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California Buffalo Soldier's Trail - National Buffalo Soldier's Study
by Khubaka, Michael Harris
Thursday Jul 1st, 2021 9:33 AM
In California, Buffalo Soldiers protected our National Parks such as Yosemite and Sequoia serving as Park Rangers in the Sierra Nevada during the summer and were housed in the Presidio in San Francisco and Presidio in Monterey.
National Buffalo Soldier's Day is July 28 and commemorates the formation of the first regular Army regiments comprised former US Colored Soldiers after the US Civil War.

On September 21, 1866, seventeen months after the end of the US Civil War, Congress established these regiments who were the first peacetime, Black regiments with White Officers in the regular U.S. Army.

The origin of the term “Buffalo Soldiers” has a unique history that is much debated. Various sources say the name originated with Cheyenne Native American warriors, while others say the name originated with the Comanche tribe.

The Apache used the term because the soldiers had curly hair like bison. Yet another source recalls the Plain Indians using “Buffalo Soldiers” due to the coats they wore during the winter and courageous way the fought, like the Buffalo. No matter how the soldiers earned the name, they were committed to serving the country and sought to become a part of the great legacy of the United States Army.

Henry O. Flipper was the first African American commissioned officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers. Born into slavery in 1856 Flipper was also the first African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

He earned a commission as a 2nd Lt. in the Army. Under President Bill Clinton, Flipper was posthumously pardoned in 1999 after a review of an “unduly harsh and unjust” court-martial and dismissal from the Army.

The 9th and 10th Cavalry plus the 24th and 25th Infantry participated in winning dozens of battles large and small against ‘hostile’ Native Americans who wanted to leave the reservation during the Indian Wars.

For example, Troops H and I of the 10th Cavalry fought so gallantly against hundreds of Natives at the Battle of Beaver Creek that they were thanked in a Field Order by General Philip Sheridan. By 1880, the Buffalo Soldiers, following orders, minimized Native resistance in Texas, Oklahoma, and Montana.
They built and/or served at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and Fort Huachuca in Arizona.

Buffalo Soldiers served gallantly in Cuba and reportedly saved the day protecting Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders in the Battle of San Juan Hill in 1898 and the Philippines in the early 1900s

In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt toured San Francisco, dedicating
Dewey Statue in Union Square and the Buffalo Soldiers served as Honor Guard under the Command of Colonel Charles Yound.
Later that year, the Buffalo Soldiers protected some of our National Parks such as Sequoia and Yosemite from wildfires and poachers, building and protecting trails through the Sierra Nevada during the summer. They were housed in the Presidio Army Post in San Francisco and Presidio in Monterey during the winter.

In WWI, the Buffalo Soldiers were relegated to defending the Mexican border. They trained for overseas deployment and combat in WWII but were deactivated in 1944 at Camp Lockett, San Diego.

In 1948, President Harry Truman issued an executive order eliminating racial segregation in the armed forces.

The Buffalo Soldiers are US Veterans who served our country with distinction and honor. They had the lowest military desertion and court-martial rates of their time. Many earned the Congressional Medal of Honor, an award presented in recognition of combat valor which goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Learn about Colonel Charles Young, perhaps the most famous of the Buffalo Soldiers and the role California Buffalo Soldiers Trail played throughout California.

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