Sources disagree on how the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in the winter of 1877, the actual Cheyenne translation being "Wild Buffalo." However, writer Walter Hill documented the account of Colonel Benjamin Grierson who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against Comanches.
Hill attributed the origin of the name to the Comanche due to Grierson's assertions. Some sources assert that the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th Cavalry. Other sources assert that Native Americans called the black cavalry troops "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo's coat.
Still other sources point to a combination of both legends. The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all Negro soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry units whose service earned them an honored place in U.S. history.