GENEALOGY EXPRESS

 

Welcome to
Black
History & Genealogy

The
BLACK PHALANX;

A History of the

NEGRO SOLDIERS OF THE UNITED STATES
in the Wars of
1775-1812, 1861-'65,
By
Joseph T. Wilson
Late of the 2nd Reg't. La. Native Guard Vols. 54th Mass. Vols.
Aide-De-camp to the Commander-In-Chief G. A. R.
Author of
"Emancipation," "Voice of a New Race,"  "Twenty-Two Years of Freedom," etc., etc.
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56 Illustrations
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Hartford, Conn.:
American Publishing Company
1890

PT II.

CHAPTER VI. -
THE ARMY of the FRONTIER
pg. 220
 

     At the Far West the fires of liberty and union burned no less brightly upon the altar of the negro's devotion than at the North, East and South.  The blacks of Iowa responded with alacrity to the call of the governor to strengthen the Army of the Ohio.  Though the negro population was sparce—numbering in 1860, only 1069—and thinly scattered over the territory, and were enjoying all the rights and privileges of American citizenship, nevertheless they gave up the luxuries of happy homes, threw down their implements of peaceful industry, broke from the loving embrace of wives and children, and with the generous patriotism which has always characterized the conduct of the race, they rushed to the aid of their yet oppressed countrymen, and the defense of the Union.
     The Gibralters of the Mississippi, Vicksburg and Port Hudson, had fallen by the might of the Union armies; the Mississippi was open to the Gulf.  The shattered ranks of the victorious troops, and the depleted ranks of the Phalanx, rent and torn by the enemy during the long siege of Port Hudson, lent an inspiring zeal to the negroes of the country, which manifested itself in the rapidity of the enlistment of volunteers to fill up the gaps.
     In August, 1863, the authorities of the State of Iowa began the enlistment of negroes as a part of her quota.  Keokuk was selected as the place of rendezvous.  On the 11th of the following October nine full companies under the command of Colonel John G. Hudson, took the oath of allegiance to the United States, and became a part of

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A PHALANX REGIMENT RECEIVING A GIFT OF COLORS.

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the active military force of the National Government.  The regiment was designated the 1st A. D. (African Descent) Regiment Iowa Volunteers, and was mustered for three years, or during the war.  Leaving Keokuk Barracks, the regiment proceeded to St. Louis, Mo., and was quartered in Benton Barracks, as a, part of the forces under command of Major-General J. M. Schofield.  Here company G. joined the regiment, making ten full companies.  A memorable and patriotic incident occurred here: Mrs. I. N. Triplet, in behalf of the ladies of the State of Iowa, and of the city of Muscatine, presented the regiment with a beautiful silk national flag, which was carried through the storms of battle, and returned at the close of the war to the State.
     On the first day of January, 1864, the regiment was ordered to report to General Beaufort at Helena, Ark., becoming a part of the garrison of that place until the following March.
     One Sergeant Phillips, with some others, agitated the propriety of refusing to accept the seven dollars per month offered them by the Government, and of refusing to do duty on account of it.  Sergeant Barton, however, held it was better to serve without pay than to refuse duty, as the enforcement of the President's Emancipation Proclamation was essential to the freedom of the negro race.  To this latter the regiment agreed, and passed concur
rent resolutions, which quelled a discussion which other wise might have led to mutiny.
     While the regiment was at Helena it took part in several skirmishes and captured a number of prisoners.  In July, Colonel W. S. Brooks, in command of the 50th, 60th, and a detachment of the 3rd Artillery Phalanx Regiment, with two field guns, sallied out of Helena and proceeded down the Mississppi River, to the mouth of White River, on a transport.  Here the troops disembarked.  The next morning, after marching all night, Brooks halted his command for breakfast; arms were stacked and the men became scattered over the fields.  Suddenly, General Dobbins, at the head of a superior confederate force, made an

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attack upon them; the confederates at first formed no regular line of battle, but rushed pell-mell on the scattered federals, intending, doubtless, to annihilate them at once.  The Union men soon recovered their arms, but before they got into line, their commander, Colonel Brooks, had been killed, and Captain Ransey of Co. C, 60th Regiment, assumed command.  The men of the Phalanx, though they had had but a short time to rest from a long march, rallied with the ardor of veterans, and fought with that desperation that men display when they realize that the struggle is either victory or death.  It was not a question of numbers with them; it was one of existence, and the Phalanx resolved itself into a seeming column of iron to meet the foe as it rushed over the bodies of their dead and wounded with the rage of madmen.
     The two field guns, skillfully handled by black artillery-men, did good work, plowing huge furrows through the assailants and throwing them into confusion at every charge.   Still the confederates, having finally organized into line of battle, continued to charge after each repulse, pouring a terrific fire upon the United States force at each advance.  It seemed as if the Phalanx must surrender; they were outnumbered two to one, and every line officer was dead or wounded.  Sergeant Triplet was directing the fire of Company C; the artillery sergeant was in command of the field guns, and worked them well for two long hours.  The enemy's sharp-shooters stationed in the trees no longer selected their victims, for one man of the Phalanx was as conspicuous as another.
     Yet another assault was made; firm stood the little band of iron men, not flinching, not moving, though the dead lay thick before them.  The cannon belched out their grape shot, the musketry rattled, and once more the enemy fled back to the woods with ranks disordered.  Thus from six o'clock till noonday did the weary soldiers hold their foes back.  The situation became critical with the Phalanx.  Their ammunition was nearly exhausted; a few more rounds and their bayonets would be their only protection against a massacre; this fact however, did not cool their determination.

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     In front and on their flanks the enemy began massing for a final onset.  For five hours the Phalanx had fought like tigers, against a ruthless foe, and though no black flag warned them, they were not unmindful of the fate of their comrades at Fort Pillow.  General Dobbins was evidently preparing to sweep the field. Several times already had he sent his men to annihilate the blacks, and as many times had they been repulsed.  There was no time for the Phalanx soldiers to manoeuvre; they were in the closing jaws of death, and though they felt the day was lost, their courage did not forsake them; it was indeed a dreadful moment.  The enemy was about to move upon them, when suddenly a shout, - not the yell of a foe, was heard in the enemy's rear, and the next moment a detachment of the 15th Illinois Cavalry, under command of Major Carmichael, broke through the confederate ranks and rushed to the support of the Phalanx, aligning them selves with the black soldiers, amid the cheers of the latter.  Gathering up their dead and wounded, the federal force now began a retreat, stubbornly yielding, inch by inch, each foot of ground, until night threw her mantle of darkness over the scene and the confederates ceased their firing.  The Phalanx loss was 50, while that of the enemy was 150. At the beginning couriers were dispatched to Helena for re-enforcements, and Colonel Hudson, with the remainder of the Phalanx troops, reached them at night too late to be of any assistance, as the confederates did not follow the retreating column.
     Two days later, Colonel Hudson, with all the available men of the two Phalanx regiments, - 60th, 56th and a detachment of the 3rd Phalanx artillery, with two cannons, - went down the Mississippi and up the White river, disembarked and made a three days march across the country, where the enemy was found entrenched.  The Phalanx, after a spirited contest, drove them out of their works, burned their store, captured a few Texas rangers and returned to Helena.  In March, 1865, the 60th Regiment was ordered to join Brig.-Gen. Reynolds' command at Little Rock, where the regiment was brigaded with the

[Pg. 226]
57th, 59th and 83rd Phalanx regiments.  The brigade was ordered to Texas overland, but the surrender of General Lee to Grant obviated this march.  The gallant 60th was mustered out at Davenport, Iowa, on the 2nd of November, 1865, "where," says Sergeant Burton, the regimental historian, "they were greeted by the authorities and the loyal thousands of Iowa."
     Kansas has undoubtedly the honor of being the first State in the Union to begin the organization of negroes as soldiers for the Federal army.  The State was admitted into the Union January 29, 1861, after a long reign of hostilities within her borders, carried on by the same character of men and strictly for the same purpose which brought on the war of the Great Rebellion.  In fact, it was but a transfer of hostilities from Missouri and Kansas to South Carolina and Virginia. Missouri and the South had been whipped out of Kansas and the territory admitted into the Union as a free State.  This single fact was accepted by the South as a precursor of the policy of the incoming Republican administration, and three Southern senators resigned or left the United States Senate before the vote was taken for the admission of Kansas.  The act of admitting Kansas as a free State, was the torch; that inflamed the South, and led to the firing upon Fort Sumter the following April.  The men of Kansas had long been inured to field service, and used to practice with Sharps' rifles.  The men of Kansas, more than in any other State of the Union, had a right to rush to the defence of the Federal government, and they themselves felt so.
     On the 9th of February, eleven days after the admission of the State into the Union, Governor Robinson took the oath of office, and on the 15th of April President Lincoln called for seventy-five thousand volunteers.  The first regiment responded to the call by the close of May; others speedily followed, until Kansas had in the field 20,000 soldiers.  Of the regiments and companies which represented this State in the Federal army, several were composed of negroes, with a slight mixture of Indians.
     It has been no easy task to learn about these regi-

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ments, but, after a long search, the writer has been enabled, through the patriotic efforts of Governor Crawford, of Kansas, who is also ex-Colonel of the 2nd Kansas Regiment, to find Mr. J. B. McAfee, late chaplain of the same regiment and Adjutant-General of Kansas, now engaged in business in Topeka.  With the finding of Mr. McAfee came another difficulty; the report of the Adjutant-General, containing an account of the regiments in the war, had been accidentaly burned before leaving the printing office.  This difficulty was overcome, however, by the consideration ever shown the negro by Mr. McAfee, who kindly loaned his only volume of the "Military History of Kansas."
     The service rendered by the Phalanx soldiery of Kansas stands second to none upon the records of that State.  Their patriotism was nothing less than a fitting return for the love of liberty shown by the Free State men in rescuing Kansas from the clutches of the slave power.  The discussions at the national capitol pointed Kansas out to the negro as a place where he might enjoy freedom in common with all other American citizens.  He regarded it then as he does now,* the acme of Republican States.  Those negroes who enjoyed and appreciated the sentiment that made her so, were determined as far as they were able, to stand by the men who had thus enlarged the area of freedom.
     Without comment upon the bravery of these troops, the report is submitted of their conduct in camp, field, on the march and in battle, as made by those who commanded them on various occasions.
     "On the 4th day of August, 1862, Captain James M. Williams, Co. F, 5th Kansas Cavalry, was appointed by Hon. James H. Lane, Recruiting Commissioner for that portion of Kansas lying north of the Kansas River, for the purpose of recruiting and organizing a regiment of infantry for the United States service, to be composed of men of African descent.  He immediately commenced the work of recruiting by securing the muster-in of recruiting officers with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant, and
by procuring supplies from the Ordance Quartermaster and Commissary

---------------
     *Not less than 70.000 negroes—5,000 at least of which fought for the Union - have been driven by persecution into Kansas from the Southern States, and the exodus still continues.

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departments, and by establishing in the vicinity of Leavenworth a camp of rendezvous and instruction.
     "Capt. H. C. Seaman was about the same time commissioned with like authority for that portion of Kansas lying south of the Kansas river. The work of recruiting went forward with rapidity, the intelligent portion of the colored people entering into the work heartily, and evincing by their actions a willing readiness to link their future and share the perils with their white brethren in the war of the rebellion, which then waged with such violence as to seriously threaten the nationality and life of the Republic.
     "Within sixty days five hundred men were recruited and placed in camp, and a request made that a battallion be mustered into the United States service.  This request was not complied with, and the reasons assigned were wholly unsatisfactory, yet accompanied with assurances of such a nature as to warrant the belief that but a short time would elapse ere the request would be complied with.
     "In the meantime complications with the civil authorities in the Northern District had arisen, which at one time threatened serious results.  These complications originated from the following causes, each affecting different classes:
     "1st. - An active sympathy with the rebellion.
     "2nd. - An intolerant prejudice against the colored race, which would deny them the honorable position in society which every soldier is entitled to, even though he gained that position at the risk of his life in the cause of the nation, which could ill afford to refuse genuine sympathy and support from any quarter.
     "3rd. - On the part of a few genuine loyalists who believed that this attempt to enlist colored men would not be approved by the War Department, and that the true interests of the colored man demanded that their time should not be vainly spent in the effort.
     "4th. - A large class who believed that the negro did not possess the necessary qualifications to make efficient soldiers, and that consequently the experiment would result in defeat, disaster and disgrace.
     "Col. Williams, acting under the orders of his military superiors felt that it was no part of his duty to take council of any or all of these classes.  He saw no course for him to pursue but to follow his instructions to the letter.  Consequently, when the civil authorities placed themselves in direct opposition to those of the military, by arresting and confining the men of the command on the most frivolous charges, and indicting their commanders for crime, such as unlawfully restraining persons of their liberty, &c, by enforcing proper military discipline, he ignored the right of the civil authorities to interfere with his military actions in a military capacity and under proper authority.
     "On the 28th of October, 1862, a command consisting of detachments from Captain Seaman's and Captain William's recruits, were moved and camped near Butler.  This command—about two hundred and twenty-five men, under Captain Seaman,—was attacked by a con-

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PHALANX SOLDIERS REPELLING AN ATTACK.

[Pg. 231]
federate force of about five hundred, commanded by Colonel Cockrell, but after a severe engagement the enemy was defeated with considerable loss.  The negro loss was ten killed and twelve wounded, including Captain A. J. Crew, a gallant young officer, being among the first mentioned.  The next morning the command was re-enforced by a few recruits under command of Captain J. M. Williams, when the enemy was pursued a considerable distance but without further fighting.  This is supposed to have been the first engagement in the war in which colored troops were actually engaged.  The work of recruiting, drilling and disciplining the regiment was continued under the adverse circumstances until the 13th of January, 1863, when a battallion of six companies, formed by the consolidation of Colonel Williams' recruits with those of Captain Seaman, was mustered into the U. S. service by Lieutenant Sabin, of the regular army.  Between January 13th and May 2nd, 1863, the other four companies were organized, when the regimental organization was completed, appears by the roster of the regiment.
     "Immediately after its organization, the regiment was ordered to Baxter Springs, where it arrived in May, and the work of drilling the regiment was vigorously prosecuted.
     "Parts of two companies of the regiment, and a detachment of cavalry, and one piece of artillery, made a diversion on Shawnee, Mo. attacked and dispersed a small opposing force and captured five prisoners.
     "While encamped here, on the 18th of May, a foraging party, consisting of twenty-five men from the Phalanx regiment and twenty men of the 2nd Kansas Battery, Major R. G. Ward commanding, was sent into Jasper County, Mo.  This party was surprised and attacked by a force of three hundred confederates commanded by Major Livingston, and defeated, with a loss of sixteen killed and five prisoners, three of which belonged to the 2nd Kansas Battery and two of the black regiment.  The men of the 2nd Kansas Battery were afterwards exchanged under a flag of truce for a like number of prisoners captured by the negro regiment.  Livingston refused to exchange the black prisoners in his possession, and gave as his excuse that he should hold them subject to the orders of the confederate War Department.  Shortly after this Col. Williams received information that one of the prisoners held by Livingston had been murdered by the enemy.  He immediately sent a flag of truce to Livingston demanding the body of the person who committed the barbarous act.  Receiving an evasive and unsatisfactory reply, Col. Williams determined to convince the Major that was a game at which two could play, and directed that one of the prisoners in his possession be shot, and within thirty minutes the order was executed.  He immediately informed Major Livingston of his action, sending the information by the same party that brought the despatch to him.  Suffice it to say that this ended the barbarous practice of murdering prisoners of war, so far as Livingston's command was concerned.
     Colonel Williams says:

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     'I visited the scene of this engagement the morning after its occurrence, and for the first time beheld the horrible evidences of the demoniac spirit of these rebel fiends in their treatment of our dead and wounded.  Men were found with their brains beaten out with clubs, and the bloody weapons left by their sides and their bodies most horribly mutilated.'
     "It was afterwards ascertained that the force who attacked this foraging party consisted partially of citizens of the neighborhood, who,
while enjoying the protection of our armies, had collected together to assist the rebel forces in this attack.  Colonel Williams directed that the region of country within a radius of five miles from the scene of conflict should be devastated, and is of opinion that this effectually prevented a like occurrence in the same neighborhood.
     "Subsequently, while on this expedition, the command captured a prisoner in arms who had upon his person the evidence of having been paroled by the commanding officer at Fort Scott, Kansas, he was shot on the spot.
     "The regiment remained in camp at Baxter Springs until the 27th of June, 1863, when it struck tents and marched for Fort Gibson in connection with a large supply train from Fort Scott en route to the former place.
     Colonel Williams had received information that satisfied him that the train would be attacked in the neighborhood of Cabin Creek, Cherokee Nation.  He communicated this information to Lieutenant-Colonel Dodd, of the 2nd Colorado Infantry, who was in command of the escort, and volunteered to move his regiment in such manner as would be serviceable in case the expected attack should be made.  The escort proper to the train consisted of six companies of the 2nd Colorado Infantry, a detachment of three companies of cavalry from the 6th and 9th Kansas, and one section of the 2nd Kansas Battery.  This force was joined, on the 28th of June, by three hundred men from the Indian Brigade, commanded by Major Foreman, making altogether a force of about eight
hundred effective men.
    "On arriving at Cabin Creek, July 1st, 1863, the rebels were met in force under command of Gen. Cooper.  Some skirmishing occurred on that day, when it was ascertained that the enemy occupied a strong position on the south bank of the creek, and upon trial it was found that the stream was not fordable for infantry, on account of a recent shower but it was supposed that the swollen current would have sufficiently subsided by the next morning to allow the infantry to cross.  The regiment then took a strong position on the north side of the stream and camped for the night.  After a consultation of officers, it was agreed that the train should be parked in the open prairie and guarded by three companies of the 2nd Colorado and a detachment of one hundred men of the 1st Colorado, and that the balance of the troops, Col. Williams commanding, should engage the enemy and drive him from his position. 
     "Accordingly, the next morning, July 2nd, 1863, the command moved, which consisted of the 1st Kansas Volunteer Colored Infantry, three companies of the 2nd Colorado Infantry, commanded by the gal-

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lant Major Smith, of that regiment, the detachments of cavalry and Indian troops before mentioned and four pieces of artillery, making altogether a force of about twelve hundred men.  With this force, after an engagement of two hours duration, the enemy was dislodged and driven from his position in great disorder, with a loss of one hundred killed and wounded and eight prisoners.  The loss on our side was eight killed and twenty-five wounded, including Major Foreman, who was shot from his horse while attempting to lead his men across the creek under the fire of the enemy, and Captain Ethan Earl, of the 1st Colored, who was wounded at the head of his company.  This was the first battle in which the whole regiment had been engaged, and here they evinced a coolness and true soldiery spirit which inspired the officers in command with that confidence which subsequent battle scenes satisfactorily proved was not unfounded.
     "The road being now open, the entire command proceeded to Fort Gibson, where it arrived on the evening of the 5th of July, 1863.  On the 16th of July the entire force at Fort Gibson, under command of Gen. Blunt, moved upon the enemy, about six thousand strong, commanded by Gen. Cooper, and encamped at Honey Springs, twenty miles south of Fort Gibson.  Our forces came upon the enemy on the morning of the 17th of July, and after a sharp and bloody engagement of two hours' duration, the enemy was totally defeated, with a loss of four hundred killed and wounded, and one hundred prisoners.  At the height of the engagement, Gen. Blunt ordered Colonel Williams to move his regiment against that portion of the enemy's line held by the 29th and 30th Texas regiments and a rebel battery, with directions to charge them if he thought he could carry and hold the position.  The regiment was moved at a shoulder arms, pieces loaded and bayonets fixed, under a sharp fire, to within forty paces of the rebel lines, without firing a shot.  The regiment then halted and poured into their ranks a well directed volley of  'buck and ball' from the entire line, such as to throw them into perfect confusion, from which they could not immediately recover.  Col. Williams' intention was, after the delivery of this volley, to charge their
line and capture their battery, which the effect of this volley had doubtless rendered it possible for him to accomplish.  But he was at that  instant rendered insensible from gunshot wounds, and the next officer in rank, Lieutenant-Colonel Bowles, not being aware of his intentions, the project was not fully carried out.  Had the movement been made as contemplated, the entire rebel line must have been captured.  As it was, most of the enemy escaped, receiving a lesson, however, which taught them not to despise on the battle field the race they had long tyrannized over as having 'no rights which a white man was bound to respect.'
     'Colonel Williams says:
     I had long been of the opinion that this race had a right to kill rebels, and this day proved their capacity for the work.  Forty prisoners and one battle flag fell into the hands of my regiment on this field.'
     "The loss to the regiment in this engagement was five killed and

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thirty-two wounded. After this, the regiment returned to Fort Gibson and went into camp, where it remained until the month of September, when it again moved with the Division against the confederate force under General Cooper, who fled at our approach.
     "After a pursuit of one hundred miles, and across the Canadian river to Perryville, in the Choctaw Nation, all hopes of bringing them to an engagement was abandoned, and the command returned to camp on the site of the confederate Fort Davis, situated on the south side of the Arkansas river, near its junction with Grand river.
     "The regiment remained in this camp, doing but little duty, until October, when orders were received to proceed to Fort Smith, where it arrived during the same month.  At this point it remained until December 1st, making a march to Waldron and returning via Roseville, Arkansas, and in the same month went into winter quarters at the latter place, situated fifty miles east of Fort Smith, on the Arkansas river.  The regiment remained at Roseville until March, 1864, when the command moved to join the forces of Gen. Steele, then about starting on what was known as the Camden Expedition.  Joining Gen. Steele's command at the Little Missouri river, distant twenty-two miles northeast of Washington, Arkansas, the entire command moved upon the enemy, posted on the west side of Prairie de Anne, and within fifteen miles of Washington. The enemy fled, and our forces occupied their works without an engagement.
     "The pursuit of the enemy in this direction was abandoned.  The command arrived at Camden on the 16th of April, 1864, and occupied the place with its strong fortifications without opposition.  On the day following, Colonel Williams started with five hundred men of the 1st Colorado, two hundred Cavalry, detailed from the 2nd, 6th and 14th, Kansas regiments, and one section of the 2nd Indian Battery, with a train to load forage and provisions at a point twenty miles west of Camden, on the Washington road.  On the 17th he reached the place and succeeded in loading about two-thirds of the train, which consisted of two hundred wagons.  At dawn the command moved towards Camden, and loaded the balance of the wagons from plantations by the wayside.  At a point fourteen miles west of Camden the advance encountered a small force of the enemy, who, after a slight skirmishing, retreated down the road in such a manner as to lead Col. Williams to suspect that this movement was a feint intended to cover other movements or to draw the
command into an ambuscade.
     "Just previous to this he had been re-enforced by a detachment of three hundred men of the 18th Iowa Infantry, and one hundred additional cavalry, commanded by Capt. Duncan, of the 18th Iowa.
     "In order to prevent any surprise, all detached foraging parties were called in, and the original command placed in the advance, leaving the rear in charge of Captain Duncan's command, with orders to keep flankers well out and to guard cautiously against a surprise.  Colonel Williams at the front, with skirmishers and flankers well out, advanced cau-

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tiously to a point about one and a half miles distant, sometimes called Cross Roads, but more generally known as Poison Springs, where he came upon a skirmish line of the enemy, which tended to confirm his previous suspicion of the character and purpose of the enemy.   He therefore closed up the train as well as possible in this thickly timbered region, and made the necessary preparations for fighting.  He directed the cavalry, under Lieutenant Henderson, of the 6th, and Mitchell, of the 2nd, to charge and penetrate the the rebel line of skirmishers, in order to develop their 'strength and intentions.  The movement succeeded most admirably in its purposes, and the development was such that it convinced Colonel Williams that he had before him a struggle of no ordinary magnitude.
     "The cavalry, after penetrating the skirmish line, came upon a strong force of the enemy, who repulsed and forced them back to their
original line, not, however, without hard fighting and severe loss on our part in killed and wounded, including in the latter the gallant Lieutenant Henderson, who afterwards fell into the hands of the enemy.
     "The enemy now opened on our lines with ten pieces of artillery six in front and four on the right flank.  From a prisoner Colonel Williams learned that the force of the enemy was from eight to ten thousand, commanded by Generals Price and Maxey.  These developments and this information convinced him that he could not hope to defeat the enemy; but as there was no way to escape with the train except through their lines, and as the train and its contents were indispensable to the very existence of our forces at Camden, who were then out of provisions, he deemed it to be his duty to defend the train to the last extremity, hoping that our forces at Camden, on learning of the engagement, would attack the enemy in his rear, thus relieving his command and saving the train.
     With this determination, he fought the enemy's entire force from 10 A. M. until 2 P. M., repulsing three successive assaults and inflicting upon the enemy severe loss.
     "In his report Colonel Williams says:
     'The conflict during these four hours was the most terrific and deadly in its character of any that has ever fallen under my observation.'
     "At 2 P. M. nearly one-half of our force engaged had been placed hors de combat, and the remainder were out of ammunition.  No supplies arriving, the Colonel was reluctantly compelled to abandon the train to the enemy and save as much of the command as possible by taking to the swamps and canebrakes and making for Camden by a circuitous route, thereby preventing pursuit by cavalry.  In this manner most of the command that was not disabled in the field reached Camden during the night of the 18th.  For a more specific and statistical report of this action, in which the loss to the 1st Colored alone was 187 men and officers, the official report of Colonel J. M. Williams is herewith submitted:
                                                                           'CAMDEN, ARKANSAS, April 24, 1867.
     'CAPTAIN: - I have the honor to submit the following report of a foraging expedition under my command:
     'In obedience to verbal orders received from Brigadier-General Thayer, I left Cam-

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den, Arkansas on the 11th instant with 695 men and two guns, with a forage train of 198 wagons.
     'I proceeded westerly on the Washington road a distance of eighteen miles, where I halted the train and dispatched part of it in different directions to load; one hundred wagons with a large part of the command, under Major Ward, being sent six miles beyond the camp.  These wagons returned to camp at midnight, nearly all loaded with corn.
     'At sunrise on the 18th, the command started on the return, loading the balance of the train as it proceeded, there being but a few wagon loads of corn to be found at any one place.  I was obliged to detail portions of the command in different directions to load the wagons, until nearly all of my available force was so employed.
     'At a point known as Cross Roads, four miles west of my camping ground, I was met by a re-enforcement of three hundred and seventy-five men of the 18th Iowa Infantry, commanded by Capt. Duncan, twenty-five men of the 6th Kansas, Lieut. Phillips commanding, forty-five men of the 2nd Kansas Cavalry, Lieut. Ross commanding, twenty men of the 14th Kansas Cavalry, Lieut. Smith commanding, and two mountain howitzers from the 6th Kansas Cavalry, Lieut. Walker commanding, in all, 465 men, and two mountain howitzers.  These, added to my former command, made my entire force consist of eight hundred and seventy-five, two hundred and eighty-five cavalry, and four guns.  But the excessive fatigue of the proceeding day, coming as it did at the close of a toilsome march of twenty-four hours without halting, had so affected the infantry that fully one hundred of the 1st Kansas Colored were rendered unfit for duty.  Many of the cavalry had, in violation of orders, straggled from their command, so that at this time my effective force did not exceed one thousand men.
     'At a point one mile east of this, my advance came upon a picket of the enemy, which was driven back one mile, when a line of the enemy's skirmishers presented itself.  Here I halted the train, formed a line of the small force I then had in advance, and ordered that portion of the 1st Kansas Colored which had previously been guarding the rear of the train to the front, and gave orders for the train be packed as closely as the nature f the ground would permit.  I also opened a fire upon the enemy's line possible if the enemy had artillery in position in front, and also to draw in some foraging parties which had previously been dispatched upon either frank of the train.  No response was elicited save a brisk fire from the enemy's skirmishers.
     'Meanwhile, the remainder of the first Kansas Colored had come to the front, as also three detachments, which formed part of the original escort, which I formed in line facing to the front, with a detachment of the 14th Kansas Cavalry, on my right, and detachments of the 2nd and 6th Kansas Cavalry on the left flank.  I also sent orders to Capt. Duncan, commanding the 18th Iowa Infantry, to so dispose of his regiment and the cavalry and howitzers which came out with him as to protect the rear of the train, and to keep a sharp lookout for a movement upon his rear and right flank.
     'Meanwhile a movement of the enemy's infantry toward my right flank had been observed through the thick brush which covered the face of the country in that direction.  Seeing this, I ordered forward the, cavalry on my right, under Lieuts. Mitchell
and Henderson, with orders to press the enemy's line, force it if possible, and at all events to ascertain his position and strength, fearing as I did that the silence of the enemy in front was but for the purpose of drawing me on to the open ground which lay in my front.  At this juncture, a rebel rode into my lines and inquired for Col. DeMorse.  From him I learned that General Price was in command of the rebel force, and that Col. DeMorse was in command of the force on my right.
     'The cavalry had advanced but four hundred yards, when a brisk fire of musketry was opened upon them from the brush, which they returned with true gallantry, but were forced to fall back.  In this skirmish many of the cavalry were unhorsed, and Lieut. Henderson, of the 6th Kansas Cavalry, fell, wounded in the abdomen, while bravely and gallantly urging his command forward.
     'In the meantime I formed five companies of the 1st Kansas Colored, with one piece of artillery, on my right flank, and ordered up to their assistance four companies of the 18th Iowa Infantry.  Soon my orderly returned from the rear with a message from Captain Duncan, stating that he was so closely pressed in the rear by the enemy's infantry and artillery that the men could not be spared.
     'At this moment the enemy opened on me with two batteries, one of six pieces, in front, and one, of three pieces, on my right flank, pouring in an incessant and well directed cross-fire of shot and shell.  At the same time he advanced his infantry both in front and on my right flank.
     'From the force of the enemy now the first time made visible I saw that I could not hope to defeat him, but still resolved to defend the train to the last, hoping that re-enforcements would come up from Camden.
     I suffered them to approach within one hundred yards of my line, when I opened upon them with musketry charged with buck and ball, and after a contest of fifteen minutes duration compelled them them to fall back.  Two fresh regiments coming up, they again rallied and advanced upon my line, this time with colors flying and continuous cheering, so loud as to drown even the roar of the musketry.  Again I suffered them to approach even nearer than before, and opened upon them with buck and ball, their artillery still pouring in a crossfire of shot and shell over the heads of their infantry, and mine replying with vigor and effect.  And thus, for another quarter of an
hour, the battle was waged with desperate fury.  The noise and din of this almost hand to hand conflict was the loudest and most terrific it has ever been my lot to listen

[Pg. 237]


PHALANX CAVALRY BRINGING IN CONFEDERATE PRISONERS.

[Pg. 238] - BLANK

[Pg. 239]
to.  Again were they forced to fall back, and twice during this conflict were their colors brought to the ground, but as often raised.
     brought to the ground, but as often raised.
     'During these engagements fully one-half of my infantry engaged were either killed or wounded.  Three companies were left without any officers, and seeing the enemy again re-enforced with fresh troops, it became evident that I could hold my line but little longer.  I now directed Maj. Ward to hold the line until I could ride back and form the 18th Iowa in proper shape to support the retreat of the advanced line.
     ' Meanwhile, so many of the gunners had been shot from around their pieces that there were not enough to serve the guns, so I ordered them to retire to the rear of the train, and report to the cavalry officer there.  Just as I was starting for the line of the 18th
Iowa, my horse was shot, which delayed me until another could be procured, when I rode to the rear and formed a line of battle facing in the direction the enemy was advancing.
     'Again did the enemy hurl his columns against the remnant of men that formed my front and right flank, and again were they met as gallantly as before.  But my decimated ranks were unable to resist the overpowering force hurled against them, and after their advance had been checked, seeing that our lines were completely flanked on both sides, Major Ward gave the order to retire, which was done in good order, forming and charging the enemy twice before reaching the rear of the train.
     'With the assistance of Major Ward and other officers, I succeeded in forming a portion of the 1st Kansas Colored in the rear of the 18th Iowa, and when the enemy approached this line, they gallantly advanced to the line of the 18th, and with them, poured in their fire.  The 18th maintained their line manfully, and stoutly contested the ground until nearly surrounded, when they retired, and forming again, checked the advancing foe, and still held their ground until again nearly surrounded, when they again retired across a ravine which was impassable for artillery, and I gave orders for the piece to be spiked and abandoned.
     'After crossing the ravine I succeeded in forming a portion of the cavalry, which I kept in order to give the infantry time to cross the swamp which lay in our front, which they succeeded in doing.  By this means nearly all, except the badly wounded, were enabled to reach the camp.  Many wounded men belonging to the 1st Kansas Colored fell into the hands of the enemy, and I have the most positive assurance from eyewitnesses that they were murdered on the spot.  I was forced to abandon everything to the enemy, and they thereby became possessed of the large train.
     'With two six pounder guns and two twelve pounder mountain howitzers, together with what force could be collected, I made my way to this post, where I arrived at 11 P. M. of the same day.
     'At no time during the engagement, such was the nature of the ground and size of the train, was I obliged to employ more than five hundred men and two guns to repel the assaults of the enemy, whose force, from the statement of prisoners, I estimate at ten thousand men and twelve guns.  The columns of assault which were again thrown against my front and right flank consisted of five regiments of infantry and one of cavalry, supported by a strong force which operated against my left flank and rear.  My loss, in killed, wounded and missing during this engagement was as follows: Killed ninety-two, wounded ninety-seven, missing one hundred and six.
     'Many of those reported missing are supposed to have been killed, others are supposed to have been wounded and taken prisoners.  The loss of the enemy is not known, but in my opinion it will exceed our own.  The conduct of all the troops under my command,
officers and men, were characterized by true soldiery bearing, and in no case was a line broken, except when assaulted by an overwhelming force, and then falling back only when so ordered.  The officers and men all evinced the most heroic spirit, and
those that fell died the |death of the true soldier.  The action commenced at 10 A. M., and terminated at 2 P. M.  I have named this engagement the action of Poison Springs, from a spring of that name in the vicinity.
                                                                         Very respectfully yours,
                                                                                           'J. M. WILLIAMS,
               'Colonel 1st Kansas Colored Vol. Infantry, Commanding Expedition.
'Capt. WM. S. WHITTEN,
Assistant Adjutant General.'

     "On the 26th day of April following, Gen. Steele's command evacuated Camden and marched for Little Rock.  At Saline Crossing, on the 30th of April, the rear of Gen. Steele's command was attacked by the entire force of the enemy, commanded by Gen. Kirby Smith.  The engagement which followed resulted in the complete defeat of the enemy, with great loss on his part.  In this engagement the 1st Kansas Colored was not an active participant, being at the moment of the attack in the advance, distant five miles from the rear and scene of the engagement.  The regiment was ordered back to participate in the battle, but did not arrive on the line until after the repulse of the enemy and his retirement from the field.

[Pg. 240]
     "On the day following, May 1st, 1864, Colonel Williams was ordered to take command of the 2nd Brigade, composed of the following Phalanx regiments: 1st Regiment, commanded by Major Ward; 2nd Regiment, commanded by Colonel S. J. Crawford;  11th Regiment, commanded by Lieut. Col. James M. Steele; 54th Regiment, Lieut. Col. Chas. Fair; of the Frontier Division 7th Army Corps.
     "Colonel Williams never afterwards resumed direct command of his regiment. It constituted for most of the time, however, a part of the Brigade, which he commanded until he was mustered out of service with the regiment.
     "The regiment remained with the Division at Little Rock until some time during the month of May, when it Marched for Fort Smith, then threatened by the enemy, at which point it arrived during the same month.  This campaign was one of great fatigue and privation, and accomplished only with great loss of life and material, with no adequate recompense or advantage gained.
     "The regiment remained on duty at Fort Smith until January 16th, 1865, doing heavy escort and fatigue duty.  On the 16th of September, 1864, a detachment of forty-two men of Co. K, commanded by Lieut. D. M. Sutherland, while guarding a hay-making party near Fort Gibson, were surprised and attacked by a large force of rebels under Gen. Gano, and defeated after a gallant resistence, with a loss of twenty-two killed and ten prisoners among the latter the Lieutenant commanding.  On the 16th of January, 1865, the regiment moved to Little Rock, where it arrived on the 31st of the same month, here it remained on duty until July 1865, when it was ordered to Pine Bluffs, Ark.  Here it remained, doing garrison and escort duty, until October 1st, 1865, when it was mustered out of service and ordered to Fort Leavenworth for final payment and discharge.  The regiment received its final payment and was
discharged at Fort Leavenworth on the 30th day of October, 1865."

     The heroism of the negro people of Kansas was not all centered in this one regiment.  Elated with the success of their brethren already in the field, there was a general desire to emulate their heroic deeds.  In June, 1863, the second regiment was organized at Fort Scott.  The regimental organization was completed at Fort Smith, Ark., by the mustering in of the field and staff officers.
     The regiment \vent into camp on the Poteau River, about two miles south of Fort Smith.  Here the work of drill and discipline was the daily routine of duty until the regiment maintained a degree of proficiency second to none in the Army of the Frontier.
     On the 24th of March, 1864, the regiment left Fort Smith and started on what was known as the Camden Ex-

[Pg. 241]
pedition, forming a part of Colonel Williams' Brigade of
General Thayer's Division. Major-General Steele's forces
left Little Rock about the same time that General
Thayer's Division left Fort Smith, the latter uniting with
the former on the Little Missouri river, all destined for
active operations in the direction of Red River.
     Colonel Crawford, in reply to the writer's circular letter
asking for information respecting the 2nd Regiment's service
on the frontier, thus pungently details the operations
of the army of which his regiment was a part:

                                                                                      WASHINGTON, D. C., Dec. 31st, 1885.
'JOSEPH T. WILSON, Esq., Richmond, Va.
     "MY DEAR SIR:

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

     "The Second Kansas, afterwards designated as the 83rd United States Colored Troops, was organized at Fort Scott, Kansas on the 3rd day of October, 1863.  Most of the companies were organized and mustered into service during the spring and summer preceeding.  The regiment, when organized, was full to the maximum, or nearly so, and composed of active, able-bodied young men.  Immediately upon assuming command of the regiment, I moved to the front through Missouri, to Fort Smith, in Arkansas, where the regiment was stationed during the winter 1863-4, and when not on other duty or in the field, spent the time in company and regimental drill.
     " On the 24th day of March, 1864, with the Kansas Division of the Frontier Army tinder the command of General Thayer, I moved south and joined the 7th Army Corps under the command of Major-General Fred. Steele, in an expedition against the rebel armies under-Generals Price, Kirby Smith and Dick Taylor, then encamped in the vicinity of Shreveport, La.
     " While Steele was advancing from the North, General Banks was at the same time moving up the lied river from the East.  Price, Smith and Taylor, seeing the two armies of Steele and Banks, closing in upon them, concentrated their forces, first upon Banks, and after defeating and routing his forces, turned upon Steele, who was then near Red river, in south-western Arkansas.
     Steele hearing of the Banks disaster, changed his course and moved eastward, to Camden, a strongly fortified town on the Washita river.  From the point at which he turned eastward, to Camden, a distance of about sixty miles, the march was almost continuous, except when it became necessary to skirmish with the enemy's cavalry, which hovered unpleasantly close during the greater part of the distance.
     "In each of the light engagements which took place on this march from Red river to Camden, the 2nd Regiment participated, and behaved in a manner creditable to itself and the army.
     "After remaining at Camden about three days (so as to give the victorious rebel armies full time to concentrate upon him) General Steele crossed the Washita to the North and commenced a disgraceful retreat or run back toward Little Rock.
     "The enemy, under Price and Kirby Smith, followed in close pursuit, and within a few hours were again upon our flank and rear.  The march or retreat was continuous, night and day, until the village of Princeton was reached, where Steele's army encamped one night, and received a full ration of fresh beef and New Orleans sugar, the latter of which had been captured, or rather found in Camden.  Early on the following morning the army resumed its onward march, towards the North Pole as the apparent objective point.
     "Now mind you this was an army (the 7th Army Corps) about thirty thousand strong; mostly Western troops, and splendidly armed and equipped.  Better soldiers never wore spurs or carried muskets.  Yet under the command of a tenor singing dog fancier, that magnificent army was thus retreating before an army in every way its inferior save, and except, the Commanding General.
     "Thus things went, disgracefully, until the afternoon of the day on which we left Princeton, April 29, 1864.  Then, for the first time after turning our backs to the enemy, in the vicinity of Red river, there seemed to be a bare possibility of escape, not from the enemy, but from absolute disgrace and humiliation.
     "At no time during that disgraceful retreat, was there a moment when the whole army corps, except the Commanding General, would not have welcomed a battle, with one universal shout.
     " About 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the day mentioned, the rebel Cavalry appeared in force and commenced skirmishing with our forces in the rear, which continued, more or less, until darkness set in. Meantime our distinguished leader, the Major-General
Commanding, had arrived at the crossing of the Saline river, thrown a pontoon bridge over .that swollen stream, and made good his escape to the north side, taking

[Pg. 242]
with him the whole army, except one section of artillery and two brigades of Infantry, of which the 2nd Kansas colored formed a part.
     "These two brigades six regiments in all stood in line of battle all night long, while the rain poured in torrents most of the time.
     "During the night the enemy's infantry moved up and formed in our immediate front; in fact made every necessary preparation for battle, while the dog fancier, who was unfortunately at the head of our army across the river, was either sleeping or devising the ways and means by which he could most easily elude the enemy.
     "But when daylight came the six regiments were there in line, every man ready, willing and determined to return, volley for volley, and if necessary force the fighting, so as to bring on a general engagement.
     "There were but six regiments of us south of the river, with two pieces of artillery.  But we were there to stay until a battle was fought.
     "General Rice of Iowa, formed his brigade in the center; the 12th Kansas Infantry, commanded by Col. Hayes was on his left, and the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry, commanded by myself, was on the right.
     "As soon as it was fairly light, the battle began; both lines moving slightly forward until within close range.  From the beginning, the crash of musketry was terrific.  Our Springfield and Enfield rifles with deadly effect.
     "But in this they were disappointed. We held our position until re-enforcements arrived.
     "At one time my regiment was under a heavy fire from the front and also from the flank, but not a man wavered.  In fact it seemed to inspire them with additional courage.  The re-enforcements as they arrived, passed to the rear and formed on the left, leaving me to hold the right.  After about three hours hard fighting, the enemy having failed to dislodge my regiment from its position, which was regarded as the key to the situation, brought into position a battery of artillery, planted it immediately in front of my regiment and opened with canister.
     "As soon as this was done I gave the order to cease firing and fix bayonets, and followed that immediately with the order to charge the battery.
     "These orders were executed with a courage and daring seldom equaled by even older troops, and never excelled by a volunteer regiment.
     "In less than two minutes from the time the charge was ordered, the rebel battery was in our possession, and out of thirty-six horses used in the battery, but two were left standing when we passed the guns.
     "Most of the artillery-men lay dead and wounded around the battery while the line of infantry support in the rear of battery, fell back in disorder before our bayonets; not, however, until many of them had for the first time felt the effects of cold steel.
     "The charge, though bloody on both sides, was pre-eminently successful, and my regiment, "the 2nd Iron Clads," as it was called, brought away the battery so captured.
     In the charge, the regiment lost in killed and wounded, some forty odd men and officers. All of our horses, field and staff, were shot and most of them killed.  The color bearer Harrison Young, a hero among men, was wounded and fell, raised to his feet and was again twice wounded.  A comrade then took the flag and was wounded and a third man brought it off the field.
     "A wounded lieutenant of the battery was brought to me, as a prisoner;* but in view of the massacre of colored troops by the rebels at Fort Pillow and other places, I sent the Lieutenant immediately back through the lines, pointing him to the regiment that had made the charge, and telling him that since the rebel authorities had concluded to take no prisoners, belonging to colored regiments, it would hardly be proper for me to hold him as a prisoner; that they had established the precedent, and that in so far as I was concerned they could 'lay on MacDuff.'  The Lieutenant rejoined his command a sadder if not a wiser man.
     "After the charge I moved with my regiment to the centre, where the battle was then raging hottest.  Here it remained in the thickest of the fight until an advance was

---------------
     * "Colonel Crawford ordered the prisoners to be taken to the rear without insult or injury, which conduct on his part is in striking contrast to the treatment bestowed upon our colored troops at Poison Springs.  He also told a rebel lieutenant and other prisoners to inform their commanding General that colored troops had captured them, and that he must from necessity leave some of his wounded men in hospitals by the way, and that he should expect the same kind treatment shown to them that he showed to those falling into his hands; but that just such treatment as his wounded men received at their hands, whether kindness or death, should from this time forward, be meted out to all rebel falling  Into his hands.  That if they wished to treat as prisoners of war our colored soldiers, to be exchanged for theirs, the decision was their own; but if they could afford to murder our colored prisoners to gratify their fiendish
dispositions and passions, the responsibity of commensurate retaliation, to bring them to a sense of justice, was also their own.  But, notwithstanding the kindness shown to their prisoners, so soon as our command left, a Texas soldier, in the presence of one of their officers, killed, in the hospital, nine of the wounded men belonging to the 2nd Kansas Colored Infantry."
-  McAfee's Military History of Kansas.

[Pg. 243]


PHALANX SOLDIERS BRINGING IN A CAPTURED BATTERY

[Pg. 244] - BLANK

[Pg. 245]
ordered all along the line, which was made, the enemy falling back slowly before our troops, and finally retired from the field, leaving us in full possession, with a complete victory.
     "Only infantry was engaged on either side except the rebel battery, which my regiment captured.
     "Our cavalry, some five thousand strong, and artillery, about forty pieces, as already stated, were on the North side of the river, and could not be brought into action, to advantage, on account of the dense forest and swampy nature of the ground.  We had about fifteen thousand men engaged, while the enemy had the armies of Price and Kirby Smith, from which our gallant commander, Steele, had for many days been fleeing, as from the wrath to come.  During the entire battle Steele remained on the north side of the river, beyond the reach of the enemy's guns, and at a point from which he could continue his flight with safety in case of defeat.  But the victory was ours, so the march from Saline river to Little Rock was made in peace.
     "During this battle my regiment lost in killed and wounded about eighty men, but we were richly rewarded by the achievements of the day.  We, perhaps, had as much to do with bringing on the battle as any other one regiment. I went into action in the morning without orders. In fact I disobeyed an order to cross the river at daylight, and instead, I formed my regiment and faced the enemy.  The regiment charged the battery by my orders, and against au order from a superior officer, to hold back and wait for orders.
     "My regiment, though among the first in action, and having suffered a greater loss than that of any other, was the last to leave the field.
     "From this time forward until the close of the war, in so far as the Western army was concerned, we heard no more of the question, 'Will they fight?'
     "The reputation of at least one colored regiment was established, and it stands today, in the estimation of men who served in the Western army, as the equal of any other volunteer regiment.
     "After the Saline river battle the regiment moved back to Little Rock and thence to Fort Smith, in western Arkansas.
     "In July 1864, with the 2nd and other troops, 1 conducted an expedition through the Choctaw Nation in the Indian Territory, against, or rather in pursuit of a brigade of rebel forces, driving them out of that country.  During this campaign several light engagements were fought  in each of which the 2nd took a prominent part, and in each of which the 2nd was invariably successful.
     * "In the fall of 1864. I resigned my position as Colonel to assume other duties.
     "What took place from then until the regiment was mustered out of service, I only know from heresay, but it Is safe to say that the regiment maintained its reputation as one of the best infantry regiments in the 7th Army Corps.
     "A short time before I left the regiment, General Marcy, then Inspector General of the U. S. Army, inspected the Kansas Division, to which my regiment belonged, and his report, which is now on file in the War Department, if I am not mistaken, shows that the 2nd Colored in point of drill, discipline and military appearance, stood first of all the regiments in that Division.

          *          *          *          *          *          *
                                                                            Yours truly.
                                                                                             SAMUEL J. CRAWFORD.
Lieutenant-Colonel Gilpatrick, promoted from Major, took command of the regiment succeeding Colonel Crawford, and in December made a forced march to Hudson's crossing on the Neosho river, by way of Fort Gibson, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles, on quarter rations, and returned as escort to a large supply train.  It was then, with all the Phalanx regiments at Fort Smith, ordered to Little Rock, where it arrived with a very large train of refugees under charge, on the 4th of February, after a march of seventeen days.
     Colonel Gilpatrick says :
     "The men suffered severely on the march by exposure to wet and

---------------
     * About the middle of October, Colonel Crawford received information of his nomination for the office of Governor, and came from Fort Smith to Kansas, arriving about the 20th instant, just in time to be an active participant in the expulsion of General Price and his army from the border of the State.

[Pg. 246]
cold and for the want of proper and sufficient food, clothing and shelter.  Many of them were barefooted, almost naked, and without blankets."
     The regiment remained at Little Rock until the spring of 1865, when it formed part of an expedition which proceeded some distance south of Little Rock, and operated against a band of guerillas on the Saline river, which they succeeded in driving out and partly capturing.  On the 25th of July the regiment broke camp and proceeded to Camden, Arkansas, and was mustered out of the United States service, and proceeding by way of Pine Bluff, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., and St. Louis, Mo., reached Leavenworth, Kansas, where the men were finally paid and discharged on the 27th of November, 1865.  These brave men immediately returned to their homes to enjoy the blessings of a free government.

[Pg. 247] - BLANK

[Pg. 248]


THE WOODEN HORSE.
A mode of punishment for slight offences.

[Pg. 249] - CHAPTER VII. - DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH
 

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