Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young

Overview


An unheralded military hero, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first African American national park superintendent, the first black U.S. military attaché, the first African American officer to command a Regular Army regiment, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment tells the story of the man who—willingly or not—served as a standard-bearer for his race in the officer corps for nearly thirty ...
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Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young

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Overview


An unheralded military hero, Charles Young (1864–1922) was the third black graduate of West Point, the first African American national park superintendent, the first black U.S. military attaché, the first African American officer to command a Regular Army regiment, and the highest-ranking black officer in the Regular Army until his death. Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment tells the story of the man who—willingly or not—served as a standard-bearer for his race in the officer corps for nearly thirty years, and who, if not for racial prejudice, would have become the first African American general.
 
Brian G. Shellum describes how, during his remarkable army career, Young was shuffled among the few assignments deemed suitable for a black officer in a white man’s army—the Buffalo Soldier regiments, an African American college, and diplomatic posts in black republics such as Liberia. Nonetheless, he used his experience to establish himself as an exceptional cavalry officer. He was a colonel on the eve of the United States’ entry into World War I, when serious medical problems and racial intolerance denied him command and ended his career. Shellum’s book seeks to restore a hero to the ranks of military history; at the same time, it informs our understanding of the role of race in the history of the American military.
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Editorial Reviews

Dayton Duncan

“During a long and distinguished career—from being the first African-American captain in the regular army and first to be in charge of a national park, to serving in the Phillipines, chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico, and representing the United States in Liberia—Charles Young succeeded in spite of the Jim Crow prejudices permeating the American military of his time. His is a remarkable and inspiring story, though often overlooked. In this well-researched book, Brian Shellum finally gives Young the historical attention he deserves.”—Dayton Duncan, author of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea
Gregory J. W. Urwin

Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment is more than just another military biography. As only the third African American to graduate from West Point, Charles Young belonged to an army that did not want him. Every day of his professional life brought challenges, slights, and hardships that never confronted the white officers who served beside him. With quiet dignity and determination, Young skillfully negotiated incredible obstacles to reach the rank of colonel. Brian G. Shellum has succeeded in capturing Young’s courage and the shameful milieu of America’s Jim Crow army.”—Gregory J. W. Urwin, editor of Black Flag over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War

Mark Benbow

“Extensively researched and clearly written, Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment places Charles Young back where he belongs, among the important figures of African Americans during the Progressive Era. Shellum’s account should be read by anybody interested in understanding how a black Army officer could not only survive, but prosper in the Jim Crow–era military.”—Mark Benbow, former resident historian of the Woodrow Wilson House

William W. Gwaltney

“Shellum has written a careful, concise, thoughtful, and easily read volume on the life story of Colonel Charles Young. . . . Using solid research and little-used documentary sources, Shellum brings into sharp focus a man and officer of whom too little is known, and not near enough is remembered. There is enough in Young’s life to fuel a dozen shows on the History Channel and be the subject of a decade of African American Heritage Months.”—William W. Gwaltney, former president of the Association of African American Museums

Floyd Thomas

“Brian Shellum traces the development, experiences, and extraordinary accomplishments of a pioneering black officer who broke through one racial barrier after another in the decades straddling the turn of the twentieth century. The author follows Charles Young on his far-flung adventures with the Buffalo Soldiers on the Great Plains and in Sequoia National Park, leading his troopers in combat in the Philippines and Mexico, and his service in Haiti and Liberia as the first African American military attaché. Shellum places in the context of his times a leader who came to epitomize African American manhood. In so doing the author reveals a true hero to his country and his race.”—Floyd Thomas, curator at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

Journal of American History

"Shellum’s book is a welcome addition to recent studies of the black military experience. . . . This is an enjoyable, commanding, and well researched work." —Bruce A. Glasrud, Journal of American History

— Bruce A. Glasrud

Nebraska History

"Brian Shellum is to be congratulated for providing a first rate biography of a proud and competent officer serving during a difficult period of his country’s history. "—Thomas R. Buecker, Nebraska History

— Thomas R. Buecker

Utah Historical Quarterly

"Brian Shellum has filled an important void in African American biography and American military history."—Ronald G. Coleman, Utah Historical Quarterly

— Ronald G. Coleman

Strategypage.com

" A valuable read for anyone with an interest in the final years of the frontier Army, American imperialism, African-Americans in military service, and American military history in general."—A.A. Nofi, Strategypage.com

Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"This is a solid study of an important figure in American history. It is easy to recommend to those with an interest in military affairs, biography, and the African American experience."—Claude Clegg, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

— Claude Clegg

Journal of American History - Bruce A. Glasrud

"Shellum's book is a welcome addition to recent studies of the black military experience. . . . This is an enjoyable, commanding, and well researched work." —Bruce A. Glasrud, Journal of American History
Nebraska History - Thomas R. Buecker

"Brian Shellum is to be congratulated for providing a first rate biography of a proud and competent officer serving during a difficult period of his country's history. "—Thomas R. Buecker, Nebraska History
Utah Historical Quarterly - Ronald G. Coleman

"Brian Shellum has filled an important void in African American biography and American military history."—Ronald G. Coleman, Utah Historical Quarterly
Strategypage.com - A.A. Nofi

" A valuable read for anyone with an interest in the final years of the frontier Army, American imperialism, African-Americans in military service, and American military history in general."—A.A. Nofi, Strategypage.com
Register of the Kentucky Historical Society - Claude Clegg

"This is a solid study of an important figure in American history. It is easy to recommend to those with an interest in military affairs, biography, and the African American experience."—Claude Clegg, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society
Dayton Duncan
"During a long and distinguished career-from being the first African-American captain in the regular army and first to be in charge of a national park, to serving in the Phillipines, chasing Pancho Villa in Mexico, and representing the United States in Liberia-Charles Young succeeded in spite of the Jim Crow prejudices permeating the American military of his time. His is a remarkable and inspiring story, though often overlooked. In this well-researched book, Brian Shellum finally gives Young the historical attention he deserves."

-Dayton Duncan, author of The National Parks: America's Best Idea

Gregory J. W. Urwin
"Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment is more than just another military biography. As only the third African American to graduate from West Point, Charles Young belonged to an army that did not want him. Every day of his professional life brought challenges, slights, and hardships that never confronted the white officers who served beside him. With quiet dignity and determination, Young skillfully negotiated incredible obstacles to reach the rank of colonel. Brian G. Shellum has succeeded in capturing Young's courage and the shameful milieu of America's Jim Crow army."

-Gregory J. W. Urwin, editor of Black Flag over Dixie: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in the Civil War

Mark Benbow
"Extensively researched and clearly written, Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment places Charles Young back where he belongs, among the important figures of African Americans during the Progressive Era. Shellum's account should be read by anybody interested in understanding how a black Army officer could not only survive, but prosper in the Jim Crow-era military."

-Mark Benbow, former resident historian of the Woodrow Wilson House

William W. Gwaltney
"Shellum has written a careful, concise, thoughtful, and easily read volume on the life story of Colonel Charles Young. . . . Using solid research and little-used documentary sources, Shellum brings into sharp focus a man and officer of whom too little is known, and not near enough is remembered. There is enough in Young's life to fuel a dozen shows on the History Channel and be the subject of a decade of African American Heritage Months."

-William W. Gwaltney, former president of the Association of African American Museums

Floyd Thomas
"Brian Shellum traces the development, experiences, and extraordinary accomplishments of a pioneering black officer who broke through one racial barrier after another in the decades straddling the turn of the twentieth century. The author follows Charles Young on his far-flung adventures with the Buffalo Soldiers on the Great Plains and in Sequoia National Park, leading his troopers in combat in the Philippines and Mexico, and his service in Haiti and Liberia as the first African American military attaché. Shellum places in the context of his times a leader who came to epitomize African American manhood. In so doing the author reveals a true hero to his country and his race."

-Floyd Thomas, curator at the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803213852
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Pages: 412
  • Sales rank: 241,592
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Brian G. Shellum is a senior intelligence analyst with the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization with the U.S. Department of Defense. He is the author of Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point, available in a Bison Books edition.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations viii

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Chronology xix

1 Awaiting Orders 1

2 First Posting to Fort Robinson 9

3 New Start at Fort Duchesne 31

4 Military Instructor at Wilberforce 48

5 Volunteer Officer in the Spanish-American War 70

6 Return to Fort Duchesne 93

7 Fighting Guerillas in the Philippines 115

8 Troop Commander in San Francisco and Sequoia 136

9 Military Attaché in Hispaniola 159

10 Garrison Duty in the Philippines and Wyoming 182

11 Military Assistance Mission in Liberia 204

12 Chasing Villa in Mexico 229

13 Retirement to Ohio 246

14 Final Post in Liberia 263

Epilogue: Corning Home 280

Notes 289

Bibliography 339

Index 353

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