0% Complete
0/70 Steps

The United States Army after the American Civil War (ECE)

With the end of the American Civil War, the United States Congress embarked on a massive reduction in the number of regiments in the US Army. The first reorganization occurred in 1866, and limited the standing army to ten regiments of cavalry and forty five of infantry.  Twelve of these regiments headed for the frontier, the others pulled duty in the South enforcing the edicts of Reconstruction policies.  In 1869 lawmakers compressed the infantry into just twenty five regiments.  Officials consolidated some regiments, struck others from the books, but most unit designations in the infantry changed.  As a result, getting a good idea of what troops actually served in a particular frontier location in the late 1860s becomes difficult because they literally changed numbers and names twice in a five year period.

In addition, some 20,000 US troops–mostly in volunteer regiments–flooded to the Rio Grande border with Mexico to help keep an eye on the collapse of the French-backed Mexican Empire of Maximilian I at the hands of the US-backed Republicans under Benito Juarez. Some of these Union volunteer regiments–including the 18th New York Cavalry and the 3rd Michigan Infantry but also including units in the United States Colored Troops (USCT)–lingered in frontier locales until being mustered out, overlapping their time in Texas with newly reorganized US regular formations.

Even with these challenges, a clear clear picture emerges.  In 1866, the 4th and 6th US cavalries arrived in Texas to restore Federal authority, as did the 11th (later designated the 16th) and 17th US Infantry.  By 1867, the African American 9th Cavalry arrived in Texas.  The 6th Cavalry, however, headed north of the Red River by 1871. When frontier issues heated up in the 1870s, the African American 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th also arrived. White and black soldiers, in separate units, brought a reassuring measure of stability to Texas in the chaotic years after the Civil War.