Colonel Charles Young: First African-American to Receive the Rank “Captain” and Later “Lieutenant Colonel”

Written by Jae Jones

was born into on March 12, 1864 in Kentucky. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Ninth Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers, in Nebraska. Young’s father escaped from slavery to join the Union Army during the Civil War. Young attended an all-white high school in Ripley. He graduated in 1880 at the top of his class, and later taught school for several years in the new high school that opened in Ripley.

Young, decided he wanted to be like his father and attended the United States Military Academy, he was the third African-American to graduate from West Point in 1889 with his degree. He was first assigned to the Tenth U.S. Cavalry Regiment but due to a reassignment, he served first with the Ninth U.S. Cavalry Regiment, starting in Nebraska. His following service of 28 years was mostly with black troops. The Ninth U.S. Cavalry and the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, black troops were nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers.”


In 1901, Young was promoted to Captain, and was the first Black officer to receive the rank. He led troops while being stationed in the Philippines. In 1903, he along with his men were stationed at Presidio in San Francisco. Young was named acting superintendent, and put in charge of securing a national park. It made him the first Black soldier to be put in charge of a national park. Under Acting Superintendent Young, the Buffalo Soldiers kept the park free from poachers, and from the ranchers whose grazing sheep were destroying the park.

Young later served time in Haiti as the United States’ military diplomatic. During the punitive expedition in pursuit of Pancho Villa, he was put in command of troops from the Tenth Cavalry and was soon promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Young died on January 8, 1922 from a kidney infection while in Nigeria. His body was returned to the United States, where he received a proper military funeral and burial.





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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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