Emanuel Stance was considered not to have the qualities needed for a good soldier when he sought to enlist in the U.S. Army. He had a slight build, about five feet tall, and was only nineteen years old. However, he was accepted and became a member of the 9th U. S. Cavalry, Company F, one of the two regiments of African Americans. Many of the enlistees were recently freed slaves and veterans of the Civil War. Stance and his company saw action against the Kickapoo Indians in the Battle of Kickapoo Springs, Texas. As a result of his performance, Stance received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was the first African American to receive this medal.
Little is known about Emanuel Stance's life before he enlisted in the army. However, some sources, including the records at Fort McPherson National Cemetery, indicate he was born in 1843 at Carroll Parish, Louisiana. A former slave and sharecropper, Stance enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1866 in Lake Providence, Louisiana. The Greater North Carolina Chapter of the Ninth and Tenth (Horse) Cavalry Association of the Buffalo Soldiers reports that Stance's recruiter, Lieutenant John Maroney, recorded that Stance's eyes, hair, and complexion were black. Maroney indicated that Stance had determination and the gleam in his eyes that suggested he would make an excellent soldier. Stance proved himself to be a good fighter, but he also showed himself to be argumentative. Serving in the army was one of the more lucrative jobs a post-Civil War black man could have. The soldiers earned $13 a month plus room, board, and clothing.
Stance was sent to Fort McKavett in Texas for a rigorous six month training period. In March 1867, the Ninth Cavalry was reassigned to San Antonio, Texas where they policed and protected American settlers and stage and mail routes from outlaws and Indians. In June, Company F and other regiments were transferred to Fort Davis, Texas. Stance was at Fort Davis from July 1867 to February 1869.
- Born in Carroll Parish, Louisiana
- Enlists in the U.S. Army in October, Company F, 9th Cavalry Unit
- Awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for valor in the fight against the Kickapoo Indians at Kickapoo Springs, Texas on May 20; becomes first African American to win the Congressional Medal of Honor in the Indian Campaigns
- Body is found near Crawford, Nebraska on December 25
Wins Congressional Medal of Honor
Stance was able to read and write, which made it possible for him to advance in rank since he could handle the paperwork that was a part of a noncommissioned officer's duty. He advanced to corporal and ended his career as a first sergeant. Stance saw action in five Indian encounters in a period of two years.
In May 1870, Stance was in charge of a scouting party sent out to look for two captured children and some stolen horses. He came upon the Indians and the stolen horses and gave the order to charge, scattering the Indians and capturing the horses. They continued on to Kickapoo Springs and came upon a band of Indians about to attack a wagon train. Stance and the soldiers attacked them and routed the Indians. They gained horses and the captured youth. As a result of the success of the engagement, which took place in broad daylight, he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, the country's highest military honor. He was the first Buffalo Soldier to earn it. Don Stivers, an artist, depicted Stance and his men at the Battle of Kickapoo Springs in his painting "The Redoubtable Sergeant."
In 1875, the Ninth Cavalry was transferred to the District of New Mexico. The soldiers spent the next six years fighting the Apache. Finally, in 1874, the government forced the Apaches onto reservations. The Ninth Cavalry was assigned to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, but there was little for the soldiers to do in this posting. Stance was a strict disciplinarian, which may have posed a problem for his bored command. When his body was found, it was assumed that his men had turned on him and murdered him. Emanuel Stance is buried at Fort McPherson National Cemetery in Maxwell, Nebraska.
Miller, Robert H. Reflections of a Black Cowboy; Book Two: The Buffalo Soldiers. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Silver Burdett Press, 1991.
"The Buffalo Soldiers on the Western Frontier."http://www.imh.org/imh/buf/buf2.html (Accessed 14 March 2006).
Greater North Carolina Chapter; Ninth and Tenth (Horse) Cavalry Association of "The Buffalo Soldiers." "Buffalo Soldier Emmanuel [sic] Stance Received the Metal [sic] of Honor and Became a Legend." http://www.ncbuffalosoldiers.org/history.asp?u_action=display&u_log=11 (Accessed 14 March 2006).
The Handbook of Texas Online. "Ninth United States Cavalry." http://www.cr.nps.gov/history/resedu/bib_africanamericanwest.htm (Accessed 14 March 2006).
"Photo of Grave Site of MOH Recipient Emanuel Stance." http://www.homeofheroes.com/gravesites/states/pages_pz/stance_emanuel.html(Accessed 14 March 2006).
"We Can, We Will! Emanuel Stance." http://www.9thcavalry.com/stance.htm (Accessed 14 March 2006).
Helen R. Houston