Magazine article Sunset

Buffalo Soldiers

Magazine article Sunset

Buffalo Soldiers

Article excerpt

A small museum near Tucson celebrates African American troops of the Western frontier

For the tough-as-nails African American frontiersmen called Buffalo Soldiers, Army life was rugged, remote, and usually thankless. And yet their often overlooked role in settling the West, and later defending the United States in both world wars, is one of remarkable gallantry in the face of hardship and bigotry. Their story is poignantly recalled through historic sites and a museum at still-active Fort Huachuca, in southeastern Arizona.

More than 180,000 black men fought against the Confederacy in the Civil War. Noting their valor, Congress created six all-black regiments in 1866 and quickly dispatched several to the riotous Western frontier. The soldiers of the 10th Cavalry were the first to be called "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Plains Indians, who thought their dark, curly hair resembled that of buffalo.

Fort Huachuca began earning its reputation as Home of the Buffalo Soldier in 1892 with the arrival of its first black troops. By 1896, they were tracking Yaqui Indian raiders and protecting frontier settlements. When the U.S. government sent an expedition into Mexico to track down Pancho Villa after his 1916 raid on a New Mexico town, the 10th Cavalry took part. African American units would serve at the outpost until 1942, when the final remaining regiment was reassigned.

For modern-day visitors at Fort Huachuca, the first sign of these legendary troops is a towering bronze statue at the main gate. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.