Named by the Indians partly because of the black men’s dark kinky hair was so similar to the Buffalo, the winter Buffalo coat they wore in the winter, and the color of their skin, but most importantly it was a sign of respect. The Indians felt that like the mighty Buffalo, the Black Soldier foughtferociously to the end. There were many stories about the black soldiers and Indian confrontations that spurred on the name Buffalo Soldier. From early in 1867 all Black military personnel were called Buffalo Soldiers. The black soldier was proud to be called a Buffalo Soldier because of the respect the name gave them. The tradition was carried over to all of the military services, even the Tuskeegee Airmen were Buffalo Soldiers until they flew the planes. In 1947 President Truman had the military desegregated. That brought the end of the Buffalo Soldier.
THE BUFFALO SOLDIER 9TH AND 10TH (HORSE) CAVALRY
The Civil War
When Confederate batteries fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Black men were eager to wear the Union blue, but it would not come easy. On the first anniversary of Fort Sumter, General David Hunter organized a regiment of all Black men. But his effort was abortive, and the regiment was “turned off without a shilling, by order of the War Department.” Seven months later Colonel T. W. Higginson of Massachusetts took command of the First Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers, the first slave regiment mustered into service of the United States By the end of the war 180,000 black men had served in the Union Army and taps had sounded over the bodies of 33,380 of them. 166 regiments were raised for the United States Colored Troops, as they were officially known, comprising more than 200,000 black soldiers and more than 7,000 white officers. Yet, they didn’t fight only in Union Blue. Sadly, little has ever been written of the black men that served in the Confederate Army, so we know little of their reasons for fighting for the Confederacy or the outcome of their efforts. The number of black troops in the Union Army was larger than the entire Confederate Army in the final months of the Civil War. We know that the black soldiers fought bravely and Sergeant William H. Carney became the first African American to earn the Medal of Honor for his role at Fort Wagner, South Carolina.
Shortly after the Civil War on July 28th, 1866, provisions were made for Black men to serve in the regular peacetime army. Six regiments, 2 of Cavalry and 4 Infantry were commissioned by Congress. For twenty-four years these regiments campaigned on the Great Plains along the Rio Grande, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Colorado and finally in the Dakotas. The Ninth (9th) and Tenth (10th) U. S. Cavalry Regiments duties included guarding the mail, escorting and / or guarding stagecoaches, cattle drives, wagon trains, railroad crews, surveyors and they were the Law. They built roads and telegraph lines, mapped and explored. They played a major role in the building of the west and making it safe for the westward expansion.
In the beginning there were no black officers, and the military was not willing to deal with this issue. It was still unclear how black men would hold up in the Military peacetime army. The process of recruiting officers for these new regiments was a slow process and by February 1867, only 11 officers had reported to duty. While waiting for the necessary number of officers, the troopers became surly and unruly. Mutiny
In March 1867 Colonel Edward Hatch received orders transferring his regiment to Texas. Two companies, L and M were to be stationed in Brownsville on the Rio Grande while the remaining 10 companies were encamped near San Antonio and undergo further training. But marching orders had come to soon. Hatch had a little more than an ill-disciplined mob on his hands and the stage was set for violence and tragedy. EnRoute to San Antonio Mutiny flared in K company and was suppressed only with great difficulty. When the city was reached, no brass bands turned out to welcome black men in blue uniforms, after all this had been Confederate territory, and friction developed quickly between the troopers and citizens. Clashes with the police became an almost daily occurrence. Serious trouble was only a matter of time, and it came on April 9th as too few officers strove to control their men. Mutiny broke out in A, E and K company and he was forced to shoot two of his own troopers Colonel Hatch placed the blame on a shortage of officers. Captain W. W. Albert, of the Sixth Cavalry, was assigned to investigate the mutiny. His report found that many of the men were “too light, too young and had a weak constitution”. He should have added that careless or indifferent recruiters had enlisted far too many men who were unfit for military service.
Recruits were plentiful, though officers were scarce. Black men were eager to enlist, as the army gave them the chance for social and economic betterment. Something difficult to achieve in a society all but closed to blacks. The Civil War was over, but many knew nothing of the world outside, the world beyond the city or plantation where they had spent their whole life. They could not go back, now they were free, but many did not have skills to go forward or a place to go. So many felt that the army would be a new home. To others, it was the adventure of being sent west to help tame an untamed wilderness. Perhaps this could lead to their great dream of building a new life on their own land. Those who were accepted, for the minimum of 5 years, received the basic troopers pay of thirteen dollars per month, plus quarters, meals and uniforms. They felt they were now on their way to acceptance, little did they know of the hardship they would face in the west. Most started with uniforms and equipment that was castoff remnants of both armies. New recruits used cotton compressors as barracks, ate boiled beef, hash, beans, corn bread, and occasionally sweet potatoes, molasses and coffee, not much better off than what they had come from. But to most, the major inducement for enlistment was the prospect of learning how to read and write. They felt this would bring them closer to learning and earning the respect of white men, and by knowing what the white man knew would help them to survive and prosper.
The Cavalry had always been given the finest of horses, but not the black soldiers. They received the crippled and sickly horses left over from the Civil War. But they quickly learned that sometimes your horse could be the difference between life and death. They soon learned to care for their horses better than they cared for themselves. Movement West / 1867 Period
The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry began a journey in spring and summer of 1867, that would lead them to two decades of continuous service on the Great Plains and in the mountains and deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. Upon arriving at Forts Stockton and Davis they found to their dismay that the Forts were in disrepair and required complete rebuilding. So work details were put together at once, cutting logs, making adobe bricks, constructing sinks and erecting quarters and corrals. With so much work to be done there was little time to complain. Then in late October a revenge-bent party of Kickapoo's drew first blood from the Buffalo Soldiers. They ambushed and killed Corporal Emanuel Wright and Private E. T. Jones. Of Company D, as they escorted the mail from Camp Hudson to Fort Stockton. By December, a force of Kickapoo, Lipan, Mexican and some White Renegades estimated at nine hundred strong, attacked the bivouac of Captain William Frohock and K Company at Fort Lancaster, some seventy-five miles (as the crow flies) east of Fort Stockton. This was the Buffalo Soldiers first opportunity to face their foes “toe to toe”. It turned into a vicious three-hour fight, leaving K Company in possession of the field. Their victory was twenty dead and a large number wounded. But they had also suffered, the loss of three herd guards. Privates’ Andrew Trimble, William Sharpe and Eli Boyer were taken by surprise, roped and dragged away. Now missing and presumed dead. But this fight proved the virtues of hard work, disciple and a sense of purpose. It showed the Ninth that they were combat effective, at least to the ones that fought that day. 1880’s Indians
In the 1880’s after years of campaigning the majority of the Apaches were driven into reservations at San Carlos and Fort Apache, but renegades still remained at large. With the serious outbreaks in 1881 - 1882, General Crook returned to Arizona and restored peace, but 500 Chiricahua and Warm Springs outlaws, one being Nana himself were holed up in the mountains of Northern Mexico, ready to launch raids into Arizona. March of 1883 a small band of these Indians under Chatto struck like a hurricane in southern New Mexico and Arizona. A number of ranches were looted and burned. In just 6 days, 25 people were killed, and 1 young boy captured. Then like wraiths the Apaches disappeared across the border, leaving citizens and troops in a state of shock. General Crook reacted swiftly by gathering a powerful force along with a large body of Apache scouts to cross into Mexico and invade the Sierra Madres. In a 3-week campaign, Crook and his Buffalo Soldiers forced the surrender of Chiricahua Irreconcilables. Out of this Chato, Geronimo, Naiche, Loco, Benito, Mangus and their followers, as well as Nana and his Warm Springs Apaches, agreed to march to the San Carlos reservation where they were to remain under control of the army. 1886 Fort Apache
Lieutenant Colonel Wade, Commander of Fort Apache and more than half the companies of the Tenth were sent to arrest and transport more than 400 Apache men, women and children to Holbrook, Arizona, where they were entrained to Fort Marion. One hostile chief, Mangus and his band remained at large after separating from Geronimo. On September 18th, a detachment of H Company under Captain Charles Cooper found a trail in the White Mountains, and a pursuit of more than 40 miles over rough terrain led to a small party of Apaches. After a running 15 mile fight the Buffalo Soldiers cornered the Indians and forced their surrender. Now the chapter was over with the last holdout Mangus, 2 warriors, 8 women and children. Arizona was finally at peace.
The Years To Follow
The Tenth went on to fight in the Spanish-American war, participating in Teddy Roosevelt’s famed charge up San Juan Hill. They then went on to serve in the Philippines Insurrection and protection of Americans in China during the Boxer rebellion. Many a young White Officer cut their teeth serving with the Buffalo Soldiers, some went on to become famous, like John J. “Blackjack” Pershing who served with the Tenth as a young lieutenant. The 10th was stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco, during the winter for training and horsemanship. In the spring they marched up to Yosemite and The Sequoia. There they laid out and built trails for the Park. Maintained the forestry and it’s wildlife for the pleasure of all America to see and enjoy.
Buffalo Soldiers of Northern California email@example.com Buffalo Soldiers of Northern California P.O. Box 292131 Sacramento, California 95829