Saturday, January 29, 2011

They Were Men Who Suffered and Died

Face of Pvt. Lewis Martin of 29th US Colored Infantry

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His face is one of the most famous in Civil War history.  He was one of the countless men who were injured in the Civil War, and as famous as his face is, we don't know his story.

When I examined his story I was surprised to learn that he was born in Arkansas.  

From Service Record of Lewis Martin

Not only was he born in Arkansas, but he had apparently been freed prior to the establishment of the US Colored Troops. In fact he was a free man prior to the beginning of the Civil War, as his record clearly states that he was free before April 1861. In February of 1864, he enlisted in the Union Army and was placed in Company E of the 29th US Colored Infantry.

I can see that he was a tall man---over  6 feet in height, and was in the prime of his life as a 29 year old man.

His unit was organized in Quincy Illinois, and he joined the regiment in Alton Illinois.  Not long after the unit organized, they were dispatched to Annapolis Maryland, and then quickly from there they went into Virginia, directly into the heart of the Civil War.

As I imagine this man, born a slave in Arkansas, who somehow became free, was living in Illinois---this is a man who could have avoided the battle completely.  He was freed before the war had started, and there was not much enthusiasm for black soldiers to enlist until 1863.  He could have continued his life as a free man, living in the free north, but---the joined the battle to free his brothers, and enlisted.

He would be wounded while in Virginia, and his record noted that he was wounded at the battle of Petersburg.

Lewis Martin was confined for some to a hospital in Alexandria Virginia. Records from January through June of 1865, he was still suffering form his wounds, and still a resident of the hospital. There are not many images of the military hospital in northern Virginia, but he may have been near this one facility that was known as a Convalescent Camp.

Convalescent Camp near Arlington Virginia
Image from National Archives. Mathew Brady Collection

Later in 1865, Martin was moved to Harewood Hospital. While there, his wounds having continued to plague him a description of his injuries and treatment were described.  His arm was amputated above the elbow and his left leg was amputated below the knee.

Record showing amputations that Pvt. Martin had to undergo

Considering the nature of his wounds, clearly moving the soldier even a short distance from a hospital in Northern Virginia, would have a been a painful one, in one of the military ambulance wagons that were used during this time. He might have been moved in one of the Harewood Hospital ambulance trains such as the one below.

The Ambulance Train of Harewood Hospital in the Civil War
Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, D.C.; 

The ambulance train would have taken him to the facility shown below.

Harewood Hospital in Washington DC. The capitol dome can be seen in the distance.
Source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Civil War 

Eventually Pvt. Lewis was mustered out when his unit was, but he was not with them.  They were in Brownsville Texas when disbanded, but he would suffer from his wounds for the remainder of his life.

I have many more questions about Pvt. Lewis the man.  I plan to continue to study his life to learn a few details more.

How did he become free?
When did he arrive in Illinois?

There was a population of free people in Alton Illinois where he lived when he enlisted. Was he involved in the activities of the Underground Railroad In Alton Illinois at the time he enlisted?

Did he return to Illinois after the war, or remain in Washington?

Did any family remain with him during his final years?

I do know that Pvt. Martin was eligible for a Civil War pension. He applied for one and received it.
Civil War Pension Index Card
Private Lewis Martin

There is more to the story of Private Lewis Martin.  

He was a single man when he enlisted so there was no widow to later collect a pension after his death.  He had a relative who was quite possibly his mother, and she lived in Alton Illinois, the city where he enlisted. Her name was Mrs. Phillis Martin.

Close up image of hospital record of Pvt. Lewis Martin

Did Mrs. Martin learn of her son's injuries, and did she join him after the war in Washington?  Did he return to Illinois after the war?  Did they ever see each other again?

When did he die, and where could he be buried? I plan to conduct some research on Private Martin to find the answers to these questions from his Civil War Pension file.

I mentioned that his face is one of them most famous. 

I showed only his face above, but I am compelled to share the un-cropped photo below as it appeared on his Disability Certificate. 

Disability Certificate from Civil War Service Record of Pvt. Lewis Martin, Co. E 29th US Col. Infantry

Rest well, Private Lewis.  May your service always be remembered.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Places Where they Fought

Ft. Burnham, Virginia, October 1864

When studying ancestors who fought in the Civil War, I have come to realize how important it is to appreciate the places where they were, and engagements in which they fought.  Many places are noted on countless numbers of Civil War era maps and there are gazetteers and atlases that abound providing opportunity to learn more about the places where our ancestors fought. However----in an effort to tell the stories----we have to remember that the war was fought in places where people lived----small towns, settlements, farm, estates, and so many more countless unnamed places. 

The fate of the soldiers was at stake an also the fate of the women and children left behind.  In many places the wives and children of US Colored soldiers would become contrabands---but in some places--those opportunities did not present themselves so easily. BUT-----many slaves did live near those same battle sites, and we should take an interest in what took place there.

Battlefields particularly those in which many died are noted on the southern landscape in every state. Over the years as I have documented my own ancestors in their fight for freedom,   I have come to appreciate those sacred places such as Ft. Pillow,  Jenkins Ferry,  Honey Springs,  Cabin Creek and other places where many of theUSCTs that I research would have died.  

Monuments on Honey Springs Battlefield

Many of us read stories of incidents from the Crater in Petersburg, to Ft. Wagoner, to Olustee in Florida of the black soldiers from the Army of the Potomac, and the 54th Massachusetts.  But how many of us have ever sought to visit those areas? We must remember that these places are more than Civil War memorial battlefields that only Civil War buffs would have an interest in.  

We should see those places---and hold them reverently, as much as we hold the battlefields of our modern era---like Little Rock, Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham.

The battles in which our ancestors gave their lives in the fight for freedom should be on our list of places to visit just as much as we visit Civil Rights landmarks today.  The Civil War was in fact the beginning of struggles for rights---Civil Rights----and the cradle of the 20th century struggles, came from those battlefields.  

Petersburg and Richmond battlefields are just as important the 20th century battlefields at lunch counters in North Carolina.  

Petersburg Battlefield, where more than 20 black Union Army regiments saw action

The actions in the 1860s at New Market Heights (Chapin's Farm) should be stops that we make while traveling in Virginia, just as much as we see the importance as  visiting the National Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham.  These sites pertain to our struggle for freedom and we should consider learning more of the history of what happened there.

I know personally that one of my trips that I hope to make in the next five years will be a trip to north Alabama, to Limestone County. My goal will be to stand in the same area, where my gr. Uncle  Sephus Bass was captured at Sulphur Branch Trestle.   The story of  the incidents at Sulphur Branch Trestle are well documented in the official records.

Sulphur Trestle, was  the site where the 110th & 111th US Colored Infantries were captured by NB Forrest in 1864.

Thankfully the Civil War was well documented and  the  movements of our ancestors should be studied and told when the family story is told. The next generation deserves to hear it, and our ancestors' stories deserve to be told. And the places where they earned their freedom, should be placed on our list of places to visit, reflect and savor the freedom that we have.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Small Taste of Freedom

Service Record of Pvt. Alfred Dandridge, 2nd US Colored Lt Artillery

It is understood how service in the Union Army during the American Civil War brought about a change in the lives of many who were once enslaved.  For them, the chains of slavery would be broken, and for the first time they would be seen and treated as men. For many, like the man whose name appears above, the experience would be brief, for they had entered a mighty war, and so many lost their lives paying the ultimate price for the right of freedom.  The only comforting thought is that these men tasted a small bit of freedom, and breathed free air, only briefly before they died.

But we have to look at all of the pieces of data to tell some of their stories, even when their stories appear to be brief, and without detail. Their stories are long gone, and most descendants have no idea that their ancestors had fought for their freedom.  

Can their stories be found? 
And can some elements of a story be extracted from the many factual records left behind?

Before enlistment for those who had been enslaved, the only time the soldier's name appeared in print was in an estate record or tax record, naming them as property. So the service records of the US Colored Troops, are more than mere pieces of data of unknown men.  They  provide clues to some aspects of the lives of those who were not only soldiers for the first time--- but they were also novices to freedom and how sweet the air they breathed breathed must have been.

In the case of Alfred Dandridge, he was a  young man of 19, and for a man who had probably been a laborer since childhood, he could be considered in the middle of his life.  Beyond the years of being a toddler, he would have carried water, to the field slaves, and been a carrier of items for adults until his body was old enough to perform labor.  

But there is another strong detail about Dandridge's life that is worth noting.  He was mustered in at Ft. Monroe.  Significant? Oh yes!!!  Virginia was the heart of the Confederacy and most of Virginia was Confederate, but Ft. Monroe remained in Union hands. 

This is significant, because for many of the enslaved in Virginia---Ft. Monroe was a destination and it provided sanctuary for those fleeing to freedom. Refugee slaves had been declared "contrabands" of war, and if they could simply make it to the fort---they would find freedom.

The taking in of slaves as contraband, provided much needed manpower for the Union Army as well, when the Bureau of the US Colored Troops was established.  

This political cartoon reflects the taking in of slaves as "contrabands."

Those slaves arriving at places like Ft. Monroe, were put to work, and many of the men enlisted in the Union Army to fight.
Stampede of Slaves to Ft. Monroe, shown in Harper's Weekly, 1861

Looking more closely at Alfred Dandridge's service record, one can see something important:

Alfred Dandridge mustered in, at Ft. Monroe

Dandridge enlisted at Ft. Monroe, and there is a very strong possibility that he had been among the man contrabands of war.  He made it to Ft. Monroe!

The significance of this man's simple life, is that we know his name.  Even contrabands, is used as a term describing countless slaves, seeking freedom, and so few of their stories are actually known, and even less are their names!

We can construct a few details about his life. This young man, a laborer from the fields of York County, made  it to Ft. Monroe and enlisted in the 2nd US Colored Lt. Artillery in January 1864. He remained at Ft. Monroe, until the unit was moved in April of that year where the men in his unit joined Gen. Butler's campaign against Petersburg and Richmond.  His unit saw action at Wilson's Wharf, as well as at  Petersburg.  They remained in that are until July 7, when they were ordered to Portsmouth. The soldiers remained at Portsmouth until spring of 1865, after the surrender when they were sent to Brownsville Texas in May 1865.  They served along the Rio Grande during that time.  In the fall of 1865, Pvt. Dandridge became ill and suffered dysentery.  He did not recover from his illness and on November 2, 1865,  he expired. His unit remained in Texas until May 1866.  Pvt. Dandridge found freedom, served honorably as a soldier, fought in battles for that freedom and died a free man!

Alfred Dandridge died Nov. 2, 1865

But----we know his name, and he did not die in vain!  And I am thankful for the small taste of freedom that he was able to have. To him and countless others, who served and died, I am grateful.  Continue your well earned rest, Alfred Dandridge!  You were an honorable man.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Approaching Dardanelle and the Actions at the "Lotus" Steamer

Typical Steamer used in Civil War.  Source: OnlineLittleRock


Towards the end of the Civil War in 1865, one of the final tests of the Union Army outposts would be seen when a flotilla of Union vessels were traveling down the Arkansas River towards Ft. Smith, would be met by confederate forces. The steamers were, the Annie Jacobs, the Ad. Hines, the Lotus, and the New Chippewa.

About 270 plus men had disembarked from the flotilla and had occupied the earthworks at Dardanelle. A Confederate force led by Col Brooks led a group over 1500 soldiers to attack the earthworks. However, Union soldiers had placed two large artillery directly along the two roads that led into the town. The southern forces had only 1 artillery piece and engaged the Union soldiers for about 4 hours before retreating as the Union forces had a better angle and an advantage with the additional artillery

The flotilla made it to Ft. Smith and had to return towards Little Rock, but this time at Ivey's Ford they met resistance again from the same forces under Col Brooks. The New Chippewa was run aground, and set afire, capturing about 40 refugee slave families as well as white refugee families.

Image of a Refugee Slaves Taken During Civil War

It is important to understand, that as Union forces moved into a new area, it was common for refugee slaves to flee towards the Union line, and in some cases near rivers, which were navigated---they hoped to be taken aboard and given refuge. In this case on the one ship that was hit most heavily, several dozen slaves, newly freed were taken on. So close to freedom, but oh yet so far!!

The remaining boats were fired upon, but they thankfully the 83rd US Colored Infantry, was there, in addition to 54th Arkansas Colored Infantry. (Not affiliated with the 54 Mass).  It is not known if those boats had take on slaves for refuge, or not.  It is known that the colored soldiers defended the boats and was able to fend off attacks upon the Lotus. After two days they arrived safely in Little Rock, the capital.

Though the war would come to an end within 3 months time, by this time, the 83rd (once part of the Kansas Colored) were seasoned fighters, having seen action, in Missouri, Arkansas, and Indian Territory. Their involvement with protecting the Lotus Steamer was mild in comparison to the major battles in which they had been engaged before that time.

Source of informationThe War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Series 1, Vol. 48. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1890–1901, pp. 11–17.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Getting to the Story by Learning the Facts

Enlistment Data on Soldier from the 27th US Colored Infantry
Source: Military Service Record, Pvt. Jacob Thomas,  National Archives Publication M1824

As one who has researched their ancestors' involvement in the Civil War, I have come to understand something about the myths and the realities of who did and did not serve in the Civil War.  

The reasons why some stories are not refuted even when they are purely nonsensical, and downright untrue, is because many of us who descend from enslaved people, have never studied the Civil War.

For example---in a recent genealogy chat, the involvement of black men who enlisted in the Union Army came up. One member described information about her ancestor who served in a unit from Mississippi. Another member of the same group---a regular to the chat for over 10 years, remarked that it was amazing to him, to hear that her Mississippi Ancestor enlisted in the Union Army.  
Headstone of soldier from the 11 US Colored Infantry. Unit was organized in Ft. Smith Arkansas
Soldier is buried in Dripping Springs Cemetery in Crawford County Arkansas.
(Cemetery was documented by Tonia Holleman)

I asked him why that was so unusual. and he replied that "well, her ancestor was not from the North, but he lived in the South."  I wanted to make sure that I understood what he meant, and I wondered if he was going to start talking about the infamous mythical confederate issue, but he did not.  He then innocently and sincerely asked the question, "well----weren't most black soldiers in the Union Army from places in the north, like Massachusetts?"

 I pointed out to him that a majority of the United States Colored Troops were units that were organized in the South.  He was surprised, amazed and confused! He was truly trying to understand---- "But how could that be? " he asked.

I was stunned by his word. But then I got it----I realized that other than what he had learned from the movie "Glory!" his knowledge of the role of African American soldiers from the south, in the Civil War, was non-existent!  He knew nothing!  And this is a man in his 60s, who has been dabbling in family history for more than a decade!

He was curious and asked honest and innocent questions---how could they get up north to enlist?  


The impression that he had, was that black men had to escape to the north to enlist in the Union Army. His sense was that all black Civil War soldiers were organized in the north like the soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry.

Famous Image of the 54th Massachusetts at Ft. Wagner.  
Source: Library of Congress

There was no sense of time, nor place----and I pointed out to him that the war was fought in the south, on southern soil, and as federal soldiers came into an area, THAT provided the opportunity for them to enlist!  This was foreign to him.

Now I must point out, this is a gentleman whom I have respected as being a long lasting researcher, but I was so surprised at how there was almost no concept of how black men entered the Civil War, and where and under what circumstances.  

He did ask good questions-----how did they get a chance when they were still held as slaves? Wouldn't the slave masters have prevented their leaving to fight? 

Another member then reminded him----this was wartime! The slave masters and the overseers were not there----they had entered the confederate army to fight!  When Union soldiers came--they could raid area farms both large estates and small farms, and so many times the white men folk were not present, and slaves had access to the Union lines for the first time!

Recruitment Handbill, for soldiers to join Union Army

This small concept had never occurred to him, and he had never read anything about the recruitment of black soldiers---and up until that time----he always thought that a majority of black soldiers came from New England!!! 

It was pointed out that the 130 + regiments of United States Colored Troops, were organized in the south and he was truly amazed!  

I too was amazed, but for another reason---I had to ask, how many of our own elders in our communities were also under the impression that either we had no role in the War, or that only a few blacks from New England enlisted in the Union Army to fight? 

Was he alone in his misconception of black participation?  Is this why the black confederate myth went unchallenged for so long?  

Could it be, that our lack of knowledge of the true involvement of our ancestors in the Fight for Freedom, assisted the myth makers and revisionists in creating confederate regiments that never existed?  After all, the story was created by hobbyists, reenactors and not by historians.  

But as we who descend from US Colored Troops have had so few Civil War enthusiasts in our own midst, until recent years, and there was no one for a long time to refute this revised history and newly created myths.

I realized that until the past 20 years----there were no monuments to the USCTs.  

African American Civil War Memorial Monument
Washington DC

But---almost every town large and small in the south has confederate monuments in the town square or on the ground of the local courthouse. And they have had them for decades!

Monuments such as this one in Arkansas are found in hundreds of towns throughout the south.

The local and state histories show the photos of the confederate reunions well into the 20th century.  But no textbooks or state histories show images of USCT reunions. Though many GAR chapters were integrated, the reunions of black regiments were rare----if any occurred at all.  And in the south----did any occur ever?

What are the results of this lack of knowledge?

Did the actions of Andrew Johnson to restore the secessionists to their status of "first class" status over an oppressed second class, lead to a silencing of the soldiers, denying those men who fought and died, who were of African descent no chance to spread honor and pride to their descendants.  Were they thus prevented in their expressions of pride and dignity from passing this knowledge to the next generations?

Did the use of the confederate flag----a flag of the enemy for the US Colored Troops---- did the use of the flag officially flown in front of courthouses and as well as the flag use in terrorist acts, such as lynchings, force these honorable men, into a silence, requiring them to never speak to the next generation about their fight for freedom?   Is this how and why our stories got lost in our own families?  

And what was the result of this forced silence? Shame?  Poor self-esteem, powerlessness?

The better question----what comes from knowing one's history?

I can only say that having told the story twice at a family reunion, about our ancestors from Tennessee who served in the 111th US Colored Infantry, were captured, escaped and re-enlisted----I can only say that I saw with my own eyes----the changes in body language as the young males heard this story of our Uncle Sephus, Uncle Braxton, Cousins Henry and Emmanuel Bass.  I was asked to tell this story again to a new generation only this past year and once again----the effect was amazing.

Did they hear it and understand it?  

I don't know----but I know that in order for us to get to the story----we have to learn the Facts.

* There were 138 regiments of the US Colored Troops who were volunteers in the Union Army.
* Most of these regiments were organized in the South.
* There were 7 additional units part of the regular army. They were from Mass, Conn, and La. 
* All of these units served and/or saw action in the south.
* The US Colored Troops saw action in 268 different battles/skirmishes between 1863-1866.

Memorize these few facts and pass them on!!!

Many stories lie untold in the unread pages of the official records of the Civil War. 

As we speak of honoring our ancestors----we have to tell their stories and in order to get to the story----we must learn the facts!

Unknown Soldier, United States Colored Troops
Source: Library of Congress

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reflections on the Recruitment of US Colored Troops

Recruitment Poster for Black Soldiers to Join the Fight for Freedom



On this day in history three regiments of black Union soldiers were organized at the same time in different parts of the country. At the same time, with two of those three regiments, there is a tie to my own family history, or interest.  

The 1st Kansas Colored, was organized in Kansas but consisted mostly of men from Creek and Cherokee Nations, and a few from nearby NW Arkansas.  This would later be the unit that would be involved in the famous Battle of Honey Springs, and the Kansas Colored would be the unit that would ultimately save the day for the Federal soldiers.  My own family ties to Indian Territory, and the community around the historic Honey Springs battlefield makes this day significant for me.

The 3rd Alabama Regiment was African Descent was organized on this day. The unit would later be redesignated as the 111th US Colored Infantry.  This unit interests me, because my 2nd Great Uncle Sephus Bass, and another uncle, Braxton Bass, plus Sephus's 2 sons Henry and Emmanuel all enlisted in this regiment.  I wrote about Sephus Bass's story and the capture of the 111th at Sulphur Branch Trestle in north Alabama. They were natives of  Giles County Tennessee and were part of a large contingent of black men that enlisted in the Union Army from Tennessee.  I was most amazed as Sephus Bass described his being captured by NB Forrest and then later his escape from Nathan Bedford Forrest!  I realized that the reason for this incident had to do with the fact that they were recognized by Forrest and knew their origins in Giles County, which was also the home of Gen. Forrest.

I think of the transition in their lives that the slaves had to have made from living their entire lives as slaves to life suddenly free---but with a new lifestyle of regiment, and discipline required by being in the US Army.  The departure of those men from the farms, and estates where they once lived, to one where they were now being trained in the use of arms, and weapons and treated for the first time as men.  How amazing these times must have been. At the same time, how unusual this had to have been for those left behind---the women, the children who knew their loved one---their husband, their father, their brother left with no permission from the slaveholders---their hopes and fears and thoughts as a new kind of danger emerged for them.

These are among the many untold stories that may not ever be found, from our families---but we must still appreciate the incredible times in which they lived, the bravery they showed, and thankfully the success of their fight for freedom!  We must also think about what their actions brought to the communities where they lived.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

5th US Massachusetts Colored Cavalry

Sample Document from Military Service Record
of soldier Ebenzer Ackley of the 5th US Mass Colored Cavalry

On this day January 9th 1864

The 5th US Colored Cavalry was organized

The 5th US Massachusetts Colored Cavalry was organized on this day in 1864.  

(This was the only Cavalry unit from Massachuetts, and it was an entirely black unit.)

History of the regiment: Organized at Camp Meigs, Readville Mass. 1st Battalion moved to Washington, D. C., May 5-8, 1864. At Camp Stoneman, Giesboro Point, Md., May 8-12. On May 12th the unit  dismounted and moved to Camp Casey, near Fort Albany, on May 12. The 2nd Battalion moved to Washington May 6-8, and to Camp Casey May 9. The 3rd Battalion moved to Washington May 8-10, and to Camp Casey May 11. 

Regiment moved to Fortress Monroe, Va., thence to City Point, Va., May 13-16. Attached to Rand's Provisional Brigade, 18th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, May, 1864. Hinks' Colored Division, 18th Army Corps, to June, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Army Corps, to July, 1864. Point Lookout, Md., District of St. Mary's, 22nd Army Corps, to March, 1865. Unattached, 25th Army Corps, Dept. of Virginia, to June, 1865. Dept. of Texas to October, 1865.

SERVICE.-Duty at City Point, Va., as Infantry till June 16, 1864. Before Petersburg June 16-19. Siege of Petersburg June 16-28. Moved to Point Lookout, Md., June 30, and duty there guarding prisoners till March, 1865. Ordered to the field and duty near Richmond, March; near Petersburg, April; near City Point, May, and at Camp Lincoln till June 16. Ordered to Texas and duty at Clarksville till October. Mustered out October 31, 1865.

Source: Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, Frederick Dyer

Headstone of one of the members of the 5th Mass Colored Cavalry
Image rests on the website of Bennie J. McRae
Thomas Brooks is buried in Yorktown, Virginia at the National Cemetery

Saturday, January 8, 2011

ARKANSAS: Black Civil War Regiments

Headstone of an Arkansas Black Union Soldier
Buried at National Cemetery, Ft. Smith, Arkansas


Though they are not often mentioned, there were10 regiments that were part of the United States Colored Troops organized in the state of Arkansas. Since finding a good number of soldiers from my hometown that are buried in the National cemetery, in Ft. Smith, my interest in the local history of the Arkansas USCTs has grown.  I have studied the histories and movements of many of these regiments, and feel that they should be mentioned on this anniversary of one of the battles that took place on Arkansas soil.

Several of the regiments were organized as Regiments of African Descent, and were later re-designated with US Colored designations. It is common to sometimes see the older regiments described with the letters "A. D" meaning that these are soldiers of African Descent. (To the south, in neighboring Louisiana, a similar designation was made for the early companies organized there. They were identified as Corps d'Afrique in the traditional French.)

Also not often mentioned is the fact that Arkansas had some strong abolitionist sentiments in the NW portion of the state where plantation style slavery was not practiced the way it was in the counties that were part of the Mississippi Delta in the southeast portion of the state. Though slavery did exist in the northwest counties, it was not as large and the numbers of slaves did not match the numbers in central and southeastern Arkansas.
Nevertheless, those enslaved in northwest Arkansas yearned for freedom just as much.  When the word spread throughout the enslaved community that the 11th US Colored Infantry was organizing in that part of the state, a good number of slaves from Sebastian and Crawford counties enlisted, as did able bodied men from nearby Indian Territory, where both the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations had a good number of their slaves to escape and enlist.

Later as the 11th US Colored Infantry moved east towards central Arkansas, there were opportunities later to enlist when units such as the 83, and later 57th Colored Infantries were sent to western Arkansas. Wherever the Union army encamped, there were opportunities for escape to Freedom.

As a result, it is important to take note of the regiments that come from  this state. By knowing where these units organized and where they served, might help researchers to connect with possible ancestors who may have been recruited and possibly served in the Federal army.

This is a list of the regiments that were organized in the state of Arkansas.

Battery H. 2nd Regiment Light Artillery - Organized from the 1st Arkansas Battery of African Descent, on December 13, 1864. Attached to the Post of Pine Bluff, Arkansas., 7th Corp, Department of Arkansas to September 1865. SERVICE---Garrison duty at Pine Bluff, ARk, entire term. Expedition to Mount Elba, Arkansas and skirmish at Saline River, January 22,-February 4, 1865. Mustered out September 15, 1865.
11th U.S. Colored Infantry (Old) - Organized at Fort Smith, Arkansas December 19, 1863 to March 3, 1864. Attached to 2nd Brigade, District of the Frontier, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to January, 1865. Colored Brigade, 7th Corps, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to April, 1865. SERVICE--Post and garrison duty at Fort Smith, Ark., until November, 1864. Action at Fort Smith August 24. Moved to Little Rock, Ark., November, 1864. Action at Boggs' Mill January 24, 1865. Duty at Little Rock and at Lewisburg, Ark., until April, 1865. Consolidated with 112th and 113th to form new 113th U.S. Colored Troop April 22, 1865. More information on the history of the 11th US Colored Infantry (Old) can be found here.Names of the soldiers that enlisted in the 11th can be found here. Several headstones of soldiers that served in the 11th have been located and documented here.
46th Regiment Infantry--This unit was organized from 1st Arkansas Infantry, African Descent, May 11, 1864. Attached to Post of Milliken's Bend, La., District of Vicksburg, Miss., to November, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division. U.S. Colored Troops, District of Vicksburg, Miss.. until January, 1865. 2nd Brigade, Post and Defenses of Memphis, Tenn., District West Tennessee, to February, 1865. New Orleans, La., Dept. of the Gulf, to May, 1865. Dept. of Texas, to January, 1866. SERVICE--Post and garrison duty at Milliken's Bend, La., and at Haines' Bluff, Miss., until January, 1865. Actions at Mound Plantation. Miss., June 24 and 29, 1864. Ordered to Memphis, Tenn., January, 1865, and garrison duty there until February, 1865. Ordered to New Orleans, La., February 23, and duty there until May 4. Ordered to Brazos Santiago, Texas, May 4. Duty at Clarksville and Brownsville on the Rio Grande, Texas, until January, 1866. Mustered out January 30, 1866.
54th U.S. Colored Infantry -Organized March 11, 1864, from 2nd Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). Attached to 2nd Brigade Frontier Division, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to December, 1866. SERVICE--Duty at Helena, Ark., until May, 1864. Ordered to Fort Smith, Ark., and duty there until January, 1865. Actions at Fort Gibson September 16, 1864. Cabin Creek September 19. Cow Creek, Kansas, November 14 and 28. Ordered to Little Rock January, 1865. Action on Arkansas River January 18. Duty at Little Rock and at various points in Dept. of Arkansas until December, 1866. Mustered out August 8 to December 31, 1866.
56th U.S. Colored Infantry--Organized March 11, 1864, from 3rd Alabama Infantry (African Descent). Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to September, 1866. SERVICE-- Post and garrison duty at Helena, Ark., until February, 1865. Action at Indian Bay April 13, 1864. Muffleton Lodge June 29. Operations in Arkansas July 1-31. Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, July 26. Expedition from Helena up White River August 29-September 3. Expedition from Helena to Friar's Point, Miss., February 19-22, 1865. Duty at Helena and other points in Arkansas until September, 1866. Mustered out September 15, 1866. Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 21 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 647 Enlisted men by disease. Total 674.
57th U.S. Colored Infantry--Organized March 11, 1864, from 4th Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to May, 1864. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 7th Corps, to January, 1865. Colored Brigade, 7th Corps, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to December, 1866. SERVICE Garrison duty at Helena and Little Rock, Ark., until August, 1864. (A detachment on Steele's Camden Expedition March 23-May 3, 1864, as bridge train guard.) Skirmish near Little Rock April 26, 1864. Operations against Shelby north of Arkansas River May 13-31. Skirmishes near Little Rock May 24 and 28. March to Brownsville, Ark., August 23, and to Duvall's Bluff August 29. Duty there and at Little Rock until June, 1865; then at various points in the Dept. of Arkansas guarding property and on post duty until December, 1866. Companies "A" and "D" mustered out October 18-19, 1866. Regiment mustered out December 31, 1866.
69th U.S. Colored Infantry--Organized at Pine Bluff, Duvall's Bluff and Helena, Ark., and Memphis, Tenn., December 14, 1864, to March 17, 1865. On duty at these points in Dept. of Arkansas and District of West Tennessee until September, 1865. Discontinued September 20, 1865.
112 U.S. Colored Infantry--Organized at Little Rock, Ark., from 5th Arkansas Colored Infantry April 23 to November 8, 1864. Attached to 1st Division, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, June, 1864, to January, 1865. Colored Brigade, 7th Corps, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to April, 1865. Post and garrison duty at Little Rock, Ark., entire term. Transferred to 113th United States Colored Troops (New) April 1, 1865.
113th U.S. Colored Infantry (Old) Organized June 25, 1864, from 6th Arkansas Colored Infantry. Attached to 1st Division, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to January, 1865. Colored Brigade, 7th Corps, to February, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, to April, 1865. SERVICE---Post and garrison duty at Little Rock, Ark., entire term. Consolidated with 11th United States Colored Troops (Old) and 112th United States Colored Troops to form 113th United States Colored Troops (New) April 1, 1865.

113th U.S. Colored Infantry (New)--Organized April 1, 1864, by consolidation of 11th United States Colored Troops (Old), 112th United States Colored Troops and 113th United States Colored Troops (Old). Attached to 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to August, 1865, and Dept. of Arkansas to April, 1866. Duty in Dept. of Arkansas. Mustered out April 9, 1866.