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Wild West Western Facts

Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Soldiers
Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Buffalo soldiers soon comprised other regiments including the 9th, 24th, 25th, 27th and 28th cavalry divisions.

The nickname was given by the Native American tribes they fought.  According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in 1867.  The actual Cheyenne translation was "Wild Buffalo".  Writer Walter Hill documented the origin of the name according to an account by Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against the Comanche tribe.

Some say the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th cavalry.  Others claim that Native Americans called the black cavalry troops "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat.  Still other sources point to a combination of both legends.

The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all black soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry, units whose bravery earned them an honored place in U.S. history.

Not all of the recruits were former slaves; most were free blacks of Northern parentage and many had served with distinction during the Civil War.

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