BATTLE OF ISLAND MOUND – OCTOBER 28-29, 1862
The first time a unit of black soldiers engaged in combat during the Civil War. Reporting on the battle, The Daily Conservative newspaper, of Leavenworth, Kansas, stated the 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry (Colored) “proved that Negroes are splendid soldiers.” This was almost nine months before the “Glory” 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Colored) attacked Ft. Wagner, S.C., as seen in the movie, “Glory,” starring Denzel Washington.
Forces Engaged: Union 240 vs. An organized anti-Union guerrilla band 400
Marker Location: 4837 NW County Road 1002, Butler, Mo. 64730
Stamp Location: Bates County Historical Society and Museum, when staff available.
Website: mostateparks.com/park/battle-island-mound-state-historic-site & batescounty.net/island_mound.php
Address: 802 Elks Drive, Butler, Mo. 64730
Phone Number: 660-679-0134
Staff Available: Tue-Fri, 9:30 am-4 pm; Sat, 9:30 am-12 pm; closed Sun-Mon
Visit Fee: None
Website: Civil War on the Western Border – Battle of Island Mound
Website: My Civil War – The Battle of Island Mound
Website: National Park Service – History of the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Although the battle was covered by a New York Times correspondent, who praised the “desperate bravery” of the black soldiers, the site and the battle were largely forgotten in the post-bellum period. Much historical research since the late 20th century has documented and interpreted African-American history.
This area was active with guerrillas and raiding parties from either side. In this conflict, the Union forces were mainly the 1st Regiment Kansas Volunteer Infantry (Colored) with supporting elements of the 5th Regiment Kansas Volunteer Cavalry; they opposed a much larger, mounted force of Confederate guerrillas, who were supplemented with elements of the pro-Confederate Missouri State Guard.
In addition, with the approach of the American Civil War sesquicentennial, interest was rekindled. The state of Missouri acquired the land in 2008 in order to preserve as much of this notable site as possible. Dedication ceremonies were held for the site on October 26–27, 2012, nearly 150 years to the day of the battle.
The historic site is located approximately eight miles southwest of Butler, Missouri, a short distance off State Highway K. The 40-acre site is near the battle location, which is located on private property one-half mile to the south. It encompasses much of the Toothman homestead, which was commandeered by the Union troops, fortified with temporary breastworks and christened “Fort Africa.” It is believed to include the graves of the eight Union men who died in the battle, although their remains have not yet been located. [Source: Wikipedia]