The Civil War in Missouri

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A Negro Regiment in Action

From Harper's Weekly, March 14, 1863
MHM Library

Kansas senator Jim Lane organized the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers in 1862, despite opposition from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who insisted that only President Lincoln could authorize the enlistment of black troops. Lane recruited from the African American population of Kansas, which had grown substantially from escaped slaves of Missouri and Arkansas.On October 29, 1862, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers engaged a rebel force in Bates County, Missouri, at the Battle of Island Mound. The regiment succeeded in driving off the enemy, but at a cost of 11 men wounded and 8 killed. This was the first time that an African American unit fought in combat during the Civil War, almost eight months before the 54th Massachusetts made an assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.