Scene 17 New York
And on early war films Filming, faking and propaganda: The origins of the war film, 1897-1902
Mr. Crane’s Vivid Story: Scene 5 Montana US Military Encampment, February 1898
The black Buffalo Soldiers are on horseback, deftly carrying out precision drills to the command of their white officer, General Miles.
General Miles: At ease!
(A currier arrives. He delivers an animated message.)
Young Trooper: Hey, Sutton, whassup wit dat? Do you think them Injuns is on the warpath agin’?
Veteran Trooper #1: Boy, you are raw. There haven’t been any Injuns to kill since Sitting Bull and Wounded Knee. And that was almost ten years ago. Last I heard that Apache Gee-ron-neemo was selling auto-mo-biles on his Reservation. Boy, it’d be more likely we was invadin’ Canada.
Veteran Trooper #2: The days of the Injuns and the Wild West are gone. I don’ know why they keep us out here, ‘cept the white folks back home don’t want alot of niggers with guns around.
General Miles: Men, I have just been alerted that the USS Maine has blow up in Havana Harbor. We think it was a Spanish torpedo. 268 American sailors are dead. I might add that 28 of them were colored boys. This is sure to be war. You Buffalo Soldiers are the bravest, toughest cavalrymen in the United States Army and I am proud to have served with you. If it is war, I expect and know that every man will do his duty.
(cheers): Hurrah for General Miles! To hell with Spain!
Raw Trooper: Dis is even better dan Injuns. Nows I’m gonna see myself some real fighten’.
Veteran Trooper #1: I’m with you there, boy. I’ll be glad to get out of this backwater fort. Maybe they’ll make me a commissioned officer.
Veteran #2: Man, don’t you ever learn? All this time and aint one of us has been made an officer. You think it’ll be any different after we kill some Spaniards? Why are we going to Cuba to fight the white man’s war, anyway?
Veteran #1: The Cubans are our brothers and theys being treated wors’n slaves.
Veteran #2: That’s true enough. But before they send the Army down to Cuba, they oughtta send it down South and round up every last lynch mob.
Veteran #3: I’ll go further. The black man oughtta have his own Army. No. He oughtta have his own country. His own Empire!
(The troops break up into small groups.)
Veteran # 1 to Raw Trooper: Boy, don’t listen to them. And don’t get too close to them. Theys gonna be trouble for sure.
Somethings eatin’ at them so bad they can’t see nothing good. Listen to what the Gen’ral said about the Buffalo Soldiers. And our duty. Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!