This athletic field is named in honor of the men of the Ninth and Tenth U.S. Cavalry Regiments, detachments of which once served at West Point. These Regiments of Horse Cavalry were first created by the Army Reorganization Act of 1866, and their early service was on the western frontier. They were composed of Black American troops, who were called "Buffalo Soldiers" by their Indian foes, a sobriquet they adopted with pride.
During the Indian Wars of 1867 - 1891 the Ninth and Tenth Cavalries participated in eleven campaigns against hostile Indians, among whom were included Kiowas, Comanches, Utes, Cheyennes, Arapahoes, Kickapoos, Apaches, and Sioux. They were engaged in over 125 recorded battles and skirmishes, most of them in Texas and New Mexico, but also including actions in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Idaho, Montana, and Mexico. Some were major engagements, but many were detachment actions in which noncommissioned officers held the command, and there were many examples of hardships withstood and heroism displayed. Other duties included guarding the border, apprehending bandits and cattle thieves, and maintaining order in sparsely settled and unruly territory.
In the War with Spain both Regiments were in the Cuban Expedition of 1898. The Tenth made the frontal attack in the opening engagement at Las Guasimas, and both regiments participated in the attack on San Juan Hill, the Tenth extricating the Rough Riders from difficulty and then joining with them in the assault on the blockhouse. Both regiments were also engaged in the Siege of Santiago.
Subsequently the Ninth Cavalry was sent to the Philippines, where it saw action in numerous skirmishes from 1900 to 1902 during the insurrection. The Tenth eventually returned to border duty in the southwest, and accompanied General Pershing on the Punitive Expedition of 1916, being engaged at Agua caliente, Parral, and Carrizal.
In 1907 a detachment of the Ninth Cavalry was assigned to West Point in support of cadet riding instruction and mounted drill, which was conducted on the ground now occupied by the athletic field and formerly known as the Cavalry Plain. In 1931 it was replaced by the 2nd Squadron of the Tenth Cavalry, which remained at West Point until inactivation in 1946.