The Bicycle Corps: America’s Black Army On Wheels [Video]

This documentary tells the story of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, an all-Black regiment that "bikepacked" 1,900 miles from Montana to Missouri in 1897.

If you haven’t heard the story of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps, it’s truly fascinating. This video brings to life the saga of these proto-bikepackers who rode, almost entirely off road, from Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri in the late 1800s.

From Montana PBS:

Directed by Gus Chambers, [this is] the story of the 25th Infantry’s bicycle trip from Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri in 1897. The African American infantry took the trip to test a theory that the bicycle would replace the horse in transporting men for the army. The program also examines the life of the African American soldier at the turn of the century, in particular First Sergeant Mingo Sanders. Produced my Montana PBS.


Gus Chambers has produced award-winning films for MontanaPBS for over twenty years. Chambers makes films about the rich history and culture of Montana.

2022 marks the 125th anniversary of the Buffalo Soldiers’ trek from Missoula to St. Louis, and a commemorative group bike ride along the roughly 1,900-mile route is planned. Stay tuned for more details as event plans take shape.

On a related note, in December Congress passed a bipartisan bill requiring the removal of Confederate names from 10 US military bases. One leading proposal for renaming Fort Benning in Georgia suggests Lt. Henry Flipper, the first Black officer to command a US Calvary “Buffalo Soldier” unit. While Flipper was not directly associated with the Bicycle Corps, which was created after his time, he is remembered as an important, trailblazing military and civilian leader.

A petition on makes the case for honoring Flipper through the naming of the US military base in Georgia, and to gather signatures in support.