Date of this Version
Great Plains Quarterly Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2009, pp. 000-000
During the Civil War, some 180,000 African Americans served with courage in the Union Army, and more than 40,000 died. Following the war, as the United States moved to secure its Western territories, African American infantry and cavalry, whom the Cheyennes and Comanches of the Plains called "Buffalo Soldiers," helped in this endeavor. The Army Reorganization Act of 1866 approved the formation of the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Infantry. In Buffalo Soldiers in the West, Bruce A. Glasrud and Michael N. Searles collect previously published essays on these intrepid servicemen. The collection describes how Buffalo Soldiers participated in "every major conflict on American soil, but [under] a muted call: serve with little recognition, serve for less pay, serve under white leadership, and serve only under dire circumstances."
This volume, the most comprehensive study of the Buffalo Soldiers, corrects a historical omission. Moreover, unlike most monographs that focus on the battles between Buffalo Soldiers and Indians, its essays analyze black soldiers' service in the West. Their authors' research explains how Buffalo Soldiers prepared the western frontier for white settlement: escorting trains and stagecoaches; staffing garrisons; guarding railroad construction; and protecting military supply lines and survey teams.