Buffalo Soldier honored with memorial Reisterstown native was member of all-black unit

July 21, 1998|By Ron Snyder | Ron Snyder,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

One hundred years ago, Sgt. Augustus Walley was in Cuba and the Philippines, fighting in the Spanish-American War. A member of the all-black Buffalo Soldiers cavalry unit, he fought alongside Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders at Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights.

Yesterday, the memory of the Reisterstown native was honored with the unveiling of a memorial plaque at the intersection of Route 140 and Cockeys Mills Road in Reisterstown.

For Houston Wedlock, a retired Army sergeant and Buffalo Soldier re-enactor, the memorial represents long-overdue recognition for Walley, who also received two Medals of Honor.

"The Buffalo Soldiers played an important role in this country even after their duty in the Spanish-American War," said Wedlock, a Baltimore resident. "We can't forget what their contributions have meant, because it is people like Sergeant Walley who helped make this country what it is today."

The Buffalo Soldiers were an African-American cavalry unit founded in 1862. They fought against American Indians in the West and against Mexican revolutionaries and rustlers, and remained active into the 20th century. The final Buffalo Soldiers unit was deactivated after the Korean War with the integration of the armed forces.

Baltimore's link to the Buffalo Soldiers includes Walley and members of the group who are buried in St. Luke's United Methodist Church cemetery in Reisterstown. Next week, Buffalo Soldiers re-enactors -- along with some veterans -- will hold their national reunion in Baltimore.

Wedlock also sees the commemorative plaque as a way to recognize the contributions of all who fought in the Spanish-American War, "whether they were white, black or whatever. It is a war that has received very little recognition, and many of our children have never even heard of it."

Pub Date: 7/21/98

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