circulating a petition asking for a formal congressional censure.
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