We have started following the trail of the Buffalo Soldiers. After the Civil War, Congress reorganized the Army and authorized the formation of two regiments of black calvary with the designation of the 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry. All units were composed of black non-commissioned officers and enlisted men commanded by both white and black officers.
We were told by Buffalo Soldiers reenactors in San Antonio the name Buffalo Soldier came from the Native American tribes that they were fighting. Bison have dark, wooly hair like a the men they were fighting. That is one theory. Another came from the 10th calvary fighting ability. Another is that Native Americans had given soldiers coats made from bison. Whatever is true the name is one that was used with respect for these soldiers. Eventually, this became a generic term for any black soldier. The term was used until integration of the troops in 1948.
So we started our journey in San Antonio, Texas at the Institute for Texan Cultures. They had a Buffalo Soldier day.
We then continue our Buffalo Soldier journey in Fort Stockton, Texas. There are only a few building left of this old fort but the museum is full of wonderful history. These soldiers were tasked with keeping the migration routes open. Especially protecting water sources where folks where were migrating west might stop for water. There is not a whole lot of water in West Texas. The Native Americans used these stops as well to stop for water while following their nomadic routes.
I know that I am guilty of thinking of the Buffalo Soldiers as fighters. They were so much more. They had to build the fort include family housing for the officers, set up the telegraph. They surveyed the land. They had to tend their animals. Becoming a soldier after the Civil War was a pretty good job. They were paid much less than their white counterparts but it was steady work where they could gain further skills.
Our next stop on the Buffalo Soldier tour is Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, Arizona. This base was very important in World War II. I would encourage a visit to the museum on base. It tells the story of the men and women who served at this Fort for training to be deployed overseas. This is an active military base so if you don’t have a DoD ID you will need to enter through the Van Damen (East) Gate to get a visitor pass to visit this museum.
We will be following the trail of the Buffalo Soldiers for most of this year. More to come about them soon…
Sources: Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers, Inc; Fort Huachuca Buffalo Soldier Museum, Fort Stockton Buffalo Soldier Museum, San Antonia Buffalo Soldier Days, Wikepedia