BUFFALO SOLDIER LEGACY
The Army Reorganization Act authorized Congress to form the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry units. The soldiers signed up for five years and received three meals a day, a uniform, an education and $13 a month pay. These African American troops become known as "Buffalo Soldiers" because of their bravery in battles against Native Americans. The term eventually became a reference for all African American soldiers.
Cathay Williams was a cook for the Union Army. When the Civil War ended, Cathay needed to support herself. She signed up with the 25th Infantry Buffalo Soldiers as William Cathay. When she was hospitalized, the doctor discovered her secret. On Oct. 14, 1868, "William Cathay" was declared unfit for duty and honorably discharged. In 1891, Cathay applied for a military pension, but was denied because women weren't eligible to be soldiers.
KEEPING THINGS SAFE
885 men of the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers regiment took up stations at Fort Stockton in Pecos County and Fort Davis in far West Texas. When not engaged in skirmishes with the Apache and Comanche Indians, the soldiers guarded civilian and government stagecoaches traveling along the San Antonio to El Paso Road.
The original four infantry units of Buffalo Soldiers were reorganized into two regiments. The original 38th and 41st regiments became the 24th regiment, and the 39th and 40th were combined to become the 25th regiment. From that point on, the Buffalo Soldiers troops were comprised of the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments and the 24th and 25th Infantry regiments.
RED RIVER WAR
The U.S. Army began a campaign to remove all Comanche, Kiowa, Southern Cheyenne, and Arapaho from the southwest plains and relocate them to reservations in Indian Territory (parts of present-day Oklahoma. Led by Comanche Chief Quanah Parker, the Indian tribes fought one last battle for their native lands. The U.S. Army, including all regiments of the Buffalo Soldiers, engaged the Indians in more than 20 battles from 1874 to 1875 in the Texas panhandle around the Red River.
HENRY O. FLIPPER
He was the first African American cadet to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point. After his graduation and commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was wrongfully court-martialed and dishonorably discharged. In 1977, the Academy began awarding the annual Henry O. Flipper Award to a graduating cadet who exhibited "leadership, self-discipline, and perseverance in the face of unusual difficulties."
Sgt. Emmanuel Stance of the 9th Cavalry left Fort McKavett in Central Texas to rescue two children captured in an Apache raid. Stance and his men fought off the Apaches multiple times. Both children and over a dozen stolen horses were recovered. For his valor, Stance was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and became the first African American soldier to win the country's highest civilian medal in the post-Civil War period.
STAKED PLAINS HORROR
Sixty 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, led by Captain Nicholas Nolan, headed out from Fort Concho across drought-stricken north Texas in pursuit of raiding Comanches. Over the next five days, the troops became lost in the waterless Llano Estacado. Soldiers were delusional from dehydration and many drank the blood of their dead horses in order to survive. Four soldiers died. This incident, called "The Staked Plains Horror," made headlines across the nation.
In 1898, during the war with Spain, Maj. Gen. Shafter led 17,000 troops, including 3,000 Buffalo Soldiers, into Cuba. The 24th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry charged up San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. Roosevelt later said, "No one can tell whether it was the Rough Riders or the men of the 9th who came forward with the greater courage to offer their lives in the service of their country."
CROIX de GUERRE
The 92nd and 93rd Infantry regiments were established with approximately 25,000 African American soldiers from across the United States. These Buffalo Soldiers served with French infantry units in the Battle of the Argonne and the second Battle of the Marne. Battle losses were high, but so were the Buffalo Soldiers' achievements. The French government bestowed the Croix de Guerre on 68 Buffalo Soldiers for their heroic service in battle.
DOUBLE V for VICTORY
The Pittsburgh Courier, the most widely read black newspaper in America, began the "Double V" campaign to encourage African Americans to join the war effort abroad and to secure equal rights for all Americans at home, regardless of color. Courier editor James G. Thompson wrote, "The first V for victory over our enemies from without, the second V for victory over our enemies from within."
BUFFALO not BASEBALL
Jackie Robinson served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th Cavalry at Fort Riley, Kansas. Robinson was court-martialed when he refused to move to the back of a segregated bus during training exercises. He was acquitted of the charges and left the Army with an honorable discharge in 1944. Three years later, Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first African American to play major league baseball.
EXECUTIVE ORDER 9981
President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 on July 26, 1948 abolishing racial discrimination in the U.S. Armed Forces, effectively ending the formation of all-black regiments. The order took six years to be implemented and full integration of all Army units did not occur until the Korean War.