Some likely were born as slaves. Their brothers-in-arms a year prior had stormed San Juan Hill under withering fire from their side’s 10-barrel Gatling guns, seizing a Spanish-held blockhouse and trenches alongside Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders.” Too many died in that Cuban maelstrom and more got wounded. Their regiment, the 24th Infantry, established in 1869, forged Medal of Honor recipients. It had shielded railroads, escorted supply trains, chased horse thieves, and thwarted Victorio’s Apaches who called the men “Buffalo Soldiers,” for their courage, skin color, and curly, dark hair.
On May 20, 1899, while Company H chased poachers in Yosemite, Company L disembarked from S.S. Humboldt at Dyea, a booming
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