The 10th Cavalry was formed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1866. Very high standards of recruitment were set by the regiment’s commander and Civil War hero Benjamin Grierson. As a result, recruitment and organization of the unit required slightly over one year. By the end of July 1867, eight companies of enlisted men had been recruited from the Departments of Missouri, Arkansas, and the Platte.
Life at Leavenworth was not pleasant for the 10th. The fort’s commander, who was admittedly opposed to African-Americans serving in the regular army, made life as difficult as he could on the new troopers. Col. Grierson sought to have his regiment transferred, and subsequently received orders moving the regiment to Fort Riley, Kansas later that summer.
Within two months of the transfer, the final four companies were in place. For the next eight years, the 10th was stationed at numerous forts throughout Kansas and Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). They provided guards for workers of the Kansas and Pacific Railroad, strung miles of new telegraph lines, and to a large extent built Fort Sills. Throughout this period, they were constantly patrolling the reservations in an attempt to prevent Indian raids into Texas.
In 1875, the 10th Cavalry moved its headquarters to Fort Concho in west Texas. Other companies were assigned to various forts throughout the area. The regiment’s mission in Texas was to protect the mail and travel routes, control Indian movements, provide protection form Mexican revolutionaries and outlaws, and to gain a knowledge of the areas terrain. The regiment proved highly successful in completing their mission. The 10th scouted 34,420 miles of uncharted terrain, opened more than 300 miles of new roads, and laid over 200 miles of telegraph lines.
The scouting activities took the troops through some of the harshest and most desolate terrain in the nation. These excursions allowed the preparation of excellent maps detailing scarce water holes, mountain passes, and grazing areas that would later allow for settlement of the area. These feats were accomplished while having to be constantly on the alert for hit-and-run raids from the Apaches.