Posts tagged " Lord Dunmore "

African American History Revolutionary

From Slave To Revolutionary War Officer

January 26th, 2020 Posted by African American Revolutionary War History, revolutionary war No Comment yet

So much of African American history is unknown or forgotten. One place where this is prevalent is in American Revolutionary War history. The contributions of African American soldiers date back to the earliest days of this nation. One such historical figure emerges out of Lord Dunsmore’s Ethiopian regiment. That figure was an escaped slave from New Jersey named Titus. This man would join up with Lord Dunsmore. In time, he would come to be known as Colonel Tye.

Meet Colonel Tye: African American Revolutionary War Officer

Colonel Tye would go on to become a capable soldier of the Revolutionary War. Those on the battlefield would know him by his use of unconventional and aggressive tactics. By modern terms Tye used these guerrilla style strategies to wage war against the Colonial Patriots. Tye would command hundreds of soldiers on raids that freed slaves, captured supplies, and inflicted casualties against the rebellion by the thirteen colonies.

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He Was Promoted To The Rank Of Captain Of The Ethiopian Regiment And Commander Of The Black Brigade

Colonel Tye used his knowledge of the American countryside and his commando style abilities to damage the progress of the Colonial Army against the British. This made him a formidable tactician for the loyalists. His actual rank was that of captain, and he served under Lord Dunmore. Tye also worked with the Queen’s Rangers, another guerilla style loyalist band, to keep military pressure on the Colonial Army.

Freeing Slaves During The Revolutionary War

Colonel Tye commandeered loyalists to free other slaves on the American continent. In addition to raids against Colonial positions and troops, Tye used his bravado and position as a military officer to help the enslaved who also were in a different type of fight for freedom. Regardless of the outcome of the war,  Tye’s contributions helped free the disenfranchised, making him a true American hero.

African amerian history tour in williamsburgTye’s Injury

Tye sustained an injury on an attack in 1780. He would contract lockjaw from the laceration. This eventually cost him his life.

 

 


Sources

Brenton, Felix. “Colonel Tye (1753-1780) •.” •, 29 May 2019, www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/people-african-american-history/colonel-tye-1753-1780/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African American History Tour In Williamsburg

Virginia African American History: The Short, Sad History Of Lord Dunmore’s Royal Ethiopian Regiment

November 1st, 2019 Posted by African American History, Black History, tours No Comment yet

African American Soldiers And The Revolutionary War In Virginia

In November 1775, Lord Dunmore, the last royal Governor of Virginia signed a proclamation stating that any able bodied slave of a rebel master could run to his Royal Ethiopian regiment to fight the Americans and gain their freedom. Dunmore did not free the enslaved workers belonging to Loyalist Masters and he did not free his own slaves.

300 Enslaved African Americans Join Dunmore’s Army

Within a week of Dunmore signing the proclamation, over 300 enslaved workers ran to Norfolk, Virginia to join his army. The Patriots were terrified knowing their runaway slaves would now have guns. The Virginia Gazette advised slaves to “cling to your kind masters.” But in the end, around 800 runaway slaves fought in Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment. Their uniforms were emblazoned with the words, “Liberty to Slaves.”

african amercian history and the revolutionary warThe Attack On Great Bridge In Chesapeake Virginia

On November 15, Lord Dunmore called in his British troops to Kemp’s Landing to defend a large store of gunpowder that had been recently moved there from Norfolk. Militia companies from Princess Anne County, Virginia (present-day Virginia Beach) assembled to fight the British. Virginia’s inexperienced Militia fired too soon. Lord Dunmore’s disciplined regulars returned fire and most of the Patriot Militia scattered. This clear victory for the British made Lord Dunmore overconfident. He decided to attack the Patriots at Great Bridge (in present-day Chesapeake, Virginia.)

Early in the morning on December 10, 1775, The Royal Ethiopian regiment marched across the bridge with the other British troops. The British troops were within fifty feet of the Patriots who were hiding. The Patriots revealed themselves and fired rapidly, decimating the ranks, and the attack quickly turned into a panicked retreat. The battle lasted less than an hour. By the time it was over 100 British soldiers were dead or wounded. Lord Dunmore retreated to Norfolk and boarded his ships.

Lord Dunmore and his troops stayed on these ships in and around Norfolk until May, when he eventually retreated to Gwynn’s Island near the mouth of the Rappahannock River in the Chesapeake Bay. Being on these ships in the cold and damp weather caused a great deal of sickness, including smallpox. Smallpox was widespread in Great Britain — nearly all the British troops in America had caught it as children and those that hadn’t were inoculated before they left England. The enslaved that ran to the Royal Ethiopian Regiment had no immunity to the disease. This meant that smallpox was quickly an epidemic among the runaways. The situation on Gwynn’s Island became worse when typhoid fever also broke out. Slaves continued to run to Lord Dunmore’s Regiment, but because the high mortality rate among the Runaway slaves was so high the Royal Ethiopian Regiment never had more that 150 effective men.

The Fate Of African American Soldiers In The Royal Ethiopian african american soldiers in the revolutionary warRegiment

By July the remains of Dunmore’s forces sailed north to New York. The Patriot forces then took over the island and the scene that greeted them was a grisly one. Bodies of the Royal Ethiopian soldiers littered the coastline, smallpox victims thrown from the British ships as they sailed away. On the island itself the scene was even worse. One eyewitness wrote, “The deplorable condition of the miserable wretches left behind is beyond description.” The island now belonged to the dead and dying. The sick soldiers were lying out in the open or in brush tents, many of those in the tents were burned alive as soldiers sought to control the smallpox. Lord Dunmore’s Royal Ethiopian Regiment was gone, only in existence for one year. However, not all of the Royal Ethiopian Regiment died on Gwynn’s Island — one of the survivors was Titus Cornelius or, as he was later known, Colonel Tye. His story will be told in the next blog.