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Slaves to Soldiers: A history of the Buffalo Soldiers        

from Burritt on the Mountain: A Living History Museum

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The African American involvement in American military operations during the 19th century was significant and essential. This program looks at the progression of the African American soldier beginning as a slave, to a Civil War soldier, and then later as a Buffalo Soldier. We will discuss African American contributions to the Civil War, Westward Expansion, and the Spanish-American War. Students will learn about the United States Colored Troops, the Buffalo Soldiers, and the Buffalo Soldiers involvement in the Spanish American War.
During the Civil War, the Union Army held slaves as contraband. These people served as cooks, washers, cleaners, construction workers, earthen works builders, and laundresses. After the Emancipation Proclamation ex-slaves signed up and served in the Union Army as American soldiers and freedmen. Many historians suggest that the Emancipation Proclamation and the enlistment of freedmen assisted the Union with winning the Civil War because this action contributed over 200,000 new soldiers to the war effort. African Americans quickly demonstrated they were excellent soldiers contrary to commonly held stereotypes. Throughout the Civil War African America soldiers were given the most challenging and difficult tasks, and they swiftly accomplished their assignments and fought bravely.
In 1866 Congress created a law that formed two African American cavalry units and four African American infantry units. The federal government also wanted to provide jobs and military positions for former United States Colored Troops (USCT) soldiers and freedmen. These soldiers became known as the Buffalo Soldiers. Many of the veterans who fought in the USCT during the Civil War formed these new units. Many freedmen and other African Americans joined the units as well. These regiments were created to protect settlers and their cattle interests out West, to fight and assist in the Indians wars, and to protect railroad construction and travel. During the Spanish American war the Buffalo Soldiers distinguished themselves at the Battle of San Juan and Kettle Hill for their courage and sacrifices. This program reviews the contributions African American soldiers made during 19th century military operations. We will look at a few remarkable individuals and discuss several campaigns in detail. Southwest and southeast regional history may be added to this program.

Program Rating

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About This Program


By Request: $125.00


45 minutes

Target Audience

Education: Grade(s) 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, Parent, Adult Learners special needs Public Library: Library Patrons

Minimum participants:


Maximum participants:


Primary Disciplines

Community Interests, Social Studies/History, Character Education, Gifted & Talented, Special Needs

Program Delivery Mode

Videoconference - H.323 (Polycom, Cisco/Tandberg, LifeSize, etc...)

Booking Information

This program is available between 8:30 AM and 3:30 PM Central Standard Time. Please submit program requests at least one week in advance of scheduled program date.

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For more information contact CILC at (507) 388-3672

Provider's Cancellation Policy

We will not charge for program if cancelled due to nature i.e. snow, tornados, hurricane etc..

If need to cancel or reschedule please do so within 48 hours of program time.

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Burritt on the Mountain: A Living History Museum

Huntsville, AL
United States

Burritt on the Mountain— A Living Museum has been referred to as a "Jewel on the Mountain." Start with Dr. William Henry Burritt's eclectic mansion, add a historic park with restored 19th century houses including a barnyard and animals.

Shana Hyde

Program Details


Speaker will provide information and invite students/viewers to participate through questions and answer.


Explore the social changes for African Americans American from the 1860s to 1900.
Discuss the role African Americans played in the military during the 19th century.
Explore how Buffalo Soldiers contributed to the settling of the western United States.
Compare the role of the USCT during the Civil War to the Buffalo Soldiers in the Spanish American War.

Standards Alignment

National Standards

NSS-USH. 5.12 Era 5: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850-1877)
NSS-USH5.12 Era 6: the Development of the Industrial US 1870-1900
For Alabama:

State Standards

Can adjust and rearrange to suit the social studies and history standards of grade 4-12th. Contact presenter to discuss standards in Alabama history.