On July 17, 1863, at the Battle of Honey Springs, the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers wrote a stirring page in American history, becoming one of the first Black units of the Civil War to play a key role in a Union victory as Major General James G. Blunt, the Union commander at Honey Springs, reported: "The First Kansas (Colored) particularly distinguished itself. They fought like veterans, and preserved their line unbroken throughout the engagement. Their coolness and bravery I have never seen surpassed; they were in the hottest of the fight and opposed to Texas troops twice their number, whom the completely routed."
Consisting largely of escaped slaves from Arkansas and Missouri, on January 13, 1863, the 1st Kansas became the fourth Black regiment to officially enter Federal service. Later redesignated as the 79th U.S. Colored Infantry, this command fought with conspicuous bravery in Missouri, Indian Territory, Kansas, and Arkansas. Mustered out in October 1865, the 1st Kansas suffered a total of 177 men killed in action, more combat casualties than any other Kansas regiment.