On July 28, 1866, the U. S. Congress, as part of a broad reorganization of the army, authorized creation of six “colored” army regiments. Largely in acknowledgment of the outstanding service of the more than 180,000 African-American volunteers who fought for the Union during the Civil War, black soldiers were allowed to enjoy the status of army “regulars” for the first time.
The initial all-black regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, Four infantry and two cavalry regiments were created, the 9th and 10th cavalries and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st infantries. Many joined for the adventure but, more often, they were seeking the opportunity to make a new beginning in the aftermath of slavery and to prove their equality with other men. They worked seven days a week and the starting wage for enlisted men was only $13 per month. Their first job as Buffalo Soldiers was helping to secure the western frontier, subduing the American Indians who resisted the exploration and population of their lands.
A total of 5,000 names were on the original muster roll which was composed entirely of African- American soldiers led by white commanding officer, Col. Robert G. Shaw.  The soldiers suffered heavy casualties in a heroic, though unsuccessful attempt to capture Fort Wagner at Charleston (S. C. ) harbor in July 1863. In all, about 209,000 ex-slaves and free blacks served in the Union Army, and more than 68,000 of them died in battle or from wounds or disease. After the Civil War, Congress authorized two cavalry regiments and four infantry regiments of black troops, who were led by white officers. 3] Buffalo Soldiers (all black regiments) ceased to exist in 1948 when President Harry Truman signed Executive Order 9981 mandating equal treatment and opportunity for African-American servicemen. The Buffalo Soldiers fought against, yet gained the respect of, the great warrior nations of the American plains. Their name—Buffalo Soldiers—was bestowed on them by the Cheyenne people. It refers to their fierce fighting abilities along with the woolly texture of their hair. The Buffalo Soldiers Museum
The Visit to the historical Buffalo Soldier National Museum was quite interesting to me. I learned more about not only African American history but American history as well. The goal or mission of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is “to educate, preserve, promote and perpetuate the history, tradition and outstanding contributions of America’s Buffalo Soldiers from the Revolutionary War to present. ” I believe this museum was originally to honor those that served in the 9th and 10th U. S. Calvary, but has been expanded to include all African American military including those who served as NASA astronauts.
The admission desk is just to the right, so we went there and paid. While doing this, we kept hearing a very loud, booming voice. One of the workers at the desk told it was the reenactment of “The Buffalo Soldiers Story” by Trooper Briggs and that it had just started. He showed us the way to a meeting room where a gentleman dressed in a U. S. Calvary uniform was standing in front of the assortment of chairs telling his story and gesturing with great, broad motion. Trooper Briggs gave a lengthy, well detailed, presentation of an encounter with American Indians while on patrol out in the West.
He was able to enthrall the audience during the story and would change the tone of his voice, and his mannerisms, for several of the characters he was talking for. The “First Sergeant” was one of the most noticeable. The presentation went on for about 20-30 minutes. I have met a few true storytellers over the years; he is definitely one of them. At the close of the presentation, he abruptly marches out of the room and heads for the front of the museum, thus ending the story with the troop riding away from the battle and continuing on patrol.
It was a little startling, but very effective method of ending. The gentleman that had showed us the room came back and told us, and several others that he had brought before us, that a continuous showing of a DVD about the museum’s story was being shown in another room and he could show us where. Most everyone followed him to a smaller room where we sat and watched the show talking about why the museum was created and the people it was there to honor.
Courtney from Study Moose
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