Smithsonian unearths Buffalo Soldier's story
He was little more than a teenager, about 19 or 20 years old. Small and slight for warfare on the frontier, he had the delicate facial bones of a boy and had likely once been a slave.
He was a Buffalo Soldier: one of the legendary African American members of the U.S. Army who served at remote military outposts in the years after the Civil War.
But his grave outside an abandoned New Mexico fort had been violated. His bones were scrambled. And investigators think his skull, still with most of its hair, became a relic hunter's trophy before it was returned to authorities in a paper bag.
Last month, experts working at the Smithsonian Institution matched the young man's skull with a skeleton exhumed from the fort's cemetery, solving a gruesome mystery of looted graves, purloined artifacts, and life and death on the frontier.
It was part of a project of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and federal land, water and law enforcement agencies looking into the decadeslong ransacking of the cemetery outside Fort Craig, in New Mexico.
Federal officials shipped 39 sets of well-preserved remains last month from New Mexico to Washington. Scientists pored over the bones with microscopes, CT scanners, X-ray machines and digital measuring devices for insights into the lives of the fort's dead.
comments powered by Disqus
- New Hampshire professors at odds with library over discarded books
- Troubled history fuels Japan-China tension
- Independent Scotland's last gasp forgotten in Panama jungle
- LBJ was the ‘most-threatened president in American history’
- New exhibit at the World War I Museum ... Over by Christmas: August-December 1914
- Ken Burns on Colbert to promote his new documentary, "The Address"
- UC Santa Barbara History Department featuring a series on the Great Society at 50
- Historians are trying to recover censored texts from World War I poets
- Diane Ravitch blasts the NYT for failing to understand the controversy over Common Core
- Mormon history professors debate atheists in bid to foster greater understanding