Buffalo Soldier Who Won Medal of Honor Reinterred at Arlington

Check out this neat story about Corporal Isaiah Mays, a heroic African American soldier of the Old West, whose remains were reinterred at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Born into slavery in Virginia, Mays later joined up with the Buffalo Soldiers, which eventually included six cavalry and infantry regiments of African Americans serving on the Western frontier during the Indian Wars from the late 1860s to 1891.

In 1889, an Army pay wagon Mays was helping guard was attacked by bandits; shot in both legs, he was the only survivor and had to drag himself two miles to a nearby ranch for help.  For this, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1890.

Mays is one of 23 Buffalo Soldiers to have received this distinction, the military’s highest award for valor.

He later left the Army and eventually entered Arizona State Hospital — possibly because he was indigent or mentally ill.  There he was buried in a grave at the hospital’s All Souls Cemetery when he died in 1925.  In 2001, he was finally accorded the honor of a Medal of Honor headstone.  This past March, Mays’ remains were disinterred, cremated and placed in a special urn in preparation for his reburial at Arlington.

If the story of Corporal Mays has peaked your interest in the Buffalo Soldiers, the Library may have some books for you.  Try some of these:  Black Valor:  Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 by Frank N. Schubert; Buffal0 Soldiers by Catherine Reef (juvenile); Buffalo Soldiers in the West:  A Black Soldiers Anthology, edited by Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles; Buffalo Soldiers (VHS); Buffalo Soldiers (DVD); Child of the Fighting Tenth:  On the Frontier with the Buffalo Soldiers by Forrestine C. Hooker (juvenile); The Forgotten Heroes:  The Story of the Buffalo Soldiers by Clinton Cox (juvenile); Moses Trinidad:  Buffalo Soldier by Michael Walter Tudda; Cathy Williams: From Slave to Female Buffalo Soldier by Phillip Thomas Tucker; On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldier:  Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917, compiled and edited by Frank N. Schubert (NC Collection); and The Black Infantry in the West, 1869-1891 by Arlen L. Fowler.


2 Responses

  1. If the VHS and DVD of the Buffalo Soldiers you recommend stars Danny Glover, it is nothing more than a political statement by Danny Glover masquerading as a movie, a true embarrassment to all the historians involved in the project, the black community, and the memory of the Buffalo Soldiers. You would be much better off finding a copy of John Ford’s ‘Sergeant Rutledge’ w Woody Strode or the upcoming ‘Rescue at Pine Ridge’ dir by Bill Duke.

  2. Thanks for your comment.

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