Indian Campaigns

Buffalo Soldiers

The origin of the nickname is not entirely known, though most attribute it to the Cheyenne. At first the nickname was given to the 10th cavalry, but would eventually be a term for all Black soldiers during this time. It all began with the formation of the 9th and 10th cavalries in 1866 of all black soldiers. Soon it would spread to include two all black infantry regiments (the 24th and 25th). Buffalo Soldier units were sent west in the late 1860s to protect the settlers from the IndiBuffalo soldiers1.jpgans. The Buffalo Soldier units would not be disbanded until 1950 with the integration of all services within the military. Even though there were several black regiments that arose due to the Civil War, Congress established these units as the first peacetime regiments in the U.S. Army. During the Indian Campaigns, 18 enlisted soldiers would be awarded the Medal of Honor for their acts of bravery and gallantry. These units also fought in the Spanish-American war, where another 4 received Medals of Honor, the 1916 Mexican Expedition, and the Philippine-American War. Some of the Buffalo Soldiers would even serve as some of California's Sieera Nevada area as some of the first national park rangers. In the early 1900s, a detachment from the 9th Cavalry served as instructors for riding and mounted drill and tactics at West Point until 1947.

                                                                                                                                     Buffalo Soldiers of the 25th Infantry in 1890


  • West Point and the Naval Academy were required to accept black cadets and midshipmen, but refused to commission black officers
  • 1870-1898: 23 blacks were appointed to West Point, 12 attended, 6 stayed longer than one semester, and only 3 graduated
  • The first black graduate from West Point was Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper, class of 1877; and the second was Lieutenant John Alexander (1887), and the third was Lieutenant Charles Young (1889-he retired as a full Colonel)
  •  Lieutenant Benjamin O. Davis became the Army's first black General in October of 1940 (he became a lieutenant in 1901 after passing an officers' qualification test)