George Jordan, buffalo soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, hailed from rural Williamson County in central Tennessee. Enlisting in the 38th Infantry Regiment on 25 December 1866, the short and illiterate Jordan proved a good soldier. In January 1870, he transferred to the 9th Cavalry’s K Troop, his home for the next twenty-six years. Earning the trust of his troop commander, Captain Charles Parker, Jordan was promoted to corporal in 1874; by 1879, he wore the chevrons of a sergeant. It was during these years that Jordan learned how to read and write, an accomplishment that certainly facilitated his advancement in the Army.
On 14 May 1880, following a difficult forced march at night, a twenty-five man detachment under Jordan successfully repulsed a determined attack on old Fort Tularosa, New Mexico, by more numerous Apaches. The next year on 12 August, still campaigning against the Apaches, Jordan’s actions contributed to the survival of a detachment under Captain Parker when they were ambushed in Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico. Although neither engagement received much attention initially, in 1890 Jordan was awarded a Medal of Honor for Tularosa and a Certificate of Merit for Carrizo Canyon.
By the time of his retirement in 1896 at Fort Robinson, Jordan had served ten years as first sergeant of a veteran troop renowned for its performance against the Apache and Sioux. Jordan joined other buffalo soldier veterans in nearby Crawford, Nebraska, and became a successful land owner, although his efforts to vote bore little fruit.
Jordan’s health declined dramatically in the autumn of 1904 but Jordan was denied admission to the Fort Robinson’s hospital. Told to try the Soldiers’ Home in Washington, D.C., he died 19 October, the post chaplain officially complaining that Jordan “died for the want of proper attention.” Jordan was buried in the Fort Robinson cemetery, his funeral conducted with full honors and attended by most of the post’s personnel, a bittersweet ending to the story of an exemplary buffalo soldier.
Charles L. Kenner, Buffalo Soldiers and Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, 1867-1898: Black and White TogetherBlack Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898 (Wilmington, Delaware: Scholarly Resources Incorporated, 1997); Frank Schubert, On the Trail of the Buffalo Soldiers II: New and Revised Biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917 (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2004).
(Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).
University of Washington