In July 1866, Congress enacted the first black contingents into the army, including the Tenth Cavalry Regiment. In 1869, the regiment moved to Camp Wichita in Indian Territory and constructed the first buildings at Fort Sill. The Tenth Cavalry served in some of the most undesirable locations and under some of the toughest conditions within the American Southwest. Their duties included escorting wagon trains and stagecoaches, controlling hostile forces, building forts and roads, installing telegraph lines, protecting railroad workers, protecting settlers, and mapping areas of uncharted country.
Its members acquired the name "Buffalo Soldiers" during the 1871 Comanche Campaign in Indian Territory. They earned the name of the rugged and revered buffalo because of the color of their skin, their tireless marching, and strong warrior skills. The regiment scouted over 34,000 miles of uncharted territory, opened more than 300 miles of new railroads, laid over 200 miles of telegraph lines, and mapped water holes, grazing areas and mountain passes for future migration to the west. The men carried out their mission with honor, commitment and courage, despite all adversity. They freely fought and died to ensure the protection of white settlers as well as the native tribes which had been relocated to reservations in indian territory. Their strong sense of duty and ability to carry out a tough mission in a rough area with very little resources played a key role in America's ability to settle to the West.