On August 3, 1866, General Philip Sheridan, commander of the Military Division of the Gulf, was authorized to raise on regiment of “colored” cavalry that was to be designated the 9th Regiment. A recruiting office was established in New Orleans, Louisiana and later that fall, a second office was opened in Louisville, Kentucky. Of the original recruits, the majority came from these two states and were veterans of the Civil War. Establishment was for five years, with recruits receiving thirteen dollars a month, plus room, board, and clothing. Colonel Edward Hatch was selected to command the new regiment. Col. Hatch, who was a brevet Major General by the close of the Civil War, was an able and ambitious officer. He served admirably in this position until his death in 1889.
Recruitment of White officers proved to be a serious problem for both the 9th & 10th Cavalries. Despite enticements of fast promotion, many officers, including George Armstrong Custer and Frederick Benteen, refused commissions with African-American units. The following advertisement from the Army and Navy Journal illustrates the dilemma: “A First Lieutenant of Infantry (white) stationed at a very desirable post…desires a transfer with an officer of the same grade, on equal terms if in a white regiment; but if in a colored regiment, a reasonable bonus would be expected.”
The 9th Cavalry was ordered to Texas in June 1867. There regiment was charged with protecting stage and mail routes, building and maintaining forts, and establishing law and order in a vast area of outlaws, Mexican revolutionaries, and raiding Comanche, Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Apaches. To compound their problems, many Texans felt that they were being subjected to a particularly harsh form of post-war reconstruction by Washington, and saw the assignment of the Black troopers a deliberate attempt by the Union to further humiliate them. As such, the relationship between the troopers and locals was often at or near the boiling point. Despite prejudice and the almost impossible task of maintaining some semblance of order from the Staked Plains to El Paso to Brownsville, the 9th established themselves as one of the most effective fighting forces in the Army.