History | September 11, 2021 2:46 pm

West Point Unveils Statue Honoring Buffalo Soldiers

They taught cadets there horsemanship for many decades

West Point Buffalo Soldiers Statue
People attend a dedication of a statue honoring Buffalo Soldiers at Buffalo Soldier Field in West Point Military Academy on September 10, 2021 in West Point, New York.
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The landscape of West Point Military Academy got something of an upgrade this week. The New York Times reports that the school unveiled a brand-new statue honoring Buffalo Soldiers, the Black soldiers who served in the western United States in the second half of the 19th century.

As reported by Sarah Maslin Nir and Precious Fondren for the Times, it’s an acknowledgement of the Buffalo Soldiers’ close ties with West Point. Specifically, noncommissioned officers from the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were stationed at the military academy and provided their expertise by instructing cadets in horsemanship.

The soldiers continued instructing cadets until 1947.

The nonprofit Buffalo Soldiers Association raised the money for the statue, part of their overall mission of — as per their website — “[educating] future generations about the historical legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers that served at the United States Military Academy.” The statue itself is in the image of Sgt. Sanders Matthews, who was stationed at West Point from 1939 to 1962, and who died in 2016.

The sculptor Eddie Dixon created this, marking his second time honoring Buffalo Soldiers with a monument. He’s also responsible for designing the Buffalo Soldier Monument in Leavenworth, Kanasas, which was dedicated in 1992. In conversation with the Times, he described the new statue as “a historical, tangible reference point” for West Point cadets — and a historical reminder for everyone.