56th US Colored Infantry

OVERVIEW: Organized March 11, 1864, from 3rd Arkansas Infantry (African Descent). Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, 7th Corps, Dept. of Arkansas, to August, 1865. Dept. of Arkansas to September, 1866.

SERVICE: Post and garrison duty at Helena, Ark., till February, 1865. Action at Indian Bay April 13, 1864. Muffleton Lodge June 29. Operations in Arkansas July 1-31. Wallace's Ferry, Big Creek, July 26. Expedition from Helena up White River August 29-September 3. Expedition from Helena to Friar's Point, Miss., February 19-22, 1865. Duty at Helena and other points in Arkansas till September, 1866. Mustered out September 15, 1866.

Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 21 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 647 Enlisted men by disease. Total 674.

Predecessor unit: ARKANSAS VOLUNTEERS. 3rd REGIMENT INFANTRY (AFRICAN DESCENT).  Organized at St. Louis, Mo., August 12, 1863. Attached to District of Eastern Arkansas, Dept. Arkansas, to January, 1864. Little Rock, Ark., 7th Army Corps, Dept. Ark., to March, 1864.

SERVICE: Ordered to Helena, Ark., and Post duty there and at Little Rock till March, 1864. Expedition from Helena up White River February 4-8, 1864, and up St. Francis River February 13-14. Designation of Regiment changed to 56th U.S. Colored Troops March 11, 1864

One Williamson County man is known to have served in the 56th USCI. Pvt.Rush Davis was born in 1834 in Williamson County. According to his enlistment papers he “Belonged to William McClelland, Cooper Co., Missouri."  It is likely that Pvt. Davis was sold or taken to Missouri. He enlisted in Company I on January 2, 1864 in Tipton, Missouri.  Within a month, he was sent on a recruiting mission. At the end of his term of service, the 56th was traveling to St. Louis aboard two steamers to be mustered out. During the trip several soldiers died of an undiagnosed illness. Upon arrival, it became clear that the 56th Regiment had cholera. Ordered back to a 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.He survived to muster out Sept 1866 with his regiment.