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Henry Flipper Court-Martial: 1881

A Different Kind Of Trial

The hazing rituals and other traditions of West Point were challenging enough for even the most socially connected white cadets. Henry Flipper had to endure four years of almost total social isolation and verbal insults, but he stayed the course and graduated with his class in 1877. As the first and only black regular army officer, he was posted to the Tenth Cavalry, a cavalry unit, all of whose personnel except officers were blacks (known by the Indians as "Buffalo Soldiers"). While fighting the Apaches, Flipper and his unit were assigned to Fort Davis, a frontier post in west Texas. Throughout this time, all his superiors and fellow officers were white, and most of them made no secret of their dislike for having a black officer among them.

In December 1880, Flipper was put in charge of the commissary, responsible for buying and selling food for the fort's personnel and their families. responsi-In 1881, Flipper's sloppy bookkeeping, careless security, and a naive willingness to extend credit to various soldiers and civilians led to the discovery that he was short some $2,400 in funds. Although friends made up the shortfall, it was too late, and on August 12, 1881, Flipper was arrested.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882Henry Flipper Court-Martial: 1881 - A Different Kind Of Trial, The Court-martial, Flipper's Later Fate, Suggestions For Further Reading