There is a story that is often left out of the history books. It is the story of the Buffalo Soldiers. They were African American soldiers who were enlisted post-Civil War. One of the places they were stationed here in Wyoming doing the hard, dirty jobs no one else would do.

The Buffalo Soldiers of The American West made their Casper debut at this year’s Wyoming Heritage Days – “History Comes Alive” at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. The non-profit group of reenactors came to Casper for one reason alone to educate and to make sure this history would not be lost.

In the late 1800s, the 9th Cavalry Unit was entrenched in a land war in Johnson County, Wyoming. The Buffalo Soldiers were put to task by the US Government to remove large amounts of barbed wire fences. This was a risky task because ranchers felt they were entitled to the land.

Bill Schwamle, Townsquare Media

There are a few stories on how they got their name, explained the 1st Lieutenant John Alexander. One story goes that the soldiers wore buffalo skins as they rode their horses across the prairie. As they approached a nearby fort they first thought they were buffalo, but as they became in clear view, they were recognized as soldiers.

Another story goes they got their name because their hair resembled the fur of a buffalo. The third story, and the lieutenant's favorite, was the Native Americans gave them that name in honor and respect because of how bravely they fought.

Bill Schwamle, Townsquare Media

Not all Buffalo Solders were African American men. There were Latinos and one woman joined under a false name. Williams Cathay was part of the Buffalo Soldiers, but later they discovered his - or her name was really Cathay Williams. She has even inspired some cowboy poets.

During the demonstration at the Trails Center, The Buffalo Soldiers of the American West started off by riding their horses over the crest of the hill towards the crowd. They rode with the flags of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. They demonstrated Mounted Cavalry Drills with a 4 man team looping back in forth on the field. Next they performed Cavalry Saber Drills. Two of the Buffalo Soldiers took turns running their horse while holding their saber steady to pop a balloon on a post. They finished the show with an ode to all military past and present.


Bill Schwamle, Townsquare Media