Buffalo Soldiers In Brattleboro

Buffalo Soldiers, Fort Ethan Allen.jpg

Colored Cavalry On Long March

10th Regiment Camped On Valley Fair Grounds Wednesday

General Inspection and Band Concert in Evening--

Hundreds of Citizens Visited the Camp.

The colored troops of the 10th United States cavalry in command of Col. C. H. Grayson, arrived in town Wednesday afternoon and encamped for the night on the Valley Fair grounds. They are on a 600 mile "hike" to New Haven and return and will take part in the military manuevers in Connecticut that are scheduled to take place this month.

Eleven of the 12 troops of the 10th regiment are taking part in the march, one troop being left at Fort Ethan Allen. During the afternoon and evening the fair grounds were visited by hundreds of people.

Shortly before 11 o'clock the advance guard of the approaching regiment arrived here and from then until 1.35 o' clock, when the main body of the regiment arrived, groups of mounted soldiery drove into town. At 1.35 the colored troops arrived in front of the town hall building and marched through Main street, up Canal street to the fair grounds. There they pitched camp and remained until about 7 o' clock yesterday morning, when they mounted their horses and went to Greenfield. Today they will arrive in Northampton.

A large crowd gathered along both sides of Main street as the regiment passed, and the sight was one of unusual interest. The troops came two abreast and as the 11 troops, hospital corps and machine gun platoon included 650 enlisted men, over 650 horses and 125 mules, the scene made a deep impression upon the spectators. The cavalrymen were soldierly in their bearing, making no remarks or comments as they passed, and gave evidence of excellent discipline.

Immediately upon their arrival at the fair grounds the troopers dismounted, picketed their horses and pitched their "pup" tents. These were in perfect alignment and at the south end of the company streets the horses were picketed in straight lines. The troopers have muster once a month and Wednesday was the day for it.

Word had been passed along the line that Inspector General Colonel H. C. Slocum was to be here for a general inspection of the regiment and hardly had the "pups" been pitched before the colored men were at work polishing up their guns and revolvers, putting a shine on their swords and getting ready for the coming ordeal. They were tired from their ride, but they had to make a good appearance before the colonel.

About 2 o' clock the wagon train passed along Main street and went to the fair grounds. The wagons were hauled by mules and driven by unenlisted men with a trooper sitting beside him. Upon the arrival of the wagons details were picked to unload them, set up the officers' and cooks' tents and in a marvelously short time every tent was set up and the mules picketed. Standing upon the grandstand and looking out over the field, one had an opportunity to see the perfect detail in which it was laid out.

Shortly before 7 o' clock the troops were lined up along the company streets and were ready for inspection. Many of the men had been careless during the past month about the condition of their equipment, and they were in doubt as to what the results would be when the inspecting officer discovered this.

As he arrived at a company they stood at "attention" and then as he passed along the line they presented arms. He walked swiftly along the lines and then along the rear, glancing at their cartridge belts, which were hung from the shoulder. Again he went along the front of the line and each man held his revolver at an angle before his face.

Not a man moved while the inspecting officer was in sight, but when he saluted the captain of the troop and went to another troop grins overspread the dusky faces. The much-dreaded ordeal was passed and it was not nearly as bad as anticipated.

During the inspection the regiment band of 28 men under the direction of Leader Thomas gave a fine concert of six or seven numbers. Almost every man is equipped with a silver instrument and the quality of the music rendered was far above the average. At the close of the inspection an impressive incident occurred. The companies were lined up along the streets, a few men were at work about the horses and the cook tents and the whole place was a scene of great activity.

Then from in front of the officers' tents came "retreat" blown in perfect unison by 22 buglers. At the first blast of the instruments the men stood at "attention" and remained until the call was finished. Then came the music of the band playing "The Star Spangled Banner." Before the first bar had been finished the spirit of the great song entered the spectators on the field and heads were bared and stillness spread over the camp grounds.

Every trooper was standing at "attention," men who had been at work stopped whatever they were doing and stood like statues. Except for the music of the grand old song not a sound could be heard.

Then came the realization of what the flag means to everyone on the grounds and tears welled up in more than one pair of eyes. So quiet was it that a little girl standing with her father started to ask a question and, startled by the loudness of her own voice, stopped short in the middle of a word and waited with the rest for the finish of the song.

At its close the troopers were dismissed.

Many of the men came down town in the evening while others remained about camp. Others quickly "went to the hay," as they call it. Most of the soldiers were jolly and answered the innumerable questions fired at them with readiness and good nature. They joked among themselves, especially about the lack of money in the regiment. The men have not been paid for two months because the government's appropriations have run out, and although Wednesday was supposed to be payday not a man received a cent. They expect to get paid at the August muster.

The men live well and the quality of the food is of the best. One company had for supper Wednesday evening roast beef, mashed cream potatoes, baked macaroni, bread and coffee. This company used 10 gallons of coffee, 30 pounds of potatoes, 40 pounds of roast beef and seven packages of macaroni. Multiply this by 11 and one will get a good idea of how much food it takes to provide the regiment with one meal.

Vermont Phoenix, Friday, August 2, 1912.







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