“If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from…” You might know these lyrics, and the term “Buffalo Soldier” from Bob Marley’s ubiquitous reggae jam. He did a great job bringing to light an often unrecognized slice of American history, in which the feats and heroics of a select group of fearless men helped shape the story of the United States.
African-Americans have played a significant, but often unrecognized, role in American military history, fighting in every major war since the American Revolution. Over two hundred thousand black soldiers served their country in the Civil War. Six all African-American Cavalry units were created in 1866, identified as the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st infantry regiments (which were eventually consolidated into the 24th and 25th Infantry). During a time in which civilian life offered few opportunities for the black man, these soldiers were willing to offer their lives to the service of the United States.
High standards were set for these military units, and over time they were filled with the best of the best–the first African-American graduate from West Point Military Academy, Henry O. Flipper, who was also the first African-American officer–was posted to the 10th U.S. Cavalry. Read the full story at Toyota Green Initiative.