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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Color No Longer A Sign of Bondage: Race, Identity and the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment (1862–1865)
by Ringquist, John Paul, Ph.D., University of Kansas, 2011, 448; 3474207
Abstract (Summary)

“Color No Longer A Sign of Bondage” is an account of the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment from its earliest days in 1862 to the regiment's triumphant return to Kansas in November 1865. This work encompasses the racial attitudes of the black and white communities of Kansas, Indian Territory, and Arkansas, and the military service of the regiment through campaigns in the service of the Union's Army of the Frontier. The evolution of white support for black enlistment in Kansas, the regiment's acceptance by white Union regiments, and the concurrent conflicts with Confederate sympathizers and military organizations are central themes of this work.

Although black military service in the Union was not officially countenanced in Kansas prior to 1863 and the Emancipation Proclamation, the First Kansas Colored fought for recognition and shed blood despite the opposition of Kansas civil and military authorities alike. The irregular enlistment and employment of the regiment jeopardized its existence through the fall of 1862, and despite official disapproval the regiment survived to become a vital part of the Army of the Frontier. White and black Kansans alike took note of the regiment's military service and through the sterling service of the regiment in an unforgiving theater of war, the regiment won the admiration of white regiments and a skeptical black civil populace.

The deeds of the First Kansas Colored in battle and in garrison ultimately undergirded the black drive for civil rights and proved that black men could serve as soldiers in an army that often relegated its black soldiers to fatigue duty. The First Kansas Colored was a fighting regiment that won honors in Kansas, Indian Territory, and Arkansas and by its actions demanded respect. The manhood denied to blacks prior to the Civil War was not won through legal battles, but through courageous conduct in war and the blood shed by its soldiers in combat. The First Kansas Colored never faltered in its service to the Union; nor did it fail its supporters and the families of those who served in its ranks. The First Kansas Colored proved that color was no longer a sign of bondage and, although recognition for its deeds often proved ephemeral, its legacy endures.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wilson, Theodore
Commitee: Earle, Jonathan, Mullis, Randy, Myers, Garth, Spiller, Roger
School: University of Kansas
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Kansas
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, American history, Military history
Keywords: Abolitionists, Arkansas, Black military service, Civil War, Kansas, Slave soldiers
Publication Number: 3474207
ISBN: 978-1-124-90208-1
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