Who were the Buffalo Soldiers? When peace finally came to Arizona and the American West, it was the black soldier who helped achieve it. The Buffalo Soldiers were troopers of the all African-American 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry. They played the decisive role in the settlement of the Wild West. These brave men guarded mail, built telegraph lines, built roads, mapped and explored new areas, and drove cattle. For 20 years they also fought the Apache Indians. Yet, because of racial prejudice, these bold soldiers and their many gallant deeds remain almost totally unknown to the modern day citizens of Arizona and America. When the cowboy movies of the Wild West were first made in the 1930s, seldom were the African-American troops shown on the movie screens. Only in the 1980s did the story of the Buffalo Soldiers begin to be shown on the movie screen. An old drawing showing a regiment of Buffalo Soldiers. How did the Buffalo Soldiers get their name? The Buffalo Soldiers received their name from the Indians of Arizona partially because, like the buffalo, they had dark skin and dark hair. But mainly their name came as a result of the Indians’ respect for their great fighting ability. The Buffalo Soldiers, like the sacred buffalo, were known as great fighters. They were the greatest of trackers, impossible to shake off a trail. The buffalo became their symbol. It was worn on the uniform of the 9th and 10th U. S. Cavalry. Their company motto was “ready and forward.” The Buffalo Soldiers became the most highly decorated soldiers to fight in the Apache Wars. Today, at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona, the Buffalo Soldiers are honored at the National Buffalo Soldiers Museum. Finally, recognition and honor are coming to these brave soldiers. After the Apache Wars, they went on to fight with Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba during the SpanishAmerican War in 1898. The soldiers of the 10th Calvary wore this insignia of the Buffalo Soldiers proudly. Chapter 8 • Territorial Growth  89