Examine the two photos of Buffalo Soldiers below [click image to increase size]:
Troop L (9th Cavalry *) captured in their baseball uniforms. I spotted this image today while viewing the New Mexico PBS segment “MOMENTS IN TIME: The Buffalo Soldiers in New Mexico“. I believe this could be the image “Yvonne”, a TEMPO reader emailed us about, having seen it as part of a New Mexico History Museum exhibit last December.
I believe this image was taken while the men were in ACTIVE service. Attached NMHM metadata indicates it was taken in 1899 at Fort Wingate.
Troop G (9th Cavalry) our original mystery Buffalo Soldiers held post at Fort Bayard from 1875-1899, according to this “Units Posted at Fort Bayard” record. General consensus is we’re looking at a REUNION photo taken sometime after their service.
We believe the dog present in both pictures is the same. He looks older in the Troop G photo but that would make sense if the image was taken AFTER their active duty. Also note the framework of the doors, columns and steps. Though the painting differs, the build structure looks similar to the Troop L image.
Lastly, email comments from “Cecilia” of the Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society…
“Although I can not be for certain, I have seen other Ft Bayard buildings and photos that suggest this might be Fort Bayard. Fort Selden and Fort Cummings were nearly all constructed of adobe. Yes, Fort Bayard had many regiments of the 9th Cavalry.”
Though we can’t confirm 100% Fort Bayard was home for our Troop G, it does appear we’re on the right track to doing so; along with a new possibility the regiment held post at Fort Wingate.
According to Buffalo Soldiers (Zianet):
“In 1875-76, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was transferred to the New Mexico District, under command of Colonel Edward Hatch. Two companies were stationed at Fort Bayard, one at Fort McRae, two at Fort Wingate, three at Fort Stanton, one at Fort Union, one at Fort Selden, and one at Fort Garland.”
So Stay tuned! Clearly these Soldiers have returned home with MUCH to say!:)
02.23.15 FOOTNOTE: Troop L details provided by Hannah Abelbeck, Photo Archivist NM History Museum
- We have the group and location noted as 9th Cavalry at Fort Wingate. I’d have to look into the source and see if I can figure out when and why that metadata got assigned. Sometimes information comes to us on the photo; sometimes it is assigned later. Maybe our info is incorrect and Fort Bayard is another option; maybe it is perfectly correct already. Or maybe the two different units are somehow interrelated (changed names, consolidated, split, etc). Here’s our online record: http://econtent.unm.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/acpa/id/5049/rec/1
- The photo came to us from a dealer circa 1981. In the same accession were two other photos, identified as: 9th Cavalry, Troop H also from Fort Wingate circa 1899-1900, and the NCOs of 9th Cavalry, Troop L, at Fort Wingate, circa 1899.
The notes on all three images are from the same hand—seems likely that they are from the dealer. There is a chance that they came from the same estate, but we have no information on their provenance. The baseball photo seems to have two names written on it, perhaps, but the writing is not good: it might say “Capt. Day” and “Lt. Pritchard” or something that kind of looks like those names.
Both of the Troop L images are made by the Imperial Photo Gallery and are on the same type and size of mount. Looking closer, the buildings captured in both of those images look to be from the same architectural style—adobe brick. They also both have horizontal multi-paned glass windows over the doors. They are not, however, exactly the same side of the same building—the arrangement of doors and windows, the supports, and the size of the porch are different. These are both different than the image you have, which has clearly discernible siding.
The units in our photos mostly seem to have been identified by their troop flags (or baseball jerseys).
There were many buildings at both forts, and many structures at Wingate were damaged in fire in the 1890s. So while we have photos of both Forts, they aren’t systematic enough (individual buildings are photographed erratically, groups of buildings are shot from too far away to differentiate between subtle architectural details), so I’m unable to venture confirming or excluding either site for your photo.
Interestingly, the hat style for both K and H at this time (1899) seems to have been the western-style Cavalry hat. Also on the topic of hats, I’ve attached a detail from the 9th Cavalry band photo (Santa Fe Plaza circa 1880) where you can see men in the band wearing the regular cap, but with two different insignias. The hat style changes again after 1910, and the troops up north (like, Troop K, Wyoming) in the 1890s seem wear yet another style of hat.
I didn’t see any men in any of our photos that seemed obvious matches for the men in your photos, but I was not doing detailed comparisons. And, as far as we know, these were different units and they may not even have served concurrently.