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Buffalo Soldiers

The Sentinels - Buffalo Soldier poster
The Sentinels
Fine Art Print by Clay Wright
22 in x 28 in

The story of the American Buffalo Soldier is a story of courage and patriotism. These Buffalo Soldiers protected the American frontier and served in the Spanish-American War. All-black units continued to serve in American military campaigns, including the Mexican expedition, the Cuban Crisis, Philippine insurrection, both World Wars, and the Korean conflict. They chased bandit Pancho Villa, fought with Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill, and the 9th Cavalry was Guard of Honor for President T. Roosevelt when he visited San Francisco and the Presidio. This was the first time black cavalry soldiers served as escort for a U.S. President.

Regarding their nickname, Walter Hill writes in his article Exploring the Life and History of the Buffalo Soldiers: "... the 10th [cavalry] acquired the name 'Buffalo Soldiers; during the 1871 campaign against the Comanches in the Indian Territory. Grierson said that the Comanches respected the soldiers' tireless marching and dogged trail skills. They had earned the name of the rugged and revered buffalo. The 10th made the Buffalo its regimental coat of arms years later, but the term Buffalo Soldiers, became synonymous with both the 9th and 10th units."


  • November 1862: first all-black unit formed, the 1st regiment of South Carolina Volunteers.
  • July 1866: Congress approves legislation creating six all black regiments in the U.S. army: he 9th and 10th cavalry, and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st infantry.
  • 1869: the four infantry regiments consolidated into two — the 24th and 25th.
  • 1869: the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 24th infantry sent to the frontier to fight in the Indian Wars.
  • 1871: term "Buffalo Soldier" first used.
  • Spanish-American war: 9th and 10th cavalry and 24th and 25th infantry sent to Cuba. Cavalry marches alongside the infantry, since horses were still at sea. The Buffalo Soldiers participate in battle of San Juan Hill, alongside future president Theodore Roosevelt.
  • 1899-1909: portions of all four Buffalo Soldier regiments and two new black volunteer regiments see action in the Philippines.
  • 1903: Buffalo Soldiers assigned to patrol national parks in California, including Yosemite, General Grant, Sequoia and the Presidio. Captain Charles Young, the third black West Point graduate, was named Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National Park. The Buffalo Soldiers continue to patrol the parks until the National Park Service was created in 1916.
  • 1915: participate in America's punitive expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa.
  • 1950s: the U.S. army integrates, ending the glorious tradition and service of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Interesting Facts:

  • A woman, Cathy Williams, disguised herself as a man and served as a Buffalo Soldier from 1866 to 1868.
  • Twenty-three Buffalo Soldiers earned the Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery and service to the United States
  • George Armstrong Custer turned down a command of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Recommended books about Buffalo Soldiers:

Black Valor:
Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898

Book Description

     They were U.S. Army soldiers. Just a few years earlier, some had been slaves. Several thousand African Americans served as soldiers in the Indian Wars and the Cuban campaign of the Spanish-American War in the latter part of the nineteenth century. They were known as buffalo soldiers, believed to have been named by Indians who had seen a similarity between the coarse hair and dark skin of the soldiers and the coats of the buffalo. Twenty-three of these men won the nation's highest award for personal bravery, the Medal of Honor.
     Black Valor brings the lives of the soldiers into sharp focus. Their remarkable stories -- derived from extensive historical research -- are told in this collected biography. Black Valor will enrich and inspire readers.
Hardcover: 184 pages
Publisher: Scholarly Resources


Buffalo Soldier poster

The Buffalo Soldiers
18 x 24 poster

See More Black Soldier Posters

[Tuskegee] [USS Mason] [Red Ball Express] [Buffalo Soldiers]
[Black Soldier Posters] [Black History Posters]

Other Buffalo Soldier web sites:

Texas Buffalo Soldiers - The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's "Texas Buffalo Soldier" Outdoor Educational Programs emphasizes multi-shared western heritage about the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, Vaqueros, Negro Cowboys, Frontier Women, Native Americans and other cultural groups in Texas during the 1800s.

Exploring the Life and History of the Buffalo Soldiers - by Walter Hill. National Archives and Records Administration.

America's Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association

The Buffalo Soldiers on the Western Frontier - site hosted by THE INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE HORSE. Great history of the cavalry units.

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