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While the 1st Kansas Colored mauled DeMorse’s Texans, Tandy Walker’s Choc-taws kept a respectful distance from the 18th Iowa Infantry, which Captain Duncan had posted behind a thickly wooded ravine. The Indians hesitated to get entangled in that natural obstacle and turn themselves into easy targets for the Iowans. Colonel Walker offered a lame excuse for his inaction. He reported that some Union cavalry had gained his left flank, but the truth was that the Choc-taws’ line overlapped Duncan’s. Despite Walker’s passivity, Duncan declined a request from Colonel Williams to send four infantry companies to reinforce the 1st Kansas. The captain replied that he was hard pressed and had no men to spare.

Peering through the smoke produced by exploding artillery shells, Major Ward spotted DeMorse’s brigade reforming for a second assault. In response to Ward’s plea for more troops, Colonel Williams released Companies G and K from reserve to bolster the 1st Kansas Colored’s right wing. Ward incorporated these two companies into his southward-facing line just in time to meet DeMorse’s next onslaught. The Texans returned to the fight in two columns, and Ward could hear them “yelling like fiends” to keep up their courage. Colonel Williams observed that the enemy’s “continuous cheering” was so loud “as to drown out even the roar of the musketry.” Instead of ceasing fire, the three Confederate batteries slightly increased their elevation, hurling their shells over their own troops to burst above the 1st Kansas Colored.19

Colonel Williams sat calmly on his horse amid the whirr of shrapnel, permitting the Texans to come well within 100 yards before he shouted to Ward’s reinforced line to open fire. Once again, the blacks subjected their assailants to repeated doses of buck and ball. The Texans plunged into that leaden storm, determined to drive their attack home. “The noise and din of . . . this almost hand-to-hand conflict was the loudest and most terrific it has been my lot to listen to,” Williams recalled. Twice the Union commander saw a Rebel battleflag fall from the hands of a wounded color bearer, but each time some brave soul sprang forward to raise it again.20

Several minutes into this ferocious musketry duel, one of DeMorse’s regiments, the 29th Texas Cavalry, edged close enough to Ward’s position to recognize the opposing regiment. A wave of redoubled fury swept the Texan ranks, and the men announced their identity by shrieking: “You First Kansas Niggers now buck to the Twenty-ninth Texas!” These two units had met earlier at the Battle of Honey Springs in Indian Territory, July 17, 1863. In a fair, stand-up fight, the 1st Kansas outshot the 29th Texas, forcing the shaken Confederates to withdraw without their colors. Ashamed at having been bested by former slaves, the Texans burned for revenge.21

As in the first attack, the Rebels concentrated much of their fire on the James rifle from the 2nd Indiana Light Battery attached to Major Ward’s right wing. Eventually, all but two of the 10-pounder’s crew had been hit or were hugging cover. When Ward pointed that out to Colonel Williams, the latter ordered the endangered piece to the rear. The Confederates noticed the blue artillery-men preparing to limber, and a gray column bounded forward to prevent the gun’s escape. Only the steady bravery of one Indiana cannoneer, Private Alonso Hinshaw, cheated the Rebels of their prize. Working alone, Hinshaw loaded his gun with double-canister, inserted a friction primer, jerked the lanyard, and sprayed the oncoming Texans with a withering cone of cast-iron balls, causing them to scatter.

Hinshaw’s parting shot knocked the wind out of DeMorse’s attack. Fifteen minutes of unrelenting punishment told the Texans that they could not budge Ward’s quick-shooting blacks. Without abandoning their formations, the Rebels sullenly backed away, and their weary adversaries soon stopped firing.




















Colonel Samuel J. Crawford,  the 2nd Kansas Colored’s no-nonsense commander. Courtesy Kansas State Historical Society

Confederate Forces


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