In 1866, congress passed a bill establishing a post war military force to help protect citizens in the western territories. A distinctive part of this force were the units of the U.S. Cavalry called the Buffalo Soldiers.

The troops of the 9th and 10th U.S.Cavalry and the 24th and 25th U.S. Infantry were comprised entirely of African-American soldiers. Some of whom even fought in the Civil War. These regiments compiled many notable military accomplishments. With hand me down horses, clothing and equipment, they earned more Congressional Medals of Honor and had the lowest desertion rate of any unit in the army. The duties of the troops depended on the location of the unit. They delivered the mail and protected the wagon trains, cattle drives, stage coaches, railroads and settlers. They helped to build forts and roads as they mapped uncharted areas. They protected settlers from Indian attacks and Mexican revolutionaries. They participated in several major campaigns against the Indians and later served as lead troops in the Spanish American War. despite prejudice, they were the vanguard of excellence!

Even when outnumbered, the black soldiers were courageous in battle. The Cheyenne referred to these hard-fighting black men as the “Buffalo Soldiers”. They did so out of respect reportedly because their hair resembled that of the revered bison. The buffalo was a symbol of strength and courage to the Plains Indians, and they identified this with the black troops of the West. Because the buffalo was a sacred animal to the Indians, the Cavalrymen accepted the name with great pride. The name became a highly respected American legacy.

As the first African Americans to serve in the military during peacetime, they changed military history forever…

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