One year after the Civil War ended, Congress formed an African-American group within the U.S Army, The Buffalo Soldier’s. These warriors left a legacy due to their fierce fighting and bravery.”They were given the name (Buffalo Soldier’s) after they were fighting in the Indian campaign. This was given to them by the Cheyenne Indians because of their courageous fighting,” said Commander Fred Marable, co-founder of The Buffalo Soldiers of the Arizona Territory. “They had never seen any men fight like that. ,” he added.
The Arizona Buffalo Soldiers came from an assortment of states including Louisiana, Montana, Texas and Kansas. They were slaves who were given the opportunity to be set free in exchange for warfare.
The Buffalo Soldiers became a significant force in the westward expansion, despite being provided the worst weapons, equipment, horses – everything.
“They didn’t expect for them to come back,” Marable said.
Corporal Isaiah Mays, a member of the 24th Infantry regiment and recipient of the Medal of Honor, was one of many courageous soldiers. He received the award after stopping a robbery in Arizona. Mays suffered bullet wounds in both legs but managed to walk two miles to sound the alarm.
Another Buffalo Soldier, Cathy Williams, enlisted under the alias, Williams Cattay and served for two years.
“They released her in Fort Berring, New Mexico, in 1868, due to the fact that she became ill and the surgeon realized that what was laying on that table was the first female black buffalo soldier,” said Michelle London-Marable, the other founder of the Buffalo Soldiers of the Arizona Territory.
“Charles Young was the first black colonel in the military,” Fred Marable said.
Young, born in Kentucky in 1864, was the third black soldier to graduate from West Point. In 1918, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure which led to a forced retirement. Charles Young died January 8, 1922.
The Buffalo Soldiers were more than just fighters. They were responsible for an assortment of tasks which included: delivering telegrams, guarding the president (Teddy Roosevelt), stringing hundreds of miles of telegraph lines and building railroads. They were also responsible for protecting both travelers and workers.