The name "Buffalo Soldiers" was given to the 4 regiments of African Americans by the Plains Indians. More particularly, to the two cavalry units that served on the frontier in the post-Civil War army.
During the Civil War, many units of black soldiers had outstanding combat records. So, in 1866 Congress authorized two regiments of black cavalry and six regiments of black infantry. In 1869, the infantry regiments were combined into two units, the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth United States Infantry regiments.
These two cavalry and and infantry regiments were made up of black enlisted men commanded by white officers, but had very few exceptions such as Henry O. Flipper. From 1866 to the early 1900's, the buffalo soldiers served at a range of posts in Texas, the southwest and great plains.
The Buffalo Soldiers performed a variety of difficult Military and civil tasks. They also took place in many major frontier campaigns against the Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne, Apache, Sioux, and Arapaho Indians. The Soldiers played a big role in the Indian Wars. Thirteen enlisted men from the four regiments earned the Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars.
After the Indian War, the soldiers helped out in the Spanish-American War with the Philippine Insurrection and John J. Pershing's 1916 punitive expedition. The soldiers then found themselves facing increasingly racial prejudice at the end of the century. They were cut off from the segregated towns they were stationed near, and were victims of beatings, slurs, harassment by law officers, and on certain occasions, sniper attacks. They sometimes responded with violence.
More recently, none of the 4 regiments went to fight in WW I. In the 1920's and 30's soldiers from the 4 regiments were increasingly used as laborers and service troops. The 9th and 10th cavalries were disbanded and their personnel were transferred into service units during WW II. The 25th and 24th regiments fought in the Pacific, but the 24th also fought in the beginning of the Korean War. The Buffalo soldiers played a big role in major battles and wars, and were very important in the Indian War.