I had a customer ask me quite a while back (back far enough I don’t remember who) if I knew anything about a possible Indian scout that may be buried in the Greenwood Cemetery. I had to admit I did not. He told me about a stone he found bearing the name Orange Quail. I took a walk through the cemetery and found the lone marble stone. If you were to walk through the main gates and keep walking straight through the little building to the far north end of the grave yard, you will find his stone just to your left. This section is designated as ‘U.S. Gov.’ and you will find a number of veteran’s graves there. The cemetery looks empty in that section, but there is evidence of some missing stones and sunken graves.
This stone shows that Private Quail served in Co. G of the 79th U.S.C.I. which stands for United States Colored Infantry. During the Civil War when both African Americans and Native Americans enlisted in both Federal and Confederate Armies, no distinction was made between the two; both were considered ‘colored.’ With the name ‘Orange Quail’ I was working under the assumption that our subject is Native American. I am glad I waited one more week to send this to press, because in that time I was able to confirm (despite the convincingly Indian name) that Orange Quail is in fact an African American.
Thanks to Ian Spurgeon who is presently completing a book on the 1st Kansas Colored Troops I was able to learn more about Orange Quail’s military history. The 79th Regiment was organized from the 1st Kansas Colored Infantry on December 13th 1864. In fact Orange Quail first enlisted with the 1st Regiment December 23rd of 1863, which was then stationed at Roseville, Arkansas. His muster card shows that he was from Ozark, Arkansas. He was about 20 years old and 5 feet 8 inches tall, described as ‘dark copper’ in complexion and ‘free.’ According to Spurgeon, this makes Quail one of the few (10% or less) who was not a slave at the start of the War, providing his status was not misrepresented. Orange also enlisted with 18 year old Finn Quail who is believed to be a brother or near relation.
We do have a list of the battles the 79th was engaged in during its service. They encountered the enemy at Sherwood, Mo. May 18th 1863; Cabin Creek, Cherokee Nation, July 1st and 2nd 1863; Honey Springs, Indian Territory, July 17th 1863; Lawrence, Ks. July 27th 1863; Horse-Head Creek, Ar. February 17th 1864; Roseville Creek, Ar. March 20th 1864; Prairie D’Ann, Ar. April 13th 1864; Poison Springs, Ar. April 18th 1864 where many in the Regiment were massacred; Jenkins’ Ferry, Ar. April 30th 1864; Fort Gibson, Cherokee Nation, September 16th 1864; Timber Creek, Cherokee Nation, November 19th 1864; Joy’s Ford, Ar. January 8th 1865; and Clarksville, Ar. January 18th 1865.
The records show that Quail was hospitalized at Fort Gibson in October of 1864, but whether it was for injury or illness is not known to us. He was mustered out on the 1st of October, 1865. We know that Quail was receiving his military pension in 1898, and from the pension form of that year (which someone filled out for him) we find that he could neither read nor write and that he labored for his living. His wife Mary had died sometime prior; where she is laid to rest I have not learned. His 18 year old daughter Josaphine was living in Leavenworth at the time.
Thanks to Nancy Carr who found a petition for letters of administration of Orange Quail’s personal property (which amounted to $36) filed on October 3rd of 1903, I was able to narrow down a date of death. So from there I went to the newspapers and searched for any mention of the death of Quail.
The Council Grove Republican of Friday October the 9th 1903 read, “Dies Suddenly; Orange Quaile an old familiar colored character who is known by almost everyone in Morris County, died suddenly at the farm of Frank Chase’s last Thursday night [October 1st], of heart disease. He and two other colored men had been employed to cut corn for Mr. Chase and in the evening of his death he ate a very hearty supper but afterwards later in the evening complained of having a pain in his back, but during the night slept good so his nephew states who was sleeping with him in his sheds, about an hour before he died awakened him but their seemed to be no serious illness with Orange although just before he died he said, I have a little pain, and went to stretch out and died. Orange was in the war and was a Union soldier and had drawn his pension for a number of years. He had no family or near relatives and only a nephew at this place. The remains were buried in Greenwood cemetery.” Quail was about 60 years of age at his passing. He is listed on the 1900 census as living in Council Grove but how long he lived here prior to that I have not been able to determine.
What became of Quail’s daughter Josaphine is not known. It is possible she may have died since no heirs were shown on the administration papers. W. F. Chapin was the one who filed for letters of administration. Although I do not know for sure, I would assume that William F. Chapin was the nephew alluded to in the paper. Letters of administration were never granted, likely because the State of Kansas desired a $75 bond from Chapin. Quail not owning any significant property probably discouraged Chapin from pursuing the matter.
I admit I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t prove Orange Quail was our only known Native American Civil War veteran buried in the County. But, I am satisfied that we have been able to identify another African American who fought for the Union cause, and that the story of Orange Quail has not been altogether lost.
I have found two other men that served in the same Company with Orange Quail; George Thompson, buried in the Abilene Cemetery and Andrew Gregg which I believe is buried at Topeka.
Addenda: I have been puzzled by the engagement at Lawrence Kansas on July 27 1863. I have never heard of a battle there on that date and have not had luck finding any source that mentions one. Quantrill’s raid was about a month later on August 21. I have found listed in the index of campaigns from A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion by Frederick Dyer published 1908, that the engagement is listed as a ‘skirmish.’ So it would appear that this was not a major battle and went unnoticed in the history books.
William Chapin’s name is found on other documents in County records, so it appears he was probably no relation to Quail, just executing the legal work.