With its first burial taking place in 1856 — Concordia Cemetery is a well-known burial ground in El Paso, Texas — known for being the burial place of several gunslingers such as John Wesley Hardin — there are also many hidden gems of history for new visitors to learn about.
El Paso’s Concordia Cemetery offers a hidden gem of history in Buffalo Soldier Memorial.
Did you know that there are historical war veterans buried in El Paso’s Concordia cemetery? Buffalo Soldiers from four different regiments of African American soldiers who served in the area after the end of the Civil War have reached their final resting place right here in El Paso. The remains of over forty Buffalo Soldiers are known to be buried at Concordia, which resulted in the establishment of the cemetery’s Buffalo Soldier Memorial.
The nickname “buffalo soldier” is said to have been given by the Native Americans who encountered the soldiers because of their dark, curly hair that resembled the fur of a buffalo. Another assumption is the soldiers fought so valiantly and fiercely that the Native Americans revered them as they did the mighty buffalo.
I’ve posted a link to view a short two-minute video post of my visit to The Buffalo Soldier Memorial at Concordia Cemetery in El Paso, TX — here:
As a local journalist and history buff, my dad introduced me to stories about Buffalo Soldiers as a kid. He told me about their posts here in the southwest near Las Cruces, NM at Fort Selden, and in West Texas at Fort Quitman.
He even wrote a short story (historical fiction) about Buffalo Soldiers based out of Fort Quitman called “The Virgin” which I have adapted for publication. It’s an attempt to bring history to life in a way that gives us a glimpse into what daily life for these early heroes might have been like. Here is an excerpt from “The Virgin” below:
It was the soldiers’ tenth day searching for Mescalero-Apaches with no luck. First Sergeant Cecil Mackey bent to retrieve the reins he had dropped as he watered his horse in a foothill spring of the desolate, west Texas Guadalupe mountains. At the same time, he and other Buffalo Soldiers heard the familiar crack of a Springfield carbine.
Flinching, his first thought was, “What fool is firin’ his carbine?” The bullet had struck the water about two yards in front of him and would have hit him in the upper back had he not bent to retrieve the reins just before the carbine’s report. Then, he heard multiple crackling gunshots. This time, he realized the shots were too far away to have come from his comrades spread along the meandering spring’s bank. Fear replaced anger, sending a chill down his spine as he realized the shot was from an Apache, not his soldiers.
Already wearing their bandoliers, the men moved quickly, up and down the twisting bank, snatching carbines from their saddle scabbards to return fire while diving for cover near buckboard-sized, squatting boulders along the stream’s bank. The Apaches had the high ground, Mackey realized. With the morning sun at their backs, the only way the soldiers could aim was to shoot at the small clouds discharged from the Apache’s rifle muzzles as they fired down on them.
The cavalrymen’s withering return fire spoke to their fear, anger, and embarrassment. They had no idea how many Indians were shooting, but they would hold their ground, firing until the Mescalero-Apaches backed off. And suddenly, just as it had begun it ended. Ghost-like, the Indians retreated, and Mackey signaled the men with a closed, raised fist, to “hold position.” The soldiers remained in their positions for more than an hour after the battle, waiting, lest they be lured into gun sights again. Mackey, at the middle of the firing line, finally risked exposure and signaled the men to rise, retrieve their mounts, and remain silent and vigilant.
Have you visited El Paso’s Buffalo Soldier Memorial?
What other #HiddenGems of history have you found regarding Buffalo Soldiers?