Buffalo Soldiers patrolled the Guadalupe Mountains
By Lynn Chelewski
(Reprinted from the Capitan Reef, Fall 1995 edition - Volume 3, No. 3. - Lynn Chelewski was a Park Ranger with the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Salt Flat, Texas at the time of this report )
A dynamic slice of Guadalupe Mountains history has barely been touched upon. The casual history novice passing through quickly learns about the role ranching played here, that the Butterfield Stage ran through for a brief time, and that this was the last Apache stronghold in Texas. But the skimishes between the Mescalero Apache and the Black troopers patrolling out of nearby Fort Davis is less common knowledge.
Although most of us "baby boomers" were weaned on Hollywood westerns, few know about the role of African Americans during the Indian wars. How ironic when we learn that two regiments of the U.S. Cavalry was Black! Of ten regiments, the 9th and 10th were all Black regiments commanded by Colonels Hatch and Grierson, respectively.
Dubbed "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Cheyenne Indians because of their dark skin, curly hair and fierce fighting spirit, these soldiers adopted the title with pride, the 10th incorporating the symbol of the Buffalo on their regimental crest.
Based out of nearby Fort Davis, Texas, Grierson patrolled the Guadalupe in a campaign destined to subdue the Apache and get them onto reservations.
In 1878, accompanied by his son Robert, Colonel Grierson camped at Pine springs, very near the present-day visitor center (Guadalupe Mountains National Park). In fact, Robert was dubbed, "Bighorn Bob of the Guadalupes" when he killed three Bighorn Sheep on Guadalupe Peak in as many shots!
Colonel Grierson, who was impressed with the region, wrote of the beauty of McKittrick Canyon in his journals.