Cover image for Defenders of liberty : African Americans in the Revolutionary War
Defenders of liberty : African Americans in the Revolutionary War
Lanning, Michael Lee.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Citadel Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xiii, 239 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E269.N3 L36 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ
E269.N3 L36 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Lt. Col. Michael Lee Lanning reveals the little-known, critical, and heroic role African Americans played in the American Revolution. These soldiers served in integrated units -- for the last time until the Korean War, more than 150 years later.

At first, neither George Washington nor the Continental Congress approved of enlisting African Americans in the new army. Nevertheless, blacks both slave and free filled the ranks and served in all of the early battles. By the third year of the war manpower shortages overcame prejudices as both the militia and the Continental army accepted blacks and integrated them into their ranks. Each state approved the integration of blacks differently, but even regiments in the South accepted African Americans in order to maintain their units' fighting strength. Black sailors also saw action in every major naval battle of the Revolution, including members of John Paul Jones's crew aboard the Bonhomme Richard. At least thirteen blacks served in the newly formed U.S. Marine Corps during the war.

Many African Americans, especially escaped slaves, joined British units in exchange for promised liberty. Hundreds served in Lord Dunmore's Loyalist Ethiopian Regiment under the banner "Liberty to Slaves". Other blacks fought in Spanish and French regiments that allied with the Americans against the British. Bravery among African Americans was commonplace, as recognized by their commanders and state governments, and is evoked here by the stories of citizen Crispus Attucks at the Boston Massacre, militiaman Price Esterbrook at Lexington Green, soldier Salem Poor at Bunker Hill, and marine John Martin aboard the brig Reprisal.