Essays On Women In The Military

Essays On Women In The Military-81
By the end of the war from 5,000 to 8,000 blacks had served the American cause in some capacity, either on the battlefield, behind the lines in noncombatant roles, or on the seas.By 1777 some states began enacting laws that encouraged white owners to give slaves for the army in return for their enlistment bounty, or allowing masters to use slaves as substitutes when they or their sons were drafted.

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James Lafayette, who supported the American cause as a spy, may have been the inspiration for the figure on the right in the 18th-century engraving, in the Jamestown-Yorktown collection, depicting the Marquis de Lafayette at Yorktown.

Only 50 years after the defeat of the British at Yorktown, most Americans had already forgotten the extensive role black people had played on both sides during the War for Independence.

In Virginia alone, as many as 150 black men, many of them slaves, served in the state navy.

After the war, the legislature granted several of these men their freedom as a reward for faithful service.

Two of these men, Salem Poor and Peter Salem, earned special distinction for their bravery.

By 1776, however, it had become clear that the revolutionary rhetoric of the founding fathers did not include enslaved blacks.In the South the idea of arming slaves for military service met with such opposition that only free blacks were normally allowed to enlist in the army.Most black soldiers were scattered throughout the Continental Army in integrated infantry regiments, where they were often assigned to support roles as wagoners, cooks, waiters or artisans.African Americans also served as gunners, sailors on privateers and in the Continental Navy during the Revolution.While the majority of blacks who contributed to the struggle for independence performed routine jobs, a few, such as James Lafayette, gained renown serving as spies or orderlies for well-known military leaders.Most British officials were reluctant to arm blacks, but as early as 1775, Virginia’s royal governor, Lord Dunmore, established an all-black “Ethiopian Regiment” composed of runaway slaves.By promising them freedom, Dunmore enticed over 800 slaves to escape from “rebel” masters.Whenever they could, enslaved blacks continued to join him until he was defeated and forced to leave Virginia in 1776.Dunmore’s innovative strategy met with disfavor in England, but to many blacks the British army came to represent liberation.As soon states found it increasingly difficult to fill their enlistment quotas, they began to turn to this untapped pool of manpower.Eventually every state above the Potomac River recruited slaves for military service, usually in exchange for their freedom.


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