I have new heroes.
The heroism arises in terrible, racist conditions, but what the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps did in 1896.
Since the 25h was an all-black company, they were selected to test out the feasibility of using bicycles in warfare instead of horses.
Upworthy first brought this story to my attention.
Black soldiers were second-class soldiers, so the U.S. Army reckoned they were expendable on a dangerous journey.
The 25th set on bicycles in Missoula, Montana en route to St. Louis.
Mind you, they rode heavy fixed gear single speed bikes with another 55 pounds of gear strapped to the bike.
They rode in snow, pushing the bike; they rode up mountains where there were no roads; they rode on train tracks because the roads were so bad.
These guys were seriously bad-ass.
Here is a more complete history of the 25th's historical journey from HistoryNet.
The white Commander, Lt. James Moss, said this about his soldiers at the end of the 1,900-mile journey.
‘There was no condition of weather we did not endure, no topographical obstacle that we did not overcome,’ he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In his official report, Moss commended his men for the’spirit, pluck and fine soldierly qualities they displayed.’ He stressed that’some of our experiences, especially in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, tested to the utmost not only their physical endurance, but also their moral courage and disposition.’
These marginalized black men proved their strength and determination when others expected them to fail.
It's history we need to understand today.