On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers

Take a road trip following in the footsteps of the Civil War's black enlisted men.

Universal Images Group/Getty Images
Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

One of the first stops on the trail should be at the historic fort, which was one of the first homes of the buffalo soldiers, in 1866. A 13-foot bronze monument of a buffalo soldier astride his horse and a smaller bust nearby was dedicated in 1992 by Gen. Colin L. Powell, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was the first African American to serve in that role, according to the Leavenworth Convention & Visitors Bureau.

 Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

From Kansas, you can travel southwest to Fort Sill Historic Landmark & Museum in Lawton, Okla., which was home to some buffalo soldiers in the 1870s, according to the museum. The soldiers provided assistance in the construction of the post, 46 structures of which are still in use and in mint condition, the museum’s website says. Tours of the fort are available. Click here for more information.

Fort Concho, San Angelo, Texas

From Fort Sill, you can travel southwest to Fort Concho National Historic Landmark in San Angelo, Texas, where elements of both cavalries and both regiments of the buffalo soldiers served during its active years. The fort, which was comprised of 40 buildings and covered more than 1600 acres, was shuttered in 1889 after playing a role for nearly 22 years in settling the Texas frontier. Today it is a historic landmark. Click here for more information.

The fort is worth visiting for another reason, according to the Texas Almanac: “Lt. Henry Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point, served with the 10th Cavalry in West Texas and was stationed for a time at Fort Concho in the late 1870s and Fort Davis.”

Fort Naco, Tucson, Ariz.

From Texas, some of the soldiers migrated west to Fort Naco. It served as home to the ninth and 10th Cavalries for a number of years. The Arizona Buffalo Soldiers Association website reports that it “is the last of twelve border forts that extended from Brownsville, Texas, to San Diego, California. These forts guarded the U.S. and Mexico border in the early 1900s. Pancho Villa, Black Jack Pershing, Geronimo, Charles Young … Henry Flipper and the Buffalo Soldiers all roamed the border. These forts were established to bring order to the U.S.- Mexico border.” Click here for more information.