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Buffalo Soldiers: Slave to Soldier

6/17/2023 | Watkins Mill State Park | Lawson, MO

Starting in 1866, Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, was the receiving station for the men of color following the Civil War. There, the most unlikely of soldiers joined the United States Army in the United States Colored Troops: Cathay Williams, also known as Pvt. “William Cathay,” the only female known to have served in what would become known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Pvt. Isaac Johnson, the great-grandfather of one of the presenters, enlisted on May 6, 1866, and joined his company at Jefferson Barracks. An original Buffalo Soldier, he traveled across Missouri by rail to the western frontier to serve with honor in the 38th and 24th infantries, and later reenlisted into the famed 9th Cavalry. His story is the basis of "Slave to Soldier."

The presentation will cover the evolution of the USCT from the first ever engagement between Black troops and Confederate forces during the Civil War at the Battle of Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri, to the development of off-shoots of the Buffalo Soldiers during World War II and the Korean War. All presenters will be dressed in period uniforms and attire.

This presentation is sponsored by the Missouri Speakers Bureau. The Missouri Speaker Bureau is jointly organized and managed by Missouri Humanities and the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Presentation Time: 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.

Click here to read the news release.

Watkins Mill State Park is located at:

26600 Park Road N., Lawson, MO | 816-580-3387

Associated activities

  • Interpretive Programs