Buffalo Soldiers

 

This week we toured part of the Historic Ft. Stockton and plan on going back again in a couple weeks to see more of the fort buildings that are being renovated.  The only building open was the museum.  Some of the buildings will not be available to tour, but seeing where these brave men fought and died is worth heat. 

The 10th Cavalry Regiment was formed September 21, 1886 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  They were named “Buffalo Soldiers” for two reasons, their fierce fighting, and by their black kinky hair, which to the Native Americans reminded them of the big, hard to kill Buffalo which sported large shaggy fur on its head and shoulders.

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry fought during the Civil War as part of the Union Army.  As slaves and as freemen the Black man has served in French and Indian War, American Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, in the Battle of New Orleans.  In the Civil War (oxymoron), 180,000 Black men wore the Union Blue, and 33,380 died in that conflict?

When that war ended the Western unrest began.  The Indians resented be pushed off their land and onto Reservations, where they could not hunt as they did in the past.  Their Buffalo were being hunted for sport to extinction, and they relied on the Buffalo for their livelihood. 

In July of 1866, Congress passed an Act that increased the number of regiment’s form 19 to 45, and they stipulated that 2 cavalry and 4 infantry units “shall be composed of colored men”.   For the first time the regiments were authorized as part of the regular army.

They were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st United States Infantry.  Colonel Edward Hatch was selected to command the 9th Cavalry, and Colonel Benjamin Grierson commanded the 10th.

The 9th Cavalry was stationed at Fort Stockton in the summer of 1867.  These men came from the cooler climates to the South East United States, and the fact that they were able to acclimate to the dry, hot of the west is testament to their strength. They were named Buffalo Soldiers by the Indians as a gesture of extreme respect, because the Buffalo was the most sacred animal to the Indians. The 10th accepted the compliment and used the image on their crest. 

Black troops served at Fort Stockton from 1867 to 1886, and Black units have served in the Spanish American War, Philippine Insurrection, Mexican Punitive Expedition, World War 1, World War 2, and the Korean War.  In the mid 1950’s the last Black units were desegregated.  

When we go back I will take some pictures and post them. 

 

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