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
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870-1898
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
Mason] [Red Ball Express] [Buffalo Soldiers]
[Black Soldier Posters] [Black History Posters]
Other Buffalo Soldier web
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.
Buffalo Soldiers Re-enactors Association
Buffalo Soldiers on the Western Frontier - site hosted by THE INTERNATIONAL MUSEUM OF
THE HORSE. Great history of the cavalry units.
More Military Books: