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"Ready and Forward"The 10th Cavalry was organized September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with Colonel Benjamin H. Grierson commanding. Most of its recruits came from Philadelphia, Boston and Pittsburgh. Organization of the regiment proceeded very slowly because of a lack of officers coupled with Grierson's insistence on a very high standard for the enlisted men. These instructions sent to Captain L.H. Carpenter recruiting in Philadelphia were typical:
"Recruit men sufficiently educated to fill positions of noncommissioned officers, clerks, and mechanics in the regiment. You will use the greatest of care in your selection of recruits.. enlist all the superior men you. can who will be a credit to the regiment."
Recruitment was slow until the spring, which brought a sharp increase in enlistment's. But recruitment also revealed a very exasperating problem for Colonel Grierson. General William Hoffman, commanding at Fort Leavenworth, had little fondness for Negro troops or their officers. He would not respond to Grierson's petitions for better quarters or even provide walkways to keep the men's feet dry.
Early on, training for the Buffalo soldiers of the 10th was limited because of a shortage of officers. In the spring of 1867, the number of officers increased and the units finally had their full complement of recruits. Bugle calls became routine for the troopers of the 10th - reveille, stable and mess call, school call, drill call, fatigue or retreat, tattoo and taps. The troops learned the discipline that makes a soldier by answering these calls. Early on, the young soldiers refused to obey the orders of their noncommissioned officers, since they were only accustomed to taking orders from white men. But they soon learned that sergeants and corporals earned their chevrons (stripes) and wore them as symbols of authority, delegated by the regimental commander.
Aside from their garrison routines and details, the soldiers of the 10th Cavalry performed such duties as building forts and roads, riding "shotgun" on stagecoach and mail routes, protecting the builders of railroads, escorting cattle drives and wagon trails, locating water holes, installing telegraph lines, and protecting settlers in areas plagued by bandits, Mexican revolutionarie~, outlaws and bands of renegade Indians.
10TH CAVALRY LINEAGE AND CAMPAIGNS
The 10th Regiment of Cavalry is one of the most unique regiments in the annals of the U.S. military history. Moving west from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas within a year after its activation in 1866, the 10th began its march into immortality. The spring of
1877 marked the beginning of more than two decades of continuous service on the Great Plains and in the mountains and deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. The challenge was a formidable one. Fifteen years of constant campaigning would pass before there was peace along the tormented Rio Grande frontier.
The regiment distinguished itself in Cuba at Santiago and Las Guasimas, and in the famous charge up San Juan Hill. Generally, the "Rough Riders" are given the credit for taking the blockhouse atop San Juan Hill. What most people do not know is that the brunt of the fighting was borne by the soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments. One eyewitness has written: "If it had not been for the Negro Cavalry, the Rough Riders. would have been exterminated. The 10th Cavalry fought for 48 hours under heavy fire from the Spaniards who were in brick forts on the Hill."
LEGACY AND HONORS
For some reason perhaps because the unit's administrators were not as conscientious at writing award citations, the 10th Cavalry did not receive as many Medals of Honor as the 9th. it certainly was not because they faced less hazardous duty. The demonstrated courage and patriotism of the soldiers of the 10th is beyond reproach; the profound achievements of six troopers and two officers earned them the award of our nation's highest award for valor -
MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS