“They Fought Like Tigers” African American Soldiers and American Indian Soldiers: How they changed the hearts and minds of the Union.
Your class will get a unique look at where it all began, so to speak, as the staff at Fort Scott National Historic Site takes them on a look back in history and the importance of both the African American and American Indian troops during the Civil War. While Fort Scott is not a hot bed of controversy today, in 1862 it was in the fore front of moving toward equality for all men, especially in the US Army.
The 1st African American unit to be victorious in action during the Civil War was mustered into service on the parade grounds at Fort Scott; it is thru this history that we can bring a unique look at the struggles and accomplishments of a diverse army during the Civil War. The Battle at Island Mound, Missouri, took place not far from Fort Scott and was the first Civil War battle where African American soldiers defeated the Confederates in combat. While there were numerous battles throughout the remainder of the war where African American soldiers distinguished themselves, it was this first battle at Island Mound that made a vivid impression to many minds at the time. The African American soldiers were vastly outnumbered but in the end were able to push the enemy back as well as earning high praise from their white commanding officers. Once the news of the Battle of Island Mound began to circulate, more and more people began to see that the African American soldiers would fight to the death to earn their freedom and the numbers of these soldiers in the US Army vastly increased.
Along with African American soldiers, Fort Scott also played a role in the creation of three regiments of American Indians, known as the Indian Home Guards. These troops were not well received by the public in general, but they were successful in their endeavors. The Indian Home Guard had the job of taking back their homelands to the south of Kansas (Indian territory) from the Confederates, who controlled most of Indian territory. Their impact was made only in Indian territory as that is the only place that these soldiers were allowed into battle. These were not the only American Indians to serve the US Army, many Indians mustered into other Union regiments throughout the war, but Kansas was the only place where they were mustered into their own regiments. As with the African American soldiers, these troops played a unique role in the history of Fort Scott and the State of Kansas.
While we talk of their bravery and accomplishments we must also discuss the harsh ways that these soldiers were treated, not only by white soldiers, but also by the community. Many white citizens did not like the idea of African American or American Indians being trained to fight and handle weapons. Many people felt that those men were too uneducated to learn the discipline of being a soldier and that they would abandon their companies at the first sight of battle. That is why the Battle of Island Mound, while militarily insignificant, was vital to the success of the Colored Troops in the US Army as a whole.
All of these topics will be covered in a distance learning setting with your class. The presentation made through the video conference will be made by a presenter in Civil War uniform. In addition to the above topic, the class could also learn the differences between what the colored soldiers were given and what the white soldiers were given at the time.
How to Participate
Teachers can participate in two different ways: videoconferencing using IP technology (Polycom), web-based videoconferencing (GoToMeeting). Contact a ranger at Fort Scott NHS for specifics on how to participate 620-223-0310 or email us. If using this as a culminating activity for a unit, the teachers are encouraged to have students write down questions that they might have, which they can then ask the park staff after the presentation.
- Grade Levels:
- Fifth Grade-Eighth Grade
- African American History and Culture, American Indian History and Culture, Civil War, Social Studies
- National/State Standards:
- Kansas Standards for History, Government and Social Studies: 1,2,3,4,5
- African American History, american indian history, 1st Kansas Colored