This was one of the first colored regiments organized in the Civil War. In August, 1862, General James H. Lane, appointed Captain James H. Williams of the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, Recruiting Commissioner for that part of the State lying north of the Kansas River, and Captain H. C. Seaman, for that part of Kansas lying south of the river. They raised a colored regiment. Within sixty days, five hundred men had been secured, but there was some opposition to their being mustered into the United States service. They were, however, mustered on the 13th of January, 1863. Before they were mustered, they had been attacked by the rebels under Colonel Cochran, but gave a good account of themselves.
During the winter of 1863, four companies were added and the regiment was organized on the 2nd of May, 1863, with the following field and staff:
Colonel, James M. Williams; Lieutenant-Colonel, John Bowles; Major, Richard G. Ward; Adjutant, Richard J. Hinton; Quartermaster, Elijah Hughes; Surgeon, Samuel C. Harrington; Chaplain, George W. Hutchingson.
The regiment saw much service during the war. The Confederate government was much opposed to the enlistment of colored men by the Federal Government, and passed barbarous laws, prescribing punishment of those who should be captured. In reply to these laws, President Lincoln issued his order on the 30th of April, 1863, ordering "that for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the rules of war, a rebel shall be executed; and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on public works, and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due a prisoner of war.
On the 27th of June, 1863, the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry was made a part of the escort of a valuable train of supplies from Fort Scott to Fort Gibson. This train and escort were attacked at Cabin Creek, July 1, 1863, by General Cooper and some Indian forces. The Union troops saved the train and proceeded with them to Fort Gibson, where it arrived on the 5th of July.
On the 17th of July the regiment bore an honorable part in the battle of Honey Springs South of Fort Gibson.
The regiment had part in the movements of the Union troops about Fort Smith, operating much on the Arkansas River and about Camden, Arkansas. This regiment never failed to give a good account of itself in any battle they served in which it was engaged.
SECOND KANSAS COLORED VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
This regiment was organized in October, 1863, at Fort Smith, Arkansas, under the following field and staff:
Colonel, Samuel J. Crawford, Garnett; Lieutenant-Colonel, Horatio Knowles; Major, James H. Gillpatrick, Junction City; Adjutant, John R. Montgomery, Little Rock, Ark.; Quartermaster, Edwin Stokes, Clinton; Surgeon, George W. Walgamott, Lawrence; Chaplain, Josiah B. McAfee, Topeka.
This was a famous regiment. It performed long, arduous and brilliant service. Its stand at Jenkins Ferry, Arkansas, was not surpassed in bravery by any troops in the service of the United States. For a complete account of the service of this regiment, students are referred to Kansas in the Sixties, by Governor Samuel J. Crawford.