1862 - 1865
The blue silk regimental flag represents the battle honors of the First Kansas Colored Infantry, the first African American regiment recruited from a northern state in the Civil War. Kansas Senator James Lane authorized the recruitment of the regiment in August 1862, and the men were mustered into service at Fort Scott, Kansas. The regiment was controversial at the time because President Abraham Lincoln had not yet authorized the enlistment of Black men into service in the Union army. Many of the men who joined the unit had been enslaved in Missouri and had recently sought freedom across the state line in Kansas. The men first saw action at Island Mound in Bates County, Missouri, on October 29, 1862. This was the first time African American soldiers engaged enemy forces during the American Civil War. At the cost of 10 deaths and 12 wounded, the First Kansas Regiment defeated a larger force of pro-Confederate guerrillas at Island Mound. The First Kansas’s superior conduct at the battle reinforced the argument that African American men should be allowed to fight. The First Kansas was officially mustered into federal service on January 13, 1863, and was later redesignated the 79th United States Colored Regiment. The regimental flag honored the infantry unit’s action in eight additional battles, including at the infamous battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas, during which Confederate troops executed captured and wounded Black soldiers.
Categories: War & Conflict
Date: 1862 - 1865
Subject: Civil War, 1861-1865; African Americans
Contributing Institution: Kansas Historical Society
Accession Number: 1905.17.24
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Region: Kansas City Metro