Fort Ethan Allen: 1910. Gelatin silver print mounted to board, 16 ¼ x 14 ½ inches. Fair to Good. Item #List304
The 10th Cavalry was one of the original “Buffalo Soldier” regiments of the post-Civil War segregated U.S. Army, first seeing action in the Indian Wars. Their band is shown here most likely during their stint at Fort Ethan Allen in Vermont. They are wearing a mix of insignia from 1902 to 1908, and some are shown in civilian clothing, which suggests the picture was taken in Vermont as this was during the time the Army used a vast mix of insignia, and the brick architecture of the background also matches that of the fort.
They were exposed to some racism during their time in Vermont - the soldiers were punished for associating with neighboring white women, with some of the offenders being confined to the guardhouse for punishment, which fits with the strictly segregated Army policies of the time. The soldiers did also record positive aspects of their time at the fort, including studying at the fort’s library and playing nightly games of the newly-invented sport of basketball. These amenities provided some positive contrast to the previous assignments of the regiment, who had been mostly stationed on the frigid plains where the army believed racial tensions would be kept to a minimum.
The picture shows the band with the normal marching band instruments of clarinets, tubas, and sousaphones, as well as an alto clarinet, oboe and what appears to be a baritone saxophone. We find no other examples of the 10th Cavalry Band, and the picture shows the regiment at a relatively calm time, as they would soon be sent to the Mexican-American border in 1913 to deal with rising tensions. The picture has condition issues, with damage to the mount, some damage to the bottom left corner, and a crease along the bottom third of the image, along with closed tears and chipping to the title label. It remains in fair to good condition, attractive, and worthy of preservation.