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Under the Act of July 28, 1866, the 38th and 41st Regiments of Infantry were organized both to consist of colored men. All of the officers in both regiments except the chaplains had seen service during the Civil War either with the regular or volunteer forces, and all but one had been breveted for services performed under perilous or other entitling conditions. Of the 38th Infantry, Brevet Major General Wm. B. Hazen was colonel, Brevet Major General Cuvier Grover, lieutenant colonel, and Brevet Colonel Henry C. Merriam, major.
The 41st Infantry was commanded by Brevet Major General Ranald S. Mackenzie, with Brevet Brigadier General Wm. R. Shafter, lieutenant colonel, and Brevet Brigadier General George W. Schofield, major.
The 38th was distributed along the transcontinental railroads then building, and in New Mexico, and the 41st was in Louisiana and Texas during the same period. The work performed by these regiments is a part of the history of the departments in which they served.
Under the Act of March 3, 1869, the 38th and 41st Regiments were consolidated and became the 24th Infantry. Under this reorganization Ranald S. Mackenzie became colonel, William R. Shafter, lieutenant colonel, and Henry C. Merriam, major. A few of the enlisted men who served in the War of the Rebellion or in the 38th Of 41st Regiments were still be in its ranks.
The regiment was in Texas from 1869 to 1880 and at some time during that period the several companies were stationed at all or nearly all of the many posts and permanent camps in that great State.
The duties of the 24th were many. There were expeditions against Indians over the staked plains (near present day Andrews, Texas) and other sections. The men served as a supply unit for various cavalry units in Texas and New Mexico. There was also duty guarding strategic points, building roads and forts, and hunting horse thieves. It was arduous service which brought no fame, but required of its officers and men constant vigilance, discretion and care in the performance of the service. The 24th Infantry was instrumental in clearing western Texas of Indians, and opening the country to settlers.
On December 15, 1870, Gen. Mackenzie was assigned to the 4th Cavalry and Bvt. Maj.-Gen. Abner Doubleday (generally associated with developing baseball) succeeded him as colonel, remaining, in that position until December 1873, when he retired.
In the autumn of 1880 the regiment changed to Indian Territory and the several companies were stationed at Forts Supply, Reno, Sill, Cantonment on the north fork of the Canadian River, and again a part of it in Texas at Fort Elliot. During this time no campaign service fell to its lot.
In April, 1886, Col. Potter having been appointed a brigadier general, Col. Zenas R. Bliss succeeded him.
In June, 1888, the regiment moved to the Department of Arizona with headquarters and three companies at Fort Bayard, N. M., and the remainder of the companies distributed in Arizona at San Carlos, Fort Grant and Fort Thomas. For nearly four years, they performed all the infantry duty at these posts. The duty at San Carlos was particularly trying under circumstances of danger and discomfort, but no serious trouble with the Indians occurred to require unusual work. The only incident of note was the fight of Paymaster Wham's escort, composed of men of the 24th Infantry and 10th Cavalry, who when attacked by a gang of robbers made a brave stand for which medals of honor or certificates of merit were given according to rank.
The companies of the regiment that had been distributed at the before-mentioned posts were in 1892 sent to Fort Huachuca, and as two companies had in the meantime been skeletonized, the regiment now became equally divided, with headquarters, D, E, F and G, at Fort Bayard, N. M., and Companies A, B, C and H at Huachuca.
The 24th took part in the War with Spain, fighting in Santiago. From Cuba the unit was assigned to the Philippines fighting rebels at San Isidro and Luzon.
During WWII, the 24th was attached to the Americal Division. They saw action in the Western Pacific. The unit also saw action in Korea, receiving a Republic of Korea Presidential Citation.
The 24th Infantry was inactivated October 1, 1951 at Pusan, Korea.