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The first regular army regiments of African Americans were authorized by Congress in July 1866, and African American soldiers have played an important role in the conflicts of their country ever since. These brave men fought not only tirelessly against the enemy, but also against prejudice and discrimination within the armed forces, striving to be given the chance to show their worth and fight for their country. Their efforts culminated in the integration of the armed forces, starting in 1946.
This book covers the history of African-American soldiers, from the American Civil War and their initial involvement on the western frontier during the Plains Wars, where they were nicknamed "Buffalo Soldiers" by their Native American enemies. It then examines their role during the age of "American Imperialism," campaigning across Cuba and Mexico before distinguishing themselves in the trenches of World War I. Finally, it examines their participation in World War II, where almost half a million African Americans fought and died for their country and the subsequent desegregation of the armed forces. Accompanied by color illustrations and rare photographs, the text chronicles the actions of these units, their uniform and appearance and how they were to eventually overcome discrimination and prejudice.
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Alexander Bielakowski, PhD, is the Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal U.S. Military History Review and an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Houston-Downtown.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
A FEMALE BUFFALO SOLDIER
November 15, 1867 marked a very interesting–and ultimately important–day. To the surprise of many today, and the ignorance of all on that particular day over 140 years ago, Cathay Williams was the first (and only) black female to join Company A, 38th Infantry. With the lack of a thorough physical examination, her masculine and powerful physique, and a decision to change her name to William Cathay, she was able to fool the recruiting officer.
Williams served in the 38th Infantry for the next two years, until she decided that she no longer wanted to be a soldier. A false illness and complaints of rheumatism resulted in another physical examination (this time quite thorough), and she got her discharge as quickly and easily as the permission to join the 38th Infantry.
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