Pollard Cole

Silhoutte of man in hat, in an oval frame with golden crossed sabers, 10 and H at the bottom.

NPS/ K. Pontius & E. Grover

Quick Facts

Pollard Cole (Coal) was a career military man, and his service to the United States spanned the Civil War and Indian Wars. Cole was born into slavery, and owned by a man named Stephen F. Gano, according to his Civil War muster from Camp Nelson, KY. Cole’s military career began when he was 21, when he enlisted in Company K of the 12th US Colored Heavy Artillery.  After the Civil War was over, and Congress passed the Army Organization Act, allowing black soldiers to serve in segregated Army units, Cole enlisted in the 10th Cavalry, Troop H, where he spent the rest of his career. Cole held the rank of Sergeant for many years.

Cole was stationed at Ft. Davis, Texas, where he married Estephana Gonzales in 1882. They had one son, Joseph Cole, born December 26, 1894 in El Paso, Texas. While Cole was stationed in Arizona in 1886, he and five other men (including John Casey) in Troop H helped capture Chief Mangus, the last major Chiricahua Apache chief to surrender to the US government. Cole also contributed a hand-carved stone to a monument to President James A. Garfield, in Bonita Canyon, Arizona, a temporary camp where he was stationed for about six months.

Cole was stationed in various places across the country: 

    • Bowling Green, KY 1865
    • Louisville, KY 1866
    • Ft. Sill, OK 1872
    • Ft. Davis, TX 1877
    • Ft. Davis, TX 1882
    • Presidio, TX 1882
    • Ft. Apache, AZ 1887
    • Ft. Buford, ND 1892

Cole retired from the Army in North Dakota, and it appears that he returned to his home state of Kentucky, where he died in 1900. Much of what is known about Pollard Cole and other Buffalo Soldiers stationed at Bonita Canyon is gleaned from enlistments, court documents, and other official records. Some of his biographical information was first compiled in Warriors of Color, by Harold Ray Sayre. If you have any information about Pollard Cole, or any other soldier stationed here, we would be glad to hear from you. Please email us. Until then, this summary will be incomplete and imbalanced.

Camp Nelson National Monument, Chiricahua National Monument, Fort Davis National Historic Site

Last updated: February 2, 2019