Crispus Attucks was a black man in the American Revolutionary War, was the first person shot to death by British redcoats during the Boston Massacre, in Boston, Massachusetts, March 5, 1770. He has been named as the first martyr of the American Revolutionary War.
Little is known for certain about Crispus Attucks beyond that he, along with Samuel Gray and James Caldwell, died "on the spot" during the incident. Two major sources of eyewitness testimony about the Boston Massacre, both published in 1770, did not refer to Attucks as a "Negro," or "black" man; it appeared that Bostonians accepted him as mixed race. Historians disagree on whether Crispus Attucks was a free man or an escaped slave; but agree that he was of Wampanoag and African descent.
Then when Paul Revere summoned the Minutemen to oppose British troops at Concord and Lexington in April 1775, a number of Black men living in Massachusetts responded to the call.
Bunker Hill was one of the most important battles in the American Revolution; inexperienced colonial forces fought a highly trained army of British soldiers. Less well-known were the approximately three dozen African American soldiers including:
- Barzillai Lew, 31, free, private, Massachusetts. Veteran of the French and Indian War.
- Phillip Abbot (killed at Bunker Hill)
- Alexander Ames, free
- Isaiah Bayoman from Stoneham, Massachusetts. C&L
- Cuff Chambers (Blanchard) (c. 1738-June 8, 1818), 37, slave, private, Massachusetts
- Titus Coburn, free
- Grant Cooper
- Caesar Bailey (his slave name was Dickenson/Dickinson) (c. 1749-c. 1781), 26, slave, private, Connecticut
- Charlestown Eaads
- Alexander Eames
- Asaba Grosvenor
- Blaney Grusha
- Jude Hall (c. 1747-August 22, 1827), 28, slave, private, New Hampshire
- Cuff Haynes
- Cato Howe, free
- Caesar Jahar
- Pompy of Braintree
- Salem Poor, (c. 1747-unk.), 33, free, private, Andover, Massachusetts. BH
- Caesar Post
- Job Potama from Stoneham, Massachusetts. C&L
- Robin of Sandowne, New Hampshire
- Peter Salem, free, from Braintree, Massachusetts. C&L, BH
- Seasor of York County
- Sampson Talbot
- Cato Tufts
- Cuff Whitemore/Whittemore (Cartwright/De Carteret) (c. 1751-Jan. 26, 1826.), 24, slave, private, Massachusetts. C&L, BH
- Seymour Burr, free
- Pompey Blackman (Fortune/Freeman) (c. 1755-May 20, 1790), 20, status unknown, private, Brookline ?, Massachusetts. C&L
- Sampson Coburn (c. July 19, 1745-unk.), age unk, status unk, corporal, Massachusetts
- Garshom Prince (1733-1778), 45, status unknown, private, Massachusetts. Stoneham, Massachusetts. C&L. Veteran of the French and Indian War.
- Cato Stedman, Massachusetts. C&L
- Cato Broadman from Cambridge, Massachusetts. C&L
- Prince Easterbrooks from Lexington, Massachusetts. C&L
- David Lamson, elderly mulatto, Massachusetts. C&L. Veteran of the French and Indian War.
who also took part in the battle of Bunker Hill and others.
African Americans in the Continental Army
General George Washington, Commander-in-Chief, excluded African Americans from serving in the Continental Army, until finally on January 2, 1778, Washington responded to a letter from General James Mitchell Varnum (born in Dracut, Massachusetts and brother of Joseph Bradley Varnum) recommending that Rhode Island's troop quota should be completed with blacks. Washington urged Rhode Island Governor Nicholas Cooke to give the recruiting officers every assistance. In February, the Rhode Island legislature approved the action — giving slaves their freedom in return for military service. The resulting black regiment, commanded by white Quaker Christopher Greene was the 1st Rhode Island Regiment also known as the Varnum Continentals.
Links and Resources
- Blacks in the American Revolution Facebook Page
- The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution with Sketches of Several Distinguished Colored Persons
- Unlikely Heroes: Ordinary Men and Women Whose Courage Won the Revolution
- Lowell Massachusetts Slavery time line compiled by Martha Mayo, UMass, Lowell
- America's Black Founders: Revolutionary Heroes and Early Leaders With 21 Activities (Google eBook). By Nancy I. Sanders, 2010.
- African Americans in the Military. By Catherine Reef, 2010.
- Patriots of Color: "a Peculiar Beauty and Merit" : African Americans and Native Americans at Battle Road & Bunker Hill. By George Quintal, 2010.
- Biographies of Patriots of Color at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
- African Americans in the Revolutionary War
- Africans in America | Part 2 | The Revolutionary War
- Blacks and The American Revolution
- Come All You Brave Soldiers: Blacks in the Revolutionary War by Clinton Cox
- African-American Soldiers in the Revolutionary War By Lucia Raatma
- American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution ... By Gail Lumet Buckley
- VIRGINIA: Virginian veterans from the Revolutionary War
- List of Black Servicemen of the Revolutionary War
- The Black Patriots
- SLAVERY in MASSACHUSETTS
- Concord, Slaves and Two Fights For Freedom
- The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution by Sidney Kaplan (Google eBook).