These striking images document the faces of the Buffalo Soldiers – some of the first African Americans to serve in the US military.

Initially the name was used for the men of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which was formed by Congress in 1866, though was later expanded to include the 9th Cavalry and 24th and 25th Infantry regiments which were created at the same time.  

Their nickname was given to them by the Native American tribes they fought against during the Indian Wars, and supposedly came about because of a private by the name of John Randall who was attacked by dozens of Cheyenne warriors while escorting a hunting party.

Despite being shot in the shoulder and lanced 11 times, he held the Cheyenne off using only his pistol until help arrived. 

Afterward, the warriors described a man ‘who had fought like a cornered buffalo; who like a buffalo had suffered wound after wound, yet had not died; and who like a buffalo had a thick and shaggy mane of hair.’

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Source: Daily Mail