Overlooking the Fort

After the Civil War, the army offered young black men an opportunity for social and economic advancement.  As soldiers, they earned $13 a month plus food, clothing, shelter and horses.  These horses not only served as transportation, but as protection and companions.  They enlisted for five years, coming to the army from many different occupations: farmer, teamster, baker, waiter and painter.

There were many challenges for blacks in the military in the post-Civil War Army.  Enlisted soldiers at many western forts met less than an enthusiastic welcome by the white citizens they had sworn to protect.  Still, the troops performed admirably in the field, maintaining the lowest desertion and discipline rates with the highest re-enlistment rates. 

Many black soldiers would serve 20 years or more, an unusually long stretch in the frontier Army, and they often retired in the city their fort was located.

This photograph shows a Buffalo Soldier overlooking an unidentified fort.

2014.1.9, Courtesy of Fort Concho National Historic Landmark