South Dakota

Up Catalog

Buffalo Soldiers

     In 1866 two cavalry regiments, the 9th and 10th, and two infantry regiments, the 24th and 25th, made up of black soldiers, were created. In 1867 they were sent west to fight Indians, to protect settlers, cattle herds, and railroad crews, and generally to keep the peace in what was called Indian country.
     The Cheyenne gave them the name "Buffalo Soldiers" probably because of their short, dark, curly hair, like the mane of the buffalo. The buffalo was a sacred animal and a focus of power for the plains Indians, so the title was probably a sign of respect.
     On November 20 Troops D, E, I, and K of the 9th Cavalry under the command of General John R. Brooke arrived at Pine Ridge in South Dakota. They did not participate in the battle at Wounded Knee, but they were instrumental in maintaining the peace following that action. William Othello Wilson, of Troop K received the Medal of Honor because of his actions on December 30, 1890 at Wounded Knee.
     The Buffalo Soldiers left South Dakota after General Miles' grand review of his troops on January 21, 1890. This was their last campaign on the frontier. In the 1950's the Buffalo Soldier regiments were disbanded when all military units were integrated.

SCN 2818

Frederic Remington

SCN 888

     Frederic Remington was a war correspondent for Harper's Weekly, and was part of General Miles' headquarters in November 1890. He did not witness the massacre at Wounded Knee, but was intimidated by a small group of Dakota warriors as he returned to Pine Ridge. His identification with the Indians and his hope for a just relationship between Indians and non-Indians were dashed
     In 1959 a stamp was issued which showed a portion of his oil painting, "Smoke Signal." Although the Indians in the picture are Crow and not Dakota, the painting shows Remington's empathy with the Indians. The painting was made in 1908 and is preserved in the Amon Garter Museum, Ft. Worth, Texas.

SCN 1187

Back Next