Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877
The Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 marker, located off of highway 214 in Morton Memorial Cemetery, remembers the soldiers who were witnessed to and took part in that gruesome four day march. In their pursuit to secure the lands of Texas from rebellious Native American tribes, the soldiers found themselves without water for eighty-six hours. Four lives were lost during the march, as soldiers of the 10th Cavalry, Company A, experienced a number of horrors in order to survive their ordeal. Their sacrifices for national security did not go unnoticed, and to this day, they are remembered by the memorial, which comprises of the roadside marker along with four headstones marked by each man's name who was lost during the expedition.
Backstory and Context
The Comanche led the soldiers away from water in their pursuit. Dehydration set in and a drinking source was nowhere to be found. Many soldiers became desperate and left the party to seek for water, leaving their friends and comrades behind as pure desperation and madness forced them to do so. As the men suffered, so did their animals, and horses began to fall under the extreme circumstances. Reports of men resorting to drinking the animals' urine and even going so far as to drink the dead horses' blood were common. Once they finally arrived at Double Lakes camp and obtained precious drinking water, it had been a grueling eighty-six hours under the hot, arid sky without any source of hydration. Four men were lost, as well as twenty-three horses and four mules dead. Only around eighteen men or so were still with the party when they made it back to camp, though all suffered unspeakable horrors and hardships in their attempts to survive.
The fateful day they set off was July 26, 1877, and they would not return until the thirtieth of that month. The routine mission of pursuit turned into one of the worst disasters in the country's expansion of the western frontier. The soldiers fell into the Comanche trap, who sought to stretch them thin in the harsh landscape and utilize the drought to hit their water supply. When the soldiers were ordered off, they left without water, only bringing rations of food. Many of the men who deserted Captain Nolan and the 10th were brought forward for court-martials, despite the desperate and extreme circumstances, and the lives of Privates Gordon, Isaacs, Derwin, and Bonds, would be cut short as they gave their all to remain with the party and complete their objective. All in all, the mission was a complete failure and proved disastrous for the forty soldiers who served.
Today, the men who participated in the Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 are forever remembered at Morton Memorial Cemetery. Off of highway 214 lies a lone marker with four headstones. The marker tells of the events that transpired and of the reason for the four headstones lying behind it, each with the name of one of the privates that died for their country. Erected in 2008 by the Texas Historical Commission, the small memorial honors the men of Company A of the 10th Cavalry and the suffering they endured for the United States.
Brickey, Henri. “Buffalo Soldier Tragedy Victims Honored.” Lubbock Avalanche-Journal , 1 July 2008, Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 - Texas Historical Markers on Waymarking.com, www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMKA06_Buffalo_Soldier_Tragedy_of_1877.
“Buﬀalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877.” Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877 Historical Marker, 16 June 2016, www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=73660.
Geocaching. Carma International , 1 June 2011, carmapreservation.com/BSE1877/buffalo_soldiers_brochurefi.pdf.