Before the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry which was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the American Civil War there were the Black Minute Men. These were clusters of freedmen and enslaved men of African descent who agreed to fight under the command of General Washington for the Continental Army in exchange of freedom for the African slaves.
It’s sad history have forgotten them and very little is known about them and who they were. But let, modern history tells it that they never existed. I just think all who fought for the nation’s independence should be remembered. The war couldn’t have been won without them.
Unlike the Massachusetts 54th Regiment Massachusetts during the American Civil War. There’s no known registry of their names because the army was being gather in secrecy. That’s why they are called Minute Men. Meaning staying on notice and ready to fight the minute the need arrived.
In 1770, Crispus Attucks, a black man, became the first casualty of the American Revolution when he was shot and killed in what became known as the Boston Massacre. He was a freedman who got involved in the Revolution because of the colonists promised to end slavery. It had been accredited in later years since learning of the Black Minute Men he may had been one.
I have read many stories as to Crispus Attucks’ reason for getting involved. I am not going to go into the hundreds of other speculated reasons for they are too numerous to list here. But just as the others of African descent who fought for the Continental Army, their goal was to end slavery after the British was expelled from the colonies. ‘If’ the colonies win.
Because of manpower shortages at sea, the Continental Navy signed on African Americans. Even southern colonies, who was worried about putting guns into the hands of slaves for the army, had no problem with using blacks to pilot ship and vessels and handle the ammunition on ships.
In state navies, many blacks served as pilots: South Carolina had significant numbers of black pilots.
The original Continental Navy were primary black. Believe it not the most of the sailors with John Paul Jones were of African descent. Yes, the original USMC were black men. John Paul Jones founded the Marines.
There were about 9000 black Patriot soldiers, counting the Continental Army and Navy, and state militia units, as well as privateers, wagoneers in the Army, servants to officers, and spies. As between 200,000 and 250,000 soldiers and militia served during the revolution in total, meaning that black soldiers made up approximately eight percent of the army. Of the 19,000 black soldiers, 15,000 were combat troops. Notably, the average length of time in service for an African American soldier during the war was four and a half years (but many served for the whole eight-year duration), which was eight times longer than the average period for white soldiers. Meaning that while they were only eight percent of the manpower base, they comprised around a quarter of the Continental Army’s’ strength in terms of man-hours. There were even Continental black soldiers at Yorktown; notable of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment who stood with Washington in the famous acceptance of Cornwallis surrender.
This has been debated for years. Until recently the other sheets of the Declaration of Independence was made available to the public and it made sense as to why they were fighting. Without these pages it really made not a lick of sense to a modern day person who didn’t have the historical facts of what they were fighting for. It’s clear on these pages which indeed promise an abolishment of slavery and all the Founding Fathers signed it. These were the pages Dr. King is speaking about when he said America defaulted on it promissory note. Lincoln’s 13th Amendment was merely an enforcement of what was already written eighty seven earlier. It’s was nothing new and those of that era knew that. The issue of slavery had already been addressed but never carried out and enforced. But after the war was won with their help Continental Congress gave each state a choice of whether or not to end slavery. Most colonies, now states, chose not to end it.
Things like this is why I find it interesting to write about unknown or little known historical facts and figures whether than those abundant of books are written about.