A Tribute To
Trooper Charles E. Norris
9th Cavalry 1909 to 1913
Charles Eldridge Norris was born in January, 1889 to Charles Norris and Susan Daphne the daughter of ex-slave Henry Daphne who resided in Montgomery County, MD.
Eldridge as he was called, like many Blacks of his era, was a laborer and took any jobs that he could get. Seeing that he was not going anywhere and had no future prospects he decided that he would join the US Army and serve in one of the Black Regiments. He was 10 years old when the Black Regiments participated in the Spanish-American war and grew up hearing about their exploits and bravery.
He went to the Army's Washington, DC barracks to get information on joining. Once he passed his physical he was enlisted on September 15, 1909 in Troop E, 9th Cavalry, Fort D.A. Russell located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He traveled to Cheyenne by railroad. There is no indication of how long it took, but it probably took at least a week.
Upon arriving and being mustered into the unit he was entered on the morning report, issued his uniforms and started his training. He learned how to ride a horse the Army's way, wear the uniform properly, how to make his bunk and all the mundane things a Private in the Army had to learn. The Army's job was to patrol and make sure the First Peoples stayed on their Reservations and to maintain law and order for the White population. Cheyenne was a very segregated city but he was used to that coming from the southern city that Washington, DC was in 1909. To get an idea of some of his life the first months in Cheyenne refer to the attached letter from him to his father dated October 17, 1909. He served with the 9th Cavalry for 3 years, but was not allowed to reenlist because he participated in a race riot in Cheyenne. However, he was given a Honorable Discharge and for unknown reason his picture hung in the Wyoming State Capital for many years. After the military he migrated to Kansas City, Kansas and stayed there until WWI started and he was drafted into the Army and trained at Camp Funston, KS adjacent to Ft Riley, KS where all the Black soldiers were trained. He was promoted to Sergeant although the War Department had decreed that no Black enlisted soldier would serve above the rank of Corporal. He subsequently was assigned to Co. M, 504th Pioneer Infantry He deployed to France with the unit and served in France and Germany after the war. He was discharged in 1919 and moved back to DC. He participated in the WWI veterans Bonus Riots of the 20's and subsequently had to leave DC so he migrated to Chicago where he lived until his death in 1959. Trooper Norris is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Sergeant Charles E. Norris in 1917 serving with the 504th Pioneer Infantry
Trooper Norris is the last Trooper standing on the right in the third row
Below is a letter Trooper Norris wrote home to his father providing
insight in comaraderie between Troopers at Fort D.A. Russell.
Trooper Norris 1909 enlistment
Trooper Norris descriptive and assignment card
Trooper Norris arrival at Fort D.A. Russell
Sergeant Norris World I War Insurance
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