DUPONT, Wash. (June 1, 2022) – A new Buffalo Soldier exhibit commemorating the 1904 Ninth Cavalry encampment was formally dedicated at the DuPont Historical Museum located near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Wash., with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by service members, veterans and community residents.
The DuPont Historical Society and Friends of DuPont Buffalo Soldier History invited Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commanding general of America’s First Corps, as a guest speaker to mark the occasion.
“This exhibit serves as a reminder about the power of hope,” said Lt. Gen. Brunson. “I think about how difficult life was for the Buffalo Soldiers. Hope drives us. Hope moves us. The necessary component of life is hope. If you have hope, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
The Buffalo Soldiers were six all-black regiments formed in 1866 after the Civil War. They were later consolidated into the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 23rd and 24th Infantry, being stationed throughout Washington State at the turn-of-the-century.
In 1904, the Buffalo Soldiers came to DuPont for a nationally significant military exercise that led to the creation of Camp Lewis, now known as JBLM. They practiced tactical problems including attacks and defense, amphibious invasions, and cavalry and artillery actions.
Buffalo Soldier re-enactors bearing replica firearms, a live horse, uniforms and authentic frames of mind attended the dedication ceremony.
“We like to think of ourselves as living historians,” said Geordan Newbill, president of Buffalo Soldiers of Seattle. “Our job really is to play the part of the Buffalo Soldiers. When we’re in uniform, our year is 1904.”
In July 1904, the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers crossed Stampede Pass on horseback to participate in the first joint integrated exercises in US history, at the American Lake Maneuvers in what is now DuPont, Steilacoom, Lakewood and Camp Murray. Still facing prejudice, lower pay, and violent protests, they served with distinction and remarkable courage, both domestically and overseas.
“This is our history,” said Brunson. “This is not just a Buffalo Soldier story; it’s an American story.”
Additional guest speakers included Carol Estep, president of DuPont Historical Society, Ron Frederick, mayor of DuPont, Maria Gudaitis, Friends of DuPont Buffalo Soldier History, and Lt. Col. Victor McGee, Steilacoom High School JROTC.
The DuPont Historical Society’s mission is to preserve, interpret, and promote the historical heritage of the City of DuPont and surrounding areas for present and future generations. The DuPont Historical Museum tells the story of the unique role that DuPont played in the development of Washington State and the Puget Sound Region.