New Research on Buffalo Soldiers Published

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Date: July 27, 2006
Contact: Greg Shine, 360-816-6231

Image of Sgt. Edward Gibson
Sgt. Edward Gibson was stationed at Vancouver Barracks  in 1899 as a sergeant with Company B.

Ft. Leavenworth Army Museum, Leavenworth, Kansas

NEW RESEARCH HELPS UNCOVER AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY IN VANCOUVER AND PORTLAND AREA

Vancouver WA – A research article published in the latest issue of Oregon Historical Quarterly sheds new light on the activities and experiences of African American soldiers – known as Buffalo Soldiers – once stationed at Vancouver Barracks, now part of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and the Vancouver National Historic Reserve in Vancouver, Washington.

The articled, entitled Respite from War: Buffalo Soldiers at Vancouver Barracks, 1899-1900, is a detailed account of the men and activities of the 24th U.S. Infantry’s Company B, an African American unit stationed at Vancouver Barracks for thirteen months in 1899 and 1900, between front-line service in Cuba during the Spanish American War and the Philippines during the Philippine War.

"The compelling story of the soldiers of Company B is also significant i several ways," noted the article’s author, Greg Shine, the Chief Ranger & Historian at Fort Vancouver NHS. "Their activities while posted here, such as responding to the labor crisis in Wardner, Idaho, were nationally significant. Their experience helps us better understand our community and its role in the history of African Americans in the American West. Their story also fills a gap in the scholarship on Buffalo Soldiers in the West, and places Vancouver Barracks firmly within its scope, where it is noticeably absent or where it has been confused with Vancouver, British Columbia. In addition, their story fosters a connection to place at Fort Vancouver NHS and the Historic Reserve, especially for African Americans."

This record of the soldiers’ lives and activities at Vancouver Barracks provides a detailed glimpse of a largely unknown aspect of Pacific Northwest history during the volatile Jim Crow era.

The article also demonstrates that, while stationed at the post, the soldiers developed a close relationship with the African American community of neighboring Portland, Oregon despite assignments in areas such as Wardner, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and Alcatraz Island, California.

"At least one of Company B’s soldiers, Sgt. Mack Stanfield, later retired to Portland with his wife, Sallie, where both lived the remainder of their lives," explained Shine. "Perhaps there are members of the community who knew the Stanfields or other Buffalo Soldiers and can help us better understand their lives and contributions to our nation’s story. If so, I’d love to hear from them and expand the information we can share with the public through programming in this national park setting."

The article also includes as an appendix a detailed roster of the soldiers comprising Company B, drawn from census data and U.S. Army regimental returns.

The issue containing the article (Oregon Historical Quarterly, Summer 2006, Vol. 107, no. 2), will be available for purchase in both Washington and Oregon.

In Washington State, the issue will be available at the bookstore in the Visitor Center at the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, located on Officers Row at 1501 Evergreen Blvd. in Vancouver, WA. Phone queries can be directed to the bookstore manager at 360-816-6234.

In Oregon, the issue is available in the Oregon Historical Society Museum Store, located on the corner of SW Broadway and Madison Street in Portland, in the former lobby of the historic 1922 Sovereign Hotel Building. The Museum Store can also be contacted via e-mail at museumstore@ohs.org or by phone at 503-306-5230.

Organizations, schools and businesses interested in carrying this item can contact the Oregon Historical Society Press at 503-306-5233.

For more information, contact Shine at 360-816-6231 or greg_shine@nps.gov.

 

Background: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is the heart of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver’s role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs -- including living history events, festivals, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special activities -- create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

-NPS-



Last updated: February 28, 2015

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