(In picture 9th at 1867)
After the Civil War, Congress
passed a bill to establish a peacetime military. Provisions in this bill
created six regiments of colored troopsfour infantry (foot soldiers)
and two cavalry (on horseback)of about 1,000 men each. The troops
were placed under the command of Colonels Benjamin Grierson and Edward
Hatch. African Americans from the North and South, many of them freed
slaves, enlisted in what were organized as the 9th and 10th Cavalries.
The Buffalo Soldiers served at Wounded Knee and with Teddy Roosevelt in
Cuba, battled Crazy Horse, helped capture Geronimo and Billy the Kid and
strung telegraph lines across the West.
Although there are several theories, the Cavalries actually got their
name from their enemies, the American Indians, who admired the colored
troopers' fearlessness and courage (qualities also found in the buffalo).
The Native Americans also believed that the Soldiers' hair resembled the
tuft between the horns of the bison. Thus, the name Buffalo Soldiers stuck,
and the Soldiers wore it with pride.
The primary assignment of the Buffalo Soldiers was the suppression of
Native American tribes who interfered with the settlement of the Americans
on the frontier. Like white units, they were called into service to "carry
out U.S. Government public policy of Westward expansion," as well
as escort tribes to designated reservations. The Soldiers built and defended
the telegraph lines, built and repaired forts and helped establish the
foundation of future towns. They were also involved in the settling of
disputes between railroads and unions as well as those between the white
settlers. In the Westward expansion, the Buffalo Soldiers mapped the vast
territories in New Mexico and Arizona, marking the water holes.
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