The Buffalo Soldiers Were African-American Men Who Served in U.S. Army Units Created After The Civil War.

During that conflict, despite strong opposition by most high-ranking officers, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had served on the Union side, proving their ability time and again. As a result, the US government decided in 1867 to create several regular African-American military units, who would assist in the ongoing US expansion into Indian territories in the Plains and lands west.

The places where the new African-American regiments were sent were certainly some of the toughest known to the Army. They took part in much of the major fighting of the Indian wars, from the High Plains to the Southwest. In the process the Buffalo Soldiers garnered 23 Medals of Honor. It is said to have been the Plains Indians who gave them their nickname of “Buffalo Soldiers,” because of their courage as well as their hair, thought to be similar in appearance to the fur between a bison’s horns. It is a name the soldiers adopted with pride, as they knew how the Indians esteemed the buffalo.

African American regiments of the U.S. Army, e.g., Ninth and Tenth Cavalries and the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantries, who were organized after the Civil War and remained in service to World War II. It was common for any African American soldier in World War II to be identified by the public as a Buffalo Soldier.




Buffalo Soldiers

Osprey Publishing - Elite series: Buffalo Soldiers 1866-91
by Ron Field  (Author), Richard Hook (Illustrator)
Amazon, Google Books

Osprey Publishing - Elite series: Buffalo Soldiers 1892-1918
by Ron Field (Author), Richard Hook (Illustrator)
AmazonGoogle Books

“African-American soldiers played a decisive role in the US Army on the western frontier during the Plains Wars (1850-1891). First authorised by Congress in July 1866, they were organised into two cavalry and four infantry regiments, which were commanded by white officers. All were quickly nicknamed the ‘Buffalo Soldiers’ by their Cheyenne and Comanche enemies. These brave soldiers fought many native tribes over the years, including the warriors of Sitting Bull and Geronimo. This book [Buffalo Soldiers 1866-91] tells the story of these buffalo soldiers who, until the early 1890′s, constituted 20 per cent of all active forces on duty in the American West. “

“The Buffalo Soldier played an important part in the US Army’s operations during the “age of American Imperialism”, between 1898 and 1916. These men campaigned against the Spanish in Cuba (San Juan Hill, 1898), Filipino insurrectionists on Mindanao and Mexican border raiders. They went on to distinguish themselves in the trenches of World War I (1914-1918), and the sum of two divisions of these Doughboys fought with the French Army and the American Expeditionary Force.”

Photograph Of Unidentified Buffalo Soldier With Two Children

From: Photographs Of Afro-American Soldiers, Yale Collection Of Western Americana

Beyond defending territories against native attacks, the  Buffalo Soldiers were capable explorers. They mapped large portions of the Southwest and helped erect town sites. Although prejudice was rampant in the new land, the soldiers persevered. Often, their bravery was their saving grace as they faced enemies.- NY Times.com

At the outbreak of the Civil War, the government was fighting the Indians in the west. It withdrew most of its men and resources from the Indian wars, to concentrate on ending the rebellion. At the end of the Civil War, 186,000 black soldiers had participated in the war, with 38,000 killed in action. Southerners and eastern populations did not want to see armed Negro soldiers near or in their communities. They were also afraid of the labor market being flooded with a new source of labor. General employment opportunities in these communities was not available to blacks, so many African-Americans took a long hard look at military service which offered shelter, education, steady pay, medical attention and a pension. Some decided it was much better than frequent civilian unemployment. Of course in some quarters, it was thought this is an good way of getting rid of two problems at the same time. -BuffaloSoldier.net

When Congress reorganized the peacetime regular army in the summer of 1866, it had taken the above situation into account. It also recognized the military merits of black soldiers by authorizing two segregated regiments of black cavalry, the Ninth United States Cavalry and the Tenth United States Cavalry and the 24th, 25th , 38th , 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments.  Orders were given to transfer the troops to the western war arena, where they would join the army’s fight with Native Americans.


Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Black #Disability History: Cathay Williams, Female Buffalo Soldier
Cathay Williams (September 1844 – 1892) “I wanted to make my own living and not be dependent on relations or friends.” – Cathay Williams On 15 November 1866 in St. Louis, Ca…

Did you know that not only was the first documented woman to serve in the U.S. Army (until modern times) was not only African-American but also had a disability? Learn the exciting tale of Cathay Williams or William Cathay and how  gender, race and disability were affected all at once

Cathy Williams, Buffalo Soldier

Sharon Solomon

This picture-book biography tells the story of Cathy Williams, who in 1866 disguised herself as a man in order to join the U.S. Army as a Buffalo soldier and earn good pay. No one found out, until she grew tired of army life and revealed her identity. Young readers will be fascinated by the story of this daring and courageous woman.

Jah Light 48" x 72" Mixed media on canvas

This is in tribute to all the seeds that have been killed before they could grow.

Private Cathay’s Secret

Rebecca O. Hayes

Private Cathay’s Secret depicts the determination and perseverance of a young slave girl, Cathay Williams. Thrust from her home on a Missouri plantation, she becomes a cook for the Union Army. Little does she realize this servitude throughout much of the Civil War will prepare her for her greatest challenge: impersonating a male soldier in the U. S. Army at the end of the war. Alongside her male companions, Williams endures hardships and performs her duties with them equally, during a time when women are not allowed to serve in the military. No one discovers her gender until she reveals it at the time of her discharge. Much has been written about the Buffalo Soldier 10th Cavalry, but infantry escapades are largely clouded in obscurity.