Thursday, December 8, 2016

Newspaper Article Listing Black Union Soldiers Found in Freedmen's Bureau Papers

In July 1867, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedman and Abandoned Lands also known as the Freedmen's Bureau, served communities in several fields offices in the state of Tennessee. In records from McMinnville Freedmen's Bureau office, it was a surprise to stumble upon a fascinating article from a daily newspaper from Nashville Tennessee, that had been clipped and put among bureau papers.

The Nashville Union and Dispatch was a daily publication, and the names of several dozen soldiers who served in the United States Colored Troops who were owed pay for their service was noted. If the soldier who enlisted did not survive the war, their widow, or heirs were called to step forward and make their claim.

Most documents from the Freedmen's Bureau itself are usually original hand written articles reflecting day to day business of the various offices. They often contain contracts, letters, complaints, marriage records and so much more. The notations are made by the staff that worked in the Bureau itself. What a surprise to find a clipping from the Nashville newspaper included among the papers from the McMinnville Tennessee field office.

The edition came from the July 6th issue of the Nashville Union and Dispatch. I was able to locate the exact edition from which the article was clipped. The notice appeared on page 2 of that edition, and the entire edition of the publication is contained on the Chronicling America site hosted by the Library of Congress.

Zooming in on the article for a much closer view, the names of the soldiers and qualifying widows are more visible and more easily read. I was impressed to see a list of names of black Union Army soldiers in the Nashville publication and found it surprising to have stumbled upon it among Freedmen's Bureau papers.

An Unexpected Surprise
A second surprise came when glancing through the list of names and finding the name of an ancestor, a great great uncle--my great grandfather's brother, Braxton Bass! Braxton Bass was also a brother of my Uncle Sephus Bass, who both served in the 111th US Colored Infantry, and to see Uncle Braxton's name among the soldiers listed was unexpected, and quite pleasing.

I have known for over 20 years about Braxton's service with the 111th US Colored Infantry, and I have had for many years both his Civil War Service Record, and his Civil War Pension File. I know about his life in the 1870s till his early death in 1879, and I also know details of the life of his widow Fannie.

But his years right after the the war are not known, and it was truly a surprise to see something from 1867 mentioning his name. Although not much more than a name appears, it still tells me that he was called to get his bounty payment 2 years after the war had ended, and that tiny piece of information reflects a small sliver of detail about him and his life near Nashville.

One of the many benefits of the Freedmen's Bureau records, is the fact that unique records are contained in the amazing collection. A newspaper article is one of the most unexpected holdings to find among the many gems of the bureau, but thankfully, the Bureau staff in McMinnville Tennessee included the names of the soldiers from the Nashville publication. It was noted by the staff that some of the men were actually from that community, therefore, the article was clipped and placed among bureau holdings.

Close Up of News Clipping Found in Article

Source for entire image:

I checked several additional names from the list, on the Civil War database hosted by the National Park Service. Some of the men were from the same unit that my Bass ancestors were part of, (the 111th US Colored Infantry) and I noticed others were from the 13th US Colored Infantry. I have not checked the entire roster, but those with Tennessee based ancestors may find their own ancestors listed among those in the above clipping.

The post Civil War years were challenging for people of color, and often those who had served in the Union Army were met with hostility by a former confederate sympathizing community. However seeing the article two years after the war, does speak to a small degree of tolerance that may have been for these former freedom fighters to at least come forth and claim the bounty that they had earned with their service and with their courage.

Other Civil War historians are encouraged to utilize as many resources as possible to find data on former soldiers. In this case, a small clipping from a Freedmen's Bureau field office directed me to a newspaper, where a small piece of community history reflected US Colored troops in the Nashville Community.

As researchers we have learned to leave no stones unturned.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

1st Sgt. Octavius McFarland - A Studious Man and Faithful Soldier

Photo Image: Collection of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum
Civil War Service Record:  Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations
During the American Civil War, compiled 1890 - 1912, documenting the period 1861 - 1866
Source of Image: Fold3

The story of Octavius McFarland is a fascinating one that reflects the spirit desire that many men who joined the US Colored Troops had in making their lives better. McFarland was born in Lincoln Missouri, and enlisted with the Missouri 1st Missouri Colored Infantry. 62nd US Colored Infantry in the middle of the Civil War. He was quickly promoted to Sergeant after a month of service. Several months later, he was promoted to 1st Sergeant. The unit was also re-designated as the 62nd US Colored Infantry, so he and his regiment became part of the United States Colored Troops.

Among the unique field orders given to the men in the ranks was one General order No. 31. For those wishing to continue to wear chevrons upon their uniform, it was insisted that they become literate men and learn to read by January 1st of 1865.  If they failed, they would be reduced in rank, and replaced by men who could read and write. Those sergeants who were already literate were also required to teach other men, within their ranks to read.
“All non-Commissioned officers of this command who shall fail to learn to read by or before the 1st day of January 1865 will be reduced to the ranks and their places filled by persons who can read. In the position of Sergeants preference will be given to men who can both read & write and are otherwise good soldiers. All soldiers of this command who have by any means learned to read or write, will aid and assist to the extent of their ability their fellow soldiers to learn these invaluable arts, without which no man is properly fitted to perform the duties of a free citizen.” - Civil War News  August 2013

A majority of the men in this unit were men who had been kept illiterate as slaves from Missouri. Within the regiment, in January of 1865 it was announced that a competition was established to determine the "best writer" among the enlisted men. The decision, was with the intention of encouraging literacy among the enlisted men. Daniel Ullman was a commanding officer and in addition to supporting the effort of establishing literacy among the ranks, he also saw the need to reduce the level of corporal punishment towards the former slaves. Officers had been used to using their firsts and occasionally their swords for enforcement, and it was determined that another strategy was to be used in training men to become soldiers.

So, the competition announced early on in that year ended in July, two months after the war ended, but while the unit was still on active duty. On July 4, 1865 it was determined that Octavius McFarland was selected as the best sergeant in Company K, and was to receive a gold pen for his effort and determination. Their service continued, since they went on, in fact to the western frontier, and is said to have fought in the very last battle of the Civil War. The 62nd US Colored Infantry unit was claimed by General Daniel Ullman to be "the best under my command." And, by the time the unit mustered out in March 1866, almost every man in the regiment had learned to read and write, with Octavius being seen as the most outstanding and studious men.

Was McFarland Part of a Civil War Family?

In an effort to learn more about McFarland, it was decided to study the regiment more closely. Since the Civil War service records of Union soldiers are located on Fold3, it was decided to examine the records of the regiment in which Octavius McFarland served. He was with the 62nd US Colored Infantry. What was interesting to note was that there were six other men also enlisted in the same regiment with the surname McFarland. Of those, five of the six seemed to have come from the same community. In addition, the other four men are close in age, and all have a similar physical description.
Personal Description of Octavius McFarland:

From the service record McFarland is said to have been born in Lincoln, Missouri and was 21 years of age at the time of enlistment.

Four additional men also were described similarly:

Service records of additional Lincoln Missouri McFarland who may have been brothers.ivil War Service Record:  Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations 
During the American Civil War, compiled 1890 - 1912, documenting the period 1861 - 1866
Source of Image: Fold3

Albert, George, Henry and James McFarland were all born in Lincoln Missouri, and all enlisted (including Octavius) in the Union Army in December. All were farmers by occupation, all were described as "Mulatto" and they were all close in age. Albert was 24, George was 21, Henry was 23, James was 20, and Octavius was also 21.  Were they brothers? That is unknown. And even less known is what exactly happened to the men after the war. Octavius is found living in St. Louis working on a steamboat in 1880, but beyond that little is known. Did the other men survive the war? That also is unknown. 

It is said that Octavius McFarland died of tuberculosis in 1894, and was buried in Potters Field Cemetery in St. Louis. It is believed that he did not live with family, as the cemetery was for those with no next of kin. It this is case, then it is likely that he may have had no headstone, although as a soldier who served in the Civil War, he should have received a marker. The hope of this author is that those in Missouri who have an interest in preserving the history and legacy of men who have faithfully served the military, will work to see that this man will be given the honor that he deserves.

An interesting blog, called Faces of the Civil War depicted the life of Octavius McFarland and his efforts to become a literate man. Little else is known of him or the other 4 men from Lincoln Missouri. Hopefully an examination of regimental records and the record of one "Mother's" pension will reveal more to the story, and will be shared in a future article.

The regiment is also known for having been around during the establishment of Lincoln Institute in Missouri after the Civil War. Could the McFarland men been part of that community? Possibly, but again that is only speculation. Nevertheless, reading about this son of Missouri, has still been worthwhile, as so little is written about the men of color who served in the western theater of the Civil War.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rare Photo of Arkansas Black Soldier Located in Civil War Pension File

Image of Aaron Brooks, Corporal, 54th US Colored Infantry

A research trip to the National Archives has uncovered the image of a long forgotten freedom fighter. Aaron Brooks was a soldier in the 54 Arkansas Regiment of United States Colored Troops.

The photo had been mentioned to me, when I spoke in Arkansas in April of this year. A woman who is conducting graduate studies mentioned that she had seen an image in the file. I finally got the opportunity to conduct some research and to request the Civil War pension file of the soldier. The file itself was thin, with not many details about the soldier, nor much about his widow who received a pension after his death.

The image was a small one, that had been affixed to a small piece of paper, and if not looking closely could have been overlooked. And the image, even while affixed to the piece of colored paper, was still small enough to hold between two fingers of my hand.

The photo had been placed, thankfully in some protective transparent paper, to protect it.

Looking at the photo in the small file brought thoughts to mind. Most likely this photo was submitted by the widow, to whom it was clearly never returned. At the same time, the importance of this photo is enormous--this is the first image to my knowledge that has ever been noted of an Arkansas USCT whose name is identified. And, this is possibly, the first Civil War image of an Arkansas Black soldier taken during the time in which he served.

I examined the image closely to note as many details as possible. It was important to zoom in on his face. This face of this young man is the first face that can be named, of an Arkansas Black Union Soldier. Of the many USCTS buried in Ft. Smith National Cemetery, and the USCTs buried Little Rock National Cemetery, this image of Aaron Brooks finally adds a face to the Arkansas Black freedom fighters. 

Corporal Aaron Brooks, 54th US Colored Infantry

Aaron Brooks, the Soldier:

Born in Phillips County Arkansas, he enlisted in the Union Army in Helena, in June 1863. Within a few short months, he was promoted to corporal. The promotion was recorded in April 1864. After that promotion was when the photo above was made as his corporal stripes are reflected on the sleeves of his uniform.

Corporal strips visible on soldier's sleeves

Aaron Brooks was possibly as literate man, as a signature bearing the name of the soldier was found at the bottom of the image. If he was a literate man, that may be one of the reasons he was promoted after several months of service.

Bottom of photo showing hand written name, "Aaron Brooks"

It should be noted that this standing photo of Aaron Brooks is one of the first, if not the only image known to identify a Black soldier from Arkansas taken during the Civil War. Seeing this image of Corporal Brooks standing with his musket on the side, and white gloved hands to his side reveal a sense of dignity that this man, once enslaved, could at last display.

 The service record of the soldier indicates that he was a young man of 22 years.

Aaron Brooks, the Man

After the war he remained in Arkansas and lived as a farmer. He married in the late 1870s and together they farmed in the community of "Young township" in Pulaski County. Young Township no longer exists in Pulaski County. He was enumerated with his wife Dicey in the 1880 census.

1880 Federal Census, Young Township, Pulaski County Arkansas

In 1890 Aaron Brooks filed for an Invalid pension, but shortly afterwards, died, before collecting a payment. His widow Dicey also applied for a pension but it appears that although she did not pass away until 1914, she only received one payment.

Civil War Pension Payment Card
Family Search Image

In spite of the lack of detail about Aaron Brooks, the photo says it all. A man once enslaved was given an opportunity to fight for his freedom. He seized this opportunity and served honorably. He was a loyal soldier, whose name we now know, and whose name we should not forget. Like thousands of others from his native Arkansas soil, he represents them. He sought no accolades, or honors after his service. He lived a quiet life, worked the soil as a farmer, and died. But he shall not be forgotten, for we now have the image of this man, erect, proud and standing with dignity.

How fitting that in the 150th years since the Civil War ended and freedom was obtained for 4 million others once enslaved, we now have the image of this son of Arkansas, to be counted among the 200,000 men of color who served their nation. He was a simple man, but now we can look at his young face and say, thank you, Corporal Brooks. Your people appreciate what you did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Mystery of J.R. Kealoha - Soldier of the United States Colored Troops

Recently I saw a video from Hawaii about a Civil War soldier receiving a headstone. The remarkable part was that the soldier was said to have served in the 41st US Colored Infantry.

Video from KITV, Channel 4 News, Honolulu

Because of the soldier’s participation in the Civil War and the location of his burial site effort was made to obtain an official stone for this soldier, but as stated in the video, because there was no next of kin, the Office of Veteran’s Affairs would not issue an official marker for his grave.

I found this story so interesting and was moved to learn more about the soldier and, if possible to tell more of his story.

So many questions came to mind.

When did he enlist?

Was he injured during the war?

How did he find his way to the states to join the 41st US Colored Infantry?

Did his survivors file a pension?

It was said that several others from the Kingdom of Hawaii served in the Union Army, and so, I was compelled to see what I could learn about this soldier.

The Search for the Soldier

Since the service records of the US Colored Troops are all digitized and can be accessed on, I decided to examine the records of the 41st US Colored Infantry to see what I could learn.

Zooming in on soldiers whose last name began with the letter K, but surprisingly no Kealoha was listed.

No soldier called Kealoha, or any version of the name.

I decided to then check the National Park Service database that contains the name of every soldier Union and Confederate, in an easy to search database.

No soldier called Kealoha, or any version of that name.

I had to watch the video again to learn more about the soldier and possibly find additional clues. The historian on the video Nanetter Napopleon is a well repsected researcher in Hawaii and she pointed out in the interview that J.R. Kealoha was mentioned in a newspaper article written in 1895, and she noted that Kealohoa had died in Hawaii in 1877.

But the two most likely places to reflect his history and his service the National Park Service database, and the Union Army service records, had no data reflecting anyone called J. R. Kealoha. The records from Fold3 are the digitized Civil War service records housed at the National Archives.

So a new question now arises:

Could this soldier have served under a different name?  If so, then finding the name an alias would an enormous task. I examined the names of all of the men in the 41st. I started first with the surnames beginning with K, hoping to find something similar, but nothing came up. Then I went back and examined the names of all of the soldiers of the 41st US Colored Infantry, looking for something that might have a resemblance to his name, but there was nothing that stood out.

Additional questions

*If J.R. Kealoha from the Kingdom of Hawaii served in this regiment, how did he arrive and how was he recruited?

*Could the answer be found with the regiment itself? For example, did this regiment enlist men from other countries? Well I found the answer to that question and yes, I found soldiers in the 41st from other countries, including the West Indies, and Canada. 

Source of Image: Click HERE

From Civil War Service record of soldier in the 41st US Colored Infantry who was born outside of the US.

So there is a possibility that someone from the South Pacific could have been among other foreign born soldiers that served in the 41st

But now, without being able to find his name or to document his service I now understood why an official marker could not be issued. True there may not be any known descendants or next of kin, but the soldier's service has yet to be verified, because the actual service of the man so far has not been documented. Even with if there was a descendant of the man, without the official name under which he served, an official marker would never be issued by the office of Veteran’s Affairs.

Known Facts about J. R. Kealoaha:

From the video it was stated that J. R. Kealoha died in 1877 in Hawaii and he is buried at Oahu Cemetery.
Yet, after searching, J. R. Kealoha’s name does not appear with the soldiers of the 41st US Colored Infantry
And after searching, J. R. Kealoha’s name is not on the National Park Service database.

Additional questions arise:

Could the article that was referred to on the video be found to see how Kealoha was identified as a Civil War soldier? There was a reference to a letter written in 1895. Hopefully that letter, if located could be examined to learn more.

If the man served in the Union army, could the man J.R. Kealoha have possibly served in another regiment, and not the 41st US Colored Infantry? This is a possibility, but this would make finding the soldiers almost impossible.

Could Kealoha have possibly been a civilian worker and not a soldier? 

While looking for other resources, an article published earlier this year made a reference to a letter written by Col. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, where he mentioned Kealoha by name. Armstrong made a reference to a man who was working as "his orderly" at the time tending to his horse. He conversed with the man, and it was stated that the letter said: A Jan. 22, 1865, letter from Col. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, who was born on Maui, notes a conversation with Kealoha, his "orderly," holding his horse, before the Richmond fighting. "I asked him where he was from," Armstrong wrote. "He said he was from Hawaii! He proved to be a full-blooded kanaka, by the name of Kealoha, who came from the Islands last year." He also noted meeting another man named Kaiwi from Hawaii. "I enjoyed seeing them very much, and we had a good jabber in kanaka," the colonel said.

But the letter referred to him as an "orderly" and if Kealoha was an orderly for Col. Armstrong, he might not have been a soldier in the 41st. 

It is also not clear that Col. Samuel Chapman Armstrong would have been in contact with men of the 41st US Colored Infantry. Soldiers clearly had to be with their regiment and follow orders of the direct commanding officers and it does not appear that Chapman had contact with soldiers of the 41st US Colored Infantry.

But Col. Armstrong did have contact with men of the 8th and 9th US Colored Infantries. Could Kealoha have possibly been affiliated with one of those two regiments? After examining the names of the soldiers of both of those units there was no soldier called Kealoha in either unit.  And so far, no soldiers from The "Western Islands" have been located among the soldiers of the 41st. 

Perhaps closer examination of the two regiments that Armstrong was a part of, might yield some better data, and possibly another name.

A Possible Lead?

I noticed in the 1865 letter that Armstrong referred to Kealoha as Kanaka. I wondered if there were any soldiers who may have used that name, so I ran that surname through the National Park Service Database. And I found a soldier. His name was "Friday Kanaka" who served with the 31st US Colored Infantry. The thought ran through my mind, "could the 41st really have been the 31st?" I wondered if this might have been Kealoha. The term "Kanaka" has been used to describe native Hawaiian people. And I looked at the record of Friday Kanaka--and noticed that he was born in the "Western Islands".

Unfortunately this is not J.R. Kealoha, because this soldier died before the war ended, in 1864, and it was noted that J.R. Kealoha survived the war and died in 1877.

Source of Image: HERE

So the mystery of this son of Hawaii and possible Civil War soldier grows. Meanwhile, the efforts to honor him continue and this weekend the stone that was donated by a local monument company in Honolulu, will be dedicated.

I shall continue to look for him, and to search for his history and his service. If the name is discovered under which he may have served, then an possibly anofficial marker bearing that name could also be issued.

Hopefully others who also have an interest in the history of the United States Colored Troops will be interested in also working to document the life of this son of Hawaii, who joined forces with other men of color in the fight for the preservation of the Union, and the critical fight for freedom.

More on J. R. Kealoha

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

USCTs Buried in Mass Grave to Be Honored at Jefferson Barracks

After decades spanning over a century, 173 men who escaped slavery, fought for their freedom, and won, only to succumb to disease will have their names restored.
In 1866 men of the 56th US Colored Infantry died of cholera on route to Missouri where they were to be discharged and to live their new lives in freedom. An epidemic of Cholera struck the steamers that took them back to Missouri and within a few short days in August 1866 many would succumb. Many were buried in Quarantine Island and in 1939 their bodies were removed to Jefferson Barracks cemetery. But instead of single burials, they were placed in a large mass grave with their names no longer identifying their remains.
Thanks to the efforts of the St. Louis African American History and Genealogy Society, the names are now going to be placed on the site of the mass grave, and at last the "Unknown" designation of these soldiers at the cemetery will no longer describe who they are.  A plaque will be unveiled this Friday at Jefferson Barracks bearing the names of each these freedom fighters, and a respectful ceremony is also being planned.
Ms. Sarah Cato, a member of the society shared a press release from the Office of Veteran's Affairs inviting the public to attend this ceremony that will restore the honor to these soldiers.

The society is to be congratulated for its hard work in honoring these soldiers, and the names of these men can now be seen and known by all.

May these men rest in peace, and may their honor, service and record be known forever.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Remember Poison Springs

150 years ago today the 1st Kansas Colored which was re-designated as the 79th US Colored Infantry was engaged in battle at Poison Springs, in Ouachita County Arkansas. They are remembered again on this day.

On April 18, 1864 the battle of Poison Springs occurred. This took place in Ouachita and was part of the Camden Expedition.

The actual engagement was short and confederate forces were able to drive Union soldiers away, and chased them in pursuit. But after a pursuit of only about two miles the southern soldiers stopped the pursuit and returned to address the wounded left behind. That was when the second heinous tragedy of April 1864, took place. Many men of the 1st Kansas Colored now were lying wounded on the ground. At this time, fighting had ceased and that was when, as they lay wounded, they were brutally murdered by southern forces.

Tandy Walker who led southern forces at Poison Springs

Three  years ago I also wrote an article about this same battle here on this blog.

These men, were mostly men from Indian Territory who had fled into Kansas in the early part of the war. They were the first men of color to see action in 1862 at Island Mound Missouri. And they were now at the mercy of their captors, But their captors would not take on that role for they saw these now free men, simply as useless commodities to eliminate. Therefore in a matter of days after the same kind of massacre at Ft. Pillow---these courageous men, unable now to defend themselves were shot, bayoneted and tortured, then left on the ground where they died. Only a week before in Tennessee, the enemy had vowed to give men at Ft. Pillow no quarter, and the same occurred in Arkansas on that fatefu day.

Those freedom fighters were given no quarter, and in this case, they also were given no life. This tragic story of the massacre at Poison Springs is another of those stories not simply of war, but of man's inability to see humanity in others who are different. In this case, these soldiers of color were not seen as worthy of humane treatment by their enemies.

This second massacre would not be forgotten. Before the month would end, some of the compatriots of these massacred warriors would make Poison Springs their battle cry, at Jenkins Ferry. In fact many black soldiers from that day forward would remind each other of their mission as they fought for their freedom. Their battle cry would be heard and remembered for generations. "Remember Poison Springs!"

I remember the soldiers killed at Poison Springs on this day the 150th anniversary of that fateful day.

They did not die in vain.

Their sacrifice is not forgotten.

And they are remembered forever.

Remember Poison Springs!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

File:Battle of Fort Pillow.png
Ft. Pillow Massacre

As I recommended in the previous article here are additional readings about the massacres such as Poison Springs, Ft. Pillow and others.

Urwin, Gregory J. W. “‘We Cannot Treat Negroes… as Prisoners of War’”: Racial Atrocities and Reprisals in Civil War Arkansas.” In Civil War Arkansas: Beyond Battles and Leaders, edited by Anne Bailey and Daniel Sutherland. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1999]

Saturday, April 12, 2014

From Ft. Pillow to Poison Springs - They Were Given No Quarter, but They Died As Men

Massacre of Black Soldiers at Ft. Pillow

The enemy vowed to give no Negro any quarter. In the midst of the Civil War that meant that the rules of war were not going to be extended to men of color. The Confederate Army saw no humanity in the black soldiers that engaged in battle. They simply saw "creatures" whom they were taught to hate, whom they were taught were inferior beings, whom they were taught to judge by their color, and whom they believed were less than they.

The Ft. Pillow massacre is well documented. The records indicate that when the garrison was attacked and soldiers surrendered, the cry came forth, "No quarter, no quarter". Records also show that most of those who died, were murdered after surrender.

The world soon learned of the atrocities at Ft. Pillow were told worldwide, and the reaction to the massacre brought about dismay and outrage throughout the nation, and world.
Richard Fuchs, author of the "The Massacre at Ft. Pillow noted that even the press carried the story. He quoted a piece from the NY Times:
The blacks and their officers were shot down, bayoneted and put to the sword in cold blood... . Out of four hundred negro soldiers only about twenty survive! At least three hundred of them were destroyed after the surrender! This is the statement of the rebel General Chalmers himself to our informant.
 Richard Fuchs, An Unerring Fire: The Massacre At Fort Pillow (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 2002), 14.
The national outcry would eventually affect the behavior of Confederate soldiers later that year, for
within the span of a few short months, the same army would later be compelled to no longer massacre black soldiers if they surrendered, but to later take them as prisoners. But the horrors of that day are on record as one of the most vicious of Civil War warfare.

A week later in Arkansas, men of the 1st Kansas Colored were part of a team that were encountered by confederate forces. Several were injured and others left with confederates in pursuit. They gave up the pursuit and returned to the injured soldiers. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas describes the events at Poison Springs:  The Southern troops then turned their attention to the wounded and captured soldiers of the First Kansas; both Union and Confederate accounts agree that many of the black troops were killed after the battle was over.

The attack upon the injured soldiers at Poison Springs, in addition to the brutal massacre at Ft. Pillow immediately became a battle cry for many black soldiers that served in Arkansas after April 1864. "Remember Poison Springs" reminded these men that their fate lay in the outcome of their future encounters with the enemy! They had no choice but to fight harder for their freedom. They took this cry with them later that month, to Jenkins Ferry. "Remember Poison Springs!"

These men are to be remembered for the odds were so strongly against them. They could not shudder and theirs was the choice---to live or die. Theirs was the choice for enslavement or freedom. They may have been enlisted as slaves, but they died free as men.

From Ft. Pillow, to Poison Springs and later to Jenkins Ferry---these freedom fighters shall not be forgotten!

Battle Flag of the 1st Kansas Colored. (Later re-designated as the 83rd US Colored Infantry)

Document from Service Record of Soldier Killed at Poison Springs

Compiled military service records of volunteer Union soldiers belonging to the 56th through 138th infantry units, United States Colored Troops (USCT), 1864-1866. Roll: RG94-USCT-079N-Bx58
Military Unit: 79th US Colored Infantry (New)