The story

Who Were the Buffalo Soldiers?


Following the U.S. Civil War, regiments of African American men known as buffalo soldiers served on the western frontier, battling Indians and protecting settlers. The buffalo soldiers included two regiments of all-Black cavalry, the 9th and 10th cavalries, formed after Congress passed legislation in 1866 that allowed African Americans to enlist in the country’s regular peacetime military.

The legislation also brought about the creation of four Black infantry regiments, eventually consolidated into the 24th and 25th infantries, which often fought alongside the 9th and 10th cavalries. Many of the men in these regiments, commanded primarily by white officers, were among the approximately 180,000 African Americans who served in the Union Army during the Civil War.

For more than two decades in the late 19th century, the 9th and 10th cavalries engaged in military campaigns against hostile Native Americans on the Plains and across the Southwest. These buffalo soldiers also captured horse and cattle thieves, built roads and protected the U.S. mail, stagecoaches and wagon trains, all while contending with challenging terrain, inadequate supplies and discrimination.

It’s unclear exactly how the buffalo soldiers got their nickname. Archivist Walter Hill of the National Archives has reported that, according to a member of the 10th Cavalry, in 1871 the Comanche bestowed the name of an animal they revered, the buffalo, on the men of the 10th Cavalry because they were impressed with their toughness in battle. (The moniker later came to be used for the 9th Cavalry as well.)

Other sources theorize the name originated with the belief of some Native Americans that the soldiers’ dark, curly, black hair resembled that of a buffalo. Whatever the case, the soldiers viewed the nickname as one of respect, and the 10th Cavalry even used a figure of a buffalo in its coat of arms.

When the American-Indian Wars ended in the 1890s, the buffalo soldiers went on to fight in Cuba in the 1898 Spanish-American War; participate in General John J. Pershing’s 1916-1917 hunt for Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa; and even act as rangers in Yosemite and Sequoia national parks.

In 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order eliminating racial segregation and discrimination in America’s armed forces; the last all-Black units were disbanded during the first half of the 1950s. The nation’s oldest living buffalo soldier, Mark Matthews, died at age 111 in Washington, D.C., in 2005.

READ MORE: Why Harry Truman Ended Segregation in the US Military in 1948


Buffalo soldier

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Buffalo soldier, nickname given to members of African American cavalry regiments of the U.S. Army who served in the western United States from 1867 to 1896, mainly fighting Indians on the frontier. The nickname was given by the Indians, but its significance is uncertain.

An 1866 law authorized the U.S. Army to form cavalry and infantry regiments of Black men the resulting units were the 9th and 10th cavalries and the 38th through 41st infantries (these four were later reduced to the 24th and 25th infantries, which often fought alongside the cavalry regiments). The law required their officers to be white.

The 10th Cavalry, originally headquartered at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, was commanded by Colonel Benjamin Grierson his men were provided with aged horses, deteriorating equipment, and inadequate supplies of ammunition. Their duties included escorting stagecoaches, trains, and work parties and policing cattle rustlers and illegal traders who sold guns and liquor to the Indians, but their principal mission was to control the Indians of the Plains and Southwest. After the Red River Indian War (1874–75) the 10th Cavalry was transferred to Texas, where the 9th Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Edward Hatch, had long been based.

The combined forces fought outlaws and Indians who often conducted raids and robberies from sanctuaries in Mexico. They carried out a campaign against the Apache, who were resisting relocation and confinement on reservations. After numerous battles with Victorio and his Apache band, the soldiers managed to subdue them in 1880. While the 10th Cavalry continued in action against the remaining Apache for another decade, the 9th was sent to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) to deal with whites who were illegally settling on Indian lands. In 1892–96, after Grierson’s retirement, the 10th Cavalry relocated to Montana Territory with orders to round up and deport the Cree Indians to Canada.


The Legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers

I recently visited Ft. Leavenworth, an historic military installation in Kansas, and observed the statues commemorating the heroic Buffalo Soldiers. You may be familiar with the name from your studies. Or, more likely, you've danced to the Bob Marley commemorative song. You may have also seen movies like Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna” which profiled the Soldiers in a action-packed docudrama. But, do you really know why we celebrate their collective contributions? In the spirit of celebrating Black History month, here's a little history that I learned during my visit.

Buffalo Soldiers were originally members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. They were formed on September 21, 1866 at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, but the name became associated with all of the black regiments formed in those early years. Best known for fighting the Indian Wars alongside the U.S. Cavalry, the Buffalo Soldiers saw action in the Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict.

Legend has it that “Buffalo Soldiers” got their name from Cheyenne warriors who, in their language, called them “Wild Buffalo” out of respect for their fierce fighting abilities. More than a tale of military might, the Buffalo Soldiers made a significant cultural impact. According to Howard University Professor Rayford Logan, they were a symbol of hope:

"Negros had little at the turn of the century to help us sustain our faith in ourselves except the pride that we took in the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry, the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty Fifth Infantry. They were our Ralph Bunche, Marian Anderson, Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson.”

During the Westward Migration, the Buffalo Soldiers were instrumental in the U.S. Expansion to the West. They protected settlers and built roads. They were among the first National Park Rangers. In fact, the popular 'Smokey The Bear' hat originated with them and their uniform.

The legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers inspired African-American service men and women throughout history. Former Secretary of State, and retired four-star general in the U.S. Army, Colin Powell, noted at a 2014 ceremony honoring their accomplishments:

“Theirs was a time of Jim Crow, of lynching, the lie of ‘separate but equal’. But they knew that if they performed, if they did their best for their country, sooner or later their country would do its best for them and for those who came after.”


Who Were the Buffalo Soldiers? - HISTORY

Plains Indians named the African American cavalry stationed on the Great Plains after the Civil War the "Buffalo Soldiers," which eventually referred to both the black cavalry and infantry in the West. Following the Civil War, in 1866 Congress authorized six regiments of the regular U.S. Army to be staffed by blacks two cavalry and four infantry. By 1869, in an overall troop reduction, Congress cut the number of black infantry units to two, and potential black soldiers enlisted in either the Ninth or Tenth Cavalry or the Twenty-fourth or Twenty-fifth Infantry. During the latter nineteenth century these black regiments represented 10 percent of the army's effective strength, and in many western commands black soldiers made up more than one-half the available military force. Although their contributions were significant, their varied experiences were always tempered because they were black soldiers in "white" and "red" territory. The Buffalo Soldiers played a vital role in Oklahoma and Indian Territory as well as in other regions of the West. Both the Ninth and the Tenth cavalries and the Twenty-fourth Infantry served in Indian Territory during the latter nineteenth century.

Black predecessors of the Buffalo Soldiers served in the Indian Territory during the Civil War and were largely responsible for the Union victory over the Confederate forces in that region. Stationed at Fort Gibson, the First Kansas Colored Volunteers Infantry Regiment (later supplemented with the Second Kansas) fought at Cabin Creek and at the pivotal engagement of Honey Springs in July 1863. Although the Union victory at Honey Springs marked the twilight of Southern dominance in Indian Territory, black troops continued fighting Confederate forces through the victorious second engagement at Cabin Creek in September 1864. These were well-disciplined and effective men, but certain Confederate practices provided an additional stimulus to the black soldiers. At Honey Springs Confederate forces brought with them large numbers of shackles to take captured blacks back to slavery, and at the 1864 engagement at Cabin Creek talk circulated that Confederate forces would leave neither black nor white opponents alive.

After its establishment in 1866 the Tenth Cavalry, organized and commanded by Col. Benjamin Grierson, were headquartered in Kansas. By August 1867 three of its companies were stationed across the border in Indian Territory, or the area that would become Oklahoma, for the purpose of protecting the Five Tribes and maintaining peace. Early in 1869 the remaining companies of the Tenth Cavalry also moved to the territory. There they remained until the close of the Red River War in 1875 when most companies of the black cavalry regiment were transferred to West Texas.

Among the soldiers attached to the Tenth Cavalry was Henry O. Flipper, the first black graduate of West Point. Flipper graduated in 1877 from West Point and was assigned as an officer to the Tenth Cavalry stationed at Fort Sill in Indian Territory. He was transferred to the Tenth headquarters at Fort Davis, Texas, where he served until 1881 when he faced court-martial and was summarily dismissed from the army. In 1879 while on temporary assignment at Fort Sill, Flipper's remarkable engineering skills were demonstrated with his design and construction of a drainage channel system, which eliminated a malaria scourge at that post. Flipper's system, known as "Flipper's Ditch," continued to serve Fort Sill and community for nearly a century.

Between 1866 and 1869 all four of the army's black infantry regiments served on the western frontier. When those regiments were reduced to two, they also remained in the west. In 1870 the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth regiments began their tours of duty in Texas and remained there protecting settlers and fighting Indian tribes for a decade. When the Twenty-fourth moved out of Texas in 1880, it transferred to Forts Reno, Sill, and Supply in the Indian Territory and Fort Elliott in the Texas Panhandle. There they remained until 1888 when they were sent to Arizona.

Most black soldiers were unable to read and write, and part of the duties of chaplains assigned to each regiment was to instruct these black soldiers. In July 1886 black Chaplain Allen Allensworth arrived with his assignment to the Twenty-fourth Infantry. Allensworth especially was convinced that black soldiers needed a basic education to perform efficiently. While stationed at Fort Supply for a year and a half, he instructed black soldiers in the history of the United States and in English at the post school. Allensworth later developed a booklet on teaching practices and curriculum for black soldiers. Allensworth and Flipper were the only black commissioned officers to serve in Indian Territory, and only two additional West Point graduates and four other black chaplains served any place in the West during the latter nineteenth century.

The black troops had little to do, and boredom was continual while the men were on the posts for any duration. They occupied themselves with the social life often characteristic of frontier society and developed other activities to defray the tedium of frontier existence. The Tenth Cavalry enjoyed music performances, and Troop K of the Ninth Cavalry established an elite "Diamond Club," whose gala balls became the envy of the service. They periodically gave lavish parties and musicals for the black troops.

While stationed in Indian Territory, Buffalo Soldiers had a number of responsibilities: they kept out unwanted intruders from the Indian lands, they watched over the Indians on the reservations, and they maintained general law and order throughout the territory. The infantry built and maintained roads, telegraph lines, and forts. They also assisted the cavalry in military actions. Among their duties, black soldiers removed the "Boomers" from Indian Territory.

As early as 1870 Tenth Cavalry officers found it necessary to keep patrols on the lookout for intruders and two years later moved the headquarters from Fort Sill to Fort Gibson, partly in response to growing intruder activity in that vicinity. In the spring of 1878 three companies of the Tenth were sent back to Fort Sill, where they watched the reservation Indians, skirmished verbally with Texas Rangers, and removed Boomers. By 1879 the intruders crossed the Kansas line in sufficient numbers to occupy virtually the full attention of a battalion of Buffalo Soldiers. Among the 1879 Boomers were one to two hundred African Americans, thus further magnifying the problems and responsibilities of the black troops. In June 1880 the Tenth Cavalry was sent to West Texas however, increased Boomer actions later in the summer (1880) led six companies of the Tenth to be transferred temporarily to Indian Territory.

After warfare and work in New Mexico (1881), the army transferred the Ninth Cavalry to Indian Territory and assigned them the job of preventing Boomers from illegally moving from Kansas to Oklahoma. In the mid-1880s more than two thousand Boomers filtered in from various points along the border, requiring the constant attention of six companies of black cavalrymen. African American soldiers drove out the majority of those already in Oklahoma, but as a result racism exploded. One officer was referred to as "one of a litter of mud turtles born of a Negro woman." The imposing and thankless task of driving Boomers from Indian Territory ended for the Ninth Cavalry in June 1885 when it was transferred to Wyoming.

Among other feats, Buffalo Soldiers in Indian Territory assisted local authorities and federal marshals, escorted civilians, stagecoaches, and freighters, guarded railroad construction workers and mail carriers, forestalled Boomers, chased robbers, horse thieves, and cattle rustlers, attempted pacification of Indians, and provided protection for Indians in Indian Territory.

Bibliography

Arlen L. Fowler, The Black Infantry in the West, 1869–1891 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1971).

Bruce A. Glasrud, "Western Black Soldiers Since The Buffalo Soldiers: A Review of the Literature," Social Science Journal 36 (April 1999).

Donald A. Grinde and Quintard Taylor, "Red vs. Black: Conflict and Accommodation in the Post Civil War Indian Territory, 1865–1907," American Indian Quarterly 8 (Summer 1984).

Theodore D. Harris, ed. and comp., Black Frontiersman: The Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper, First Black Graduate of West Point (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1997).

Charles L. Kenner, Buffalo Soldiers and Officers of the Ninth Cavalry, 1867–1898 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999).

William H. Leckie, The Buffalo Soldiers: A Narrative of the Negro Cavalry in the West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1967).

Lary C. Rampp, "Negro Troop Activity in Indian Territory, 1863–1865," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 47 (Spring 1969).

W. Sherman Savage, "The Role of Negro Soldiers in Protecting the Indian Territory from Intruders," Journal of Negro History 36 (January 1951).

Quintard Taylor, "Comrades of Color: Buffalo Soldiers in the West: 1866–1917," Colorado Heritage (Spring 1996).

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National Parks Belongs To Everyone: A Buffalo Soldier’s American Tale

I ran across this video this morning and found it to be informative, revealing, and very challenging. It is all of those things on many levels: military history, African American history, and the history of our National Parks.

The central character, teacher, and guide is a Park Ranger at Yosemite National Park in California. Many of you may have been there. It is one of the pearls on the great string of National Parks in this country and one of the earliest to be made. This Park Ranger is an enactor who plays the part of an actual Buffalo Soldier who, along with the 24th Infantry of the 9th Cavalry, was deployed to protect Yosemite National Park in 1903.

They were deployed there from their barracks in San Francisco at the time. The Buffalo Soldier history includes the 9th and 10th Cavalries, which were all African American units formed after the Civil War. They were deployed to the West to fight in the on-going Indian Wars between the 1860s and 1890s. They got that name, Buffalo Soldiers, from the Native Americans who had never seen Black men before. The Native Americans gave them that moniker out of respect for their fighting spirit, which was like that of the buffalo that was so important to Native cultures in the West.

Source: YouTube/PBS
The 24th Infantry of the 9th Cavalry, was deployed to protect Yosemite National Park in 1903.

These same Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10 Cavalries would be called on to fight for this country in the Philippines and in Cuba during the Spanish American War April 21st to August 13, 1898.

Listen to the the Buffalo Soldier guide as he reveals the history of the Buffalo Soldiers as the first Park Protectors (now called Park Rangers) of our then infant National Park system and how unusual it was for African American soldiers to have been given such and important role in those times.

Source: YouTube/PBS
The Buffalo Soldier history includes the 9th and 10th Cavalries, which were all African American units formed after the Civil War.

You will hear a good deal about the history of the National Parks in this video as well as about the philosophy behind them, that is, the need to protect the earth, the beauty, the Nature and the land for ALL Americans. The philosophy of the National Park system is beautifully explained by this “Buffalo Soldier” guide throughout the video. Listen as he says that, “There is nothing more democratic than a National Park. It belongs to everyone.”

Think about that powerful metaphor. This country was born out of a natural desire for freedom and was built upon the dream of a society that was made for all, that would empower and liberate all of its people from the tyrannies of oppressive and unjust government. Yet, those dreams did not include many of who were living here at the time. Slavery denied that dream to some 4 million people then living in the new nation. The after effects of that institution of slavery and the Jim Crow period that followed it still echo into our own day. The Buffalo Soldier history was born out of that as well.

Source: YouTube/PBS
The Buffalo Soldiers were the first Park Protectors (now called Park Rangers).

But the National Parks were conceived to preserve the natural beauty of our land. They were created as sacred places of awe, to be protected forever, to be visited by all as sanctuaries of Nature and the National Park System was created to hold and to preserve those lands in perpetuity for all Americans. They are understood to be places held, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, as the possessions “of the People, by the People and for the People.”

These parks honor, respect and protect the particular blessings of Nature that this country is so blessed to have. Nature, as it comes from the Creator’s hand, transcends politics, government, even nation. And all of us are part of this transcendent Nature. To build on the metaphor, these parks are echoes of the Garden of Eden, which we are to steward for all. They remind us of where we came from, and to where we wish to return. This metaphor, in its own way, represents the dream of our national founding too.

Source: YouTube/PBS
A modern-day portrayal of a Buffalo Soldier.

Let us take the metaphor of the National Parks as spoken about by this “Buffalo Soldier” guide to heart. These places of transcendent beauty and peace represent something greater than all of the things that divide us. They are eloquent representatives of the stupendous idea that this nation and all of its peoples, of every race, national origin, language and creed, can become that motto we all know, “E Pluribus Unum”, “Out of Many, One.” That attitude is what can truly make us great in the end. That “Garden of Eden-like” quality that our National Parks represents is what the Buffalo Soldier in this video is challenging us with.

That is what makes this Buffalo Soldier’s story even more powerful, for it is told by one who represents those in our history who have too often been told that they did not belong, that they were not worthy of the full benefits of life due to all. Think of the National Parks you have been too, those preserves of the vast natural beauty of this land and think about the idea that they “Belong to Everybody.” They represent the larger meaning of what this country is meant to be. That idea that this nation belongs to everybody is worthy of being protected, promoted, and preserved.

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Going to the Philippines to fight for their country, America, was an act of hope for the Buffalo Soldiers. According to Rik Penn, a recently retired National Parks Ranger who appears in the film, &ldquoThere was always the hope amongst African-American civilians and politicians that by giving a blood sacrifice to the country, this will somehow raise your stature, give you a greater standing, and recognition among the other white civilians. That somehow, this will show them, this will be the thing that will cause that surge of brotherhood, that they will rise above all this racism and be accepted as full class citizens.&rdquo

Alas, it would be many wars and many casualties later before the sacrifices Black soldiers had made for the American cause would be properly honoured, and it could be argued, against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement, that they still do not enjoy all the rights and privileges enshrined in the Constitution.

Having suffered from oppression themselves, these soldiers were not blind to the injustice they saw when they prepared to go to battle against the Filipinos.

As Harris noted, &ldquoUpon arriving in this quagmire of a war in the Philippines, Black soldiers saw enemy combatants who were not only dark like themselves, but who were also fighting against the same white oppression, in this instance in the form of the American military, as they, the black soldiers had experienced in the US: bigotry, lynchings, economic privations, etc. Even though these soldiers were far from home, a great degree of racial bigotry existed. White soldiers referred to both the Buffalo soldiers and the native Filipinos as n_____s. [What made] things even more confusing for these black soldiers was the fact that the Filipinos liked them and treated them well. One local Filipino man was quoted as saying, referring to the Buffalo Soldiers, &lsquothey are very much like ourselves, only larger.&rsquo&rdquo

One soldier related a conversation with a young Filipino boy, who had said, &ldquoWhy does the American Negro come to fight us? We are a friend to him and had not done anything to him. Why don&rsquot you fight those people in America who burn negroes and make a beast of you?&rdquo

This presented a moral crisis for the Black soldier. Not for every soldier, but for the hundreds that felt they could not remain silent. One of them, Patrick Mason from the 24th Infantry wrote, &ldquoI have not had any fighting to do since I&rsquove been here. And I don&rsquot care to do any. I feel sorry for these people, and all that has come under the control of the United States. The first thing in the morning is the n____, and the last thing at night is the n____. You have no idea of the way these people are treated here.&rdquo

As historian and author Anthony L. Powell explained it, the Buffalo Soldiers realised &ldquothey weren&rsquot talking about &lsquowe&rsquo American monkeys, but they were talking about these ones in the Philippines&mdashthey took it to heart. Not everyone deserted, but those that deserted did something that was purely in my opinion an American trait: freedom and liberty. That is what they were all about&rdquo. Among these Buffalo Soldiers there were the Black soldiers who had escaped and settled down and married Filipinas, started families and thrived, free at last. There were Black soldiers that were hunted down and killed by the furious US Army bent on retribution, And there were soldiers that disappeared, such as that of the famous deserter, David Fagan, who had a bounty on his head. Fagan was particularly irksome to the Ameri- can soldiers, as he would appear from time to time and taunt them, but he eluded capture. He was reportedly beheaded, a decomposing head shown to the US Army as proof, but in truth, his remains were never found.

Another elusive deserter was John Calloway, who had, like Fagan, married a Filipina. He was wanted in the US, and was generally believed to have died there and buried at the Presidio in San Francisco. But a little-known fact that only recently came to light was that he was laid to rest right here in Manila, in the North Cemetery.

The history of the Buffalo Soldiers in the Philippines is more than just a tale of war and desertion but of true brotherhood and bonding. Both the Black soldiers and the Filipinos who welcomed them shared enduring friendships, such as that of Tomas Consunji, who worked for the US Government, and Calloway. The letters they exchanged unearthed the depth of their regard for each other. Then there are the love stories. The romance between Ernest Stokes and Maria Bunag, his first wife, who passed away in 1917, and his subsequent courtship of and marriage to the much younger Roberta Dungca, is the subject of a memoir by Stokes&rsquo granddaughter, Evangeline Canonizado Buell, titled Twenty-Five Chickens and a Pig for a Bride. Stokes had endeared himself to many Filipinos, immersing himself in the various communities and learning to speak several dialects including Kapampangan, Ilocano, Tagalog and Bisaya in the process.

A Crisis of Conscience: Buffalo Soldiers in the Philippine-American War is still in production, but Harris and his team have assembled a unique collection of voices &mdashhistorians, academics and authorities on the subject, as well as real-life descendants of the Buffalo Soldiers to tell the stories of valour and friendship from well over a hundred years ago. These are stories that highlight the shared bond between Black Americans and Filipinos, stories that resonate all the more poignantly in today&rsquos turbulent times.


The Proud Legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

In 1866, an Act of Congress created six all-black peacetime regiments, later consolidated into four –– the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry –– who became known as "The Buffalo Soldiers." There are differing theories regarding the origin of this nickname. One is that the Plains Indians who fought the Buffalo Soldiers thought that their dark, curly hair resembled the fur of the buffalo. Another is that their bravery and ferocity in battle reminded the Indians of the way buffalo fought. Whatever the reason, the soldiers considered the name high praise, as buffalo were deeply respected by the Native peoples of the Great Plains. And eventually, the image of a buffalo became part of the 10th Cavalry's regimental crest.

Initially, the Buffalo Soldier regiments were commanded by whites, and African-American troops often faced extreme racial prejudice from the Army establishment. Many officers, including George Armstrong Custer, refused to command black regiments, even though it cost them promotions in rank. In addition, African Americans could only serve west of the Mississippi River, because many whites didn't want to see armed black soldiers in or near their communities. And in areas where Buffalo Soldiers were stationed, they sometimes suffered deadly violence at the hands of civilians.

The Buffalo Soldiers' main duty was to support the nation's westward expansion by protecting settlers, building roads and other infrastructure, and guarding the U.S. mail. They served at a variety of posts in the Southwest and Great Plains, taking part in most of the military campaigns during the decades-long Indian Wars –– during which they compiled a distinguished record, with 18 Buffalo Soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor. This exceptional performance helped to overcome resistance to the idea of black Army officers, paving the way for the first African-American graduate from West Point Military Academy, Henry O. Flipper.

Henry Ossian Flipper was born into slavery in Georgia on March 21, 1856. During Reconstruction, he attended Atlanta University, and was then appointed to West Point by U.S. Representative James C. Freeman. Four other African-American cadets were already attending the academy, but faced enormous difficulties due to hostility from the other cadets. Flipper overcame these obstacles, and in 1877 he became the first of the group to graduate. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, becoming the first black officer to command soldiers in the regular U.S. Army. But while Flipper served with distinction, he faced intense resentment from some white officers and was targeted by a smear campaign that culminated in a court martial and his dismissal from the Army in 1882. In 1999, President Bill Clinton posthumously pardoned Flipper.

Much attention is given to the irony of African-American soldiers fighting native people on behalf of a government that accepted neither group as equals. But at the time, the availability of information was limited about the extent of the U.S. government's often-genocidal polices toward Native Americans. In addition, African-American soldiers had recently found themselves facing Native Americans during the Civil War, when some tribes fought for the Confederacy.

Buffalo Soldiers played significant roles in many other military actions. They took part in defusing the little-known 1892 Johnson County War in Wyoming, which pitted small farmers against wealthy ranchers and a band of hired gunmen. They also fought in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, and played a key role in maintaining border security during the high-intensity military conflict along the U.S.-Mexico border during the Mexican Revolution. In 1918, the 10th Cavalry fought at the Battle of Ambos Nogales, where they assisted in forcing the surrender of the Mexican federal and militia forces.

Discrimination played a role in diminishing the Buffalo Soldiers' involvement in upcoming major U.S. conflicts. During World War I, the racist policies of President Woodrow Wilson (who had already segregated federal offices) led to black regiments being excluded from the American Expeditionary Force and placed under French command for the duration of the war –– the first time ever that American troops had been put under the command of a foreign power. Then, prior to World War II, the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were essentially disbanded, and most of their troops moved into service roles. However, the 92nd Infantry Division –– known as the "Buffalo Division" –– saw combat during the invasion of Italy, while another division that included the original Buffalo Soldier 25th Infantry Regiment fought in the Pacific theater. The last segregated U.S. Army regiments were disbanded in 1951 during the Korean War, and their soldiers were integrated into other units.

The shoulder patch that belonged to the 92nd Infantry Division during World War I.


Historical Contribution in Wars

The buffalo soldiers were synonymous to the soldiers of four regiments including 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments and 24th and 25th Calvary regiments. The most important contribution of Buffalo Soldiers can be seen between the period of 1866 to 1890, when these regiments were served in South Western United States and in Great Plains regions in variety of positions. They had earned tremendous record in the military campaigns. In addition to the military operations in these Indian wars during this period, Buffalo Soldiers have also served on frontier for building the roads to escort the US mail. A lesser known but an important contribution of these Buffalo Soldiers of 9th Calvary is the participation in the land war of 1892 in Johnson County. It was the issue between the small farmers and wealthy ranchers (Downey, 1969).There was a lengthy shootout between parties, 6th Calvary was failed to keep the peace in this environment. Buffalo Soldiers of 9th Cavalry had responded this issue within two weeks and play an important part in suppressing these tensions in this area.

Indian Wars were going to be ended in 1890. The regiments of Buffalo Soldiers were continued to serve the region. Regiments participated in Spanish-American War in 1898 and the battle in Cuba. Many soldiers won medal for their contributions. The black men from the army of Buffalo Soldiers were 5000 in numbers, who had contributed in Spanish-American wars.

The regiments had also contributed in over whelming manners in Philippine-American Wars. The period for these wars was from 1899 to 1903. In the Mexican Expedition of 1916 the contribution of regiments of Buffalo Soldiers was notable contributed in extra ordinary manners to serve the community.

10th Cavalry had fought in 1918 during the First World War. They participated in the Battle of Ambos Nogales. The army of Buffalo Soldiers had been successful in forcing the federal Mexican to surrender their military forces. Two German advisors were also killed in these actions of military operation.

The buffalo soldiers have also participated in the Battle of Bear in Southern Arizona. The war occurred in 1918 between natives of Yaqui and the US cavalry.


Buffalo Soldiers

Maj. George Forsyth lay stretched out beside the rotting carcass of his dead horse on a small island in the dry bed of the Arikaree River in Colorado Territory. Around him lay dead and wounded men, his men. Beyond the riverbanks circled the Cheyenne and Oglala warriors who had kept them trapped for days. Then Forsyth’s men noticed the Indians had drawn off. They soon discovered why: in the distance they saw cavalrymen. black cavalrymen. pounding across the dry grass. They were the buffalo soldiers.

Forsyth's fight entered legend as the Battle of Beecher's Island, but few remember he was rescued by black troops, says author T. J. Stiles. Indeed, black regulars took center stage in the Army's Western drama, shouldering combat responsibilities out of proportion to their numbers.

The black regiments, which came into being in 1866, quickly won the respect of their opponents. In 1867, fewer than 70 of the raw recruits repulsed an estimated 900 warriors and Mexican bandits. During their years on the frontier, they had numerous pitched battles against Lipans, Kickapoos, Kiowas, Comanches — and their most determined foe, the Apaches, including ferocious encounters with the great war chief Victorio, possibly the most skillful enemy in frontier history.

In 1992, Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dedicated a memorial to the buffalo soldiers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the birthplace of one of the regiments. It was a fitting tribute, says Stiles, from a military that hesitated to accept African-Americans, learned to depend on them and, finally, under the leadership of a modern black soldier — has come to honor their memory.


Buffalo Soldiers in The Civil War

Buffalo Soldiers were instrumental in the American Civil War. They were mostly stationed at posts within the Great Plains as well as the Southwestern regions of the nation. These soldiers fought bravely against the Indians and a total of nineteen Medals of Honor were earned by them. Some of the battles of the buffalo Soldiers and their predecessors included the fight at Cabin Creek and at Honey Springs in the summer of 1863/64 and the Red River War in 1875.

The first black soldier to graduate from West Point, in 1877, was Henry O. Flipper. He became the commander of the 10 th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Sill, which lay in Indian Territory.

Part of the duties of Buffalo soldiers, aside from engaging in battle, was protecting the civilized Indian tribes on the reservations. They also were keepers of law and order in general and they were active in building roads and military structures.

The oldest Buffalo Soldier, Mark Matthews, died on September 6, 2005. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery. He was 111 years old.


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