Buffalo Soldiers, Ft. Keogh, Montana 1890
PRE-BUFFALO SOLDIERS HISTORY 1775 to 1865
Throughout American history from the early sixteen hundreds to present day, Black Americans have participated in every war that the United States has been involved in regardless of which branch of service.
The Union Army did not have enough regular troops to engage the large southern Army that was formed by the Confederate State of America. GENERAL ORDERS No. 15. War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington,
May 4, 1861. The President of the United States called for Volunteer Force to aid in the enforcement of the laws and the suppression of insurrection, and to consist of thirty-nine infantry regiments and one cavalry regiment. One of the Infantry Units was the 54th Massachusetts in which the enlisted soldiers were Negros. They were referred to as United States Colored Troops or U.S.C.T. At the end of the civil war all volunteers were sent back home and this ended the service of the all of the U.S. Colored Regiments.
After the war (between the states) people started moving out west to start a new life. The Union Army was now occupying the southern states to ensure a restart of their rebellion would be quelled, and did not have enough troops to protect the settlers migrating westward. On July 28, 1866 Congress passed legislation to establish more regular Army Regiments. Four cavalry and four infantry were formed the 7th and 8th Cavalry Regiments were designated to be comprised of all white soldiers. However the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments and the four Infantry Regiments the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Regiments were composed all black enlisted troops with all white officers. This opened a new door in history by designating Negros to serve for the first time as regular Army Soldiers. The four infantry units by an act of Congress on March 3, 1869 were reduced consolidated to just two infantry regiments. The 38th, and 41stRegiments were and renumbered as the 24th Infantry Regiment. The 39th and 40th Regiments were renumbered as the 24th Infantry Regiment.
BUFFALO SOLDERS BEGINNING Indian Wars 1866 to 1890
The first year most of the units were forming and started training for the newly recited troops. The majority of original recruits were civil war veterans from the U.S.C.T. Regiments. Enlistments were for five years at a pay rate of thirteen dollars per month. Despite the enticements for faster promotion many white officers refused commissions with the Negro Regiments. Notable historical refusals of commissions included Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer, and Captain Frederick Benteen who later did accepted commissions with the 7th Cavalry. The regiments were organized on 21 September 1866 the Ninth Regiment in New Orleans, Louisiana commanded by Colonel Edward Hatch. The Tenth Regiment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas was commanded by Colonel Benjamin Grierson.
From 1866 to the early 1890s, these regiments served at a variety of posts in the Southwestern United States and the Great Plains regions. They participated in most of the military campaigns in these areas and earned a distinguished record. In addition to the military campaigns, Both Cavalry and Infantry Regiments served a variety of roles along the frontier, Patrolling, building roads, escorted the U.S. mail, explored and mapped the rugged western territory. They helped settlers travel across the west, strung hundreds of miles of telegraph lines. The soldiers’ built/repaired forts and outpost, which future towns and city sprung to life. Without the protection provided by the Buffalo soldiers crews expanding the railroads and settlers were at the mercy of hostile Indians, Outlaws, and Banditos. They earned a distinguished record during the Indian Wars. Thirteen enlisted men and six officers from these four regiments were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In 1867after the different units had confronted and engaged in battle with hostile Native American the warriors would refer to the black troopers as Wild Buffalo. Sources disagree and there is no set documentation on why the Native American referred to the troopers as Wild Buffalo. The first evidence of the term Buffalo Soldiers was in a letter sent to relatives from a Captain wife serving Kansas with the 10th Regiment in 1867.
BUFFALO SOLDERS Spanish American Wars 1890 to 1918
After most of the Indian Wars ended in the1890s, the regiments continued to serve and participated in the 1898 Spanish American War. The Buffalo Soldiers were consolidated and staged in Tampa Florida where they departed to Cuba. The transport ship in this time of history did not have enough space for their horses and the cavalry units departed as dismounts units. Colonel Roosevelt Rough Riders could not penetrate the enemy forces on San Juan Hill. Units from the Tenth Cavalry participated in the assault up Kettle Hill and started directing fire at the enemy on San Juan Hill. The Rough Rider and elements of the Buffalo Soldiers charged up San Juan Hill to defeat the Spanish Soldiers. In that battle there was a young Captain by the name of John Pershing assigned to the 10th Cavalry, who later in history became the Command General of all allied forces in World War I.
The Buffalo Soldiers also predicated in the Philippine America War from 1899 to 1903. Both Cavalry Regiments patrolled guarded America citizens on our southern border of Mexico. 1916 the regiments predicated in the Mexican Expedition or also called Poncho Villa Expedition and in1918 the10th Cavalry fought Mexican Federal and German forces Ambo Nogales.
Another contribution of the Buffalo Soldiers involved eight troops of the 9th Cavalry Regiment and one company of the 24th Infantry Regiment who served in California’s Sierra Nevada as some of the first national park rangers. U.S. Army regiments have served in national parks since 1891, but until 1899, the soldiers serving were white. Beginning in 1899, and continuing in 1903 and 1904, Buffalo Soldiers regiments served during the summer in the second- and third-oldest national parks in the United States Sequoia and Yosemite. Because these soldiers served before the National Park Service was created in1916, they were “park rangers” before the term was created. A lasting legacy of the soldiers as park rangers is the Ranger Hat known as the Smokey Bear hat. One particular Buffalo Soldier stands out in history Captain Charles Young, who served with Troop “I”, 9th Cavalry Regiment in Sequoia National Park during the summer of 1903. Charles Young was the third Black American to graduate from the United States Military Academy West Point. He made history in Sequoia National Park in 1903 by becoming Acting Military Superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant National Parks. Charles Young was also the first Black American superintendent of a National Parks.
BUFFALO SOLDERS World Wars I 1914 to 1918
During World War I, General Pershing exercised significant control over the American Expeditionary Force. He had a full delegation of authority from President Wilson and Secretary of War Baker. Baker, cognizant of the endless problems of domestic and allied political involvement in military decision-making in wartime, gave Pershing unmatched authority to run his command as he saw fit. In turn, Pershing exercised his prerogative carefully, not engaging in issues that might distract or diminish his command. While earlier a champion of the Black American soldier, he did not champion their full participation on the battlefield, bowing to widespread racial attitudes among white Americans, plus Wilson’s reactionary racial views and the political debts he owed to southern “separate but equal” Democratic law makers. Due to these actions both Cavalry Regiments were assigned to protect the America Mexico Boarders.
BUFFALO SOLDERS World Wars II 1941 to 1945
Before World War II the 9th Cavalry was relieved 10 October 1940 from its assignment to the 3rd Cavalry Division and transferred to the 2nd Cavalry Division for deployment in the possibility of US envelopment in the Second World War. However, the regiment did not serve in that war as a unit. It was transferred to the Mediterranean to supply soldiers for other units. At the beginning of World War II the 10th Cavalry was relocated to caretaker duties at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1942 the regiment was moved to Camp Lockett, California, replacing the 11th Cavalry in its duties as the southern defense of the Western Defense.
BUFFALO SOLDERS in San Diego California 1942 to 1944
In 1940 San Diego was identified as an important strategic location due to the expanding war related industries and numerous military installations. With the growing hostilities in the pacific before the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the War Department realized that the number of Naval, Marine Corps forces located in San Diego/Los Angeles region were inadequate to repel any anticipated invasion on the southern west coast. The War Department also deduced enemy force could land an invasion force in the natural country of Mexico. This would allow the invasion force to use the flat terrain along the Baja boarder and cross into the United States. In the Campo CA vicinity they could cut off the main supply route of highways 80 and 94 along with the San Diego-Arizona Eastern Railroad line. This could also be used as a starting point to launch further attacks on US soil.
December 1941 in Campo CA. Camp Lockett was completed by the 11th Cavalry. June 1942 the 10th Cavalry Regiment was transferred to occupy Camp Lockett and assume the duties to protect the America Mexico board. They patrolled on horseback from Calexico, CA. in the Imperial Valley to Otay Lakes in Chula Vista, CA. 1944 the United States Army put an end to a long distinguished era in America History: the horse soldier units dismounted for the last time as modern machines took over. Camp Lockett was the last US Cavalry post built and the last mounted Buffalo Soldiers Regiment was used to defend our nation from its enemies.