Just Posted: “White Privilege” by publisher Dave Lawrence in Miami Stories

Buffalo Soldiers

Over two hundred thousand African American servicemen fought bravely during the Civil War. In 1866, through an act of congress, legislation was adopted to create six all African American army units. The units were identified as the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st infantry regiments. The four infantry units were reorganized in 1868 as the 24th and the 25th infantry. Black soldiers enlisted for five years and received $13.00 a month, far more than they could have earned in civilian life.

The 10th cavalry, the only unit that is identified as Buffalo Soldiers, was formed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and recruited soldiers from the northern states. Colonel Benjamin Grierson was selected to command the 10th cavalry. Colonel Edward Hatch was selected to command the 9th cavalry and he recruited soldiers from the south and set up his headquarters in Greenville, Louisiana. The troops were led by white officers. Many officers, including George Armstrong Custer, refused to command black regiments and accepted a lower rank rather than do so. Perhaps General Custer would have fared better if he had had the 10th Calvary with him at the Battle of the Little Bighorn where he and his men were massacred in June 1876.)[1]Dunn, p.1.

Buffalo Soldiers (92nd Infantry) in Europe during WW Two. These men are serving as military police. This all-black unit evolved from the famed Buffalo Soldiers that emerged after the Civil War when the military was segregated. They have served in every war since that time. One explanation of the name of the unit is that as American Indians saw these blacks on the Great Plains they thought their wool-like hair reminded them of buffalo.

The 10th cavalry, the only unit that is identified as Buffalo Soldiers, was formed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and recruited soldiers from the northern states. Colonel Benjamin Grierson was selected to command the 10th cavalry. Colonel Edward Hatch was selected to command the 9th cavalry and he recruited soldiers from the south and set up his headquarters in Greenville, Louisiana. The troops were led by white officers.[2]Dunn, The Buffalo Soldiers, p.2.

The name may have been first given to the black soldiers by Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1877. “Wild Buffalo” is the exact translation they used to describe the black soldiers they fought. But the Comanche and the Apache also claim to have launched the name because they thought the black troops had “curly, kinky hair like buffalo.”[3]Dunn, p.3.

The black regiments could only serve west of the Mississippi River because of the prevailing attitudes following the Civil War. Some Black Seminoles became Buffalo Soldiers after they were removed to the West from Florida. However, only the soldiers who served in the 10th Calvary were considered to be Buffalo soldiers and most of them were from northern blacks who had fought for the Union in the Civil War.[4]Dunn, p.4.

Buffalo Soldiers were originally members of the U.S. 10th Calvary Regiment of the United States Army. The regiment was formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The name was generally applied to all black regiments formed in 1866. Several African American regiments, called United States Colored Troops had been formed during the Civil War including the famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry but the Buffalo Soldiers were established by Congress after the war as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U. S. Army. The name Buffalo Soldier is now used by the U.S. Army for the army units that trace their direct linage to the 9th and 10th Calvary units. On September 6, 2005, Mark Mathews who was the oldest living Buffalo Soldier, died at the age of 111 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.[5]Dunn, p.1.

If this painting makes you feel proud of the Buffalo Soldiers it should not. What do you think these men are doing? Here is a clue, they are not hunting buffalo. The painting depicts black United States soldiers attacking Native Americans. Once the Civil War was over America looked west and saw all of this “vacant” land that could be used for white settlement. That meant that the Indians of the Great Plains had to be extinguished. “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.”

But the Indians of the Great Plains were not the same as the Creek, Chippewa, and Cherokee that had been removed from the Southeast. These Indians were different. They fought back. And they had horses. So American troops were sent against them including the Buffalo Soldiers who must have entered the Plains as a force the Indians had never seen. The men in this painting are being glorified as has been almost all of the tragic history of the American West. Black troops delivered their fair share of violence against the Cheyenne, the Apache, the Comanche and the Sioux. There is no glory in this painting.[6]Dunn, p.2.

The black regiments could only serve west of the Mississippi River because of the prevailing attitudes following the Civil War. Some Black Seminoles became Buffalo Soldiers after they were removed to the West from Florida. However, only the soldiers who served in the 10th Calvary were considered to be Buffalo soldiers and most of them were northern blacks who had fought for the Union in the Civil War. The Buffalo Soldier’s main charge was to protect settlers as they moved west and to support the westward expansion by building the infrastructure needed for new settlements to flourish. This is a polite way of saying that they helped devastate the Native American tribes on the Great Plains.

Sooooo, how come we never heard of black soldiers fighting the Indians along with the white soldiers? How come we never saw any black cowboys although there were thousands of them in the West? I am just asking. Why did we only see Roy Rogers and Hop Along Cassidy and folk like that doing all the fighting and saving all the white ladies? We were so brainwashed by movies as kids that when we went to the movies to see westerns (in our all black colored movie houses) we applauded the cowboys, demonized the Indians and never saw a black man in the action. We never knew better. History has whitewashed almost everything black out of its pages especially black history that involves black men carrying guns legally even as soldiers.[7]Dunn, p.9.

References

References
1, 5 Dunn, p.1.
2 Dunn, The Buffalo Soldiers, p.2.
3 Dunn, p.3.
4 Dunn, p.4.
6 Dunn, p.2.
7 Dunn, p.9.