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Black History Month: Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?

What is the connection between Buffalo Soldiers and Huntsville?

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — You may have hears of the Buffalo Soldiers in history class, but who were they and what's their connection to Huntsville?

Julia Smith spoke with Huntsville historian William Hampton to get answers and information about the Buffalo Soldiers.

In fact, Hampton grew up around the history of the Buffalo Soldiers with his neighborhood, 10 Camper Hill, named after the Buffalo Soldiers.

History of the Buffalo Soldiers.

During segregation, black troops could not fight with white soldiers even if they were the strongest soldier in battle. Buffalo Soldiers were most known for their battle in Cuba during the Spanish American War.

Formed in 1866, the African-American 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry troops were instrumental in helping secure the peace on America's western frontiers. The 9th and 10th Cavalry earned the nickname ""Buffalo Soldiers"" because of their strength and bravery. They fought in every major conflict from the Spanish-American War until 1952, when President Truman integrated the units as part of the regular Army.

Coming to Huntsville

During the war, yellow fever, malaria, and other sicknesses broke out. It was decided that troops. including the Buffalo Soldiers, needed to relocate to a location away from illness. Only two places were chosen, West Point New York, and Huntsville Alabama. Why?

"Huntsville had clean water, clean air pure springs, and several hot springs," Hampton said. 

Although the Buffalo Soldiers were sent to Huntsville, they were not treated with honor and respect.

"Some of the tales told about them and their involvement in Spanish American war stories said they were lazy and cowardly, some said they were shot down like dogs in Huntsville, some didn't regard them as human beings. They still had to come back to a country with segregated laws and when they came to Huntsville their weapons were taken pleading the President of the United States (Theodore Roosevelt) to return their arms."

BUFFALO SOLDIERS FIELD TRIP

Those who stood with the Buffalo Soldiers

"I've read several articles and several troops did speak up on their behalf, one stated, 'I know I don't necessarily like negros but the war would have been lost if it haven't been for the bravery of the 10th and 9th Calvary.'" 

Formed in 1866, the African-American 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry troops were instrumental in helping secure the peace on America's western frontiers. The 9th and 10th Cavalry earned the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" because of their strength and bravery. They fought in every major conflict from the Spanish-American War until 1952, when President Truman integrated the units as part of the regular Army.

WATCH: 25th Infantry returning from Mt. Arayat (Philippines)
(Library of Congress Archives)

WATCH: 24th U.S. Infantry departing transport ship

(Library on Congress Archives)