Black Infantry in the West
BLACK INFANTRY IN THE WEST
BLACK INFANTRY IN THE WEST. In 1866 Congress authorized six regiments of African American troops (each regiment to consist of ten, sixty-six-man companies) to be included in the regular army. Two of the regiments were designated cavalry and four, infantry. The infantry units were activated as the Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, Fortieth, and Forty-first Infantry regiments. The Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Infantries, which were later consolidated into the Twenty-fifth, were assigned to the South. The Thirty-eighth and Forty-first, which later became the Twenty-fourth Infantry, were sent to the West.
In 1870 the black regiments moved out onto the Texas frontier and began a tour of duty along the Rio Grande that was to last a decade. They participated in many of the army forays into Mexico and contributed to the defeat of the Apache warrior Victorio and to the general pacification of the Texas frontier.
The two regiments separated in 1880, with the Twenty-fourth Infantry moving to Indian Territory and the Twenty-fifth Infantry to Dakota Territory. T he Twenty-fourth Infantry remained in Indian Territory for eight years before being assigned to Arizona and New Mexico Territories, where it would finish out the period of Indian wars. While in Arizona, a noncommissioned officer of the Twenty-fourth Infantry won the Medal of Honor for his heroic part in defense of an army paymaster during a robbery attempt.
In Dakota Territory, some Twenty-fifth Infantry units were assigned the task of guarding the Sioux chief Sitting Bull and his people at Fort Randall. The infantry remained in Dakota Territory until the summer of 1888, when it was moved to Montana Territory.
Fowler, Arlen L. The Black Infantry in the West, 1869–1891. Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies Series, no. 6. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1971.
Schubert, Frank N. Black Valor: Buffalo Soldiers and the Medal of Honor, 1870–1898. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1997.
Arlen L.Fowler/h. s.