9th Cavalry Regiment
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Buffalo Soldiers
On 28 July 1866, Congress passed legislation establishing two cavalry and four infantry regiments (later consolidated to two) whose enlisted composition was to be made up of African-Americans. On 03 August, 1866, Major General Philip H. Sheridan, then commanding the Military Division of the Gulf, at New Orleans, Louisiana, was authorized to raise, among others, one regiment of colored cavalry to be designated the 9th Regiment of US Cavalry, which was to be enlisted within the limits of his own command. Men serving in volunteer colored regiments who desired to enlist in regular regiments were authorized to be discharged from the volunteer organizations.

The mustering officer at New Orleans was directed to take temporary charge of the recruiting, and shortly afterwards it was transferred to Major Francis Moore, 65th US Colored Infantry. The men obtained by Major Moore formed the nucleus of the enlisted strength, and were principally obtained from New Orleans and its vicinity. A little later in the autumn recruiting was established in Kentucky, and all the men for the new regiment were obtained from that State and Louisiana. The horses were obtained at St. Louis, and proved to be an excellent mount.

"Come And Join Your US Brothers"

About the middle of September all recruits were assembled in New Orleans, and preparations made for organization. Empty cotton presses were used as barracks and the ration was cooked over open fires. An epidemic of cholera, in September, caused the camp to be moved to Greenville, and later, for other reasons, it was moved to Carrollton, both of which places are suburbs of New Orleans.

Later in the fall, a second office was opened in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to Louisiana, the majority of original recruits came from such states as Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky and Texas, and were veterans of the Civil War. Enlistment was for five years, with recruits receiving thirteen dollars a month, plus room, board and clothing. These benefits were considered a golden opportunity, knowing the alternative was trying to advance in a society all but closed to them. The soldiers of the 9th Cavalry worked hard at discipline and organization throughout the winter of 1866 after their organization in August of that year. They joined in such numbers that there was not enough officers to train them.

During the winter of 1866-67, every effort was made to bring about an orderly state of drill, discipline and organization. The orders regarding stables and the performance of that duty were especially strict. Few officers had as yet joined, and the number on duty with the regiment was so small, that a scheme of squadron organization was resorted to so that at least one officer might be present with each squadron for every drill or other duty.

Fort Brown, Texas
On March 13, 1867, the 9th received orders to proceed to Headquarters, Department of Texas in San Antonio. There, in addition to the continued training, the regiment was charged with protecting stage and mail routes, building and maintaining forts, and establishing law and order in a vast area full of outlaws, Mexican revolutionaries, and raiding Comanches, Cheyennes, Kiowas, and Apaches. The main body arrived early in April and formed a camp of instruction. Rather than accompanying the main regimental body, Companies "L" and "M" were ordered to proceeded directly to Brownsville, Texas near the mouth of the Rio Grande where it remained for several years under the command of 1st Lieutenant J. M. Hamilton.

The camp near San Antonio was continued for some three months, and the time spent there was profitably employed in completing and perfecting the organization and drill, already well under way from the efforts of the preceding winter. The officers of the regiment were now nearly all appointed, and during the summer of 1867 they were as follows:

In command of the regiment, Colonel Edward Hatch, a young man full of energy and enthusiasm. He went right manfully to work, determined to succeed, and in this he was ably seconded by his officers. The amount of writing devolving upon officers during the earlier years of the regiment is not to be passed over lightly.

By June 1867, the regiment was deemed sufficiently well organized, equipped and disciplined, to be sent to the extreme frontier extending from Fort Clark to El Paso, and from the Rio Grande to the Concho. By this time the regiment was capable of undergoing the long and trying march into the wild and unsettled country that lay before it.

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Map Of Texas Fort Locations
In early July 1867, Headquarters and Companies "A", "B", "E" and "K", with Colonel Hatch commanding, were dispatched to re-activate Fort Stockton, Texas which had been abandoned by the Northern Armies during the Civil War. The old fort was in such a state of disrepair that a new base of operations had to be co-located allowing a new fort to be constructed on 960 acres, leased from civilian landowners, one-half mile northeast of the original site. The primary mission of the new post was to protect travelers of the westward migration on the numerous roads and trails that crossed the rugged lands and made use of the abundant water supply of Comanche Springs in West Texas.

Other duties of the command in western Texas was to open up and protect the mail and stage route from San Antonio to El Paso; to establish law and order in the country contiguous to the Rio Grande frontier, which had been sadly interfered with by Mexicans as well as Indians during the Civil War; to prevent marauding by Indians and to capture and confine to their reservations all roving bands; in fact, to help pave the way for the western advance of civilization, and to add their part in the great work of opening to settlement the vast resources of the great West.

In the same month, Companies "C", "D", "F", "G", "H" and "I", with Lt. Colonel Wesley Merritt commanding, were dispatched to Fort Davis, Texas. This remote and sparsely settled portion of West Texas had been long a haunt for a number of Indian tribes. For many years the Mescaleo Apaches had swept down from the Guadalupe Mountains to prey upon cattle herds, stages, wagon trains and unwary travelers. Kiowa and Comanche warriors came from the North, spreading terror from the Red River to the Rio Grande and for hundreds of miles into Mexico. Indian raiding was not a one-way traffic. Vengeful Mexican Kickapoos along with the Lipans carried on unrelenting warfare north of the Rio Grande well into the territory of Texas. Troops "L" and "M" had previously been sent to Brownsville, Texas.

Fort Davis, Texas
Upon their arrival to re-activate Fort Davis in the service of the US Army, Lt. Colonel Wesley Merritt and his troops found the buildings in a similar state of disrepair as was found at Fort Stockton. Because of the long period of prior abuse and neglect, the fort had to be completely rebuilt. The planning and the design of the new fort was carried out in detail to make it a permanent base of scouting and patrol operations. Its location was moved out to the mouth of Limpia Canyon making it less vulnerable to surprise Indian attacks. Much of the reconstruction was done by troopers of the regiment. By the middle of the 1870's, the fort had taken on its new and final appearance.

The mission of the troops stationed at Fort Davis was varied. They scouted and mapped the surrounding territory and guarded rail-road surveyors. Other duties included escorting the mail and protecting the stagecoaches and wagon trains traveling on the San Antonio-El Paso road. The Fort also provided security and protection to settlers from attack by hostile Camache and Apache Indians who fought to maintain control of the area. For the most part, the scout missions were only successful in checking Indian activities, as their tracks were often the only visual signs the troops had of the Indian presence in the area.

In September 1868, a detachment from Fort Davis composed of troopers from Companies "C", "F" and "K", 9th Cavalry, under the command of 1st, Lieutenant Patrick Cusack, met with more success. In pursuit: of a band of about 200 Apaches, who had been raiding near Fort Stockton, the lieutenant and his men came upon the Indians just north of present day Big Bend National Park. Two of Cusack's men were wounded in the attack. Indian casualties numbered between 20 and 25 warriors with as many wounded. The soldiers captured over 200 head of stock and all of the Indians' provisions and equipment.

When not on scouting patrols, the Buffalo Soldiers were assigned to sentry detail, endless drills, inspections, caring for and guarding the indispensable horses. Although on the rough frontier, a dress parade, complete with the post band, was held each evening except for Saturdays.

In 1869, Colonel Edward Hatch, 9th Cavalry replaced Merritt as post commander of Fort Davis. During his brief stay at the post, he ordered three separate expeditions against the Mescalero Apaches in the Guadalupe Mountains. All three expeditions involved 9th Cavalry troopers from Fort Davis. Lieutenant In the summer of 1871, Colonel William Shafter, led three companies of the 9th Cavalry from the post on an expedition which led them into the previously unscouted region of the southern Staked Plains. Although Shafter failed to encounter any Indians, he did capture a Mescalero squaw who, through an interpreter, gave much valuable information on Indian activities in the area. In addition, he proved that the Army could successfully survive in an area that was almost void of surface water. In October of the same year, Shafter again, committed to the thesis that the Indians would not stay in a threatened area, led an expedition of 9th Cavalry troops into the Big Bend. Again no Indians were confronted, but the knowledge gained of area terrain proved invaluable to subsequent patrols and scouts.

Over the next five years, at the two stations of Fort Davis and Fort Stockton in Texas, the regiment was thrust into what had been a 300-year struggle to subdue the fiercely independent Apaches. In the face of responsibilities of regional control, the 9th was forced to contend with other problems that compounded the difficulties of their task. Many Texans felt that they were being subjected to a particularly harsh form of post-war reconstruction by Washington. Despite prejudice and the almost impossible task of maintaining some semblance of order from the Staked Plains to El Paso to Brownsville, the 9th established themselves as one of the most effective fighting forces in the Army. The regiment remained in Texas for eight years, spending their greater portion of the time in the field, patrolling the vast stretches of prairie, scouting and gradually freeing the settlers from hostile environments.

In 1874, - sparked by pressure from greedy contractors supplying the reservations, and by cattlemen, lumber men and settlers hungry for Apache land - Washington approved a policy of concentrating the Apaches on a select few reservations. During the winter of 1875, and spring of 1876, the 9th was transferred to the District of New Mexico under command of Colonel Edward Hatch. Two companies were stationed at Fort Bayard, one at Fort McRae, two at Fort Wingate, three at Fort Stanton, one at Fort Union, two at Fort Selden and one at Fort Garland.

Gila River - San Carlos, Arizona
Unfortunately, the main Indian reservation was at San Carlos, Arizona, a desolate wasteland despised by the Apache. The independent lifestyle and culture of the Apaches and their hatred of the San Carlos reservation insured the hostilities that were to come. The renegade Apaches that periodically fled the reservations were highly skilled horsemen with a superior knowledge of their ancestral lands. Under the command of skilled warrior leaders like Skinya, Nana, Victorio and Geronimo; the Apaches proved to be an elusive and worthy adversary for the troopers of the 9th Regiment.

On 24 January 1877, a scouting party from Fort Bayard commanded by Lt. Henry Wright, with six men of Company "C" and three Navajo scouts, was surrounded by a party of 40 to 50 Chiricahuas in the Florida Mountains, near Deming, New Mexico. Weapons were fired and then used as clubs. In the center of the melee Corporal Clifton Greaves fought like a cornered lion and managed to shoot and bash a gap through the swarming Apaches, permitting his companions to break free. For this heroic action, Corporal Greaves was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On 18 September 1879, troopers from Companies "B", "C", "E" and "G" of the 9th Cavalry were ambushed by Victorio, War Chief of the Warm Springs Apaches, at Las Animas Creek in the Black Range of New Mexico. Conflicting reports put the number of troopers killed at either five or six, along with either two or three Navjo scouts. Several troopers were awarded Congressional Medals of Honor, having saved the wounded troopers.

Fort Riley, Kansas
In November 1881, having been serving continuously on the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona frontiers for 14 years, the headquarters of the 9th was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, with portions of the regiment assigned to Fort Sill, Fort Supply, and Fort Reno in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). Over the next four years, the troopers were primarily concerned with the unpleasant task of evicting white settlers known as "Boomers," who were attempting to settle on Indian land. In June 1885, the 9th Regiment was moved to the Department of the Platte, where it enjoyed a well-earned rest after the many scouting and campaigns of the preceding eighteen years.

In the following year, on 26 August 1886, Major Frederick Benteen, riding at the head of "B" and "E" Troops halted at a preselected fort site in eastern Utah Territory, near the confluence of the Du Chesne and Uinta rivers. Benteen and the troops had traveled a total of 650 miles, part of the distance by train, the rest on horseback, from Fort McKinney, Wyoming Territory, to help build and garrison a new Army post to be called Fort Du Chesne. Following the construction of the new fort, they were transferred between Fort Du Chesne, Utah, Fort Robinson and Fort Niobrara, Nebraska where they provided protection for work crews building the ever expanding railroads who were at the mercy of outlaws and hostile Indians.

In 1891, the 9th was called on to assist in subduing the Sioux in what later became known as the Ghost Dance Campaign. Once rulers of the northern plains, the Sioux were desolate and poverty stricken on their North and South Dakota reservations. In 1889 word spread of a messiah - a Paiute named Wovoka - who had seen through a vision that the ghosts of Plains Indians would return, bringing with them the buffalo herds slaughtered by the whites. The new "religion" swept through the Indians, alarming Dr. D. F. Royer, the newly appointed agent at the Pine Ridge reservation. Royer over-reacted, pleading for troops to protect him and his staff. By the end of November, one-half of the US Army was concentrated on or near the reservations. The show of force by the Army was intended to scare the Sioux into submission. However, many Indians, fearing a massacre, bolted from the reservations and fled into the Badlands. The subsequent actions of the Army to pacify and return the Sioux to their reservations culminated in the massacre of 146 men, women, and children at Wounded Knee on 29 December. The 9th played no role in the battle. This was to be their last campaign on the frontier.

In May 1895, the Adjutant of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, Lt. Grote Hutcheson in reflecting on the past performance and expectations of the regiment, wrote; "Every effort is made to keep the regiment in a high state of efficiency, and with nearly all its officers present for duty, - with the ranks filled to the authorized strength, - with an excellent and ample mount, - the Ninth Cavalry stands ready today for any service it may be called upon to perform, filled with a just pride in its past achievements and anxious again to seek 'the bubble reputation even in the cannon's mouth'." The potential of the regiment was known to Lt. Hutcheson, but only the experiences of the years to come would reveal the level of performance, dedication and honors to be attained by the 9th Regiment.

San Jaun Hill - Santiago, de Cuba
When the Spanish-American War erupted in 1898, the 9th Cavalry was called from the western frontier to fight in Cuba, almost 2,000 miles from their home ranges. The 9th Cavalry Regiment traveled from Fort Robinson, Nebraska to Tampa, Florida and embarked on 08 June 1898, for Baiquiri and Siboney. One of the first units to go ashore, it fought as dismounted infantry along side the roughriders of Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt at the Battle of Santiago in the gallant fight for San Jaun Hill. It was there, in Cuba, that the regiment derived the rest of its insignia; the five-bastioned fort patch of the Fifth Army Corps of which the 9th Cavalry was a part.

With the end of the Spanish American War, the regiment was called again to another trouble spot; the Philippines, which had been acquired as part of the treaty agreements with the Spanish. During the Philippine Insurrection, the 9th Cavalry continued its hard fighting tradition by conducting several successful campaigns against the Moro tribesmen; earning the respect of the Military Governor of the Philippines, General Arthur MacArthur, whose son, Douglas A. MacArthur, would lead them in future wars.

There is a remarkable historic link between the 9th Cavalry Regiment and the Presidio of San Francisco and the National Park Service. The Presidio was used as a gateway for regular army regiments on their way to the Philippines or other western posts or forts, others stayed at the Presidio for longer periods of time. Several Troops of the 9th Cavalry remained and became part of the permanent garrison of the Presidio.

President Theodore Roosevelt
In 1903, 9th Cavalry Troops, who served with Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba, was designated as his Honor Guard escort during a rare visit, as President, to the Presidio. This was the first time black regular cavalry soldiers had served as an escort for a President of the United States.

The 9th Cavalry troops were also assigned to patrol the national parks in California, including Yosemite, General Grant, and Sequoia. Captain Charles Young, a West Point graduate stationed with the 9th Cavalry at the Persidio, was named Acting Superintendent of Sequoia National Park for the summer of 1903. The Army patrolled the parks until the National Park Service was created in 1916.

In 1907, a detachment of the 9th Cavalry was assigned to West Point to assist in Cadet riding instruction and mounted drill, which was conducted on the ground now called Buffalo Soldier Field, formerly known as the Cavalry Plain. In addition to giving riding instruction, the soldiers performed guard duty for the post, "harvested" ice from Lusk Reservoir, provided labor details and served as quartermaster support personnel.

Following their assignment in the Philippines the 9th Cavalry Regiment returned to the United States to fight once again; this time with General John J. "BlackJack" Pershing in his Punitive Expedition against the Mexican rebel Pancho Villa who had expanded his operations of rustling cattle, robbing banks and killing into the United States. It was there that the regiment along with the 7th Cavalry Regiment, took part in the last "Cavalry Charge" of the modern era conducted against an armed enemy.

The year 1916 began another five year tour of duty in the Philippines. Arriving and disembarking at Mariveles, Philippines Islands, the regiment moved to their permanent station at Stotsenburg to begin a rigorous training program. Returning to the states in 1922, the regiment moved by rail to Fort Riley. Kansas.

On 01 March 1933, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Division. The early missions of the regiment, under the 3rd Cavalry Division, was largely a saga of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border and constant training. Operating from horseback, the cavalry was the only force capable of piercing the harsh terrain of the desert to halt the band of smugglers that operated along the desolate Mexican border.

War Declared in Europe
On 01 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland using the most modern and deadly military force of its time. Failing to convince Hitler of the grave consequences of his actions, both Great Britain and France initiated a declaration of war on 03 September 1939. Isolationist politics was still strong in Congress. Major priorities were placed on building up the industrial capacity to supply equipment to the Allies in Europe.

On 10 October 1940, the 9th Cavalry Regiment was relieved from the 3rd Cavalry Division and reassigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division. In preparation for possible deployment overseas, the regiment participated in the Arkansas Maneuvers from August to October 1941. Upon completion of the exercises, they returned to Camp Funston, KS. for assignment to garrison and continuing field training duties.

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Revised 31 Oct '09 SpellChecked