Black regiments, such as these soldiers from the 57th U.S. Colored Infantry, were a positive addition to Union armies, comprising nine percent of the North's fighting force. Approximately five thousand black troops, many of them ex-slaves from Arkansas and Mississippi, were stationed at Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Helena during the war. A small detachment of the 57th accompanied Steele's expedition as engineers and bridge train guards into southwestern Arkansas in the spring of 1864.
Photo and info from the J.N. Heiskell Collection/UALR Archives located on disply at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. http://www.arkmilitaryheritage.com/