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Photo: Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program/Texas Parks and Wildlife

Buffalo Soldiers From The 1870s Come To Life At Cedar Hill State Park


by Therese Powell 2 Feb 2021 8:20 PM

Luis Padillo, Program Supervisor of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program, shares stories about the lives of Buffalo Soldiers on the frontier in the 1870s. Photo: Texas Buffalo Soldier Program/Texas Parks & Wildlife

Join the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Buffalo Soldiers Program this Saturday at Cedar Hill State Park as they kick off the first weekend of Black History Month with a program that includes stories, artifacts, and soldiers in period 1870s uniforms.

Knowledge Is Power: Buffalo Soldiers Celebrating Black History Month, Feb. 6, 1570 FM 1382, Cedar Hill, TX 75104, Details

Buffalo Soldiers were African American soldiers who mainly served on the Western frontier following the Civil War. Black slaves and freedmen served during the United States’ early years, but the first all-Black army regiments didn’t happen until 1866 when Congress passed the Army Organization Act and six all-Black cavalry and infantry regiments were formed.  In addition to their work on the frontier, these units participated in the Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII. They were disbanded in the 1950s after President Harry Truman issued an executive order eliminating racial segregation in America’s armed forces.

“This is Black history that you’re not typically going to finding in our history books,” said Louis Padilla, Program Supervisor of Buffalo Soldiers Program. “It’s another piece of history we should all be proud of–not just African Americans–but everybody, because this is truly a good start to healing and and fixing our country.”

Many say the name “buffalo soldiers” was coined by Native Americans who compared the dark hair and skin of the all-Black 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments to that of  bison who roamed the prairie. Another claim suggests that Native American’s revered the soldiers as they did the buffalo because they fought so bravely and fiercely.

Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry, circa 1890, Ft. Keogh, Montana] / photo taken by Chr. Barthelmess. Photo: Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs, Library of Congress

The Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program honors those first African-American regular army regiments with heritage and outreach events.

A member of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program shares information about artifacts at an outreach event. Photo: Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program/Texas Parks and Wildlife

“The program connects minority audiences with the Buffalo soldiers and their outdoor heritage to promote the outdoor recreational opportunities that we have today in our State Park system,” said Padilla.

Saturday’s event will share the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and how they lived on the frontier. There will also be special ‘Knowledge Is Power’ sessions throughout the day.

“Private Mack from our group will be delivering a special program on how the Army educated their soldiers and the importance of education to the army, and specifically the Black soldiers,” said Padilla. “This live talk is in conjunction with a larger virtual program on Black history that we’re running on our website throughout the entire month of February.”

Padilla says the group usually presents its content outdoors in the Texas State Parks, but COVID has restricted their time at community events and at the parks.

The virtual program, called Buffalo Soldier University, helps supplement lost in-person time and also celebrates Black History Month with 15 different virtual programs themed at the African American achievements in the outdoors. Online users can learn about the first Black Seminole Scouts, the first Black graduates of West Point to lead Buffalo soldier units, and Bessie Coleman, the first female African American pilot, and much more throughout the month of February.

Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry or the 9th Cavalry, while stationed at Yosemite National Park. ca. 1899. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Padilla adds that people should come to the in-person event on Saturday because the living history component coupled with the outdoor experience at Cedar Hill State Park makes for a very rich experience.

Members of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program recreate a game of frontier baseball called Trap. The men are dressed in period 1870s military uniforms and are playing in front of tent.

Members of the Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program play a game of Trap ball. Photo: Texas Buffalo Soldiers Program/Texas Parks and Wildlife

“I strongly believe it’s a lifelong memory that you’ll make in one of our Texas State parks–being Cedar Hill or any of the other ones you visit. And then when you add the Buffalo Soldier experience on top of that–hearing their dynamic story, seeing the artifacts they have and really getting a feel of what life was like 150 plus years ago– it’s not something that you’ll get on an everyday basis.”

If you’d like to volunteer with the Texas Buffalo Soldier Program contact Luis Padillo at  [email protected] or leave a message on the group’s Facebook page.


Got a tip? Email Therese Powell at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter @TheresePowell13

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