Confronting the Modern Era

Why were the names Buffalo Soldiers and Rough Riders used to describe army units?

The titles were nicknames the soldiers gave the units. Buffalo soldiers was used to describe the four African American army units that were in operation after the Civil War to the early 1900s. Since these soldiers were first stationed in the American Plains, supposedly the name was given to them by Indians who thought their hair resembled buffalo hair. Apparently the soldiers liked the nickname and continued to use it.

Rough Riders was the nickname used by the 1st Volunteer Cavalry. The nickname was first used by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and the World Congress of Rough Riders to describe the tricks performed by men on horseback. Since the 1st Cavalry rode horses, someone must have thought they deserved the nickname too.



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