What Is a Brief History of the Buffalo Soldiers?


Quick Answer

The buffalo soldiers, all-black regiments, formed in 1866 following the Civil War with the initial purpose of protecting western settlers and containing and eliminating the Native American threats to western expansion. The regiments continued to aid military efforts into the 20th century until the end of segregation in the military. The last regiments disbanded in the 1950s.

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Full Answer

The buffalo soldiers consisted of the 24th and 25th infantries and the 9th and 10th cavalries. The majority of these soldiers continued as buffalo soldiers from their enlistment in the Union army during the Civil War. White officers commanded the regiments and oversaw the regiments protection of U.S. Postal routes in the west, the creation of roads and worked to end thievery of cattle. The group got its nickname from the Comanche tribe in 1871.

The soldiers fought during the 1898 Spanish-American War in Cuba and under the command of General John J. Pershing, aided in the hunt for Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa during 1916 and 1917. Members also served as park rangers, protecting and upkeeping Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. The regiment's end began in 1948, when President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order integrating the military. In 2005, Mark Matthews, the last living buffalo soldier, died.

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