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Join retired attorney, genealogist and tour provider Sarah Cato for a discussion of the 56th United States Colored Infantry recognition program
The St. Louis African American History and Geneaology Society spearheaded the recognition of the 56th United States Colored Troops, and an Ad Hoc Committe is working to have memorial stones placed at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
175 soldiers of the 56th USCI died of cholera in August 1866. The 56th Regiment was originally organized at St. Louis as the 3d Arkansas Infantry Regiment (African Descent). The 3d Arkansas was ordered from St. Louis to Helena, Arkansas and served on post duty there. The unit was mustered out of the service on September 15, 1866, but before then, the tragedy occurred that contributed to the reason a monument was built in their honor in St. Louis. The 56th was traveling aboard 2 steamers to be mustered out. During the trip several soldiers died of an undiagnosed illness. A surgeon inspected the men and reported no cholera among them. The men arrived in St. Louis at night and were kept onboard until the next morning, rather than being allowed to roam the town. The next morning, it was clear that the 56th Regiment had cholera. Ordered back to Quarantine Station, the unit lost 178 enlisted men and one officer in the next few weeks. During its service the 56th Regiment lost a total of 674 men. Four officers and 21 enlisted men were killed in action or of wounds. Two officers and 647 enlisted men were killed by disease, 96 percent of their regiment's losses. (source: information adapted from Save A Grave).
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