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The Buffalo Soldiers of 1866



There were two cavalry regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers, the ninth & tenth. The ninth cavalry was formed in New Orleans Louisiana, on August 3, 1866. Most recruits came from Louisville, Kentucky; many were ex-civil war veterans. Enlistment terms were for 5 years, with recruits receiving $13 per month, plus room, board & clothing. The ninth cavalry's motto was ''We Can, We Will".


In 1866, the formation of the tenth cavalry also began at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The regiments' commander set very high standards for recruitment. Within the first year, the recruitment of enlisted men resulted in regiment companies. The motto of the tenth cavalry was "Ready Forward".

Stories relating to the origin of the legendary name “Buffalo Soldiers” are as varied as there are people to tell them.  One story states that 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.   Some attribute it to the Indians likening the short curly hair of the black troopers to that of the buffalo.  Another possibility for the nickname was the heavy buffalo robes the soldiers wore on winter campaigns.  Others say that when the buffalo was wounded or cornered, it fought ferociously, displaying uncommon stamina and courage, identical to the black man in battle.  Regardless of how the name originated, the term Buffalo Soldier became a generic term for all African American soldiers.  It is now used in reference to US Army units who trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th cavalry units whose bravery earned them an honored place in US History. 


From 1866 to the early 1890s, the buffalo soldiers served at a variety of posts in the southwest and the Great Plains. The Buffalo Soldiers overcame prejudice from both within the army and from communities where they were stationed. They were often divided into small companies and troop-sized detachments stationed at isolated posts. They performed routine chores, patrolled the frontier, built roads, escorted mail parties, and handled a variety of difficult civil and military tasks. The soldiers participated in most of the major frontier campaigns of this period and distinguished themselves in action against several Indian tribes.


They had outstanding officers such as Henry O. Flipper, the first black man to graduate from West Point; Sergeant Benjamin Brown assigned to escort stagecoaches carrying army payroll, George Washington Williams was a minister and Buffalo Soldier. Benjamin Grierson, a white man who fought hard for equal provisions and respect for the Buffalo Soldiers. He often went against his white counterparts to defend them. This was only a mention of some of the great men of the Buffalo Soldiers that are a part of our great history. Thirteen enlisted men from four regiments and six officers earned the Medal of Honor during the Indian war.


The Buffalo Soldiers found themselves facing increasing racial prejudice at the turn of the century. Law officers cut them off and segregated them in towns where stationed; victims of racial slurs, beatings, harassment, and on several occasions sniper attacks. As armed veterans of active service, the soldiers occasionally responded with acts of violence.


During World War II, during the war, the United States disbanded the ninth and tenth cavalries and transferred personnel into service units. The deactivation of the last segregated black regiment to see combat occurred in 1951; its personnel was used to integrate other units serving in Korea. This was the effort of the United States Army to desegregate its units.


Popular interest in the Buffalo Soldiers began to grow in the 1960s by films, publications, historians, and a reenactment group within the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who offered several informational programs on the Buffalo Soldiers as well as performed at state parks and other venues.


On July 26, 1992, on the 126th anniversary of the day, Congress authorized the creation of the Buffalo Soldiers Regiment and the Buffalo Soldier monument was unveiled at Fort Leavenworth. General Colin Powell, black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest black ranking officer in the history of the United States dedicated the monument.


The Buffalo Soldiers believed that hatred, bigotry, and prejudice could not defeat them; they believed that someday efforts and the efforts of those to follow would know freedom.


It may be too late for the Buffalo Soldiers of yesteryear to share in their due recognition rewards that have finally come their way. However, there is still time for others to learn the story of these brave young men who left the forts so long ago, on their ride into history.


We the Northern New Jersey Buffalo Soldiers and the entire National Association of Buffalo Soldiers and Troopers pledge to ensure that the legacy of these warriors are carried on ensuring that we educate all that we encounter including our future generation on the History of these great Soldiers and Troopers giving them the honor and respect that are due to them.


What better way to accomplish this than to saddle up on our ‘Iron Horses’, enjoy the open road and share our history with those we encounter along the journey.

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