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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: African Americans in the Revolutionary War

Contraband and free persons of color were indeed vastly important to the Union effort. Nurses and cooks were valued so highly that they were paid 10 dollars and one ration per month-the same as the black troops before their pay was corrected to become equal with the white troops (a process that took two years-and was still being wrangled over in 1898) Forts, redoubts, earthworks, roads were all built with their labor. The women cooked, did laundry and sewing, nursing and gardening. The army was led to the hidden caches of food, armament and fodder left behind-in one instance alone, such a cache amounted to several tons of hay, grain and other feed.

The atrocities were far too frequent-part of my current work deals with the fact that Black soldiers had not only the normal fears of war-but the additional fear of being tortured or returned to slavery. You are correct in that many people know of Fort Pillow, and too few are aware of Ebenezer Creek, Leesburg, Salt River and so many others. It is one of my goals, to get that information out to the public. I always try and answer legitimate questions or queries-just for that reason. But there are certainly times when the inconsiderate nature of the recipient makes you wonder why.

As far as your inlaws ancestor-you can start by checking vital records for Fairfax county, and bordering counties. Census records may also help. Remember that most slaves escaped only as far as the nearest Union encampment-so it is likely he was fairly local. You can also check the CWSS system, in case he joined the army at a later date. Working backward through family history can give you other leads and names to check. If he worked as a blacksmith after the war, he may be listed in town or county directories and tax rolls. Records are getting easier to find now than just a couple of years ago, and more state historical societies and libraries are also making their information more public.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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