John Langellier: Buffalo Soldiers

From the American Revolution to the present day, African Americans have stepped forward in their nation's defense. John P. Langellier's book Fighting For Uncle Sam: Buffalo Soldiers in the Frontier Army breathes new life into a stirring subject, emphasizing the role men who have come to be known as 'Buffalo Soldiers' played in opening the Trans-Mississippi West. Langellier's work features over 150 images painstakingly gathered from public and private collections, as well as a concise overview of this fascinating, American story.

Langellier received his BA and MA in History from the University of San Diego, and his PhD. from Kansas State University in Military History. He has written dozens of books and scores of articles related to American history.

In his review of the book, Michael N. Searles, Professor Emeritus of Augusta State University wrote: "'Fighting for Uncle Sam: Buffalo Soldiers in the Frontier Army' reflects a deep appreciation and understanding of the black frontier military experience this distinguished scholar, John Langelier, brings to the subject. With numerous military books to his credit, he provides the reader with an overview, insight and depth and enlightens and informs. "Fighting for Uncle Sam" belongs on anyone's bookshelf that wants a guide to the back military experience in the American West."

Buffalo Soldier and Medal of Honor recipient Moses Williams died at the Vancouver Barracks and is buried at the Post Cemetery. Sergeant Williams "retired" at Fort Vancouver and lived among the poor folks who occupied the quarters to the west of the active Barracks, just west of the Hudson's Bay Company Village. The officer called to attend his death stated that Williams died "alone and without friends present." While his belongings, the officer discovered his Medal of Honor; this was the first anyone knew that he was a recipient. There is no record of what became of the Medal. In 1990, the Army and the City of Vancouver were instrumental in placing headstones (pictured here) reflecting the Medal of Honor status of the four recipients buried at the Post Cemetery.

The NPS website has a brief history of Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Vancouver, with some links to deeper discussions at the bottom of the webpage. Additionally, the National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a study to evaluate ways to commemorate and interpret the role of Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the national park system, enhance historical research, education, and public awareness of their stewardship role in the national parks, and further connect the Buffalo Soldiers story to the national parks and African American military service following the Civil War. NPS is collecting public comments on this study until December 31, 2016. Comments can be submitted at

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