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History of Black Soldiers in the Spanish American War

Finally The Attention Of The United States was forcibly attracted to Cuba by the Virginius affair, which consisted in the wanton murder of fifty American sailors, officers and crew of the Virginius, which was captured by the Spanish off Santiago bay, bearing arms and ammunition to the insurgents, Captain Fry, a West Point graduate, in command.

On February 15th, 1898, over 250 American sailors were killed when the battleship Maine blew up and sank in Havana harbor. The war with Spain began in April, 1898 when Major General William Shafter, a former commander of the 24th Infantry led an expeditionary force of over 17,000 men, including nearly 3,000 Black regulars, into Cuba.

Although the Spanish American War was ostensibly fought to liberate Caribbean and Philippine islanders from Spanish oppression, the participation of African American troops was very controversial in the African American community. Some troops and many citizens openly questioned whether African Americans should fight for the U.S. government that recognized them as citizens in name only. In order to prepare for the invasion of Cuba, the Buffalo Soldiers were posted to the southeastern United States for the first time in their history.

San Juan Hill

San Juan Hill

The troops of the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry served with distinction on the battlefields of Las Guasimas, El Caney, and San Juan Hill. In four months of fighting the Spanish under these adverse conditions, the Buffalo Soldiers were described as “most gallant and soldierly.”

This is their story

Black Soldiers in the Spanish American War TOC

Black Soldiers in the Spanish American War

Liberators of Cuba


MLA Source Citation:

Johnson, Edward A. History of Negro Soldiers in the Spanish-American War, and other items of Interest. 1899. Web. 7 February 2016.
- Last updated on Mar 24th, 2015

This page is part of a larger collection. Access the full collection at History of Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War.

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