Centennial Lodge #4
Prince Hall Masonry, having risen from a Military Lodge, has a tradition of chartering American Military Lodges that continues stronger than ever today. Many Prince Hall Military Lodges can be found in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nowhere is this more illustrative than in the underappreciated mark left upon history by the post-Civil War “Buffalo Soldiers.” For it is far from coincidence that these Brave men, many of whom were Prince Hall Masons, served with such distinction under such hardships with inferior supplies, equipment and horses. They did so because the Black soldier carried hand in hand with him into battle his religion and his Masonry.
In the duration of the Civil War, 1861-1865 the Union Army Enlisted more than 180,000 Black troops. After the Civil War, these soldiers, many of whom had served honorably, deserved a chance to continue their career and the many Slaves now freed from southern plantations needed employment. Some congressmen felt that putting arms into the hands of ex-slaves and sending them to the south was just the opportunity they needed. So an Act was passed on July 28th, 1866, by which Congress authorized the formation of six all-Black units of military. Two of the units were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and four infantry units – The 28th, 29th, 40th and the 41st. In later years, the four units would be combined into two: the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments. Together, the 9th and 10th would ride into Indian territory in the American west as the greatest Military Cavalry unit America had ever assembled. They were the “Buffalo Soldiers” and they received their name from Native American Indians with whom they fought many battles who said that the Black man’s hair resembled the mane of a Buffalo. The 9th Regiment was formed by General P.H. Sheridan in New Orleans in August of 1866. The command of the 9th was awarded to Colonel Edward Hatch and almost immediately transferred to Fort Davis in Texas. Later it was to spend much time in New Mexico before going farther North. The 10th Regiment was also formed in 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and led by Regimental Commander Benjamin Grierson. Starting in Kansas and Oklahoma the 10th later spent much time in West Texas and Arizona. These Regiments were the first Black soldiers commissioned for peace time military service, although they were far from the first Black soldiers to fight for America as there were 5,000 Black soldiers who fought for America’s independence in the Revolutionary War.
The Buffalo Soldiers fought and subdued hostile and marauding Indians, bandits, cattle rustlers, Mescalero’s, desperadoes, outlaws, bootleggers, comancheros and Mexican revolutionaries. They served as protectors of cattle drives, settlers, stage coaches and railroad workers. They sometimes carried the mail, strung telegraph line, built forts which became future large settlements and explored and mapped many unchartered areas of the West, especially Texas.