- McCaw, Melvin, 1867-
- Call number
- Sc MG 270
- Physical description
- 48 items (one folder)
- Preferred Citation
- Melvin McCaw military records, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
- Access to materials
- Advance notice required. Request access to this collection.
Military records documenting Melvin McCaw's career as a non-commissioned officer in the 9th Regiment of the U.S. Cavalry from 1896 to 1917, and the activities of this segregated African American regiment at West Point after 1907. The collection consists of McCaw's certificates of discharge and reenlistment, including his 1917 memorandum regarding his retirement; letters from military and civilian authorities commenting favorably on the behavior of troops at West Point and on their efficiency and good spirit; military reports; McCaw's certificates of marksmanship (1896) and of proficiency in Cavalry and Drill, Outpost Duty and Army Regulations (1905); and newspaper articles relating to activities of the Lincoln League of Colored Citizens in Newburgh, New York, in 1908. The collection includes both original and photocopies.
Born in Columbia, Tennessee, in 1867, Melvin McCaw was a veteran of the Spanish-American wars in Cuba and the Philippines, and a non-commissioned officer in the 9th Regiment of U.S. Cavalry, the first detachment of African American troops assigned to West Point in 1907.
McCaw participated in the battle of San Juan Hill and the siege of Santiago de Cuba, as well as the U.S. occupation of the Philippines in 1900. African American troops were introduced into West Point because of the high level of desertion among their white counterparts. A 1907 military report found that they "performed few duties of the soldier, but are required to perform much work of every other character and received no extra pay." The segregated 9th and 10th Regiments of U.S. Cavalry were called "Buffalo Soldiers" because of their earlier participation in the Indian wars of 1867-1891, and their patrolling of the "Wild West" at the end of the 19th century. McCaw was a qualified marksman and a sharpshooter. He was invariably listed as an intelligent and loyal soldier of good character. A married man with two children, he retired from the army after 30 years of uninterrupted service.
Source of acquisitionGift, Mrs. E. Lucille Gatewood, 1987
- McCaw, Melvin, 1867-
- Lincoln League of Colored Citizens
- United States Military Academy
- United States. Army
- United States. Army. Cavalry, 10th
- United States. Army. Cavalry, 9th
Using the collection
LocationSchomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037-1801