On our busy adventure day to Dayton last week, we stopped by the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Wilberforce on our way home. This national monument is one of the youngest in the nation, dedicated a mere three years ago. Many people are surprised that there is a Buffalo Soldiers monument in Ohio since the Buffalo Soldiers never served there. But Charles Young is a fascinating figure all by himself and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument was his home.
Charles Young was born as a slave in Kentucky on March 12, 1864. Because Kentucky fought on the Union side, its slaves were not freed until the 13th Amendment was passed at the end of 1865. Charles Young became the third black graduate of West Point in 1889 and the last until 1936. Young served as the commander of the 9th Colored Cavalry in combat in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War and in service out west. He was the first black superintendent of a National Park when he protected Sequoia and General Grant National Parks in 1903. He was the first black military attache, serving in Liberia and Haiti.
During World War I, Young was recommended for promotion and a command in Europe. President Wilson, however, believed that white officers would refuse to serve under him. He was classified “medically unfit” and involuntarily retired. Although later reinstated, he never served in Europe. He taught Military Science at Wilberforce University between his military assignments and died in 1922 while on assignment to Nigeria. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The visit to Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument was very short. The house is currently open to visitors only on special occasions. But I was able to get the stamp for the national monument at the Dayton Aviation Heritage Trail Visitors Center. We walked around the house, read the plaque, and returned to the car to head for home. During this visit to Ohio I was able to get visit three out of the eight national park sites in Ohio, so I still have some places to visit the when we return to Ohio.