Homage to the Buffalo Soldiers (2023)

When Colin Powell noticed several avenues named after the 9th and 10th Cavalry, he thought that these black regiments deserved a better memorial.

Usually the streets and buildings of the military posts are history lessons. The Army is an institution that capitalizes on its past, using its physical environment to honor its ancestors and impart a sense of continuity and place to current members. Over the years, the practice of naming everything that can be named has meant that all roads and most buildings have drawn the denizens of these outposts in subtle, steady tones. Fort Leavenworth is no different than any other outpost in this regard, but it is an old place that the Army especially likes. Founded in 1827, it is the oldest continuously operating fort west of the Missouri River, which flows below the cliffs on which it stands. In 1881, the army's "university", the College of Command and General Staff, opened its first classes. Today, few officers make a career in the army without seeing Fort Leavenworth. The site is often referred to as "the heart and soul of the US Army".

So when Colin Powell was stationed at Fort Leavenworth as a Brigadier General in 1982, he understood the historical significance of the place. He also knew that it was here that the 10th Cavalry Regiment was first formed, organized and trained in 1866, while a new sister regiment, the 9th Cavalry Regiment, was being raised in New Orleans. Together, these two regiments, made up of African Americans, became known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

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One day, Powell walked down two gravel alleys named after the 9th and 10th Cavalry. I wonder if that's all, he thought. Thus began an extraordinary campaign that will culminate in the dedication of a memorial to 9 and 10 at the Fort Leavenworth site where 10 first took up residence. On July 25, 1992, a new bronze statue of a knight will be unveiled. Flags fly, bands play and speeches are given. And it will be a much happier day than when the Buffalo Troopers first rose. Like the 1st Kansas Colored, Leavenworth was not the nicest place to raise a regiment of black soldiers.

Alarmed by renewed unrest among the Plains Indians and the demands of the Reconstruction Police, Congress passed the Army Reorganization Act in 1866, authorizing the formation of ten new cavalry regiments, five new artillery regiments, and forty-five new infantry regiments. Two cavalry regiments and four infantry regiments would be composed of black soldiers and commanded by whites - the first all-black units in the 1992 rosters of the United States Permanent Military Establishment.

Some white officers refused to serve in the black troops. Custer turned down the rank of lieutenant colonel in the 10th in favor of the 7th Cavalry. The tenth has a better officer anyway. Benjamin Grierson was a former music teacher from Illinois who was afraid of horses and became one of the famous cavalry leaders of the Civil War. He was a diligent, strict, and exacting disciplinarian whose first thought was the welfare of his command, and he accepted his new position without reservation.

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The station commander at Fort Leavenworth, Colonel William Huffman, was made of smaller things. A deeply fanatical and typically fanatical officer, Huffman decided to oppose Grierson and his new regiment in every way possible. His first action was to select a site for the new regiment's camp and training ground, a place called One Mile Creek, the lowest and wettest place on the pole. During Grierson's frequent absences from the fort for regimental reasons, Huffman went out of his way to make life difficult for new recruits and his officers.

With morale low and falling, Grierson stepped up his recruiting efforts and his training schedule. He demanded that only "senior personnel" be admitted to the regiment, and threatened to be prosecuted if recruiters in St. Louis will not follow instructions from him. His objective was to get the regiment away from Colonel Huffman's prejudiced gaze as quickly as possible.

The final clamor came in the summer of 1867, when Grierson assembled about two-thirds of his companies. All army units in the garrison paraded every Sunday in those days. Colonel Huffman ordered Grierson to keep "those people" off the parade ground while other postal units marched in their uniforms. Grierson disobeyed and led the men of the newly formed F Company to the main parade. Furious, Hoffman brought charges against Grierson before a court-martial. A court-martial was never called because a month later, with only part of his command, Grierson took the 10th Cavalry to Fort Riley.

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While Grierson and his men fought Colonel Hoffman in New Orleans, Colonel Edward Hatch and the new 9th Cavalry faced more deadly problems. The 9th recruited so many recruits that the ranks quickly grew beyond the capacity of the abandoned cotton presses. Discipline, training, and camp sanitation were initially unsatisfactory, and in the autumn of 1866, cholera broke out in the camp. Hatch moved his command to a healthier climate outside New Orleans, but when the 9th Regiment moved west from Texas in the summer of 1867, the regiment was still an undisciplined bunch of former soldiers from the old "volunteer colored regiments". and former slaves.

The simple memorial that General Powell initially thought was a fitting tribute has now grown into a grand project.

The 9th Division's early campaigns into Texas turned them, like the 10th, into a formidable fighting regiment. His companies were sent to San Antonio and Brownsville, and further west to Fort Stockton and Fort Davis. Their mission was to secure the journey from San Antonio to El Paso and establish law and order along the notoriously dangerous border with Mexico. Comanche and Apache raids on sparse settlements were common, and lodging, food, horses, and basic equipment were valuable. The soldier was never that tough, but the officers and men of the 9th Division seemed to bear the hardships with a lot of maturity; discipline and training improved, and desertion and court-martial rates, which were high when the regiment formed in New Orleans, gradually declined to the lowest of any regiment in the army.

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Both the 9th and 10th Regiments were formed just as the Western Plains tribes began to resist the white settlers, and the regiments roamed the Plains in campaign after campaign fighting the Cheyenne (who, in regimental lore, were initially called the Buffalo Troopers). from 1867 to 1869, along the Red River in 1874 and 1875, in the Ute War in 1879, against the Apaches from 1875 to 1886, and finally against the Sioux in 1890 and 1891. The 9th and 10th won thirteen Medals of Honor .

By the turn of the century, both regiments had become an important, if not always appreciated, part of the regular army. They fought in every major conflict from the war with Spain (at San Juan Hill) until 1952 when, as part of President Truman's campaign to erase the army's color, the 9th and 10th were integrated.

Thirty years later, General Powell decided that these regiments deserved more recognition than two gravel alleys. But he was about to change missions soon, and his project lay dormant until a few years later, a naval officer took up the matter.

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Commander Carleton Philpot was not happy to be "cast ashore" at Fort Leavenworth. Assigned to a division of the College of Command and General Staff in 1989, Philpot learned of Powell's idea, kept alive by veterans of the regiment who still lived near the fort. The incongruity of a naval soldier fighting for the Monument to Virtually Forgotten Soldiers never seemed to bother Philpot; his aim was nothing less than righting memory's injustice to the people of 9 and 10. It's hard for Philpot to say now whether he took up the project or was consumed by it, but he soon mobilized a diverse group of people who shared his interests.

The simple statue that Colin Powell initially thought would be a fitting tribute has now turned into a grand design, with the entire site circling a bronze figure on horseback at the edge of a waterfall, not far from where Grierson's recruits passed through their unpleasant first experience. winter together.

Even after the monument opens next summer, Philpot believes his work is not done. Now he is planning a commemorative stamp, a new film and possibly an exhibition at the Smithsonian. How did this naval officer get so agitated? "When I realized how much these guys had done and not been honored, I was incredibly angry," he recalled in an interview withWashington Post. “We need to bring this history into schools, not as part of Black History Month in February, but as part of American history. They're a bunch of heroes - real heroes that don't need to be made up. Not football players, not singers, just guys who worked hard and nobody cared. Well, luckily it's not like that.

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Who were the Buffalo Soldiers answers? ›

In 1866, an Act of Congress created six all-black peacetime regiments, later consolidated into four –– the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 24th and 25th Infantry –– who became known as "The Buffalo Soldiers." There are differing theories regarding the origin of this nickname.

What is a famous quote from the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

When the powerless seek their own sense of control, 'crime' is what an unjust system produces.” “No matter how benevolent the ruler, the military drives the empire. Armaments feed the beast.

What does Buffalo Soldiers mean? ›

American Plains Indians who fought against these soldiers referred to the black cavalry troops as "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark, curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat and because of their fierce nature of fighting. The nickname soon became synonymous with all African-American regiments formed in 1866.

What was ironic about the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

Bob Marley and The Wailers immortalized the group in the reggae song “Buffalo Soldier,” which highlighted the irony of formerly enslaved people and their descendants “stolen from Africa” taking land from Native Americans for white settlers.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers and why were they important? ›

Buffalo Soldiers were among the first rangers in what became the National Park Service. Duties would have included protecting against the poaching of wildlife, preventing private livestock from grazing on federal lands, and building roads and trails.

What was the Buffalo Soldiers motto? ›

The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments operated under mottos that were as succinct as they were impactful: “We Can, We Will” (9th) and “Ready and Forward” (10th).

What did Theodore Roosevelt say about the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

In his book about the war, Roosevelt called them “shirkers.” But for many historians, they stand among the hardest fighting heroes of the three-week war.

What is the buffalo soldier slogan? ›

With regimental motto of “We Can, We Will” for the 9th Cavalry Regiment and “Ready and Forward” for the 10th Cavalry Regiment, these Soldiers would come to be known as the “Buffalo Soldiers” based on their earned reputation of exhibiting as valiant, fierce fighting style.

Did the Buffalo Soldiers fight Native Americans? ›

These African-American regiments spent over 25 years engaged in fighting Native Americans, mapping unexplored lands, and opening the West for settlement. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Soldiers received little recognition for their service on the frontier.

Are there any Buffalo Soldiers still alive? ›

Major James Williams is now the last living member of a United States Buffalo Soldier Army unit.

Who was the most famous Buffalo Soldier? ›

A leader among the legendary "Buffalo Soldiers", Charles Young (1864-1922) served in the segregated U-S Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Young was one of few black military officers. These African Americans served in an era when racism was rampant and many ... if not most ...

Why did the US Army want to destroy the buffalo? ›

American military commanders ordered troops to kill buffalo to deny Native Americans an important source of food. In 1905, zoologist William Hornaday formed the American Bison Society to re-create more wild herds.

Did the local settlers respect the Buffalo Soldiers Why or why not? ›

The Indians greatly respected and didn't like to tangle with the African-American cavalrymen, calling them "Buffalo Soldiers" for their toughness and fighting prowess. The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments gained fame for their exploits both on the plains and in the Southwest during the 1870s, 1880s and early 1890s.

When did the last Buffalo Soldier died? ›

Mark Matthews (August 7, 1894 – September 6, 2005) was an American soldier.
Mark Matthews
DiedSeptember 6, 2005 (aged 111 years, 30 days) Washington, D.C.
Place of burialArlington National Cemetery
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
6 more rows

Why was buffalo so important? ›

"Critical to their survival, bison not only provided American Indians with food, shelter and tools, but a model on how to live. To American Indians, bison also represent their spirit and remind them of how their lives were once lived, free and in harmony with nature.

What was the proud legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

Their military campaigns included the Spanish American War; Philippine American War; and the Punitive Expedition in Mexico. The Buffalo Soldiers also served as the first park rangers, protecting America's national parks before the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916.

Why are Buffalo Soldiers important to Texas history? ›

Buffalo Soldiers built roads, telegraph lines and forts. One group worked as some of the first park rangers in national parks. The Iron Riders pioneered off-road biking for the Army, riding thousands of miles across the country. The Ninth Cavalry came to Texas in 1867 and set up camp in forts along the frontier.

Were there female Buffalo Soldiers? ›

Williams is also the only known female Buffalo Soldier. Williams' determination to serve her country demonstrates the extraordinary feats women have accomplished simply trying to live their lives.

What did Buffalo Soldiers eat? ›

Lidia learns the about the history of the Buffalo soldiers, and their role in the 1800s, making the West safe for settlement. In the 1800's, these soldiers often ate beans, bacon, hard bread, potatoes, onions and stews which were staples in their kitchens.

Where did the name Buffalo Soldiers come from who were the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

Where did the name “Buffalo Soldiers” come from? It depends on who you ask, but there is something of a consensus that the name likely originated with indigenous tribes in the West who thought the African-American soldiers' hair resembled the fur on a buffalo's head.

What are some symbols in Buffalo Soldiers? ›

The blue represents the sky and open plains of the west. The ceremonial war bonnet and eagle feathers honors the respect of the Native American tribes. The tomahawk and stone axe with the heads down indicate peace achieved.

How many Buffalo Soldiers received the Medal of Honor? ›

During the almost 90 years that the Buffalo Soldiers served in segregated US Army units 30 Buffalo Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. They received the medal for actions in the Plains Wars through the Korean War.

What was Roosevelt's favorite saying? ›

Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

What brought an end to the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

The last African American Buffalo Soldier regiment was deactivated during the Korean War in response to President Truman's Executive Order #9981 to desegregate military units.

Who was the last surviving Rough Rider? ›

At the time of his death he was one of two survivors of the Rough Riders. The last surviving member was Jesse Langdon, 92, of Milan, N.Y.

Why did Bob Marley sing about Buffalo Soldiers? ›

The title and lyrics refer to the black US cavalry regiments, known as "Buffalo Soldiers", that fought in the Native American Wars after 1866. Marley linked their fight to a fight for survival and recasts it as a symbol of black resistance.

Who did the term Buffalo Soldier refer to and what time period did they serve? ›

buffalo soldier, nickname given to members of African American cavalry regiments of the U.S. Army who served in the western United States from 1867 to 1896, mainly fighting Indians on the frontier.

What is the buffalo Bill phrase? ›

Buffalo Bill Quotes
  • Don't ever say you are sorry for "being caught in the moment". ...
  • My restless, roaming spirit would not allow me to remain at home very long. ...
  • I could never resist the call of the trail. ...
  • Every Indian outbreak that I have ever known has resulted from broken promises and broken treaties by the government.

Did the Buffalo Soldiers fight the Comanche? ›

This image is of the "Buffalo Soldiers" at Fort Keogh, Missouri, 25th Infantry. These infantrymen escorted western migrants, protected mail and stage routes, and fought in attacks on the Apaches, Kiowas, Cheyennes, and Comanches.

Did the Native Americans like buffalo? ›

The buffalo was an important part of many Native American cultures. They considered the buffalo as their relatives. This is because the buffalo gave them many gifts such as food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and tools. The animal was honored in songs, dances, and prayers.

How many Buffalo Soldiers were killed? ›

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.

Did Buffalo Soldiers get paid? ›

On the way, many received education for the very first time in their lives. They enlisted for five years at a time and privates were paid $13 dollars per month. Each soldier was given a bunk in a barracks, three meals a day, uniforms and medical care. Those who enlisted in the cavalry were also issued a horse.

What almost killed the buffalo after the Civil War? ›

For in its wake, the lives of countless Native Americans were destroyed, and tens of millions of buffalo, which had roamed freely upon the Great Plains since the last ice age 10,000 years ago, were nearly driven to extinction in a massive slaughter made possible by the railroad.

How many true buffalo are left? ›

Approximately 30,000 bison live in public and private herds in North America; they are managed for conservation goals. Approximately 400,000 bison are raised as livestock however, wild bison are rare.

Who was the oldest surviving Buffalo Soldier? ›

The regiments were racially segregated, as the U.S. military would not desegregate until 1948. On September 6, 2005, Mark Matthews, the oldest surviving Buffalo Soldier, died aged 111. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Who is the first and only female Buffalo Soldier? ›

It is no different for Cathay Williams, the first known African American woman in the military and the only known female Buffalo Soldier. Learn more about the Army regiments historically known as the Buffalo Soldiers.

Who was the most decorated Buffalo Soldier? ›

Henry Johnson (June 11, 1850 – January 31, 1904) was a Buffalo Soldier in the United States Army and a recipient of America's highest military decoration – the Medal of Honor – for his actions in the Indian Wars of the western United States.

How long did it take to wipe out the buffalo? ›

In just two years over four million buffalo were slaughtered, and by the 1880s over 30 million buffalo had been slaughtered and buffalo were nearly exterminated.

Which president ordered slaughter of bison? ›

In 1874, President Ulysses S. Grant "pocket vetoed" a Federal bill to protect the dwindling bison herds, and in 1875 General Philip Sheridan pleaded to a joint session of Congress to slaughter the herds, to deprive the Indians of their source of food. By 1884, the American Bison was close to extinction.

Why did buffalo Hunters take the tongue? ›

They were viewed as something of a delicacy by diners in St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Suddenly, as early as the 1830s, there was a demand for tongues, and after they were cut out the rest of the beast was left to rot. ...

Why were black soldiers called Buffalo Soldiers? ›

American Plains Indians who fought against these soldiers referred to the black cavalry troops as "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark, curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat and because of their fierce nature of fighting.

How did white settlers view the buffalo? ›

Not only did the European settlers of the new world view the survival of buffalo as a means of perpetuating the ways of Native American life, they saw the buffalo as being incompatible with their dream of a Great Plains cattle culture.

What was the motto of the Buffalo Soldiers? ›

The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments operated under mottos that were as succinct as they were impactful: “We Can, We Will” (9th) and “Ready and Forward” (10th).

Which president was Buffalo Soldiers? ›

Bush proclaimed that July 28 will be known as Buffalo Soldier Day. This date memorializes the action taken by Congress on July 28, 1866 to establish the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments.

How old was the unkillable soldier when he died? ›

In retirement, he eventually settled in County Cork, spending his time fishing. Having proved indestructible on the battlefield, he died peacefully in 1963, aged 83.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers of WWI? ›

Known as Buffalo Soldiers – a name given to them during the Indian Wars in the late 1800s – the 92nd was white American-led and deployed to the front in August of 1918.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers and who did they fight? ›

These African-American regiments spent over 25 years engaged in fighting Native Americans, mapping unexplored lands, and opening the West for settlement. Unfortunately, the Buffalo Soldiers received little recognition for their service on the frontier.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers in World War II? ›

Known as “buffalo soldiers” in reference to 19th-century African American cavalrymen, the 92nd Infantry Division was a segregated unit that served in both world wars. During the Italian Campaign of World War II, elements of the 92nd Division were among the handful of African American units to serve in combat.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers in ww1? ›

These African-American soldiers would wear the American uniform, but would don the blue French helmet and utilize French military equipment. They quickly dispelled the American Army's belief that they were inferior soldiers as they heroically and valiantly fought in fierce combat throughout the war.

Who were the Buffalo Soldiers where did they first fight? ›

The Black infantry regiments fought in the American-Indian Wars, captured cattle thieves and even served as park rangers. Following the U.S. Civil War, regiments of African American men known as buffalo soldiers served on the western frontier, battling Native Americans and protecting settlers.

Did Buffalo Soldiers fight Native Americans? ›

The legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers of Colorado remains marked by the fact that they helped kill and defeat Native Americans. The name “Buffalo Soldiers” was given to other African American units serving in many wars.

What famous Spanish American War Battle did Buffalo Soldiers fight in? ›

During the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, Buffalo Soldier units served both in Cuba and in the Philippines. In Cuba, the 10th Cavalry participated in the famous Battle of San Juan Hill, alongside Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders; five members earned the Medal of Honor for their heroism.

What color did the Buffalo Soldiers wear? ›

During the 1870-1880's the Buffalo Soldier wore a flannel shirt and a blouse of dark blue with light blue trousers tucked into over-the-knee boots and a civil war kepi (hat) adorned with crossed sabers bearing regimental and troop designation.


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