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History & Genealogy


A History of the

in the Wars of
1775-1812, 1861-'65,
Joseph T. Wilson
Late of the 2nd Reg't. La. Native Guard Vols. 54th Mass. Vols.
Aide-De-camp to the Commander-In-Chief G. A. R.
Author of
"Emancipation," "Voice of a New Race,"  "Twenty-Two Years of Freedom," etc., etc.
56 Illustrations
Hartford, Conn.:
American Publishing Company

- PART I -

WAR OF 1775
pg. 21

     The history of the patriotic Negro Americans who swelled the ranks of the Colonial and Continental armies has never been written, nor was any attempt made by the historians of that day to record the deeds of those who dared to face death for the independence of the American Colonies.  W. H. Day, in addressing a convention of negro men at Cleveland, O., in 1852, truly said:  "Of the services and sufferings of the colored soldiers of the Revolution, no attempt has, to our knowledge, been made to preserve a record.  Their history is not written; it lies upon the soil watered with their blood; who shall gather it?  It rests with their bones in the charnel house; who shall exhume it?"  Upon reading these lines, it occurred to me that somewhere among the archives of that period there must exist at least a clue to the record of the negro patriots of that war.   If I cannot exclaim Eureka, after years of diligent search, I take pride in presenting what I have found scattered throughout the pages of the early

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histories and literature, and from the correspondence of men who in that period discussed the topics of the day who led and fashioned public opinion, many of whom commanded in the field.  Not a few biographers have contributed to my fund of knowledge.  To avoid as much as possible the charge of plagiarism I have aimed to give credit to my informants for what shall follow regarding the colored patriots in the war of the Revolution.  I have reason to believe that I have gathered much that has been obscure; "that I have exhumed the bones of that noble Phalanx who, at Bunker Hill and Yorktown, in various military employments, served their country.  It is true they were few in number when compared to the host that entered the service in the late Rebellion, but it must be remembered that their number was small at that time in the country, and that the seat; of war was at the North, and not, as in the late war, at the South, where their numbers have: always been large.
     Of the three hundred thousand troops in the Revolutionary war, it has been estimated that five thousand were colored, and these came principally from the North, whose colored population at that time was about 50,000, while the Southern colonies contained about 300,000.  The interest felt in the two sections for the success of the cause of independence, if referred to the army, can easily be seen.  'The Northern colonies furnished two hundred and forty-nine thousand, five hundred and three, and the Southern colonies one hundred and forty-seven thousand, nine hundred and forty soldiers, though the whole population of each section was within a few hundred of being equal.
     The love of liberty was no less strong with the Southern than with the Northern colored man, as their efforts for liberty show.  At the North he gained his freedom by entering the American army; at the South, only by entering the British army, which was joined by more than fifteen thousand colored men. Jefferson says 30,000 negroes from Virginia alone went to the British army.  I make the digression simply to assert that had the colored men at the South possessed the same opportunity as those at the

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North, of enlisting in the American army, a large force of colored men would have been in the field, fighting for America's independence.  Of the services of the little band, scattered as they were throughout the army, two or three in a company composed of whites, a squad in a regiment, a few companies with an army, made it quite impossible for their record, beyond this, to be distinct from the organizations they were attached to.   However, enough has been called from the history of that conflict, to show that they bore a brave part in the struggle which wrested the colonies from the control of Great Britain, and won for themselves and offspring, freedom, which many of them never enjoyed.  I have studiously avoided narrating the conduct of those who cast their fortune with the British, save those who went with Lord Dunmore, for reasons too obvious to make mention of.
     The sentiments of a majority of the people of the colonies were in full accord with the declaration opposing slavery, and they sought to give it supremacy by their success in the conflict.  Slavery, which barred the entrance to the army of the colored man at the South, had been denounced by the colonist before the adoption of the articles of confederation, and was maintained solely by local regulations.  As early as 1774, all the colonies had agreed
to, and their representatives to the congress had signed, the articles of the Continental Association, by which it was agreed, "that we will neither import nor purchase any slave imported after the first day of December next, (1774), after which we will wholly discontinue the slave trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels, nor sell our commodities or manufactories to those who are concerned in it."  Georgia not being represented in this Congress, consequently was not in the Association, but as soon as her Provincial Congress assembled in July, 1775, it passed the following resolutions:
     "I. - Resolved, That this Congress will adopt and carry into execution all and singular the measures and recommendations of the late Continental Congress.
     "IV. -  Resolved, That we will neither import or purchase any slave imported from Africa or elsewhere after this day, (July, 6.")

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     The sincerity with which this agreement was entered into may be seen by the action of the colonists at Norfolk, Virginia, where, in March, 1775, a brig arrived from the coast of Guinea, via Jamaica, with a number of slaves on board consigned to a merchant of that town.  To use a modern phrase the vessel was boycotted by the committee, who published the following:


NORFOLK, March 6th, 1775

     "Trusting to your sure resentment against the enemies of your country, we, the committee, elected by ballot for the Borough of Norfolk, hold up for your just indignation Mr. John Brown merchant, of this place.
     "On Thursday, the 2nd of March, this committee were informed of the arrival of the brig Fanny, Capt. Watson, with a number of slaves for Mr. Brown; and, upon inquiry, it appeared they were shipped from Jamaica as his property, and on his account; that he had taken great pains to conceal their arrival from the knowledge of the committee; and that the shipper of the slaves, Mr. Brown's correspondent, and the captain of the vessel, were all fully apprised of the Continental prohibition against the article.
     "From the whole of this transaction, therefore, we, the committed for Norfolk Borough, do give it as our Unanimous opinion, that teh said John Brown has wilfully and perversely violated the Continental Association, to which he had with his own hand subscribed obedience; and that, agreeable to the eleventh article, we are bound, forthwith, to publish the truth of the case, to the end that all such foes to the rights of British America may be publicly known and universally contemned as the enemies of American liberty, and that every person may henceforth break off all dealings with him."
     This was the voice of a majority of the colonists, and those who dissented were regarded as Tories, and in favor of the crown as against the independence of the colonies, although there were many at the North and South who held slaves, and were yet loyal to the cause of the colonies; but the public sentiment was undoubtedly as strong against the institution as it was in 1864.  But the Tories were numerous at the South, and by continually exciting the imagination of the whites by picturing massacre and insurrection on the part of the negros if they were armed, thwarted the effort of Col. Lauren's and of Congress to raise a "negro army" at the South.  The leaders were favorable to it, but the colonists, for the reason cited, were distrustful of its practicability.  Though a strong effort was made, as will be seen, the scare raised by the

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Tories prevented its success.  Notwithstanding, hundreds of colored men, slave and free, at the South, not only followed the army but in every engagement took an active part on the side of the colonist.  They were ot enrolled and mustered into the army, it is true, but they rendered important service to the cause.
     The caste prejudice now so strong in the country was then in its infancy.  The white man at that time lived with a colored woman without fear of incurring the ostracism of his neighbors, and with the same impunity he lived with an Indian Squaw.  So common was this practice, that in order to correct it laws were passed forbidding it.  The treatment of the slaves was not what it came to be after the war, nor had the spirit of resentment been stifled in them as it was subquently.  Manifestations of their courage and manliness were not wanting when injustice was attempted to be practiced against them, consequently the spirit and courage with which they went into the conflict were quite equal to that of the whites, who were ever ready to applaud them for deeds of daring.  It is only through this medium that we have discovered the need of praise due the little Phalanx, which linked its fortune with the success of the American army, and of whom the following interesting facts can now be recorded.
     It is well for the negro and for his decendants in America, cosmopolitan as it is, that his race retains its distinctive characteristicts, color and features, otherwise they would not have, as now, a history to hand down to posterity so gloriously patriotic and interesting.  His amalgamation with other races is attributable to the relation which it bore to them, although inter-marriage was not allowed.  By the common consent of his enslavers, he was allowed to live clandestinely with the women of his own color; sometimes from humane considerations, sometimes from a standpoint of gain, but always as a slave or a subject of slave code.  Reduced from his natural state of freedom by his misfortune in tribal war, to that of a slave, and then transported by the consent of his captors and enemies to these shores, and sold

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into an unrequited bondage, the fire of his courage, like that of other races similarly situated, without hope of liberty; doomed to toil, slackened into an apathetic state, and seeming willing servitude, which produced a resignation to fate from 1619 to 1770, more than a century and a half.  At the latter date, for the first time in the history of what is now the United States, the negro, inspired with the love of liberty, aimed a blow at the authority that held him in bondage.  In numerous instances, when the Indians attacked the white settlers, particularly in the Northern colonies, negroes were summoned and took part in the defense of the settlements.
     As early as 1652, the militia law of Massachusetts required negroes, Scotchmen and Indians, the indentured slaves of Cromwell, who encountered his army at the battle of Dunbar, to train in the militia.  Nor was it an uncommon occurrence for them to be manumitted for meritorious and courageous action in defending their masters' families, often in the absence of the master, when attacked by the red men of the woods.  It was not infrequent to find the negro as a sentinel at the meeting-house door; or serving as a barricade for the master's mansion.  The Indian was more of a terror to him than the boa-constrictor; though slaves, they knew that if captured by the Indians their fate would be the same as that of the white man; consequently they fought with a desperation equal to that of the whites, against the common enemy.  So accustomed did they become to the use of arms, that one of the first acts of the settlers after the Indians were driven from the forest, was to disarm and forbid negroes keeping or handling fire-arms and weapons of every sort.  This was done from a sense of self-preservation and fear that the negroes might (and many did) attempt to revenge themselves when cruelly treated, or rise in mutiny and massacre the whites.
     But it was not until 1770, when the fervor of rebellion had influenced the people of the colonies, and Capt. Preston, with the King's soldiers, appeared in King Street, Boston, to enforce the decree of the British Parliament,

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While leading an attack against British troops in Boston

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that the people met the troops face to face.  This lent force to the rebellious spirit against the Mother Country, which the people of the United Northern Colonies had felt called upon to manifest in public meetings and by written resolutions.  The soldiers were regarded as invaders.  And while the leading men of Boston were discussing and deliberating as to what steps should be taken to drive the British troops out of the town, Crispus Attucks, a negro runaway slave,* led a crowd against the soldiers, with brave words of encouragement.  The soldiers fired upon them, killing the negro leader, Attucks, first, and then two white men, and mortally wounding two others.  A writer says:
     "The presence of the British soldiers in King Street, excited the patriotic indignation of the people.  The whole community was stirred, and sage counsellors were deliberating and writing and talking about the public grievances.  But it was not for the 'wise and prudant' to be first to act against the encroachments of arbitrary power.  A motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and mulattoes, Irish Jeazues, and outlandish Jack tars, (as John Adams described them in his plea in defence of the soldiers), could not restrain their emotion, or stop to enquire if what they must do was according to the letter of the law.  Led by Crispus Attucks, the mulatto slave, and shouting, 'The way to get rid of these soldiers is to attack the main guard; strike at the root; this is the nest; with more valor than discretion they rushed to King Street, and were fired upon by Capt. Preston's company.  Crispus Attucks was the first to fall; he and Samuel Gray and Jonas Caldwell were killed on the
spot.  Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr were mortally wounded.  The excitement which followed was intense.  The bells of the town were rung.  An impromptu town-meeting was held, and an immense assembly was gathered.  Three days after, on the 17th, a public funeral of the martyr took place.  The shops in Boston were closed, and all the bells of Boston and the neighboring towns were rung.  It is said that a greater number of persons assembled on this occasion, than ever before gathered on this continent for a similar purpose.  The body of Crispus Attucks, the mulatto, had been placed in Fanueil Hall with that of Caldwell; both being strangers in the city.  Maverick was buried from his mother's

"Ran away from his master, William Brown, of Framingham, on the 30th of Sept. last, a Mullato Fellow, about 27 years of age, named Crispus, 6 feet 2 inches high, short, curl'd hair, his knees nearer together than common; had on a light coloured Bearskin Coat, plain brown Fustain Jacket, or brown All Wool one, new Buck skin breeches, blue Yarn Stockings, and a checked woolen shirt. Whoever shall take up said Runaway, and convey him to his abovesaid master, shall have ten pounds, old Tenor Reward, and all necessary charges paid.  And all Masters of Vessels and others, are hereby cautioned against concealing or carrying off said Servant on Penalty of the Law.
Boston, October 2, 1750." Boston Gazette,

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house in Union Street, and Gray, from his brother's, in Royal Exchange Lane.  The four hearses formed a junction in King Street, and then the procession marched in columns six deep, with a long file of coaches belonging to the most distinguished citizens, to the Middle Burying Ground, where the four victims were deposited in one grave; over which a stone was placed with the inscription:

' Long as in Freedom's cause the wise contend,
Dear to your country shall your fame extend;
While to the world the lettered stone shall tell'
Where Caldwell, Attucks, Gray and Maverick fell.'

     "The anniversary of this event was publicly commemorated in Boston by an oration and other exercises every year until our National Independence was achieved, when the Fourth of July was substituted for the Fifth of March, as the more proper day for a general celebration.  Not only was the event commemorated, but the martyrs who then gave up their lives were remembered and honored."
     Thus the first blood for liberty shed in the colonies was that of a real slave and a negro.  As the news of the affray spread , the people became aroused throughout the land.  Soon, in every town and village, meetings were held, and the colonists urged to resist the oppressive and aggresive measures which the British Parliament had passed, and for the enforcement of which troops had been stationed in Boston, and as we see, had shot down those who dared to oppose them.  In all the colonies slavery was at this time tolerated, though the number of slaves was by no means large in the Northern Colonies, nor had there been a general ill treatment of them, as in after years in the Southern States.  Their war-like courage, it is true, had been slackened, but their manhood had not been crushed.
     Crispus Attucks was a fair representative of the colonial negro, as they evinced thereafter, during the prolonged struggle which resulted in the Independence of the United States.  When the tocsin sounded "to arms, to arms, ye who would be free," the negro responded to the call, and side by side with the white patriots of the colonial militia, bled and died.
     Mr. Bancroft in his history of the United States says:
     "Nor should history forget to record, that as in the army at Cambridge, so also in this gallant band, the free negroes of the colony had

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their representatives.  For the right of free negroes to bear arms in the public defense was, at that day, as little disputed in New England as other rights.  They took their place, not in a separate corps, but in the ranks with the white men; and their names may be seen on the pension rolls of the country, side by side with those of other soldiers of the Revolution."

     It was not the free only who took up arms in defence of America's independence; not alone those who, in preceding wars. - Indian and French, - had gained their liberty, that swelled the ranks of the colonial militia; but slaves, inspired by the hope of freedom, went to the front, as Attucks had done when he cut the Gordian knot that held the colonies to Great Britain.  "From that moment we may date the severance of the British Empire," said Daniel Webster, in his Bunker Hill oration, referring to the massacre on the 5th of March, 1770.  The thirs for freedom was universal among the people of New England.  With them liberty was not circumscribed by condition and now, since the slave Attucks had struck the first blow for America's independence, thereby electrifying the colonies and putting quite a different phase upon their grievances, the people were called upon to witness a real slave struggling with his oppressors for his freedom.  It touched the people of the colonies as they had never been touched before, and they arrayed themselves for true freedom.
     Dr. Joseph Warren thus heralds the sentiment of the colonist, in his oration delivered at Boston, Mar. 5th, 1775:
 "That personal freedom is the natural right of every man, and that property, or an exclusive right to dispose of what he has honestly acquired by his own labor, necessarily arises therefrom, are truths which common sense has placed beyond the reach of contradiction.  And no man, or body of men, can, without being guilty of flagrant injustice, claim a right to dispose of the persons or acquisitions of any other man or body of men, unless it can be proved that such a right has arisen from some compact between the parties, in which it has been explicitly and freely granted."

     The year previous, John  Hancock was the orator on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the shedding of

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the first blood for the Independence of America, and he thus presents the case to a Boston audience yet smarting under the insult and sting given them by the British soldiery:

     "But, I forbear, and come reluctantly to the transactions of that dismal night, when in such quick succession, we felt the extremes of grief, astonishment and rage; when Heaven, in anger, for a dreadful moment suffered Hell to take the reins; when Satan with his chosen band opened the sluices of New England's blood, and sacrilegiously poluted our land with the dead bodies of her guiltless sons.  Let this sad tale of death never be told without a tear; let the heaving bosom cause to burn with a manly indignation at the barbarous story, through the long tracts of future time; let ever parent tell the shameful story to his listening children 'til tears of pity glisten in their eyes, and boiling passions shake their tender frames; and whilst the anniversary of that ill-fated night is kept a jubilee in the grim court of pandemonium, let all America join in one common prayer to Heaven, that the inhuman, unprovoked murders of the 5th of March, 1770, planned by Hillsborough and a knot of treacherous knaves in Boston, and executed by the cruel hand of Preston and his sanguinary coadjutors, may stand in history without a parallel.  But what, my countrymen, withheld the ready arm of vengence from executing instant justice on the vile assassins?  Perhaps you feared promiscuous carnage might ensue, and that the innocent might share the fate of those who had performed the infernal deed.  But were not all guilty?  Were you not too tender of the lives of those who came to fix a yoke on your necks?  But I must not too severely blame you for a fault which great souls only can commit.  May that magnificence of spirit which scorns the low pursuit of malice; may that generous compassion which often preserves from ruin, even a guilty villain, forever actuate the noble bosoms of Americans!  But let not the miscreant host vainly imagine that we feared their arms.  No, those we despised; we dread nothing but slavery.  Death is the creature of a poltroon's brains; 'tis immortality to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of our country.  We fear not death.  That gloomy night, the pale-face moon, and the affrighted stars that hurried through the sky, can witness that we fear not death.  Our hearts, which, at the recollection, glow with rage that four revolving years have scarcely taught us to restrain, can witness that we fear not death; and happy it is for those who dared to insult us, that their naked bones are not now piled up an everlasting monument of Massachusetts's bravery.  But they retired; they fled, and in that flight they found their only safety.  We then expected that the hand of public justice would soon inflict that punishment upon the murderers, which, by the laws of god and man, they had incurred.  But let the unbiased pen of a Robertson, or perhaps of some equally famed American, conduct this trial before the great tribunal of succeed-

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ing generations.  And though the murderers may escape the just resentment of an enraged people; though drowsy justice, intoxicated by the poisonous draft prepared for her cup, still nods upon her rotten seat, yet be assured, such complicated crimes will meet their due reward.  Tell me, ye bloody butchers! ye villains high and low! ye wretches who contrived, as well as you who executed the inhuman deed! do you not feel the goads and stings of conscious guilt pierce through your savage bosoms?  Though some of you may think yourselves exalted to a height that bids defiance to human justice, and others shroud yourselves beneath the mask of hypocrisy, and build your hopes of safety on the low arts of cunning, chicanery and falsehood; yet do you not sometimes feel the gnawings of that worm which never dies; do not the injured shades of Maverick, Gray, Cadwell, Attucks and Carr, attend you in your solitary walks; arrest you in the midst of your debaucheries and fill even your dreams with terror?"

     The orators of New England poured out upon this once slave, now hero and martyr, their unstinted praise.  We have but to recall the recollection of the earliest conflicts which the colonist had with the British, in order to
see the negro occupying a place in the ranks of the patriot army.  Their white fellow-citizens were only too glad to
take ground to the left, in order that they could fall in on their colors.  And they did good service whenever they
fought, as the record shows.
     The Committee of safety upon reviewing the situation and the army, before the first great battle of the Revolution had been fought, adopted the following resolution:

     "Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that as the contest now between Great Britain and the Colonies respects the liberties and privileges of the latter, which the Colonies are determined to maintain, that the admission of any persons, as soldiers, into the army now raising, but such as are Freeman, will be inconsistent with the principals that are supported, and reflect dishonor on this Colony; and that no Slaves be admitted into this army upon any consideration whatever."

     The exception was well taken, and this act of the Committee, excluding slaves from the army, placed the rebels upon the basis of patriots, fighting for freedom.  This, however, did not detract from those who had already distinguished themselves, by their bravery at Bunker Hill a few weeks previous, where Peter Salem, once a slave, fought side by side in the ranks with the white soldiers.  When the British Major Pitcairn mounted the redoubt,

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upon that memorable occasion, shouting, "The day is ours!"  Peter Salem poured the contents of his gun into that officer's body, killing him instantly, and checking, temporarily, the advance of the British.  Swett, in his "Sketches of Bunker Hill Battle," says:

     "Major Pitcairn caused the first effusion of blood at Lexington.  In that battle, his horse was shot under him, while he was separated from his troops.  With presence of mind he feigned himself slain; his pistols were taken from his hostlers, and he was left for dead, when he seized the opportunity and escaped.  He appeared at Bunker Hill, and, says the historian, 'Among those who mounted the works was the gallant Major Pitcairn, who exultingly cried out, 'The day is ours!' when a black soldier, named Salem, shot him through and he fell.  His agonized son received him in his arms, and tenderly bore him to the boats.'  A contribution was made in the army for the colored soldier, and he was presented to Washington as having performed this feat."

     Mr. Aaron White, of Thompson, Conn., in a letter to George Livermore, Esq., of the Massachusetts Historical Society, writes :

     "With regard to the black Hero of Bunker Hill, I never knew him personally, nor did I ever hear from his lips the story of his achievements; but I have better authority. About the year 1809, I heard a soldier of the Revolution, who was present at the Bunker Hill Battle, relate to my father the story of the death of Major Pitcairn.  He said the Major had passed the storm of fire without, and had mounted the redoubt, when, waving his sword, he commanded, in a loud voice, the 'rebels' to surrender.  His sudden appearance, and his commanding air, at first startled the men immediately before him.  They neither answered nor fired; probably not being exactly certain what was next to be done.  At this critical moment, a negro soldier stepped forward, and, aiming his musket directly at the Major's bosom, blew him through.  My informant declared that he was so near, that he distinctly saw the act.  The story made quite an impression on my mind.  I have frequently heard my farther relate the story, and have no doubt of its truth.  My father on the day of the battle was a mere child, and witnessed the battle and burning of Charlestown from Roxbury Hill, sitting on the shoulders of the Rev. Mr. Jackson, who said to him as he placed him on the ground,  'Now, boy, do you remember this!'  Consequently, after such an injunction, he would necessarily pay particular attention to anecdotes concerning the first and only battle he ever witnessed."

     Salem was undoubtedly one of the chief heroes of that ever memorable battle. Orator, historian, poet, all give

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Battle of Bunker Hill

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this sable patriot credit for having been instrumental in checking the British advance and saving the day.
     At the unveiling of the statue erected to the memory of Gen. Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker Hill, the orator of the occasion, Hon. Edward Everett, said:

     "It is the monument of the day of the event, of the battle of Bunker Hill; all of the brave men who shared its perils, alike of Prescott and Putnam and Warren, the chiefs of the day, and the colored man, Salem, who, is reported to have shot the gallant Pitcairn, as he mounted the parapet.  Cold as the clods on which it rests, still as the silent Heaven to which it soars, it is yet vocal, eloquent, in their individual praise."

     The following is a copy of a petition now in the Archive Department of Massachusetts:


     "The subscribers beg leave to report to your Honorable House, (which we do in justice to the character of so brave a man), that under our own observation, we declare that a negro man named Salem Poor, of Col. Frye's regiment, Capt. Ame's company, in the late battle at Charleston, behaved like an experienced officer, as well as an excellent soldier.  To set forth particulars of his conduct would be tedious.  We only beg leave to say, in the person of this said negro, centers a brave and gallant soldier.  The reward due to so great and distinguished a character, we submit to Congress.

   EPHM. COREY, Lieut.
   JOSHUA ROW, Lieut.
EBENR. VARNUM, 2nd Lieut.
JOHN MORTON, Sergt. (?)

     "In Council Dec. 21, 1775. - Read, and sent down.
                                                      PEREZ MORTON, Dep'y Sec'y."

     A biographical account of Peter Salem is given in the following newspaper extract:

     "April, 1882, the town of Framingham voted to place a memorial stone over the grave of Peter Salem, alias Salem Middlesex, whose last resting place in the old burial ground an Framingham Centre has been unmarked for years.  For this purpose $150 was appropriated by the town.  The committee in charge of the matter has placed a neat granite memorial over his grave, and it bears the following inscription:  "Peter Salem, a soldier of the revolution, Died Aug. 16, 1816.  Concord, Bunker

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Hill, Saratoga.  Erected by the town, 1882."  Peter Salem was the colored man who particularly distinguished himself in the revolutionary war by shooting down Major Pitcairn at the battle of Bunker Hill, as he was mounting a redoubt and shouting, "The day is ours!" this being the time when Pitcairn fell back into the arms of his son.  Peter Salem served faithfully in the war for seven years in the companies of minute men under the command of Capt. John Nixon and Capt. Simon Edgell of Framingham, and came out of it unharmed.  He was a slave, and was owned, originally,, by Capt Jeremiah Belknap of Framingham, being sold by him to Major Lawson Buckminster of that town, he becoming a free man when he joined the army.  Salem was born in Framingham, and, in 1783, married Katie Benson, a Granddaughter of Nero, living for a time near what is now the State muster field.  He removed to Leicester after the close of the war, his last abode in that town being a cabin on the road leading from Leicester to Auburn.  He was removed to Framingham, where he had gained a settlement in 1816 and there he died."
    Salem was not the only negro at the battle of Bunker Hill. Says an authority:

     "Col. Trumbull in his celebrated historic picture of this battle, introduces conspicuously the colored patriot.  At the time of the battle, the artist, then acting as adjutant, was stationed with his regiment at Roxbury, and saw the action from this point.  The picture was painted in 1786 when the event was fresh in his mind.  It is a significant historical fact, pertinent to our present research, that, among the limited number of figures introduced on the canvas, more than one negro soldier can be distinctly seen."

     Of the others who participated in the battle we have knowledge of Salem Poor, whose bravery won for him favorable comment.
     Major Wm. Lawrence, who fought through the war for independence, from Concord, until the peace of 1783, participating in many of the severest battles of the war.
Says a memoir:

     "At Bunker Hill, where he was slightly wounded, his coat and hat were pierced with the balls of the enemy, and were preserved in the family for several years.  At one time he commanded a company whose rank and file were all negroes, of whose courage, military discipline, and fidelity, he always spoke with respect.  On one occasion, being out reconnoiteriug with his company, he got so far in advance of his command, that he was surrounded, and on the point of being made prisoner by the enemy.  The men, soon discovering his peril, rushed to his rescue, and fought with the most determined bravery till that rescue was effectually

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secured.  He never forgot this circumstance, and ever took special pains to show kindness and hospitality to any individual of the colored race, who came near his dwelling."

     The Committee of Safety having excluded slaves from the army, many were thereafter manumitted, that they might enlist.  There was no law regulating enlistment in the army at the time which required the color of a soldier's skin to be recorded or regarded.  A prejudice existed in the legislature that prompted that body to begin a series of special enactments, regarding negroes, which did not exclude them altogether from the army, but looked to their organization into exclusive companies, batallions and regiments.
     Notwithstanding the record made by the negroes who had swollen the ranks of the American army a few weeks after the battle of Bunker Hill, General Gates, then at Cambridge, issued the following order to the officers, then recruiting for the service:

     "You are not to enlist any deserter from the Ministerial army, nor any stroller, negro, or vagabond, or persons suspected of being an enemy to the liberty of America, nor any under eighteen years of age.  As the cause is the best that can engage men of courage and principle to take up arms, so it is expected that none but such will be accepted by the recruiting officer.  The pay, provision, &c., being so ample, it is not doubted but that the officers sent upon this service will, without delay, complete their respective corps, and march the men forthwith to camp.  You are not to enlist any person that is not an American born, unless such person has a wife and family, and is a settled resident in this country.  The persons you enlist must be provided with good and complete arms."

     This was in July, and on the 26th of the following September, Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, moved in the Colonial Congress that all negroes be discharged that were in the army.  As might be expected, his proposition was strongly supported by the Southern delegates, but the Northern delegates being so much stronger, voted it down.  The negroes were crowding so rapidly into the army, and the Northern colonists finding their Southern comrades so strongly opposing this element of strength, submitted the question of their enlistment to a conference committee in October, composed of such men as Dr.

[Pg. 40]
Franklin, Benjamin Harrison and Thomas Lynch, with the Deputy Governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island.  This committee met at Cambridge, with a committee of the council of Massachusetts Bay.  The object and duty of the meeting was to consider the condition of the army, and to devise means by which it could be improved.
     General Washington was present at the meeting, and took part in the discussions. Among others, the following subject was considered and reported upon: " 'Ought not negroes to be excluded from the new enlistment, especially those such as are slaves?'  All were thought improper by the council of officers. 'Agreed, That they may be rejected altogether.' "
     In the organization of the new army, were many officers and men, who had served with negroes in the militia, and who had been re-enlisted in the colonial army.  They protested against the exclusion of their old comrades, on account of color.  So very strong were their protests that most of the rank and file of the Northern troops regarded the matter as of serious import to the colonies, and of danger to the wives and families of those in the field.  There was quite a large number of free negroes in the Northern Colonies at this time, and the patriotism displayed by those who had the opportunity of serving in the militia during the early stages of the war, aroused a feeling which prompted a great many masters to offer to the commander of the army the services of their slaves, and to the slaves their freedom, if their services were accepted.  So weighty were the arguments offered, and to soften the gloom which hung about the homes and the camps of the soldiers, Gen. Washington wrote to the President of Congress regarding the matter, from Cambridge, in December, 1775:

     "It has been represented to me that the free negroes who have served in this army are very much dissatisfied at being discarded.  As it is to be apprehended that they may seek employment in the Ministerial army, I have presumed to depart from the resolution respecting them, and have given license for their being enlisted.  If this is disapproved by Congress, I will put a stop to it." *

* Mr. Sparks appends to this letter the following note: "At a meeting of the general officers, previously to the arrival of the committee from Congress in camp, it was unanimously resolved, that it was not expedient to enlist slaves in the new army; and,

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     The letter was submitted to Congress, and General Washington's action was sustained by the passage of the following resolution: "That the free negroes, who had served faithfully in the army at Cambridge, may be re-enlisted therein, but no others."
     The question of color first entered the army by order of Washington's predecessor, Gen. Artemus Ward, who in his first general order required the "complexion" of the soldier to be entered upon the roll.  In October, 1775, Gen. Thomas wrote the following letter to John Adams.  The general was in every way competent to draw a true picture of the army, and had the opportunity of observation.  He says:

     "I am sorry to hear that any prejudices should take place in any Southern Colony, with respect to the troops raised in this.  I am certain that the insinuations you mention are injurious, if we consider with what precipitation we are obliged to collect an army.  In the regiments at Roxbury, the privates are equal to any that I served with in the last war; very few old men, and in the ranks very few boys.  Our fifes are many of them boys.  We have some negroes; but I look on them, in general, as equally servicable with other men for fatigue; and in action many of them have proved themselves brave.  I would avoid all reflection, or anything that may tend to give umbrage: but there is in this army from the southward, a number called riflemen, who are the most indifferent men I ever served with.  These privates are mutinous, and often deserting to the enemy: unwilling for duty of any kind: exceedingly vicious: and I think the army here would be as well off without them.  But to do justice to their officers, they are, some of them, likely men."

     Despite all prejudice, the negro, as in all conflicts since, sought every opportunity to show his patriotism, and his unquenchable thirst for liberty; and no matter in what capacity he entered the service, whether as body-servant, hostler or teamster, he always displayed the same characteristic courage.  In November of the same year the Provincial Congress of South Carolina, by the passage of the following resolution, gave permission to her militia officers, to use slaves in the army for certain purposes:

by a large majority, negroes of every description were excluded from enlistment.  When the subject was referred to the Committee in conference, the resolve was not adhered to, and probably for the reason here mentioned by Washington.  Many black soldiers were in the service during all stages of the war."  Spark's Washington, Vol. Ill, pp. 218-219.

[Pg. 42]
"On motion, Resolved, That the colonels of the several regiments of militia throughout the Colony have leave to enroll such a number of able male slaves, to be employed as pioneers and laborers, as public exegencies may require; and that a daily pay of seven shillings and sixpence be allowed for the service of each such slave while actually employed."

     The foregoing resolution must not in any way be understood as sanctioning the employment of negroes as soldiers, notwithstanding some of the ablest men of the State advocated the enlistment of negroes in the army; the opposition was too strong to carry the measure through either Congress or the legislature.  The feeling among the Northern colonists may be shown by citing the views of some of their leading men, and none perhaps was better calculated to give a clear expression of their views, than the Rev. Dr. Hopkins, of Newport, R. I., who wrote a "Dialogue Concerning the slavery of the Africans," published soon after the commencement of hostilities.  Here is an extract from a note to the Dialogue:

     "God is so ordering it in his providence, that it seems absolutely necessary something should speedily be done with respect to the slaves among us, in order to our safety, and to prevent their turning against us in our present struggle, in order to get their liberty.  Our oppressors have planned to gain the blacks, and induce them to take up arms against us, by promising them liberty on this condition; and this plan they are prosecuting to the utmost of their power, by which means they have persuaded numbers to join them. And should we attempt to restrain them by force and severity, keeping a strict guard over them, and punishing them severely who shall be detected in attempting to join our oppressors, this will only be making bad worse, and serve to render our inconsistence, oppression, and cruelty more criminal, perspicuous, and shocking, and bring down the righteous vengeance of Heaven on our heads.  The only way pointed out to prevent this threatening evil is to set the blacks at liberty ourselves by some public acts and laws, and then give them proper encouragement to labor, or take arms in the defence of the American cause, as they shall choose. This would at once be doing them some degree of justice, and defeating our enemies in the scheme that they are prosecuting."

     Therefore it will be observed that public opinion regarding the arming of negroes in the North and South, was controlled by sectional interest in the one, and the love of liberty in the other.  That both desired America's

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Independence, no one will doubt, but that one section was more willing than the other to sacrifice slavery for freedom, I think is equally as plain.  While the colonists were debating with much anxiety the subject of what to do with the negroes, the New England States were endeavoring to draw the Southern States or Colonies into the war by electing George Washington as Commander of the army at Cambridge, and accepting the mis-interpretations of the declarations of war.  The Punic faith with which the Southern States entered the war for liberty humiliated the army, and wrung from its commander the letter written to Congress, and its approval of his course in re-enlisting free negroes.  Meanwhile the British were actively engaged in recruiting and organizing negroes into their army and navy.
     In November, 1775, Lord Dunmore visited Norfolk, Virginia,* and, as Governor, finding his authority as such not regarded by the whites, issued a proclamation offering freedom to the slaves who would join the British army, A full description of the State of affairs at that time, is thus given by an English historian:

     "In letters which had been laid before the English Parliament, and published to the whole world, he (Lord Dunmore) had represented the planters as ambitious, selfish men, pursuing their own interest and advancement at the expense of their poorer countrymen, and as being ready to make every sacrifice of honesty and principle, and he had said more privately, that, since they were so anxious for liberty, for more freedom than was consistent with the free institutions of the Mother Country and the charter of the Colony, that since they were so eager to abolish a fanciful slavery in a dependence on Great Britain, he would try how they liked abolition of real slavery, by setting free all their negroes and indentured servants, who were, in fact, little better than white slaves.  This to the Virginians was like passing a rasp over a gangrened place; it was probing a wound that was incurable, or one which had not yet been healed.   Later in the year, when the battle of Bunker's Hill had been

 * Dunmore after destroying Norfolk, sailed with his fleet of men-of-war and more than fifty transports, on board of which were many armed negroes and Royal troops, to the mouth of the Piankatank river, and took possession of Gwynn's Island, where he landed his troops and entrenched.  Here he was attacked by Gen. Lewis' men from the opposite shore.  One of Dunmore's ships was badly damaged by cannon balls, and he drew off and sailed up the Potomoc river, and occupied St. Georgia's Island, after having burned a mansion at the mouth of Aqua Creek.  He was here attacked by a militia force and retired.  Misfortune followed him; disease, shipwreck and want of
provisions.  He soon made sail, and with his negroes reached England, where he remained.

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fought, when our forts on Lake Champlain had been taken from us, and when Montgomery and Arnold were pressing on our possessions in Canada, Lord Dunmore carried his threat into execution.  Having established his headquarters at Norfolk, he proclaimed freedom to all the slaves who would repair to his standard and bear arms for the King.  The summons was readily obeyed by the most of the negroes who had the means of escape to him.  He, at the same time, issued a proclamation, declaring martial law throughout the colony of Virginia; and he collected a number of armed vessels, which cut off the coasting trade, made many prizes, and greatly distressed an important part of that Province.  If he could have opened a road to slaves in the interior of the Province, his measures would have been very fatal to the planters.  In order to stop the alarming desertion of the negroes, and to arrest his Lordship in his career, the provincial Assembly detached against him a strong force of more than a thousand men, who arrived in the neighborhood of Norfolk in the month of December.  Having made a circuit, they came to a village called Great Bridge, where the river Elizabeth was traversed by a bridge; but before their arrival the bridge had been made impassable, and some works, defended chiefly by negroes, had been thrown up."

     During the same month Edmund Pendleton wrote to Richard Henry Lee that many slaves had flocked to the
British standard:

     "The Governor, *  *  *  * marched out with three hundred and fifty soldiers, Tories and slaves, to Kemp's Landing; and after setting up his standard, and issuing his proclamation, declaring all persons rebels who took up arms for the country, and inviting all slaves, servants and apprentices to come to him and receive arms, he preceded to intercept Hutchings and his party, upon whom he came by surprise, but received, it seems, so warm a fire, that the ragmuffins ran away.  They were, however, rallied on discovering that that two companies of our militia gave away; and left Hutchings and Dr. Reid with a volunteer company, who maintained their ground bravely till they were overcome by numbers, and took shelter in a swamp.  The slaves were sent in pursuit of them; and one of Col. Hutching's, with another, found him.  On their approach, he discharged his pistol at his slave, but missed him; and he was taken by them, after receiving a wound in the face with a sword.  The number taken or killed on either side is not ascertained.  It is said the Governor went to Dr. Reid's shop, and after taking the medicines and dressing necessary for his wounded men, broke all the others to pieces.  Letters mention that slaves flock to him in abundance; but I hope it is magnified."

     Five months after he issued the proclamation, Lord Dunmore thus writes, concerning his success:

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[No. 1]
Lord Dunmore to the Secretary of State.


                                               30th March, 1776 

     "Your Lordship will observe by my letter, No. 34, that I have been endeavoring to raise two regiments here - one of white people, the other of black.  The former goes on very slowly, but the latter very well, and would have been in great forwardness, had not a fever crept in amongst them, which carried off a great many very fine fellows."


[No. 3]


                                                30th March, 1776 

     "I am extremely sorry to inform your Lordship, that that fever of which I informed you in my letter No. 1 has proved a very malignant one, and has carried off an incredible number of our people, especially the blacks.  Had it not been for this horrid disorder, I am satisfied I should have had no doubt of penetrating into the heart of this colony."

     The dread in which the colonists held the negro was equal to that with which they regarded the Indians.  The incendiary torch, massacre, pillage, and revolt, was ever presenting a gloomy and disastrous picture to the colonists at the South.  Their dreams at night; their thoughts by day; in the field and in the legislature hall, were how to keep the negro down.  If one should be seen in a village with a gun, a half score of white men would rush and take it from him, while women in the street would take shelter in the nearest house.  The wrongs which they continued to practice upon him was a terror to them through their conscience, though then, as in later years, many, and particularly the leaders, endeavored to impress others with their feigned belief of the natural inferiority of the negro to themselves.  This doctrine served them, as the whistle did the boy in the woods; they talked in that way simply to keep their courage up, and their conscience down.
     The commander of the American army regarded the action of Lord Dunmore as a serious blow to the national cause.  To take the negroes out of the field from raising produce for the army, and place them in front of the patriots as opposing soldiers, he saw was a danger that

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should be averted.  With this in view he wrote to Joseph Reed in December, saying:

     "If the Virginians are wise, that arch-traitor to the rights of humanity, Lord Dunmore, should be instantly crushed, if it takes the whole army to do it; otherwise, like a snowball in rolling, his army will get size, some through fear, some through promises, and some through inclination, joining his standard; but that which renders the measure indispensable is the negroes; for, if he gets formidable, numbers of them will be tempted to join, who will be afraid to do it without."

     Notwithstanding this, the Southern States still kept the negro out of the army.  It was not until affairs became alarmingly dangerous, and a few weeks before the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, that the subject of arming the slaves came again before the people.
     In May, 1777, the General Assembly of Connecticut postponed in one house and rejected in the other the report of a committee "that the effective negro and mulatto slaves be allowed to enlist with the Continental battallions now raising in this State."  But under a law passed at the same session "white and black, bond and free, if 'able bodied,' went on the roll together, accepted as the representatives of their 'class,' or as substitutes for their employers."  At the next session (October, 1777), the law was so amended as to authorize the selectmen of any town, on the application of the master. - after 'inquiry into the age, abilities, circumstances, and character' of the servant or slave, and being satisfied 'that it was likely to be consistent with his real advantage, and that he would be able to support himself' - to grant liberty for his emancipation, and to discharge the master 'from any charge or cost which may be occasioned by maintaining or supporting the servant or slave made free as aforesaid.'  Mr. J. H. Trumbull, of Connecticut, in giving the foregoing facts, adds:

     "The slave (of servant for term of years) might receive his freedom; the master might receive exemption from draft, and a discharge from future liabilities, to which he must otherwise have been subjected.  In point of fact, some hundreds or blacks, - slaves and freemen, - were enlisted, from time to time, in the regiments of State troops and of the Connecticut line."

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     The British were determined, it seems, to utilize all the available strength they could command, by enlisting negroes at the North as well as at the South.  They conceived the idea of forming regiments of them at the North, as the letter of Gen. Greene to Gen. Washington will show:

                                                             "CAMP ON LONG ISLAND, July 21, 1776, two o'clock.
     "SIR: - Colonel Hnad reports seven large ships are coming up from the Hook to the Narrows.

     "A negro belonging to one Strickler, at Gravesend, was taken prisoner (as he says) last Sunday at Coney Island.  Yesterday he made his escape, and was taken prisoner by the rifle guard.  He reports eight hundred negroes collected on Staten Island, this day to be formed into a regiment.
                                                  I am your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant,
                                                                           N. GREENE.

     "To His Excellency Gen. Washington, Headquarters, New York."
     Occasionally the public would be startled by the daring and bravery of some negro in the American army, and then the true lovers of liberty, North and South, would again urge that negroes be admitted into the ranks of the army.  When Lt. Col. Barton planned for the capture of the British Maj. Gen. Prescott, who commanded the Brittish army at Newport R. I., and whose capture was necessary in order to effect the release of Gen. Lee, who was then in the hands of the British, and of the same rank as that of Gen. Prescott, Col. Barton's plan was made a success through the aid of Prince, a negro in Col. Barton's command.  The daring of the exploit excited the highest patriotic commendations of the Americans, and revived the urgent appeals that had been made for a place in the armed ranks of all men, irrespective of color.  The Pennsylvania Evening Post of Aug. 7th, 1777, gives the following account of the capture:

     "They landed about five miles from Newport, and three quarters of a mile from the house, which they approached cautiously, avoiding the main guard, which was at some distance. The Colonel went foremost with a stout active negro close behind him, and another at a small distance; the rest followed so as to be near but not seen.
     "A single sentinel at the door saw and hailed the Colonel; he answered by exclaiming against and inquiring for, rebel prisoners, but kept slowly advancing.  The sentinel again challenged him and required

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the countersign.  He said he had not the countersign; but amused the sentry by talking about rebel prisoners, and still advancing till he came within reach of the bayonet, which, he presenting, the colonel struck aside, and seized him.  He was immediately secured, and ordered to be silent, on pain of instant death.  Meanwhile, the rest of the men surrounding the house, the negro, with his head, at the second stroke, forced a passage into it, and then into the landlord's apartment.  The landlord at first refused to give the necessary intelligence; but, on the prospect of present death, he pointed to the General's chamber, which being instantly opened by the negro's head, the Colonel, calling the General by name by name, told him he was a prisoner."

     Congress voted Col. Barton a magnificent sword, but the real captor of Gen. Prescott, so far as known, received nothing.  A surgeon in the American army, Dr. Thacher, writes, under date of Aug. 3d, 1777, at Albany:

     "The pleasing information is received here that Lieut.-Col. Barton, of the Rhode Island Militia, planned a bold exploit for the purpose of surprising and taking Maj.-Gen. Prescott, the commanding officer of the Royal army at Newport.  Taking with him, in the night, about forty men, in two boats, with oars muffled, he had the address to elude the vigilance of the ships-of-war and guard boats; and, having arrived undiscovered at the quarters of Gen. Prescott, they were taken for the sentinels; and the general was not alarmed till the captors were at the door of his lodging chamber, which was fast closed.  A negro man, named Prince, instantly thrust his beetle head through the panel door, and seized his victim while in bed.  This event is extremely honorable to the enterprising spirit of Col. Barton, and is considered an ample retaliation for the capture of Gen. Lee by Col. Harcourt.  The event occasions great joy and exultation, as it puts in our possession an officer of equal rank with Gen. Lee, by which means an exchange may be obtained.  Congress resolved that an elegant sword should be presented to Col. Barton, for his brave exploit."

     To recite here every incident and circumstance illustrating the heroism and the particular services rendered the patriotic army by negroes, who served in regiments and companies with white soldiers, would fill this entire volume.  Yet, with the desire of doing justice to the memory of all those negroes who aided in achieving the independence of America, I cannot forbear introducing notices, gathered from various sources, of some prominent examples.  Ebenezer Hill, a slave at Stonington, Conn., who served throughout the war, and who took part in the bat-

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tles of Saratoga and Stillwater, and witnessed the surrender of Burgoyne.
     Prince Whipple acted as bodyguard to General Whipple, one of Washington's aids.  Prince is the negro seen on horseback in the engraving of Washington crossing the Delaware, and again pulling the stroke oar in the boat
which Washington crossed in.
     At the storming of Fort Griswold, Maj. Montgomery was lifted upon the walls of the fort by his soldiers, and called upon the Americans to surrender.  John Freeman, a negro soldier, with his pike, pinned him dead to the earth.  Among the American soldiers who were massacred by the British soldiers after the surrender of the fort, were two negro soldiers, Lambo Latham and Jordan Freeman.
     Quack Matrick, a negro, fought through the Revolutionary war, as a soldier, for which he was pensioned.  Also Jonathan Overtin, who was at the battle of Yorktown.  The grandfather of the historian Wm. Wells Brown, Simon Lee, was also a soldier "in the times which tried mens souls."

     "Samuel Charlton was born in the State of New Jersey, a slave, in the family of Mr. M., who owned, also, other members belonging to his family all residing in the English neighborhood.  During the progress of the war, he was placed by his master (as a substitute for himself) in the army then in New Jersey, as a teamster in the baggage train.  He was in active service at the battle of Monmouth, not only witnessing, but taking a part in, the great struggle of that day.  He was also in several other engagements in different sections of that part of the State.  He was a great admirer of General Washington, and was, at one time, attached to his baggage train, and received the General's commendation for his courage and devotion to the cause of liberty.  Mr. Charlton was about fifteen or seventeen years of age when placed in the army, for which his master rewarded him with a silver dollar.  At the expiration of his time, he returned to his master, to serve again in bondage, after having toiled, fought and bled for liberty, in common with the regular soldiery.  Mr. M., at his death, by mil, liberated his slaves, and provided a pension for Charlton, to be paid during his lifetime.
     "James Easton, of Bridgewater, a colored man, participated in the erection of the fortifications on Dorchester Heights, under command of Washington, which the next morning so greatly surprised the British soldiers then encamped in Boston."

[Pg. 50]

     "Among the brave blacks who fought in the battles for American liberty was Major Jeffrey, a Tennesseean, who, during the campaign of Major-General Andrew Jackson in Mobile, filled the place of "regular" among the soldiers.  In the charge made by General Stump against the enemy, the Americans were repulsed and thrown into disorder; Major Stump being forced to retire, in a manner by no means desirable, under the circumstances. Major Jeffrey, who was but a common soldier, seeing the condition of his comrades, and comprehending the disastrous results about to befall them, rushed forward, mounted a horse, took command of the troops, and, by an heroic effort, rallied them to the charge, completely routing the enemy, who left the Americans masters of the field.  He at once received from the General the title of "Major," though he could not, according to the American policy, so commission him.  To the day of his death, he was known by that title in Nashville, where he resided, and the circumstances which entitled him to it were constantly the subject of popular conversation.
     Major Jeffrey was highly respected by the whites generally, and revered, in his own neighborhood, by all the colored people who knew him.
     A few years ago receiving an indignity from a common ruffian, he was forced to strike him in self-defense; for which act, in accordance with the laws of slavery in that, as well as many other of the slave States, he was compelled to receive, on his naked person, nine and thirty lashes with a raw hide!  This, at the age of seventy odd, after the distinguished services rendered his country, probably when the white ruffian for whom he was tortured was unable to raise an arm in its defense, was more than he could bear; it broke his heart, and he sank to rise no more, till summoned by the blast of the last trumpet to stand on the battle-field of the general resurrection."

     Jeffrey was not an exception to this kind of treatment. Samuel Lee died on a tobacco plantation after the war.
     The re-enslaving of the negroes who fought for American Independence became so general at the South, that the Legislature of Virginia in 1783, in compliance with her honor, passed an act directing the emancipation of certain slaves, who had served as soldiers of the State, and for the emancipation of the slave Aberdeen.
     James Armistead during the war acted as a scout and spy for LaFayette during his campaign in Virginia, and at one time gave information of an intended surprise to be made upon the forces of the Marquis, thereby saving probably a rout of the army.  Armistead, after the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, was returned to his master three years after the close of the war.  He was

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manumitted by especial act of the Virginia Legislature, whose attention was called to the worthiness of the service rendered by Armistead.
     The opposition to the employment of negroes as soldiers, by the persistency of its advocates and the bravery of those who were then serving in white regiments, was finally overcome, so that their enlistment became general and regulated by law. Companies, battalions and regiments of negro troops soon entered the field and the struggle for independence and liberty, giving to the cause the reality of freedmen's fight.  For three years the army had been fighting under the smart of defeats, with an occasional signal victory, but now the tide was about to be turned against the English. The colonists had witnessed the heroism of the negro in Virginia at Great Bridge, and at Norfolk; in Massachusetts at Boston and Bunker Hill, fighting, in the former, for freedom under the British flag, in the latter for liberty, under the banner of the colonies.  The echoing shouts of the whites fell heavily upon the ears of the black people; they caught the strain as by martial instinct, and reverberated the appeal, "Liberty and Independence"
     The negro's ancestors were not slaves, so upon the alter of their hearts the fire of liberty was re-kindled by the utterances of the white colonists.  They heard Patrick Henry and Samuel Adams, whose eloquence vehemently aroused their compatriots, and, like them, they too resolved to be free.  They held no regular organized meetings; at the North they assembled with their white fellow-citizens; at the South each balmy gale that swept along the banks of the rivers were laden with the negro's ejaculations for freedom, and each breast was resolute and determined.  The advocates and friends of the measure for arming all men for freedom, were on the alert, and now the condition of the army was such as to enable them to press the necessity of the measure upon the attention of the American people.  Washington needed reinforcements; nay, more, the perilous situation of the army as it lay in camp at Valley Forge, at the conclusion of the campaign of 1777, was

[Pg. 52]
indeed distressing.  The encampment consisted of huts, and there was danger of a famine. The soldiers were nearly destitute of comfortable clothing.  "Many, "says the historian, "for want of shoes, walked barefoot on the frozen ground; few, if any, had blankets for the night.  Great numbers sickened; near three thousand at a time were incapable of bearing arms."
     Within fifteen miles of them lay the city of Philadelphia and the British army.  These gloomy circumstances overshadowed the recent victory at Bennington, and the surrender of Burgoyne.  Under these circumstances, the difficulty of recruiting the patriot army may be easily imagined.  A general enlistment bill had failed to pass the legislature in the spring, because, perhaps, the spirit of the patriots were up at the time; but now they were down, and the advocates of arming negroes sought the opportunity of carrying their plan.  It was not attempted in Connecticut, but in the General Assembly of Rhode Island an act was passed for the purpose.  Here are some of the principal provisions of this act:

     "It is Voted and Resolved, That every able-bodied negro, mulatto, or Indian man slave in this State, may enlist into either of the said two battalions to serve during the continuance of the present war with Great Britain; that every slave so enlisted shall be entitled to receive all the bounties, wages, encouragements allowed by the Continental Congress to any soldier enlisted into their service.
     "It is farther Voted and Resolved, That every slave so enlisting shall, upon his passing muster before Col. Christopher Greene, be immediately discharged from the service of his master or mistress, and be absolutely free, as though he had never been encumbered with any kind of servitude or slavery.  And in case such slave shall, by sickness or otherwise, be unable to maintain himself, he shall not be chargable to his master or mistress, but shall be supported at the expense of the State.
     "And whereas slaves have been by the laws deemed the property of their owners; and therefore compensation ought to be made to the owners for the loss of their service,
     "It is further Voted and Resolved, That there be allowed, and paid by this State to the owners, for every such slave so enlisting, a sum according to his worth at a price not exceeding one hundred and twenty pounds for the most valuable slave, and in proportion for a slave of less value; Provided the owner of said slave shall deliver up to the officer who shall enlist him the clothes of said slave; or otherwise he shall not be entitled to said sum

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On Picket

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     To speak of the gallantry of the negro soldiers recalls the recollection of some of their daring deeds at Red Bank, where four hundred men met and repulsed, after a terrible, sanguinary struggle, fifteen hundred Hessian troops led by Count Donop.

     "The glory of the defence of Red Bank, which has been pronounced one of the most heroic actions of the war, belongs in reality to black men; yet who now hears them spoken of in connection with it?  Among the traits which distinguished the black regiment was devotion to their officers.  In the attack made upon the American lines, near Croton river, on the 13th of May, 1781, Col. Greene, the commander of the regiment, was cut down and mortally wounded; but the sabres of the enemy only reached him through the bodies of his faithful blacks, who gathered around him to protect him, and every one of whom was killed.

     No\y the negro began to take the field; not scattered here and there throughout the army, filling up the shattered ranks of white regiments, but in organizations composed entirely of men of their own race, officered, however, by white officers, men of high social and military character and standing.  The success of the measure in Rhode Island, emboldened the effort in Massachusetts, where the advocates of separate negro organizations had been laboring zealously for its accomplishment.  Officers of the army in the field, expressed their desire to be placed in command of negro troops, in separate and distinct organizations.  Every effort, however, up to this time to induce Massachusetts to consent to the proposition had failed.  Rhode Island alone sent her negro regiments to the field, whose gallantry during the war more than met the most sanguine expectations of their warmest friends, and fully merited the trust and confidence of the State and country.  As the struggle proceeded, re-enforcements were more frequently in demand; but recruits were scarce, and the question of arming negroes became again prominent in the colonies and the army.
     In April, 1778, Thomas Kench, then serving in an artillery regiment, addressed letters to the Massachusetts Legislature urging the enlistment of negroes.  He wrote:

     "A re-enforcement can quickly be raised of two or three hundred men.  Will your honors grant the liberty, and give me the command of

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the party?  And what I refer to is negroes. We have divers of them in our service, mixed with white men. But I think it would be more proper to raise a body by themselves, than to have them intermixed with the white men; and their ambition would entirely be to outdo the white men in every measure that the fortunes of war calls a soldier to endure. And I could rely with dependence upon them in the field of battle or to any post that I was sent to defend with them;  and they would think themselves happy could they gain their freedom by bearing a part of subduing the enemy that is invading our land, and clear a peaceful inheritance for their masters, and posterity yet to come, that they are now slaves to."

     The letter from which this extract was made was duly referred to a joint committee "to consider the same and report.  "Some days later" a resolution of the General Assembly of Rhode Island for enlisting negroes in the public service "was referred to the same committee.  They duly reported the draft of a law, differing little from the Rhode Island Resolution.  A separate organization of negro companies, by Kench, does not appear to have been deemed advisable at that time.  The usage was continued of "taking," in the words of Kench, "negroes in our service, intermixed with the white men. "
     The negroes of Boston and their abolition friends, rather insisted upon the intermingling of the races in the army, believing that this course had a greater tendency to destroy slavery, and the inequality of rights among the "blacks and whites; though it deprived the negroes, as we now see, of receiving due credit for their valor, save in a few individual cases.  It was not in Massachusetts alone, but in many other States that the same idea prevailed; and now the facts connected with the services of the negroes are to be gathered only in fragments, from the histories of villages and towns, or among the archives of the State, in a disconnected and unsatisfactory form.
     The legislature of New York, two months after the murder of Col. Greene and his faithful negro troops at Point's Bridge, in that State, by the British, passed an act (March, 1781) looking to the raising of two regiments.  The sixth section of the act reads as follows:

     "And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that any person who shall deliver one or more of his able-bodied male slaves to any

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warrant officer, as aforesaid, to serve in either of the above regiments or independent corps, and produce a certificate thereof, signed by any person authorized to muster and receive the men to be raised by virtue of this act, and produce such certificate to the Surveyor-General, shall, for every male slave so entered and mustered as aforesaid, be entitled to the location and grant of one right, in manner as in and by this act is directed; and shall be, and hereby is discharged from any further maintainance of such slave, any law to the contrary notwithstanding.  And such slave so entering as aforesaid, who shall serve for the term of three years or until regularly discharged, shall, immediately after such service or discharge, be, and is hereby declared to be, a free man of this State.

     In 1821, in the convention which revised the constitution of New York, Mr. Clark, speaking in favor of allowing negroes to vote, said in the course of his remarks:

     "My honorable colleague has told us, that, as the colored people are not required to contribute to the protection or defence of the State, they are not entitled to an equal participation in the privileges of its citizens.  But, Sir, whose fault is this? Have they ever refused to do military duty when called upon?  It is haughtily asked, Who will stand in the ranks shoulder to shoulder with a negro?  I answer, No one, in time of peace; no one, when your musters and trainings are looked upon as mere pastimes; no one, when your militia will shoulder their muskets and march to their trainings with as much unconcern as they would go to a sumptuous entertainment or a splendid ball.  But, Sir, when the hour of danger approaches, your white 'militia' are just as willing that the man of color should be set up as a mark to be shot at by the enemy, as to be set up themselves.  In the War of the Revolution, these people helped to fight your battles by land and by sea.  Some of your States were glad to turn out corps of colored men, and to stand 'shoulder to shoulder' with them.
    "In your late war, they contributed largely towards some of your most splendid victories.  On Lakes Erie and Charnplain, where your fleets triumped over a foe superior in numbers and engines of death, they were manned, in a large proportion, with men of color. And, in this very house, in the fall of 1814, a bill passed, receiving the approbation of all the branches of your government, authorizing the Governor to accept the services of a corps of two thousand free people of color.  Sir, these were times which tried men's souls.  In these times it was no sporting matter to bear arms.  These were times, when a man who shouldered his musket did not know but he barred his bosom to receive a death wound from the enemy ere he laid it aside; and in these times, these people were found as ready and as willing to volunteer in your service as any other.  They were not compelled to go; they were not drafted.  No, your pride had placed them beyond your compulsory power.  But there was no necessity for its exercise;  they were volunteers; yes, Sir,

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volunteers to defend that very country from the inroads and ravages of a ruthless and vindictive foe, which had treated them with insult, degradation and slavery.
     "Volunteers are the best of soldiers.  Give me the men, whatever be their complexion, that willingly volunteer, and not those who are compelled to turn out.  Such men do not fight from necessity, nor from mercinary motives, but from principle."

     Hon. Mr. Martindale, who represented a District of the State of New York, in Congress in 1828, thus speaks of the negro soldiers:

     "Slaves, or negroes who have been slaves, were enlisted as soldiers in the War of the Revolution; and I myself saw a battalion of them, as fine martial-looking men as I ever saw, attached to the Northern army."

     Up to this time the East had been the theatre of the war, with now and then a battle in some one of the Middle Colonies, but the British discovering that the people of the South acted indifferently in maintaining and recruiting the army, transferred their operations to that section.  Maryland then stood as a middle State or Colony.  Her statesmen, seeing the threatened danger of the invasion of Pennsylvania, endeavored to prepare to meet it, and taking council from her sister States at the East, accepted the negro as a soldier. In June, 1781, John Cadwater, writing from Annapolis, Md., to Gen. Washington, says:

     "We have resolved to raise, immediately, seven hundred and fifty negroes, to be incorporated with the other troops; and a bill is now almost completed."

     It does not appear that the negroes were formed into separate organizations in this State, but tilled the depleted ranks of the Continental regiments, where their energy and daring was not less than that displayed by their white comrades, with whom they fought, shoulder to shoulder.  The advocates of arming the negroes were not confined to the Eastern and Middle sections; some of the best men of the South favored and advocated the enlistment of free negroes, and made many, though for a long time unsuccessful, efforts to obtain legal sanction for such enlistment throughout the South.  But their advice was not listened to, even in the face of certain invasion, and

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then the whites would not, and could not be induced to rally to the defence of their own particular section and homes.
     For fear that I may be accused of too highly coloring the picture of the Southern laxity of fervor and patriotism, I quote from the valuable essay which' accompanies the history of the American Loyalists:

     "The whole number of regulars enlisted for the Continental service, from the beginning to the close of the struggle, was 231,959.  Of these, I have once remarked, 67,907 were from Massachusetts; and I may now add, that every State south of Pennsylvania provided but 59,493, or 8,414 less than this single State."

     The men of Massachusetts did not more firmly adhere to their policy of mixed troops as against separate organizations, based upon color, than did the men of the South to their peculiar institution, and against the arming of negroes, free or slave.   The war having fairly set in upon Southern soil, and so urgent the necessity for recruiting* the army, that Congress again took up the subject of enrolling negroes as soldiers.  It was decided that the general Government had no control over the States in the matter, but a series of resolutions were adopted recommending to the States of Georgia and South Carolina, the arming of three thousand able-bodied negroes.
     Now began an earnest battle for the carrying out of the policy, as recommended by Congress.  Its friends were among the bravest and truest to the cause of freedom in the States.  Hon. Henry Laurens lead in the effort.  Even before the matter was brought to the attention of Congress, he wrote to Gen. Washington, as follows:

     "Our affairs in the Southern department are more favorable than we had considered them a few days ago; nevertheless, the country is greatly distressed, and will be so unless further re-inforcements are sent to its relief. Had we arms for three thousand such black men as I could select in Carolina, I should have no doubt of success in driving the British out of Georgia, and subduing East Florida before the end of July."
     Washington knew the temper of the Southerners.  He was well aware that slaves could not be entrusted with arms within sight of the enemy's camp, and* within hearing of his proclamation of freedom to all who would join

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his Majesty's standard, unless equal inducements were offered them by the colonists, and to this he knew the Southern colonist would not consent.  In his reply to Mr. Laurens, he said:

     "The policy of our arming slaves, is, in my opinion a moot point, unless the enemy set the example.  For, should we begin to form battallions of them, I have not the smallest doubt, if the war is to be prosecuted, of their following us in it, and justifying the measure upon our own ground.  The contest then must be, who can arm fastest.  And where are our arms?  Besides, I am not clear that a discrimination will not render slavery more irksome to those who remain in it.  Most of the good and evil things in this life are judged of by comparison; and I fear a comparison in this case will be productive of much discontent in those who are held in servitude.  But, as this is a subject that has never employed much of my thoughts, these are no more than the first crude ideas that have struck me upon the occasion."

     Washington certainly had no doubts as to the value of the negro as a soldier, but for the reasons stated, did not give the weight of his influence, at this important juncture, to the policy of their enlistment, while so many of the leading men of the colonies were favorable to the action.
     Among those who advocated the raising of negro troops was Col. John Laurens, a native of South Carolina and a brave patriot, who had acted as aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief, and had seen service in Rhode Island and elsewhere.  He was the son of Hon. Henry Laurens, at one time President of Congress, and was noted for his high qualities of character.  A commission of lieutenant-colonel was granted to him by Congress, and he proceeded to South Carolina to use his personal influence to induce the Legislature to authorize the enlistment of negroes.  His services in Rhode Island had given him an opportunity to witness the conduct and worth of the negro soldier.
     Alexander Hamilton in the course of a long letter to John Jay, relating to the mission of Col. Laurens to South Carolina, says:

     "I foresee that this project will have to combat much opposition from prejudice and self-interest.  The contempt we have been taught to entertertain for the blacks makes us fancy many things that are founded

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neither in reason nor experience; and an unwillingness to part company with property of so valuable a kind will furnish a thousand arguments to show the impracticability or pernicious tendency of a scheme which requires such a sacrifice.  But it should be considered, that, if we do not make use of them in this way, the enemy probably will; and that the best way to counteract the the temptations they will hold out will be to offer them ourselves.  An essential part of the plan is to give them their freedom with their muskets.  This will secure their fidelity, animate their courage, and, I believe, will have a good influence upon those who remain, by opening a door to their emancipation.  This circumstance, I confess has no small weight in inducing me to wish the success of the project; for the dictates of humanity and true policy, equally interest me in favor of this unfortunate class of men."

     The patriotic zeal of Col. Laurens for the accomplishment of his design was earnest and conscientious.  He wrote to his friend Hamilton in these words:

     "Ternant will relate to you how many violent struggles I have had between duty and inclination how much my heart was with you, while I appeared to be most actively employed here.  But it appears to me, that I should be inexcusable in the light of a citizen, if I did not continue my utmost efforts for carrying the plan of the black levies into execution, while there remains the smallest hope of success."

     The condition of the colonies and the Continental army at that time was critical in the extreme.  The campaign of 1779 had closed gloomily for the Americans.  The British had not only been active in raiding in Virginia and destroying property, but in organizing negro
troops.  Lord Dunmore, as we have seen, as early as November, 1775, had issued a proclamation, inviting the negroes to join the Royal forces, to which a great many slaves responded, and were organized into companies.  A regiment had been organized by the British on Long Island in 1776, and now, Sir Henry Clinton invited them by the following proclamation:

     "By his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, K. B., General and Commander-in-Chief of all his Majesty's Forces, within the Colonies lying on the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to West Florida, inclusive, &c., &c.


     "Whereas the enemy have adopted a practice of enrolling Negroes among their Troops, I do hereby give notice That all Negroes taken in arms, or upon any military Duty, shall be purchased for the public service at a stated Price; the money to be paid to the Captors.

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     "But I do most strictly forbid any Person to sell or claim Right over any Negro, the property of a Rebel, who may take refuge in any part of this Army: And I do promise to every negro who shall desert the Rebel Standard, full security to follow within these Lines, any Occupation which he shall think proper.
     "Given under my Hand at Head-Quarters, Philipsburg, the 30th day of June, 1779.
                                                                                                           H. CLINTON.
     "By his Excellency's command, John Smith, Secretary."  

     It is highly probable that many negroes made their way to the British camp.  Col. Laurens wrote to General Washington, under date of February, 1780, six months
after the issuing of Sir Henry Clinton's proclamation, as follows:

     "Private accounts say that General Provost is left to command at Savannah; that his troops consist of Hessians and Loyalists that were there before, re-inforced by a corps of blacks and a detachment of savages.  It is generally reported that Sir. Henry Clinton commands the present expedition."

     Clinton left New York in the latter part of 1779, for the reduction of Charleston, which he completed in May, three months after the date of Col. Laurens' letter.  Gen.
Lincoln, who commanded the American forces at Charleston, joined in the effort to arm the negroes.  In a letter to Gov. Rutledge, dated Charleston, March 13th, 1780, he says:

     "Give me leave to add once more, that I think the measure of raising a black corps a necessary one; that I have great reason to believe, if permission is given for it, that many men would soon be obtained.  I have repeatedly urged this matter, not only because Congress has recommended it, and because it thereby becomes my duty to attempt to have it executed, but because my own mind suggests the ulility and importance of the measure, as the safety of the town maks it necessary.

     The project of raising negro troops gained some friends in all sections, and Statesmen, both South and North, as they talked about it, became more free to express their approbation of the measure.  They had witnessed the militia from Virginia and North Carolina, at the battle of Camden, throw down their arms before the enemy;* they had seen black and white troops under com-

     *At the first, onset, a large body of the Virginia militia, under a charge of the British infantry with fixed bayonets, threw down their arms and fled.  A considerable part of the North Carolina militia followed their unworthy example.  But the Conti-

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mand of Gen. Provost occupy Savannah; the surrender of Charlestown had become necessary; and these evils were all brought about by the apathy of the white inhabitants.  Among those who spoke out in favor of Col. Laurens' and Gen. Lincoln's plan, was Hon. James Madison, who, on the 20th of November, 1780, wrote to Joseph Jones:

     "I am glad to find the Legislature persisting in their resolution to recruit their line of the army for the war; though, without deciding on the expediency of the mode under their consideration, would it not be as well to liberate and make soldiers at once of the blacks themselves, as to make them instruments for enlisting white soldiers?  It would certainly be more consonant with the principles of liberty: and, with white officers and a majority of white soldiers, no imaginable danger could be feared from themselves; as there certainly could be none from the effect of the example on those who should remain in bondage; experience having shown that a freedman immediately loses all attachment and sympathy with his former fellow slaves."

     No circumstances under which the South was placed, could induce either their legislators or the people to adopt the recommendations of Congress or the advice of the patriots and statesmen of their section.  The opposition to the arming of the negroes was much stronger than the love for independence.  The British, however, adopted the plan, and left no stone unturned to augment the strength of their army.  Thousands of negroes flocked to the Royal standard at every opportunity, just as in the war of the Rebellion in 1861-'65, they sought freedom under the national banner.
     It has ever been the rule among American historians to omit giving credit to those negroes who sought to gain their freedom by joining the British.  They have generally also failed to acknowledge the valor of those who swelled the ranks of the Continental army.  Enough, however, can be gathered, mostly from private correspondence, to show that the hope of success for the Americans rested either in the docility of the negroes at the South, or in their loyalty to the cause of Independence.  At all events, upon the action of the blacks more than upon the brav-

nentals evinced the most unyielding firmness, and pressed forward with unusual ardor.
Never did men acquit themselves more honorably. They submitted only when forsaken
by their brethren in arms, and when overpowered by numuers.

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ery and valor of the American troops, depended the future status of the Colonies; hence the solicitude of officers and of the leading citizens; and it was not the love of universal freedom, which prompted their efforts for arming negroes; not at all, but their keen appreciation of the value of a neutral power, which could be utilized for the benefit of America's Independence.  Nor do I attribute other than the same motive to the British, who did arm and did free a great many of the negroes, who joined their service, especially at the South, where they must have organized quite a large force, not less than 5,000.  Early in 1781, (Feb'y) Gen. Greene, then in command in North Carolina, writing to General Washington about the doings of the enemy in South Carolina, where he formally commanded, says

     "The enemy have ordered two regiments of negroes to be immediately embodied, and are drafting a great portion of the young men of that State [South Carolina], to serve during the war."

     A few days after writing this letter, Gen. Greene met the British at Guilford Court House, and again witnessed the cowardice of the Southern militia,* whose conduct gave victory to the British, under Cornwallis.
     The persistency of Col. Laurens in his effort to organize negro troops, was still noteworthy.  Having returned from France, whither he went on important business, connected with the welfare of the States, he resumed his "favorite pursuit."  Under date of May, 19, 1782, in a letter addressed to Washington, he says:

     "The plan which brought me to this country was urged with all the zeal which the subject inspired, both in our Privy Council and Assembly; but the single voice of reason was drowned by the howling of a triple-headed monster, in which prejudice, avarice, and pusillanimity were united.  It was some degree of consolation to me, however, to perceive that the truth and philosophy had gained some ground; the suffrages in favor of the measure being twice as numerous as on a former occasion.  Some hopes have been lately given me from Georgia; but I fear, when

     * The British loss, in this battle, exceeded five hundred in killed and wounded, among whom were several of the most distinguished officers. The American loss was about four hundred, in killed and wounded, of which more than three-fourths fell upon the Continentals.  Though the numericial force of Gen. Greene nearly doubled that of Cornwallis, yet, when we consider the difference between these forces;  the shameful conduct of the North Carolina militia, who fled at the first fire; the desertion of the second Maryland regiment, and that a body of reserve was not brought into action, it will appear that our numbers, actually engaged, but little exceeded that of the enemy." Grimshaw's U. S. History.

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the question is put, we shall be out-voted there with as much disparity as we have been in this country.

*      *      *      *      *      *

     "I earnestly desire to be where any active plans are likely to be executed, and to be near your Excellency on all occasions in which my services can be acceptable.  The pursuit of an object which, I confess, is a favorite one with me, because I always regarded the interests of this country and those of the Union as intimately connected with it, has detached me more than once from your family, but those sentiments of veneration and attachments with which your Excellency has inspired me, keep me always near you, with the sincerest and most zealous wishes for a continuance of your happiness and glory."

     Here ended the project of arming negroes in South Carolina, and before an earnest effort could be made in Georgia, the brave man laid his life upon the altar of American liberty.
     But to show the state of public opinion at the South, as understood by the Commander-in-Chief of the American army, we have but to read Washington's reply to Col. Laurens' last letter, in which he speaks of "making a last effort" in Georgia.  Gen. Washington uses this emphatic language:

     "I must confess that I am not at all astonished at the failure of your plan.   That spirit of freedom, which, at the commencement of this contest, would have gladly sacrificed everything to the attainment of its object, has long since subsided, and every selfish passion has taken its place.  It is not the public but private interest which influences the generality of mankind; nor can the Americans any longer boast an exception.  Under the circumstances, it would rather have been surprising if you had succeeded;  nor will you, I fear, have better success in Georgia."

     This letter settles forever any boast of the Southerners, that to them is due the credit of gaining the independence of the United States.  It is true Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown, Va., was the last of the series of battles fought for independence.*  But we must remember that the

     * The Burlington Gazette, in an issue of some time ago, gives the following account of an aged negro Revolutionary patriot: "The attention of many of our citizens has doubtless been arrested by the appearance of an old colored man, who might have been been, sitting in front of his residence, in east Union street, respectfully raising his hat to those who might be passing by.  His attenuated frame, his silvered head, his feeble movements, combine to prove that he is very aged: and yet, comparatively few are aware that he is among the survivors of the gallant army who fought for the liberties of our country.
     "On Monday last, we stopped to speak to him, and asked how old he was.  He asked the day of the month, and upon being told that it was the 24th of May, replied, with trembling lips, 'I am very old I am a hundred years old to-day.' 
     "His name is Oliver Cromwell, and he says that he was born at the Black Horse.

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French were at Yorktown.  It cannot be doubted but that from Charleston to Yorktown the Americans met negro troops more than once fighting under the Royal flag; while at the east, in every important engagement between the two enemies, British and American, the negro was found fighting with the Americans.  This division of the negroes can easily be accounted for, since at the North and East the object of the war was acknowledged to be set forth in the Declaration of Independence; at the South only so much of the Declaration was accepted as demanded Independence from Great Britain.  Therefore, though in separate and opposing armies, the object of the negro was the same liberty.  It is to be regretted that the historians of the Revolutionary period did not more particularly chronicle the part taken by negroes at the South, though enough is known to put their employment beyond doubt. 
, the author of the life of Gen. Greene, speaking of Greene's recommendation to the Legislature of South Carolina to enroll negroes, says:

     "There is a sovereign, who, at this time, draws his soldiery from the same class of people;  and finds a facility in forming and disciplining an army, which no other power enjoys.  Nor does his immense military force, formed from that class of his subjects, excite the least apprehension; for the soldier's will is subdued to that of his officer, and his improved condition takes away the habit of identifying himself with the class from which he has been separated.  Military men know what mere machines men become under discipline, and believe that any men, who may be obedient, may be made soldiers; and that increasing their numbers increases the means of their own subjection and government."

(now Columbus), in this county, in the family of John Hutchins.  He enlisted in a company commanded by Capt. Lowry, attached to the Second New Jersey Regiment, under the command of Col. Israel Shreve.  He was at the battles of Trenton, Brandywine, Princetown, Mommouth, and Yorktown, at which latter place, he told us, he saw the last man killed.  Although his faculties are failing, yet he relates many interesting reminiscences of the Revolution.  He was with the army at the retreat of the Delaware, on the memorable crossing of the 25th of December, 1776, and relates the story of the battle on the succeeding day, with enthusiasm.  He gives the details of the march from Trenton to Princetown, and told us, with much humor, that they knocked the British around lively,' at the latter place.  He was also at the |battle of Springfield, and says that he saw the house burning in which Mrs. Caldwell was shot, at Connecticut Farms."
     "I further learn, (says the author of the 'olored Patriots of the Revolution'), "that Cromwell was brought up a farmer, having served his time with Thomas Hutchins, Esq., his maternal uncle.  He was, for six years and nine months under the immediate command of Washington, whom he loved affectionately."
     "His discharge," says Dr. M'Cune Smith, "at the close of the war, was in Washington's own handwriting, of which he was very proud, often speaking of it.  He received annually, ninety-six dollars pension.  He lived a long and honorable life.  Had he been of a little lighter complexion, (he was just half white), every newspaper in the land would have been eloquent in praise of his many virtues."

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     Cornwallis doubtless had gathered within his lines a large number of negroes, to whose energy and labor, the erection of his breastworks were mainly due.  Lafayette feeling satisfied that the position of his army before Yorktown would confine the British, and make the escape of Cornwallis impossible without battle, wrote to Gen. Washington in September:

     "I hope you will find we have taken the best precautions to lessen his Lordship's escape.  I hardly believe he will make the attempt.  If he does, he must give up ships, artillery, baggage, part of his horses, and all the negroes."

     All this time in some of the Northern States an opposition as strong as at the South had existed against organizing negro troops, and in some instances even against employing them as soldiers.  The effort for separate organizations had been going on, but with only the little success that has been already noticed.  In a biographical sketch of Col. David Humphreys, in the "National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans," is the following:

     "In November, 1782, he was, by resolution of Congress, commissioned as a Lieutenant-Colonel, with order that his commission should bear date from the 23rd of June, 1780, when he received his appointment as aid-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief.  He had, when in active service, given the sanction of his name and influence in the establishment of a company of colored infantry, attached to Meigs', afterwards Butler's, regiment, in the Connecticut line.  He continued to be the nominal captain of that company until the establishment of peace."

     Though the Legislature of Connecticut had taken up the subject of arming negroes generally, as early as 1777, and a bill, as we have seen, was presented to that Legislature, for their enrollment, the advocates of the measure, in every attempt to pass it, had been beaten.  Nevertheless, as appears by the record given above, Col. Humphrey took charge and organized a company, with which he served until the close of the war.  But this company of fifty odd men were not all that did service in the army from Connecticut, for in many of her white regiments, negroes, bond and free, stood in the ranks with the whites.  And, notwithstanding the unsuccessful attempts

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of Col. Laurens and the advocates of negro soldiery at the South, the negro was an attache of the Southern army, and rendered efficient aid during the struggle, in building breastworks, driving teams and piloting the army through dense woods, swamps, and across rivers.  Not a few were spies and drummers.  To select or point out a particular battle or seige, in which they rendered active service to the British, would not be a difficult task, though the information at hand is too limited for a detailed account of the part which they bore in these struggles.  The true patriots of the Revolution were not slow in according to their black compatriots that meed of praise which was their due. In almost every locality, either North or South, after the war, there lived one or two privileged negroes, who, on great occasions, days of muster, 4th of July, Washington's birthday, and the like, were treated with more than ordinary courtesy by the other people.  That a great and dastardly wrong was committed upon many, in like manner in which Simon Lee* was treated, is true.  Many negroes at the South, who fought for American independence were re-enslaved, and this is so far beyond a doubt that no one denies it.  The re-enslaving of these soldiers, not by those who took part in the conflict, but the stay-at-home's, was so flagrant an outrage that the Legislature of Virginia, in 1783, in order to give freedom to those who had been re-enslaved, and to rebuke the injustice of the treatment, passed the following act:

     An Act directing the Emancipation of certain Slaves who had served as as Soldiers in this State, and for the Emancipation of the Slave, Aberdeen.
     "I. Whereas, it hath been represented to the present General Assembly, that, during the course of the war, many persons in this State had caused their slaves to enlist in certain regiments or corps, raised within the same, having tendered such slaves to the officers appointed to recruit forces within the State, as substitutes for free persons whose lot or duty it was to serve in such regiments or corps, at the same time rep-


     * Simon Lee, the grandfather of William Wells Brown, on his mother's side, was a slave in Virginia, and served in the war of the Revolution.  Although honorably discharged, with the other Virginia troops, at the close of the war, he was sent back to
his master, where he spent the remainder of his life toiling on a tobacco plantation. - Patriotism of Colored Americans.

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resenting to such recruiting officers that the slaves, so enlisted by their direction and concurrence, were freemen; and it appearing further to this Assembly, that on the expiration of the term of enlistment of such slaves, that the former owners have attempted again to force them to return to a state of servitude, contrary to the principles of justice, and to their own solemn promise;
     "II. And whereas it appears just and reasonable that all persons enlisted as aforesaid, who have faithfully served agreeable to the terms of their enlistment, and have hereby of course contributed towards the establishment of American liberty and independence, should enjoy the blessings of freedom as a reward for their toils and labors.
     "Be it therefore enacted, That each and every slave, who, by the appointment and direction of his owner, hath enlisted in any regiment or corps raised within this State, either on Continental or State establishment, and hath been received as a substitute for any free person whose duty or lot it was to serve in such regiment or corps, and hath
served faithfully during the term of such enlistment, or hath been discharged from such service by some officer duly authorized to grant such discharge, shall, from and after the passing of this act, be fully and completely emancipated, and shall be held and deemed free, in as full and ample a manner as if each and every one of them were specially named in this act; and the Attorney-general for the Commonwealth is hereby required to bring an action, in forma pauperis, in behalf of any of the persons above described who shall, after the passage of this act, be detained in servitude by any person whatsoever; and if, upon such prosecution, it shall appear that the pauper is entitled to his freedom in consequence of this act, a jury shall be empaneled to assess the damages for his detention.
     "III.  And whereas it has been represented to this General Assembly, that Aberdeen, a negro man slave, hath labored a number of years in the public service at the lead mines, and for his meritorious services is entitled to freedom;

     "Be it therefore enacted, That the said slave Aberdeen, shall be, and he is hereby, emancipated and declared free in as full and ample a manner as if he had been born free."

     In 1786 an act was passed to emancipate a negro slave who had acted as a spy for Lafayette.  This practice was not perhaps wholly confined to the South.  Although Massachusetts abolished slavery in 1783, her territory was, it seems, still subject to slave hunts, and her negro soldiers to the insult of an attempt to re-enslave them.  But Gen. Washington, though himself a slave-holder, regarded the rights of those who fought for liberty and national independence, with too much sacredness and the

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honor of the country with too much esteem, to permit them to be set aside, merely to accommodate those who had rendered the nation's cause no help or assistance. Gen. Putnam received the following letter, which needs no explanation:

 "HEADQUARTERS, Feb. 2, 1783.
     "SIR: - Mr. Hobby having claimed as his property a negro man now serving in the Massachusetts Regiment, you will please to order a court of inquiry, consisting of five as respectable officers as can be found in your brigade, to examine the validity of the claim and the manner in which the person in question came into service.  Having inquired into the matter, with all the attending circumstances, they will report to you their opinion thereon; which you will report to me as soon as conveniently may be.
     "I am, Sir, with great respect, your most obedient  servant,
                                                                                                    "GEORGE WASHINGTON.
"P. S. - All concerned should be notified to attend.
"Brig.-Gen. Putnam."

     Not only did some of the negro soldiers who fought in the American Army receive unjust treatment at the close of the war, but those who served under the Royal standard, also shared a fate quite different from what they supposed it would be when the proclamations of Lord Dunmore, Clinton and Cornwallis, were inviting them to cast their lot with the British.
     The high character of Thomas Jefferson induces me to reproduce his letter to Dr. Gordon, or rather that portion of it which refers to the treatment of the negroes who went with the Britisharmy.  Mr. Jefferson says:

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question of the American patriots was the theme.  And I find no better eulogy to pronounce upon them than that Hon. Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, delivered in the United States House of Representatives in 1820, and that of Hon Wm. Eustis, of Massachusetts, during the same debate.  Mr. Pinckney said:

     "It is a remarkable fact, that notwithstanding, in t_e course of the Revolution, the Southern States were continually overrun by the British, and that every negro in them had an opportunity of leaving their owners, few did; proving thereby not only a most remarkable attachment to their owners, but the mildness of the treatment, from whence their affection sprang.  They then were, as they still are, as valuable a part of our population to the union as any other equal number of inhabitants.  They were in numerous instances the pioneers, and in all the laborers, of your armies.  To their hands were owing the erection of the greatest part of the fortifications raised for the protection of our country; some of which, particularly Fort Moultrie, gave, at the early period of the inexperience and untried valor of our citizens, immortality to American arms; and, in the Northern States, numerous bodies of them were enrolled into, and fought, by the side of the whites, the battles of the Revolution." - Annals of Congress.

     And said Mr. Eustis:
     "At the commmencement of the Revolutionary war, there were found in the middle and northern States, may blacks and other people of color, capable of bearing arms; a part of them free, the greater part slaves.  The freemen entered our ranks with the whites.  The time of those who were slaves was purchased by the States; and they were induced to enter the service in consequences of a law by which, on condition of their serving in the ranks during the war, they were made freemen.
     "The war over, and peace restored, these men returned to their respective States; and who could have said to them, on their return to civil life, after having shed their blood in common with the whites in the defence of the liberties of their country, 'You are not to participate in the liberty for which you have been fighting?'  Certainly no white man in Massachusetts."

     Such is the historic story of the negro in the American Revolution, and it is a sad one as regards any benefit to his own condition by his connection with either side.  But it is one of the most memorable of all history on exhibition of the fidelity of a race to the cause of the freedom of all men.


[Pg. 72] - PART I. - CHAPTER II. - WAR OF 1812







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