Henry O. Flipper was born a slave at Thomasville, Georgia in 1856. Henry was the eldest of five sons of Festus and Isabella Flipper.
He attended school at the American Missionary Association and in 1873 while Henry was a freshman at Atlanta University he was appointed to the United States Military Academy.
Flipper was the fifth black accepted to West Point he was the first to graduate.He graduated fiftieth in a class of seventy-six on June 14, 1877 Henry was then accepted a commission as a second lieutenant.
As an officer in the Tenth, Cavalry Flipper served at forts Elliott, Concho, Quitman, and Davis, Texas, and at Fort Sill. Henry was dismissed after got drunk and deserted the lieutenant assigned to do the job.
He went to El Paso after his dismissal and remained there until 1883, when he went to work as an assistant engineer for a surveying company composed of former Confederate officers. He assisted the company in surveying public lands in Mexico and helped run a boundary line between the states of Coahuila and Chihuahua in 1883. Between 1883 and 1891 he worked in Chihuahua and Sonora as a surveyor for several other American land companies.
Henry lived with his brother Joseph S. Flipper until he died of a heart attack on May 3, 1940.