Emanuel Stance (1843 – December 25, 1887) was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America’s highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Indian Wars of the western United States.
At the time, Stance was serving as a Sergeant in Company F of the 9th Cavalry Regiment at Fort McKavett. On May 20, 1870, he was sent with a patrol to find the Apaches who had kidnapped Herman Lehmann and his younger brother, Willie, four days earlier. Stance and his men located the raiding party near Kickapoo Springs, about fourteen miles north of Fort McKavett, and opened fire. The Apaches abandoned their stolen horses and fled, enabling Willie Lehmann to escape during the chaos. For his bravery on this mission, Stance was cited for “[g]allantry on scout after Indians” and became the first African-American regular to receive the Medal of Honor a month later, on June 28, 1870.
Stance reached the rank of First Sergeant before being murdered on Christmas Eve in 1887. His body was found on the road to Crawford, Nebraska, with four bullet wounds; the probable victim of his own men. He was buried at Fort McPherson National Cemetery, Maxwell, Nebraska.
A group of African American children posing on sliding board ladder at playground on Kennard Field with Terrace Village housing, c. 1949. Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA.
“Teenie Harris photographed for the Pittsburgh Courier for almost 40 years, documenting life in the African-American community. His approximately 70,000 negatives, recently acquired by the museum, form one of the richest-known archives of Black life in an American city from the 1930s to the 1970s.” ——- Carnegie Museum of Art
The first African slaves brought to the British colonies in Virginia in 1619 came on a Dutch ship. At the time, slaves were treated similarly to indentured servants, becoming free with the passage of a certain period of time. Others gained freedom by converting to Christianity, since the English of that time did not typically enslave Christians. Slave labor was used in many efforts to drain and log the Great Dismal Swamp during the 18th and 19th centuries. Escaped slaves living in freedom came to be known as maroons or outlyers. The origin of the term “maroon” is uncertain, with competing theories linking it to Spanish, Arawak or Taino root words. Maroonage, runaway slaves in isolated or hidden settlements, existed in all the Southern states, and swamp-based maroon communities existed in the Deep South, in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Maroonage in the Upper South was largely limited to Virginia and the Great Dismal Swamp.
In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp
The hunted Negro lay;
He saw the fire of the midnight camp,
And heard at times a horse’s tramp
And a bloodhound’s distant bay.
Where will-o’-the-wisps and glow-worms shine,
In bulrush and in brake;
Where waving mosses shroud the pine,
And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine
Is spotted like the snake;
Where hardly a human foot could pass,
Or a human heart would dare,
On the quaking turf of the green morass
He crouched in the rank and tangled grass,
Like a wild beast in his lair.
A poor old slave, infirm and lame;
Great scars deformed his face;
On his forehead he bore the brand of shame,
And the rags, that hid his mangled frame,
Were the livery of disgrace.
All things above were bright and fair,
All things were glad and free;
Lithe squirrels darted here and there,
And wild birds filled the echoing air
With songs of Liberty!
On him alone was the doom of pain,
From the morning of his birth;
On him alone the curse of Cain
Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain,
And struck him to the earth!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1842)
Mark Matthews (August 7, 1894 – September 6, 2005) was an American veteran of the Second World War and a Buffalo Soldier. Born in Alabama and growing up in Ohio, Matthews joined the 10th Cavalry Regiment when he was only 15 years old, after having been recruited at a Lexington, Kentucky racetrack and having documents forged so that he appeared to meet the minimum age of 17. While stationed in Arizona, he joined General John J. Pershing’s Mexico expedition to hunt down Mexican bandit Pancho Villa. He was later transferred to Virginia, where he took care of President Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor’s horses and was a member of the Buffalo Soldiers’ drum and bugle corps. In his late 40s, he served in combat operations in the South Pacific during World War II and achieved the rank of First Sergeant. He was noted as an excellent marksman and horse showman.
Leaving the United States Army a few years before it was integrated, Matthews then took a job as a security guard in Maryland, rising to the rank of chief of the guards and then retiring in 1970. After the war, he told stories of military experiences and grew to represent a symbol of the Buffalo Soldiers. He met with Bill Clinton and Colin Powell in his later years, and dedicated a barracks in Virginia in honor of the Buffalo Soldiers. Having experienced excellent health for most of his life, Matthews died of pneumonia at the age of 111 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. At the time of his death, he was recognized as the oldest living Buffalo Soldier as well as the oldest man, and the second-oldest person, in the District of Columbia. Read more.
Sergeant William H. Carney, C.M.H (1840-1908)
Civil War hero and the first Black American to receive a Congressional Medal of Honor
William Harvey Carney, famed for the words “The Old Flag never touched the ground!” and hero of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in the Civil War, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and attended a private school that was conducted secretly by a minister. His home, which is now officially called the “Sergeant Carney memorial House,” has become a shrine. Carney himself is depicted in the Saint-Gaudens monument which immortalizes Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and his intrepid colored troops. Carney’s features are represented on the face of one of the soldiers following his commander. The flag rescued by Carney is enshrined in Memorial Hall.
Early in 1863, William Carney, then 23 years old, enlisted in the Morgan Guards, which became part of the 54th Massachusetts regiment. In July 1863, the regiment was engaged in the disastrous battle at Fort Wagner. When Carney saw that the color sergeant, the soldier who carried the flag, had been wounded, he rescued the flag, going through a volley of enemy bullets. Delivering it to a squad of his own regiment, he shouted, “The Old Flag never touched the ground!” Then Carney fell to the ground in a dead faint, weak from the wounds that he had received. Mustered out of the army in 1864, he went to New Bedford, Massachusetts before going to California. In 1870, he returned to New Bedford and became one of the four men employed as letter carriers. After 31 years in the postal service, he retired in 1901, then spend his last years as an employee at the state capitol in Boston.
Carney was in great demand as a leader of Memorial Day parades and as a speaker at patriotic events. In 1904, he was the Memorial Day orator at the Shaw Monument on Boston Common.
Black cowboy and horse [between 1890 and 1920?]
A significant number of African-American freedmen also were drawn to cowboy life, in part because there was not quite as much discrimination in the west as in other areas of American society at the time.
Western History/Genealogy Department, Denver Public Library. [Call Number: X-21563].
Unidentified African American Woman
c. Mid-nineteenth century
It is unclear whether this well-dressed, unidentified woman is free or enslaved. What is clear is that her status as an African American woman was significantly altered by the outcome of the American Civil War. Two years of fighting had transformed Union war aims, and by 1863, the North no longer fought only to save the Union but also to end slavery.
Vivien Theodore Thomas (August 29, 1910 – November 26, 1985) was an African-American surgical technician who developed the procedures used to treat blue baby syndrome in the 1940s. Vivien Thomas was the first African American without a doctorate degree to perform open heart surgery on a white patient in the United States.