LEXINGTON, KY (February 3, 2005) They endured four years of the bloodiest war in the history of the United States to win their freedom, and decided to try their wings on the open plains of the Western frontier. There they were met by Mexican revolutionaries, hostile Native Americans, outlaws, comancheros, rustlers, fierce prejudice, dysentery, tuberculosis, diarrhea and bronchitis, but they were free, according to the International Museum of the Horse, which has chronicled the story of the Buffalo Soldiers in a permanent exhibit.
On the up side, many of the black troopers which made up the Buffalo Soldier units overcame the illiteracy imposed by slavery, thanks to chaplains assigned to them in after-hours schools, and no less than 19 received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
At one time, Buffalo Soldiers (so nicknamed by the Cheyenne and Comanche) constituted twenty percent of all cavalry forces on the frontier. Their contributions to the opening of the West were invaluable. For $13 a month, the battle-hardened Buffalo Soldiers and their brave horses subdued their adversaries: Geronimo, Sitting Bull, Victorio, Lone Wolf, Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa – a list that “reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the American West” according to the museum. They also “protected mail routes, built and maintained forts, established law and order, explored and mapped vast areas of the southwest, and strung hundreds of miles of telegraph lines.”
There were only two recruitment offices for African American soldiers in the country, and one of them was in Louisville, Kentucky.
In honor of “Black History Month,” the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park would like to bring attention to its Buffalo Soldiers exhibit, which includes a video presentation. School groups are always welcome. For more information, call 859-233-4303 or visit www.kyhorsepark.com and go to “International Museum of the Horse.”
Winter Season Hours and Rates: through March 14, admission is $9 for adults, $6 for children 7-12. Children six and under are always admitted free of charge. The park is open from 9 am until 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Admission includes the American Saddlebred Museum.
The Kentucky Horse Park is a working horse farm/theme park and equine competition facility dedicated to man’s relationship with the horse. An agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, the park hosted 913,000 visitors and 80 special events and horse shows in 2003. The park is located at Exit 120, Interstate 75, just north of Lexington. The place to get close to horses, the park is open daily March 15 to October 31, and Wednesday through Sunday, November 1 to March 14.