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Blacks in the American Revolution

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  • Monk Estill (b. - 1835)
    Monk Estill (died 1835) arrived in Kentucky in the 1770s as a slave but was later freed, becoming the first freed slave in Kentucky. He made gunpowder at Boonesborough, KY. His son, Jerry, was the firs...
  • Ishmael Coffee (1741 - aft.1821)
    >Rachana Rathi reported on two genealogists seeking information about Ishmael Coffee , a soldier of “Mulatto complexion” from Medway. His name appears on the military rolls of that town, but he’s best ...
  • Thomas H Hancock (c.1753 - c.1799)
  • William Smothers (c.1760 - aft.1824)
    i. ?William1, born say 1760, a man of color born in Albemarle County, Virginia, who enlisted in the Revolution from Powhatan County [NSDAR, African American Patriots, 154]. He sued Jesse Stovall in Pow...
  • John Redman (bef.1763 - 1836)
    John Redman was a "Free Negro" taxable on 3 persons and 2 horses in Hardy County in 1810 [Yantis, A Supplement to the 1810 Census of Virginia, H-7]. At the age of sixty years on 11 June 1820, he made a...

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:

British Side

Most of us think of the American Revolution just concentrated on what became the continental U.S., but the Caribbean-West Indies plays a major part, besides Canada and England! At the end of the war, quite a few Blacks who fought with the British were transferred to Caribbean islands. (see Links below).

Black American Notables

  • 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
  • Francis Cousins Born abt 1735 free from Goochland County, Virginia.
  • 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.
  • Hammet (or Hamet) Achmet (c. 1752, Africa-1842, Connecticut), George Washington's personal waiter and Revolutionary War patriot.

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.

Black British Notables