Living History with Joe Certaine
Joe Certaine is a descendant of Sgt. Robert Certain, 1st South Carolina Volunteer Infantry (33rd USCT) who was courts martialed and sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the pay mutiny.
Black soldiers were unfairly being paid less than white soldiers in the Union Army and also being charged for their uniforms during the Civil War. Many units refused to be paid less than white soldiers of the same rank and would not accept any pay until the matter was rectified. Many men were punished and one was actually executed during this military protest for equal treatment. Robert Certain's sentence was eventually rescinded and the U.S. Congress finally corrected the problem. He lived to fight for and witness the coming of Jubilee.
Another ancestor, Jorden Certain (Robert’s brother) served in the 35th USCT of North Carolina during the Civil War. Joe was the founding national president of the United States Colored Troops Living History Association, an umbrella organization of historians, genealogists, researchers, living historians and re-enactors dedicated to the preservation of the history and legacy of the black soldiers of the American Civil War, the United States Colored Troops.
He is also a Non-Commissioned Officer in the 3rd United States Colored Cavalry and Sergeant of the 10th Cavalry, Buffalo Soldiers. Joe also produces and presents black historical characters featuring; Isaiah Dorman; Charles Glass; Isom Dart and George Goldsby - all are historic Black characters from the 19th century frontier west.
Joe has long been a proponent of the inclusion of the United States Colored Troops in stories and historical presentations of the American Civil War. He has portrayed a mounted cavalry re-enactor of the United States Colored Cavalry as well as the Buffalo Soldiers for many years. He is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He has had two short stories published in booklet by Blue Horse Productions of Tucson, Arizona; “As the Crow Flies”, a story about his time spent on the Crow Indian Reservation in Southeastern Montana and “A History of the Buffalo Soldiers” a description of the early years of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, Black veterans of the American Civil War known as Buffalo Soldiers, who became the first Black professional soldiers on the western frontier.
Joe Certaine is the historian and technical advisor for "The Invisible Men of Honor, The Legend of the Buffalo Soldiers" a television documentary about the Buffalo Soldiers, sponsored by Wal-Mart. He has been featured on TV-1 and on the History Channel as well as on local television and in news reports. He is also involved as a consultant for a feature film production about the Exodusters, former slaves who went west to build settlements in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma after the Civil War. Certaine is also a special adviser to the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission for PA Civil War-150, Pennsylvania's Sesquicentennial Observance of the American Civil War.
Joe has ridden with American Indian re-enactors of the warrior societies of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Crow, Comanche and Apache. He has earned his warrior name (Bishtewehsa-First Buffalo) from a Sundance Chief of the Crow Nation.
Certaine has visited most of the remaining cavalry posts and many of the old frontier towns that marked the passing of the western frontier. While researching the fate of Isaiah Dorman, the only black man at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Joe retraced on horseback, a tactical study of the the exact route taken by George Custer, as he and the 7th Cavalry rode to contain the Cheyenne, Lakota and Arapaho warriors in southeastern Montana during June of 1876. He has frequently presented the study results during lectures and symposia.
Joe Certaine has a longstanding personal commitment to the Bill Pickett Riding Academy of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to provide living history presentations to the young people that receive their equestrian training through the BPRA programs. During its fifteen years of existence, Joe has presented the Shadow Warriors program, appearing as different black historical characters of the Frontier West. Our committment to American history includes researching recruiting, training and producing Living History presentations and historical interpretation of the Western Frontier of the 19th century. To learn more, contact us.
He tells the stories never heard by young people of color from urban environments. Stories that can only be found by reading the works of independent historians and researchers or by conducting first hand research in the National Archives, the Library of Congress or in the newspaper accounts and county records of states that made up the frontier west.
Joe has planned and participated in historic cavalry events all over the western United States. He is often called upon to assist in the planning of historically accurate, period authentic events with mounted participants. As an expert on the contributions of Black-Americans to the military history of the United States and the taming of the western frontier, Joe is frequently featured as a guest speaker and presenter at conferences and symposia. His favorite audience is students and his favroite venue is any school auditorium. Yours can be too. Contact us.
Use the contact form below, if you would like to schedule an appearance by one of the characters from the Shadow Warriors, living history program.
If you'd like to find the closest USCT reenactor unit to where you are, contact us. Buffalo Soldier interpreters who'd like to help plan the 150th Anniversary Congress, please use the form below to contact us and get involved.
We can help you find equipment, clothing, period military regulations, and other information about what you may need to portray a specific period or character.
The reenactor groups that portray members
of the United States Colored Troops need recruits now.
Infantry, Artilley and Cavalry recruits are needed.
If you are a horseman or have access to a horse, join the cavalry. Contact us now.
If you'd like to schedule a cavalry event, contact us for help with planning.
If you would like to help build our celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation and the federal formation of the United States Colored Troops, submit your contact information below.
We are also preparing for the one hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the authorization and formation of the 9th & 10th Cavalry regiments of the U. S. Army. The Buffalo Soldiers earned their name from the Cheyenne Nation. In 2016, their history will be 150 years old.
Learn the history of the United States Colored Troops and the Buffalo Soldiers in Philadelphia's beautiful Fairmount Park.
To learn more about The Descendants Jubilee Project, or for information regarding
becoming a re-enactor or Living Historian, please contact us by submitting the form below.