History of the Buffalo Soldiers

African Americans have served proudly in every great American war. In 1866, through an act of Congress, legislation was adopted to create six all African American Army units.

 

The units were identified as the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st infantry regiments. The four infantry regiments were later reorganized to form the 24th and 25th infantry regiments. These fighting men represented the first Black professional soldiers in a peacetime army.

 

The recruits came from varied backgrounds including former slaves and veterans from service in the Civil War.

 

The nickname buffalo soldiers began with the Cheyenne warriors in 1867. The actual Cheyenne translation was Wild Buffalo. The nickname was given out of respect and the fierce fighting ability of the 10th cavalry.

 

Overtime, Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African American soldiers. These African-Americans were charged with and responsible for escorting settlers, cattle herds, and railroad crews.

 

The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments also conducted campaigns against American Indian tribes on a western frontier that extended from Montana in the Northwest to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in the Southwest. Throughout the era of the Indian Wars, approximately twenty percent of the U.S. Cavalry troopers were Black, and they fought over 177 engagements.