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War Between the States - July 26, 2019

Statue of a Union soldier from the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers, commemorating the Battle of Island Mound, which is believed to be the first time black Union soldiers fought against Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War. (Photo by Peggy Buhr)

Q: In 2008, Missouri residents erected a statue and plaque honoring the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers who fought in the Civil War. In which western Missouri county will you find this tribute to the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers who fought at the Battle of Island Mound? (Incidentally, this Union victory is noteworthy in that it is believed to be the first Civil War battle in which an African-American regiment, under the command of black officers, engaged in combat against Confederate forces.)  

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A: Bates County, Missouri 

Sometimes called the "Skirmish at Island Mound," this Civil War battle took place on October 29, 1862, in Bates County, Missouri. The Union victory is noteworthy in that it is believed to be the first Civil War battle in which an African-American regiment, under the command of black officers, engaged in combat against Confederate forces.  

The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers was an African-American unit made up mostly of former slaves who had escaped from Missouri, Arkansas and Indian Territory. The regiment, which also included some free blacks, had been recently trained in Kansas. They were outnumbered during the battle, but stood their ground and fought with what the New York Times described as "desperate bravery." This Kansas regiment was later made part of the Union Army as United States Colored Troops.

In 2008, residents of Bates County, Missouri, erected a statue and plaque honoring the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers and the Battle of Island Mound on the grounds of the Bates County courthouse in Butler. In 2012, the State of Missouri purchased a 40-acre property and established the "Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site."  

Special thanks to Peggy Buhr, director of the Bates County Museum in Butler, Missouri, for her help with this Kansas Trivia question! By the way, she invites everyone to visit Bates County and its museum.

Discover more Kansas Trivia in KPR's online archive!

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