The Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo soldiers were African American soldiers who mainly served on the Western frontier following the American Civil War. In 1866, six all-Black cavalry and infantry regiments were created after Congress passed the Army Organization Act. Their main tasks were to help control the Native Americans of the Plains, capture cattle rustlers and thieves and protect settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and railroad crews along the Western front.
No one really knows why, but the soldiers of the all-Black 9th Cavalry out of New Orleans, Louisiana and the Cavalry 10th Cavalry Regiments out of Fort Leavenworth, Kansas were dubbed “buffalo soldiers” by the Native Americans they encountered. One theory claims the nickname came because the soldiers’ dark, curly hair resembled the fur of a buffalo. I like the assumption that soldiers fought so valiantly and fiercely that the Indians revered them as they did the mighty buffalo. Whatever the reason, the name stuck. The African American regiments formed in 1866.
Buffalo soldiers had the lowest military desertion and court-martial rates of their time. They participated in many wars from the Expansion of the West to World War II. They had many Congressional Medal of Honor recipients presented in recognition of combat valor that goes above and beyond the call of duty. They also fought wildfires and poachers in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and Served as some of Our first Park Rangers.Mark Matthews, the nation’s oldest living buffalo soldier, died in 2005 at age 111 in Washington, D.C.
The Buffalo Soldiers has a rich history of valor.