by Charles L. Kenner
Norman, Ok.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999. Pp. x, 384.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $26.95. ISBN:0-8061-3158-6
Although there still are some important and interesting areas that have yet to be explored, books the black military experience in America are no longer rare. But some works on the subject are better than others, and some of the worst can perpetuate as many myths as the purport to refute.
Kenner’s Buffalo Soldiers and Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, is an excellent complement to the Fowler volume, despite suffering from poor proof reading. While the horse soldiers generally led a more exciting life on the frontier, like the infantrymen much of their service was in the dull routine of garrison duty, a matter that Kenner deals with at some length. The book is also of value in dispelling some myths that have grown up around the black regiments, that, for example, they got the worst horses in the army; in fact, since officers were largely responsible for approving mounts, and considering complaints on the quality of horseflesh from white regiments, as well as black ones, there doesn’t seem to have been much to chose between the two. That’s not to say that there wasn’t discrimination against the black troopers, and Kenner points out a number of important instances of clear hostility by individual commanders or by the War Department. A good book.