by Jack Darrell Crowder
Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing, 2018. Pp. viii, 310.
References, biblio., index. $39.95 paper. ISBN: 1476676720
Americans of Color in the War for Independence
This work is a biographical dictionary comprising profiles of well over 100 African American and some dozens of Native Americans who served the Patriot forces during the Revolutionary War, a small sample of the several thousands who served.
In an era when most people left virtually no paper trail, a common problem when researching “ordinary” people of every group through most of history, Crawford, author of a similar volume on chaplains in the Revolutionary War, was able to identify this relative handful of people based on a pretty thorough sifting of the available evidence.
The individual profiles vary from several pages which go into great detail, to a few lines offering little more than the fact of someone’s service, a matter that reflects the person’s paper trail. In some cases several related men are covered in a single entry, as is also the case for the unknown number of “Praying Indians” who served. While many of those who served were freemen, some were slaves offered freedom in exchange for service, a promise not always kept.
In addition to giving us a glimpse at the service of these men, Crawford gives us some background information on the role of black and Indian men in American society and military service in the period, plus some notes on the effects of the war on their status, often ersulting in the re-enslavement of veterans, and a short discussion of pension policies.
This is a useful book for anyone interested in those who served and particularly in the subject of men of color who served.
Note: African Americans and American Indians in the Revolutionary War is also available in several e-editions.
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