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The Buffalo Soldiers distinguished themselves as valiant troops during the Indian Wars. The service of Sergeant Emanuel Stance shows the manner in which they fought. On May 20 and 21, 1870, Stance and nine fellow members of Company F of the Ninth Cavalry engaged a band of Apaches while on patrol near their post at Fort Mc Kavett, Texas. At the time, an Apache band was moving toward the Texas panhandle with a herd of horses and two white children that they had taken captive. Stance and the other soldiers charged the Native Americans, who abandoned their horses and fled toward the mountains. A warrior sharing a horse with one of the kidnapped children pushed him off into the brush to make his escape. The buffalo soldiers captured all nine of the horses that the Apaches left behind and the child eventually made his way to safety at the fort. The child’s older brother remained with the Apaches before later being reunited with his parents.

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Acts of discrimination against the Buffalo Soldiers extended beyond weapons and living quarters. They were constantly reminded of their place in society because high-ranking officers continually denigrated them or shunned them altogether. For example, Gerald Astor notes in The Right to Fight: A History of African Americans in the Military that when the Tenth Cavalry, commanded by Colonel William Grierson, initially arrived in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, the post commander assigned the troops a campsite in a swamp, but he later criticized them for having muddy tents and uniforms. Furthermore, the post commander also informed the Buffalo Soldiers that they were not allowed within fifteen feet of white soldiers. Additionally, General George Custer refused to accept assignments leading black soldiers, while Captain Ambrose Hooker, commander of the Ninth Cavalry’s Company E, referred to the Buffalo Soldiers as “baboons” and regularly used racial epithets toward them. Although the soldiers’ complained about Hooker’s behavior, no action was taken against him.

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