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Felix Battles Gravestone
*The birth of Felix Battles is celebrated on this date in 1840. He was a Black soldier and barber.
Born enslaved on a cotton plantation near Memphis, TN, he lived his childhood near Holly Springs, MS. Between 1856 and 1860, Battles escaped his enslavers. He is in the 1860 census in Dubuque, Iowa, with three people who share his last name. He worked steamboats on the Mississippi and in St. Paul.
On August 8, 1864, he became one of more than 100 blacks to join the Union Army from Minnesota. He served with the 18th United States Colored Infantry and was a corporal. As a regiment member, he took part in the Battle of Nashville. This Union victory took the Confederate Army out of the Western theater of the American Civil War. After the war, Battles worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad, which brought him to the Minnesota Red River Valley.
He then worked as a traveling barber before setting up his shop in Moorhead, Minnesota. A stroke forced him into retirement in 1905. He lived in south Moorhead with his wife Kate, her family, and their two children, Julia and Richard.