Over 180,000 African Americans served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Of those, more than 33,000 died. After the war, the future of African Americans in the U.S. Army was in doubt. In July 1866, Congress passed legislation establishing two Cavalry and four Infantry Regiments (later consolidated to two) whose enlisted composition was to be made up of African Americans. The majority of the recruits had served in all-black units during the Civil War.
The 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were activated on September 21, 1866. The 9th Cavalry Regiment at Greenville, Louisiana was under the command of Colonel Edward Hatch, and the 10th Cavalry Regiment at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas was under the command of Colonel Benjamin Grierson.
The name Buffalo Soldier was given to black soldiers by the Cheyenne and Comanche Indians. The soldiers accepted the title and wore it proudly, like a badge of courage. To be compared with the fighting spirit of the Indian's most sacred buffalo was a sign of great respect.
The Buffalo Soldiers service in subduing Mexican Revolutionaries, hostile Native Americans, Outlaws, Comancheros, and Rustlers was as invaluable as it was unrecognized. A list of their adversaries included Geronimo, Nana, Sitting Bull, Victorio, Lone Wolf, Billy the Kid, and Pancho Villa. It reads like a "Who's Who" of the American West.
Lesser known, but equally important, the Buffalo Soldiers explored and mapped the vast areas of the southwest and strung up hundreds of miles of telegraph lines. In addition, they built and repaired frontier outposts around which future towns and cities emerged. Without the protection provided by the 9th and 10th Cavalries, the crews building the ever-expanding railroads were at the mercy of outlaws and hostile Indians.
The Buffalo Soldiers faced fierce prejudice for both the color of their skin and the colors of their uniforms by many of the citizens of post war frontier towns. Despite insurmountable odds, the Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalries developed into two of the bravest and most distinguished fighting units in the U.S. Army.
The Congressional Medal of Honor was bestowed upon more than 20 Buffalo Soldiers from the 9th and 10th Cavalries. This honor is the highest award for valor against an enemy force. It is typically presented to an individual serving in the Armed Forces by the President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress.
From 1866 to 1944, the Buffalo Soldiers proudly served the United States of America. The motto of the 9th cavalry was “WE CAN, WE WILL”, and the 10th cavalry used the motto “READY AND FORWARD”. We the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club ride with pride and respect, with their name on our backs, to keep the Buffalo Soldiers’ legacy alive.