April 18, 1864 – Battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas

On this day in history, during the American Civil War, Confederate troops overwhelmed a Union wagon train at Poison Springs, Arkansas, and massacred the wounded black soldiers from the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry.

PoisonSpringLoc_f

The black troops faced odds of approximately four to one. Also, a severe artillery cross fire played on them during much of the battle. Nevertheless, they repelled the first two attacks, but ran low on ammunition and were beaten back by the third.

The Confederates would not take the wounded black soldiers as prisoners, but instead brutally killed, scalped, and stripped them. In all, the regiment lost nearly half of its numbers. Estimated casualties were 301 for the Union troops and 114 for the Confederates. The First Kansas suffered most, losing 41 per cent of its personnel. With 438 men engaged, the Negro regiment had 117 killed and sixty-five wounded.

For black soldiers in the west, “Remember Poison Springs!” was a battle cry for the remainder of the war.

First Kansas Colored Infantry flag, after conservation treatment

First Kansas Colored Infantry flag, after conservation treatment

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