Charles Young - Leader of Men
Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio
A leader among the legendary "Buffalo Soldiers", Charles Young (1864-1922) was an African American who served in the segregated U-S Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Charles Young was temporarily advanced to the rank of Major and given command of an African American National Guard battalion. Young and his troops spent the entire war stationed in the United States. Young's first overseas assignment came in 1899, when he returned to the Regular U.S. Army with an assignment to the 9th Cavalry in the Philippines. For three years, the 9th Cavalry fought against Filipino nationalists. Upon their return to the United States in the fall of 1902, the regiment was split with companies assigned to Fort Walla Walla, Washington; the Presidio of Monterey, California; and the Presidio of San Francisco.
Companies "I", "K", "L", and "M" of the 9th Cavalry were based at the Presidio. While here, detachments were assigned duty at Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant (now King's Canyon) National Parks, and Companies "I" and "M" escorted President Theodore Roosevelt through the streets of San Francisco in May 1903. This was the first time African American soldiers had served as a guard of honor for the President of the United States. Charles Young was a Captain at the time and commanding officer of Company "I".
During the summer of 1903, Capt. Young became Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National Park. His responsibilities included protecting the park and its wildlife. As Superintendent, Young also oversaw the construction and maintenance of roads and hosted official visitors to the park. He concluded his tour of duty with a large outdoor feast for the road crew and special guests.
Another significant event took place in Charles Young's life in 1904--his marriage to Ada Mills of Oakland, California. Together, they raised two children: Charles Noel, born in 1907, and Marie, born in 1909. Whenever Young's duties involved a line assignment with the troops, Ada remained at home in Ohio.
Did You Know?
Herb Alpert, Grammy Award-winning bandleader of the Tijuana Brass, played in the 6th Army Band at the Presidio during the 1950's. Alpert later claimed the structure and discipline of the Army helped him with his music.