Although several African-American regiments were raised during the Civil War as part of the Union Army (including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the many United States Colored Troops Regiments).
Sources disagree on how the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1877, the actual Cheyenne translation being "Wild Buffalo." -- The Apache used the same term ("We called them 'buffalo soldiers,' because they had curly, kinky hair ... like bisons") a claim supported by other sources. -- Some sources assert that the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th Cavalry. -- Still other sources point to a combination of both legends.
African Americans have fought in military conflicts since colonial days. However, the Buffalo Soldiers, comprised of former slaves, freemen and Black Civil War soldiers, were the first to serve during peacetime.
From 1866 to the early 1890s, these regiments served at a variety of posts in the Southwestern United States and the Great Plains regions. Once the Westward movement had begun, prominent among those blazing treacherous trails of the Wild West were the Buffalo Soldiers of the U.S. Army. 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. The combat prowess, bravery, tenaciousness, and looks on the battlefield, inspired the Indians to call them "Buffalo Soldiers." Many Indians believe the name symbolized the Native American's respect for the Buffalo Soldiers' bravery and valor. Buffalo Soldiers, down through the years, have worn the name with pride.
10th Cavalry - Buffalo Soldiers - Late 1800's photograph of members, 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers). Augustus Walley (top row, 2nd from right, a former slave from Bond Avenue in Reisterstown, MD, won the Congressional Medal of Honor."
African Americans have served in the United States Army since the Revolutionary War. They were, however, segregated in all black units until the Korean War.
In 1866, Congress approved legislation creating six all African American Army regiments: two cavalry (the 9th and 10th) and four infantry
(the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st
). These units represented the first African American professional soldiers in a peace-time army. Some of the recruits for the new units were formerly slaves. Many others served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Another reorganization of the Army a short time later led to the merger of the
four infantry regiments into two units: the 24th and 25th.
The nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" was originally given to the 10th Cavalry by Cheyenne warriors out of respect for their fierce fighting in 1867. The Native American term used was actually "Wild Buffaloes", which was translated to " Buffalo Soldiers." In time, all African American Soldiers became known as "Buffalo Soldiers." Despite second-class treatment these soldiers made up first-rate regiments of the highest caliber and had the lowest desertion rate in the Army.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's, these units were consistently assigned to the harshest and most desolate posts. They were sent to subdue Mexican revolutionaries, outlaws, comancheros, rustlers, and hostile Native Americans; to explore and map the Southwest; to string telegraph lines; and to establish frontier outposts around which future towns and cities grew.
All four units fought in the Indian Wars of the American West and were, in part, responsible for the defeat of Geronimo, the notorious Apache leader Victorio, William "Billy the Kid" Bonney and Mexican bandit Francisco "Pancho"
Villa. During the Spanish American War of 1898, it was the 9th and 10th Cavalry Corps which drew the fire that led to the decisive and successful charge up Kettle Hill, and San Juan Heights in Cuba.
The Buffalo Soldier legacy continued into the 20th Century. They served in the
Philippines and China. Units also fought in WWI and WWII.
9th Cavalry Medal of Honor Winners
Sgt. Thomas Boyne, Indian Campaigns - for holding position on two occasions, May 19, 1879, in the Nimbres Mountains of New Mexico and September 27, 1879, at Cuchillo, New Mexico, in battles against Indians.
Second Lieutenant George R. Burnett: Place and date: At Cuchillo Negro Mountains, N. Mex., 16 August 1881. Entered service at: Spring Mills, Pa. Birth. Lower Providence Township Pa. Date of issue: 23 July 1897. Citation. Saved the life of a dismounted soldier, who was in imminent danger of being cut off, by alone galloping quickly to his assistance under heavy fire and escorting him to a place of safety, his horse being twice shot in this action.
Second Lieutenant Matthias W. Day: Place and date: At Las Animas Canyon, N. Mex., 18 September 1879. Entered service at: Oberlin, Ohio. Birth: Mansfield, Ohio. Date of issue: 7 May 1890. Citation: Advanced alone into the enemy's lines and carried off a wounded soldier of his command under a hot fire and after he had been ordered to retreat.
Sgt. John Denny: Indian Campaigns- for carrying a wounded comrade to safety under fire at Las Animas Canyon, New Mexico, September 18, 1879
Second Lieutenant Robert Temple Emmet: Place and Date: At Las Animas Canyon, N. Mex, 18 Sep 1879. Inducted: New York, N.Y. Born: New York, N.Y. Date of issue 24 Aug 1899. Citation: Lt. Emmet was in G Troop which was sent to relieve a detachment of soldiers under attack by hostile Apaches During a flank attack on the Indian camp, made to divert the hostiles Lt. Emmet and 5 of his men became surrounded when the Indians returned to defend their camp. Finding that the Indians were making for a position from which they could direct their fire on the retreating troop, the Lt held his point with his party until the soldiers reached the safety of a canyon. Lt. Emmet then continued to hold his position while his party recovered their horses. The enemy force consisted of approximately 200.
Captain Francis S. Dodge: Troop D. Action: Near White River Agency, Colo., 29 September 1879. Entered service at: Danvers, Mass. Born: 11 September 1842, Danvers, Mass. Date of issue: 2 April 1898. Citation: With a force of 40 men rode all night to the relief of a command that had been defeated and was besieged by an
overwhelming force of Indians, reached the field at daylight, joined in the action and fought for 3 days.
Cpl. Clinton Greaves: Indian Campaigns - for gallantry in hand-to-hand fighting with Indians at Florida Mountains, New Mexico, June 24, 1877
Sgt. Henry Johnson: Indian Campaigns - at Milk City, Colorado on October 2-5, 1879, "Sergeant Johnson voluntarily left the fortified shelter and under heavy fire at close range made the rounds of the pits to instruct the guards; fought his way to the creek and back to bring water to the wounded."
Sgt. George Jordan: Indian Campaigns-twice recognized for unusual heroism: May 14, 1880, lead 25 man force which repulsed over 100 Indians at Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico and on August 12, 1881 held position against superior numbers of enemy.
Sgt. Thomas Shaw: Indian Campaigns - for heroism in action at Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico, August 12, 1881
Sgt. Emanuel Stance: Indian Campaigns - for gallantry displayed as an Indian Scout, May 20,1870, Kickapoo Springs, Texas. Stance was the first African American recipient of the Medal of Honor during the Indian War era.
Pvt. Agustus Walley: Indian Campaigns - for action in an engagement against Apaches, Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico August 16, 1881 (Recommendation for second Medal Of Honor for service during Spanish-American War). Walley is buried near his hometown of Reisterstown. Maryland.
1st Sgt. Moses Williams: Co I, Action: At foothills of the Cuchillo Negro Mountains, N. Mex, 16 Aug 1881. Born: Carrollton, La. Issued: 12 Nov 1896. Citation: Rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running fight of 3 or 4 hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under a heavy fire from a large party of Indians saved the lives of at least 3 of his comrades.
Cpl. William O. Wilson: Citation: for bravery during the Sioux campaign in 1890. Action: Sioux Campaign, 1890. Inducted: St. Paul, Minn. Born: Hagerstown, Md. Issued: 17 Sep 1891.
Sgt. Brent Wood: Co B, Action: New Mexico, 19 Aug 1881. Inducted: Louisville, Ky.
Born: Pulaski County, Ky. Issued: 12 Jul 1894. Citation: Saved the lives of his comrades and citizens of the detachment.
10th Cavalry Medal of Honor Winners
Captain Louis H. Carpente: Company H. Actions: At Indian campaigns in Kansas and Colorado, September October 1868. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: Glassboro, N.J. Date of issue 8 April 1898. Citation: Was gallant and meritorious throughout the campaigns, especially in the combat of October 15 and in the forced March on September 23, 24 and 25 to the relief of Forsyth's Scouts, who were known to be in danger of annihilation by largely superior forces of Indians.
Sgt Mjr Edward L. Baker: (later promoted to Second Lt.) Spanish-American War - for leaving cover, and under fire, rescued a wounded comrade from drowning, July 1, 1898
Second Lieutenant Powhattan H. Clarke: Company K. Place and date: At Pinito Mountains, Sonora, Mex., 3 May 1886. Entered service at: Baltimore, Md. Birth: Alexandria, La. Date of issue: 12 March 1891. Citation: Rushed forward to the rescue of a soldier who was severely wounded and lay, disabled, exposed to the enemy's fire, and carried him to a place of safety.
Pvt Dennis Bell: Spanish-American War - for voluntarily going ashore in Toyabacoa, Cuba, in the face of the enemy and rescuing wounded comrades, June 30, 1898
Pvt. Fitz Lee: Spanish-American War - for voluntarily going ashore in Toyabacoa, Cuba, in the face of the enemy and rescuing wounded comrades, June 30, 1898
Sgt. William McBrya: Indian Campaigns - for bravery in battle with Apache Indians in Arizona Territory, May 15, 1890
Sgt. William Tompkins: Spanish-American War - for voluntarily going ashore in
Toyabacoa, Cuba, in the face of the enemy and rescuing wounded comrades,
June 30, 1898
Pvt. George H. Wanton: Spanish-American War - for voluntarily going ashore in
Toyabacoa, Cuba, in the face of the enemy and rescuing wounded comrades, June 30, 1898.
24th Infantry Medal of Honor Winners
Sgt. Benjamin Brown: Indian Campaigns - for defending the Regimental Payroll from robbers, wounded in the abdomen and both arms, near Ft. Thomas, Arizona May 11, 1889
Cpl. Isaiah Mays: Co B. Action: Arizona, 11 May 1889. Inducted: Columbus Barracks, Ohio. Born 16 Feb 1858, Carters Bridge, Va. Issued: 19 Feb 1890. Citation: Gallantry in the fight between Paymaster Wham's escort and robbers. Mays walked and crawled 2 miles to a ranch for help. Cpl. Mays is buried in the old section of the cemetery at the Veterans Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.
41st Infantry Medal of Honor Winners
(The 41st and 38th Infantry were reorganized to form the 24th Infantry in the fall of 1869.)
First Lieutenant George E. Albee: At Brazos River, Tex., 28 October 1869. Entered service at: Owatonna, Minn. Birth: Lisbon, N.H. Date of issue: 18 January 1894. Citation: Attacked with 2 men a force of 11 Indians, drove them from the hills, and reconnoitered the country beyond.
Seminole Indian Scouts
Pvt. Pompey Factor: Seminole Indian Scouts - At Pecos River, Tex, 25 Apr 1875. Born: Arkansas. Issued: 28 May 1875. Citation: With 3 other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol. Pvt. Factor is buried in the Seminole Cemetery near Bracketville, Texas.
Pvt. Adam Paine: Pvt, Indian Scouts. Action: Canyon Blanco tributary of the Red River, Tex, 26-27 Sep 1874. Inducted: Fort Duncan, Texas. Born: Florida. Issued: 13 Oct 1875. Citation: Rendered invaluable service to Col. R. S. Mackenzie, 4th US Cavalry, during this engagement.
Isaac Payne: Trumpeter, Indian Scouts. Action: At Pecos River, Tex, 25 Apr 1875. Born: Mexico. Issued: 28 May 1875. Citation: With 3 other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol and Rescued commanding officer Lt. John Bullis.
Sgt. John Ward: Seminole Indian Scouts - Indian Campaigns - Pecos River Engagement April 25, 1875. Entered service at Fort Duncan, Tex. Born: Arkansas. Issued: 28 May 1875. Citation: With 3 other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.
Buffalo Soldier Monument, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Sculptor, Eddie Dixon: "Bfu-soldr-front" by Original uploader was Signaleer at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
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