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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: African Americans in the Revolutionary War

My goal was certainly not to disparage or discount your remarks. I have noted many times in my own work that there are many people out there who are NOT careful researchers, but who accept things on face value. My remarks were more to augment, rather than to criticize. As an example-the issue of racial designation. Researchers with little experience may see a name and designation such as "Cato Green, Indian" and accept that as truth. It might be, but the given name Cato should lead one to possibly question it. Another example-a woman wrote to me requesting information on a great grandparent whom she KNEW to have been born in a certain place, married to a Wampanoag woman, whose name she listed, etc.....Because I wished to help her, I did some deep research-found the person in question, marriage and death records, children's birth records, census and tax information-in all, a lot of work. I sent this to her, feeling good that I had helped someone with their own history. Instead of thanking me for all this (free) information, I got a letter blasting the fact that the documentation didn't support the oral history. (Records had various entries listing the wife as mulatto, colored, free mulatto) She certainly could have been indian or part indian, but the documented records that I could find didn't verify it. It didn't negate the family history, but it couldn't PROVE it.

As for the Civil War-the 180,000 Black soldiers who fought as Union troops deserve far more recognition and respect than they have received from the general public. The issue of the contrabands is clearly more difficult to document-as to names, origins, etc. The names and accomplishments of some are sporadically mentioned in various places in USCT, cemetery, and official documents. In research I am doing for a book on USCT history, I come across these pieces, along with many others that will some day feed into other work.

My suggestion for those who have interests in pieces of all this is to start small, start with what you know, put out feelers everywhere, expand your research logically wherever possible (example-as you addressed-if interested in a specific area, look at the militia or other troops that arose in that area, look at military, local, cemetery, church records-always there are pieces that will lead you elsewhere-like land records, wills and deeds, probate records, pensions, whatever. Make it known to all and sundry that you are looking for this information-and keep after it. Sometimes a gem appears years after you have given up all hope.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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