This is a unique compendium of ten authoritative documents detailing the history of the Buffalo Soldiers. Contents include: Origins of the Buffalo Soldiers; Buffalo Soldiers: The Formation of the Tenth Cavalry Regiment from September 1866 to August 1867; Buffalo Soldiers - The Formation of the Ninth Cavalry Regiment: July 1866 - March 1867; The Role of the Buffalo Soldiers During the Spanish-American War; Buffalo Soldiers: The Formation of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry Regiment: October 1866 - June 1871; The Roots of the Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1866 and Again in 1931-1940; National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Records Pertaining to the Military Service of Buffalo Soldiers; Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Leavenworth in the 1930s and Early 1940s - Knapp Interviews; Public Law 109-152 109th Congress: Monuments Memorial; Excerpt from Historic Context for the African-American Military Experience: The West.
In 1866, Congress established six all-Black regiments, each of about 1000 soldiers, to help rebuild the country after the Civil War and to patrol the remote western frontier. These regiments were the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry. The four infantry regiments reorganized to form the 24th and 25th Infantry in 1869. Although the pay was low for the time, only $13 a month, many African Americans enlisted because they could make more in the military than elsewhere, and it offered more dignity than typically could be attained in civilian life.
According to legend, Native Americans called the Black cavalry troops "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat. Aware of the buffalo's fierce bravery and fighting spirit, the African American troops accepted the name with pride and honor. Buffalo Soldiers played an important role in protecting settlers, building forts and roads, and mapping the wilderness as the U.S. settled and developed the West. Although the Buffalo Soldiers are best known for engaging conflicts with the region's native people, they also fought Mexican and Anglo bandits, escorted stage coaches and paymasters, and on one occasion, stood between Indian peoples and Texas militia. By the 1890s, Black soldiers comprised 20 percent of America's frontier cavalry and performed exemplary service within a military that remained segregated until President Harry S. Truman finally ordered it integrated in 1948. By the end of the Indian Wars, 18 Medals of Honor and 12 Certificates of Merit were awarded to Buffalo Soldiers for their valor, endurance, and courage. African American units had the lowest desertion rate in the Army.