Number 1: The Early Years

The Black troops of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry patrolled the high plains of the Old West for over fifty years One day in September 1867, while protecting workers of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, forty troopers fought three hundred Cheyenne Indians. On January 9, 1918, Troop E of the Tenth Cavalry engaged a well armed band of Yaqui Indians in Bear Valley Arizona. Between these years, Black Troopers fought Cheyenne and Arapahos on the Plains, and were instrumental in subduing the Apache led by Victorio and Geronimo in the Southwest.

By the end of the Civil War, there were almost 180,000 African-Americans soldiers in the service of the United States comprising 166 regiments; 145 of infantry, 7 cavalry, 12 heavy artillery, 1 of light artillery and 1 of engineers1 . Following the war there was a drastic reduction in troop strength. However, there were several other factors to be considered. Service in arms of the African-American was never as involved as in the Civil War. However, there had no prior use of African-American soldiers in peacetime, so the peacetime use of black troops was an experiment. Additionally, while the North and South went at each other during the Civil War, there was increasing hostilities along the borders with Mexico and with Native Americans.

On July 28, 1866, Section 3 of An Act to increase and fix the Military Peace Establishment of the United States, stated ..."That to the six regiments of cavalry now in service there shall be added four regiments, two of which shall be composed of colored men..." Shortly thereafter in August, General U.S. Grant directed his commanders; Gen. Philip Sheridan of the Division of the Gulf and Gen. William T. Sherman of the Division of the Missouri to raise a regiment of black cavalry in their respective commands. On September 21, the 9TH and 10th cavalry regiments were activated2. The 9th under the command of Edward Hatch in Greenville, Louisiana and the 10th under Benjamen Grierson at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Both Hatch and Grierson had exemplary Civil War records. Recruitment was less than optimal. Hatch's problems were an inadequate selection pool of white officer's to the point that there was only one officer per company (troop) in the regiment. There were outbreaks of disease, poor morale and a lack of discipline due to officer shortages. By March the 9TH was transferred to San Antonio. Along the way there was a near mutiny involving several troops, resulting in the death of one officer and two troopers3. Grierson on the other hand had fewer potential recruits in Kansas causing him to go the big cities on the East coast in his search for troopers. In addition there was conflict at Fort Leavenworth, with the commanding officers, poor equipments and broken down horses. Troop A was sent West in February 1867, with Troops B and C following over the next several months. He was so anxious to leave Leavenworth, that he ordered D Troop to organize at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. In August, having field 8 troops, Grierson was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, where the remaining 4 troop were formed. Thus began a 20 year history of service for the Buffalo Soldiers in the Indian Territories.

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