One of my pet peeves is the use of random photographs of American-American soldiers, some dating from the American Civil War, labelled as “David Fagen”. They appear on most Facebook posts about one of the few Buffalo Soldiers to desert to Philippine Republican forces during the Philippine-American War.
Buffalo soldiers served creditably in the American Civil War, the Apache Wars, Cuba, Mexico, and the Philippines, in both the Philippine-American and World War Two.
In the Philippine-American War not a single Buffalo soldier was implicated in committing atrocities despite serving in hot-spots like Samar. That is not to say they were perfect, one Buffalo soldier cut off the arm of a Filipina so he could take her bracelet, but in general their behaviour was exemplary.
Most saw their service as a way of demonstrating that they were Americans, despite the shoddy treatment handed out to them in their home country.
So, taking a random anonymized photograph and mislabelling it as someone else deprives the man pictured of his identity, his honour, his courage, his existence.
None of the photographs supposedly depicting him were identified as such contemporaneously with one exception, the sketch given above, from the Salt Lake City Herald of 30 October 1900, which may be derived from a photograph of him in civilian attire. The article is based on interviews with those who knew him, both civilians and military and gives a fascinating insight into the character of David Fagen.
Does it change our image of him?