The peaceful setting at Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site is in dramatic contrast to the battle that occurred here in 1862 – a battle that marked a significant milestone in the history of the Civil War. This minor skirmish has national significance because it was the first time Black soldiers engaged in combat during the Civil War.
Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site preserves the site of the Toothman Farm, which the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry used as its headquarters and renamed “Fort Africa.” Exhibits at the site interpret the Battle of Island Mound and its significance in the history of the state, the nation and the Civil War. Courage Trail, a 0.5-mile trail around the site, includes wayside exhibits with more information about the battle.
An open picnic shelter provides a shaded area to have a picnic lunch or a comfortable place to contemplate what occurred on this site in 1862.
Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site is a partner site in Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area and the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, both operated by the National Park Service. The heritage area is a consortium of parks, sites and museums in eastern Kansas and western Missouri that interpret the community, regional, and national stories of the journey to freedom. The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom is a national effort to coordinate education efforts about the Underground Railroad and its role in assisting enslaved individuals seeking freedom.
“The Battle of Island Mound”
A short, educational film depicting the story of the Battle of Island Mound, the first time that African American troops were engaged in Civil War combat, is available for sale at some of our state historic sites and parks or by ordering online.