Buffalo Soldiers / 9th and 10th Cavalry - Cavalry

(In picture 9th at 1867)

The Buffalo Soldiers

After the Civil War, Congress passed a bill to establish a peacetime military. Provisions in this bill created six regiments of colored troops—four 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.

The Name
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.

Their Mission
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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