Black Heroes in Every American War There has scarcely been a battle in which America has not been served by the valor and sacrifice of what poets have called, "the darker brother". American has a history of forgotten black heroes, and a public that seems barely aware of their courage and honor. The first Buffalo Soldiers were the 9th and 10th Calvaries, formed by the U.S. Army in 1866 and composed mostly of freed slaves and Civil War veterans. The patrolled the Mexican border, and took part in the Spanish-American war and in the U.S. expedition to the Philippines. While it is regrettable that Black Americans should have participated in military actions adversely affecting native peoples, we must remember that not all the measures taken by the government were unprovoked, nor were all of them carried out with the ruthlessness we sometimes hear of. Buffalo soldiers and Black cowboys were merely one factor in the opening of the West. It was a job somebody had to do, and certain toughness went with the territory; the oppressive aspects, while not excusable, were indeed part of that history. During the Indian Wars, from 1866-1890, the use of Black soldiers was widespread in the West, and numerous engagements demonstrated the valor and toughness of the African fighters. Colonel Benjamin Grierson insisted to his superiors that the term "colored", which originally prefixed the title of the regiment, was demeaning and unnecessary. Ultimately, he prevailed, and it was dropped. Two all-Black Calvary regiments, the 9th and the 10th, saw considerable service; tow all Black infantry regiments, the 24th and 25th, were also much used. Stuck with a thankless job, it fell to these Black freedmen to garrison forts, quell disturbances, and generally keep the peace. Not infrequently called to put their lives on the line in the name of the United States government, these heroic Black regiments won a total of twenty Medals of Honor.
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Published November 25, 2008
History, War, Literature & Fiction.