Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fort Huachuca

“Ain’t much a black man can do these days.” -- Joe Simms, when asked by Hannibal Heyes how he became a bounty hunter.

Actually, he could have become a Buffalo Soldier, joining one of the Army regiments for African-Americans that were formed after the Civil War. Buffalo Soldiers arrived in Arizona in 1885 and fought in the Indian Wars against the Apaches (see photo at right). They were noted for their military prowess and had the lowest rate of desertion in the Army.

Beginning in 1892, four Buffalo Soldier regiments served at Fort Huachuca, which is located near the town of Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona: the 9th and 10 Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry (see photo at right depicting the present-day Army base). Their duties were to protect the civilian population from the Apaches who raided in the area and to capture Apaches who were fighting against the American government, one of whom was Geronimo. Interestingly, Frederic Remington drew many sketches of soldiers based at Fort Huachuca as they performed their work; one illustration made the cover of Harper’s Weekly magazine, which helped propel him to the forefront of artists depicting life in the American West.

Fort Huachuca is still an active Army base and its primary function today relates to the gathering of military intelligence. Two museums on the base showcase its history. One is the Fort Huachuca Museum which details, in chronological order, the historical events that the soldiers at the base were involved with; two buildings near each other house this museum. In a third nearby building is the U.S. Army Intelligence Museum, which explains the history of military intelligence. After providing photo identification at the checkpoint entrance, one is free to drive around the base to the museums.

When Caroline and Mr. Fielding talk about the Apaches in Six Strangers at Apache Springs, I wonder if Buffalo Soldiers played any role in that. And Joe Simms in The Bounty Hunter would have had a very different life if he'd been a Buffalo Soldier.

The Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Huachuca—a magazine article (click on the numbers in the table of contents to read individual chapters):
http://net.lib.byu.edu/estu/wwi/comment/huachuca/HI1-00index.htm