SAN ANTONIO, Texas —
This Veterans Day, our nation pauses to acknowledge those who served in our armed forces and to give thanks to those brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Most of these men and women were just ordinary citizens who simply answered the call to duty. There is one group of servicemen who historians have traditionally overlooked. This group of unsung heroes began their journey as a direct result of legislation enacted by the 39th U.S. Congress on July 28, 1866.
That legislation established six new military regiments containing all black enlisted men commanded by white officers.
The regiments were the 9th and 10th Cavalry, and the 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st Infantry regiments, which in 1869 were consolidated into the 24th and 25th infantry units.
This marked the first time in America’s history that African Americans were allowed to serve as regular members of the federal peacetime military.
While this decision was not a popular one at that time, it paved the way for men like Lt. Henry O. Flipper, the first black to graduate from West Point and Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, commander of the Tuskegee Airman and even Gen. Colin Powell, the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs as well as so many others.
These unsung American heroes went on and served this nation with the highest degrees of honor, dedication and courage. Twenty-three were awarded the Medal of Honor, even while they were being denied basic human rights.
Their courage, dedication and discipline were second to none. They were given the name “Buffalo Soldiers” by their Native American foes probably due in part to their superb fighting skills, courage and physical attributes being reminiscent of the sacred Buffalo.
The 10th Cavalry Regiment was the first unit called Buffalo Soldiers and even adopted the image on their regimental crest. The term Buffalo Soldiers soon became synonymous with every Black Soldier on the western frontier.
The Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers are dedicated to educating the general public through media and educational systems about the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and Black Indian Scouts.