Private First-Class John Hickman
Private First-Class John Hickman was born in 1893, enlisted in the United States Army in 1914, and reached the rank of Private First-Class, belonged to Troop F of the 10th Cavalry also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, and was honorably discharged in 1920. According to United States census data from 1930, Private Hickman lived in Winston-Salem with his mother, Mary, and stepfather, John Lehman.
Private Hickman was an auto mechanic and owned an auto repair shop. He died in 1967 of a stroke in Durham, North Carolina. His body was brought to Winston-Salem and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery by Clark Brown and Sons Funeral Directors.
The 10th Cavalry
The 9th Cavalry
John Hickman's Gravestone at the Historic Odd Fellows Cemetery
The 25th Infantry Regiment
Who were the Buffalo Soldiers?
The Buffalo Soldiers were created by an Act of Congress in 1866. This Act created six all-black peacetime regiments and was later consolidated into four regiments: the 9th and 10th Calvary and the 24th and 25th Infantry, which would eventually become known as the Buffalo Soldiers. They comprised primarily of former slaves, freemen, and Black Civil war soldiers.
The 24th Infantry Regiment
There are two different theories as to how they were given the name:
Plains Native Americans thought that the soldier's dark, curly hair resembled buffalo fur.
Another is that their bravery and ferocity resembled that of the way the buffalo fought which was given as a sign of respect by the Native Americans.
Duties and Roles of the Buffalo Soldiers Throughout the Years
Initially, the primary duties of the Buffalo Soldiers were to support the nation’s westward expansion by protecting settlements and building roads and other infrastructure, as well as guarding the U.S. mail.
Buffalo Soldiers served in various posts throughout the Southwest and Great Plains, and they took part in most of the military campaigns during the Indian Wars. Eighteen Buffalo Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor; that level of exceptionalism paved the way for overcoming resistance to the idea of black Army officers.
Buffalo Soldiers of the 24th Infantry on Mounted Patrol of Yosemite National Park ca. 1899
Yosemite National Park
Some, Buffalo Soldiers also served as some of the nation’s first park rangers, back when the United States Army served as the official administrator of Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks between 1891 to 1913. They oversaw park construction, they also protected parks from illegal grazing, poachers, timber thieves, and wildfires.
Buffalo Soldier Involvement in World War I
As mentioned earlier the Buffalo Soldiers played significant roles in several military campaigns, unfortunately, racist policies excluded black regiments from the American Expeditionary Force.
Troop C, 9th Cavalry, at Camp Lawton, Washington, before being sent to the Philippines
During WWI, the 9th Cavalry was already dispatched in the Philippines due to the Philippine-American War. Philippine-American War raged from 1899-to 1902 and was continued until 1913 in the form of the Moro Rebellion.
The 10th Cavalry, which is the group that Private Hickman belonged to were patrolling the United States and Mexico Border. The 24th Infantry was also on the United States and Mexico Border. The 25th Infantry was stationed in Hawaii at the time.
Company B of the 25th Regiment Marching in Hilo, Hawaii
None of the regular Army Buffalo Soldier regiments ever saw duty as a part of the American Expeditionary Force in France during WWI. Eventually, the United States Government and Armed Forces came to the realization that they would need more manpower to win the Great War.
The United States organized two divisions of segregated men the 92nd Division known as the Buffalo Soldiers and the 93rd Division known as the Blue Helmets.
Both divisions were placed under the authority of the French for the duration of the war; this would be the first time in American history that American soldiers were placed under the control of a foreign power.
Glasrud, Bruce. A and Searles, Michael. N. Buffalo Soldiers in the West: A Black Soldiers
Anthology. College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2007.
Salter, Krewasky, and Lonnie. G Bunch III. “Buffalo Soldiers.” National Museum of African American History and Culture. Accessed February 23, 2022. https://nmaahc.si.edu/buffalo-soldiers.
Image Credits and Courtesies
9th Cavalry, 10th Cavalry, 24th Infantry Regiment, and 25th Infantry Regiment Insignias are Courtesy of The Institute of Heraldry
Buffalo Soldiers of the 24th Infantry on Mounted Patrol of Yosemite National Courtesy of National Park Archive
Troop C, 9th Cavalry, at Camp Lawton, Washington, before being sent to the Philippines ca. 1900 Courtesy of T. Preiser, Special Collection, Suzzallo Library, University of Washington
Company B of the 25th Regiment Marching in Hilo, Hawaii ca. 1917 Courtesy of Lyman Museum