Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

what role did african american soldier play in the war of 1812?help!?

what role did african american soldier play in the war of 1812?


3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    "THE WAR OF 1812, 1812-1815"

    "The mood of America during this period centered around keeping its independence solid from British rule as established by the peace treaty of 1783. As a new country, America also wanted to expand its borders and show off its might against encroaching outside foreign expansionists. It was with this thrust that President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) undertook the first step of expanding America's territorial bounds westward by annexing the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) was also executed by Jefferson in order to explore the possibilities of expanding America's borders from ocean to ocean."

    "When President James Madison (1809-1817) took office, America was again threatened by the British naval power. The British were "told to halt American merchant vessels anywhere on the high seas and search them for any British subjects serving in America's military or marine service." In 1806, the American frigate, the CHESAPEAKE, was captured by the British man-of-war, The LEOPARD. Among the captives were three black sailors aboard the CHESAPEAKE. These three Blacks were released in Nova Scotia five years later in 1811."

    "The British's unforgiving stance kept them at bay with the new and independent states of America. They often seized U. S. ships trading with France, and The British continued to supply arms to the Native American Indians, who resented the westward expansion of the U. S. territories. By 1810, the U. S. ceased all trade with Britain. Within two years, the U. S. Congress declared war with Britain. The date was June 18, 1812. America was now engaged in the WAR OF 1812."

    "The status of Blacks in early America was still in flux, and the established laws provided little protection. Even though slave importation was banned by 1808, some 250,000 more slaves were illegally imported into America from 1808-1860."

    "Those Blacks who were willing, able, or chosen to fight the British for America's defense did so with unusual valor. They fought in various campaigns on both sea and land. Blacks served in naval vessels, in mixed regiments, and in all "colored" regiments. Many were taken as prisoners by the British. One exemplary unit was the TWENTY-SIXTH U. S. INFANTRY REGIMENT consisting of 247 "colored" recruits from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania under the command of Captain William Bezean. Many of these willing and able regiments were held at bay, but many provided the backup and labor to keep the army running effectively. Sketchy records show blacks at the BATTLES OF LAKE ERIE and NEW ORLEANS."

    "This war ended with the signing of the Peace Treaty of Ghent, December 24, 1814. The fighting continued until August 6, 1815. Documented names of the African American soldiers during the WAR OF 1812 included among them:"

    "John Alfred * George Barnwell * John Brown * John Davis * Joshua Derwood * Jean Louis Dolliole * Simon Duke * John Eames * Cuff Farmer * Ezekieh Folden * Jacob Freeny * Quamenaugh Fuller * Abraham Gossard * John Johnson * Samuel Looks * Samuel Moore * Isaac Parcells * Vincent Populus * Joseph Savory * William Thatcher * John Bathan Vashon * Henry Willis * George Wilton"

    "African American Freedom Fighters : Soldiers for Liberty", Long Island University :

    "War of 1812"

    "When the United States declared war on Great Britain in June 1812, the Navy was the only branch of the armed forces allowing blacks to serve, although they also officially barred them from enlisting. As the "Second War of American Independence" was primarily a naval war, the largest manpower needs fell upon the Navy. Naval recruiting officers were forced to accept more blacks; so much so in fact, that in March 1813 the Navy finally reversed its official policy excluding African Americans. Free blacks responded by joining the Navy in even larger numbers."


    "During the War of 1812, African Americans comprised between 10 and 20 percent of naval personnel (Foner 1974:22). Official records indicate that they served admirably and played a major role in naval battles. In response to a complaint from Captain Oliver H. Perry about the black sailors assigned to his command, Commodore Isaac Chauncey replied, "I have nearly fifty blacks on this boat, and many of them are among the best of my men" (Wilson 1968:79). At the Battle of Lake Erie, where the American Navy led by Captain Perry defeated the British fleet, blacks constituted one-fourth of the 400 man force aboard the 10-vessel fleet. Their performance in the American victory so impressed Perry, who originally objected to their presence, that he wrote the Secretary of the Navy praising their fearlessness in the face of excessive danger (Wilkes 1970:71,73)."


    "The United States Navy was still very small, having only 16 seagoing vessels at its disposal when war erupted in 1812 (Morris 1965:141). As the conflict escalated, the United States began employing privateers, just it had done during the Revolution. The crews of these privateers included blacks. Unfortunately lack of surviving ships’ logs and other pertinent records prevent even a conjectural estimation of their numbers and service."

    "All-Black Units"

    "A smaller number of African Americans also participated in land battles of the war. Although the Army and most state militias excluded African Americans, some individual company officers allowed free blacks to join their ranks. In addition, the New York legislature passed an act in 1814 to raise two regiments of black soldiers. By the time the statute became effective, however, fighting in the northeast had ceased (Johnson 1969:71; Nalty 1986:23). Nevertheless, New York still raised the two black battalions and sent them to Sacket’s Harbor (Wilson 1968:84). Free blacks also helped to build fortifications around the city of Philadelphia. A group of these builders organized themselves into a company and soon found themselves under command of the United States Army (Wilkes 1970:65-66). Since Philadelphia was never attacked, this unit never engaged the enemy."

    "British Recruitment of Blacks."

    "When the British fleet sent an expedition into Chesapeake Bay in the spring of 1813, both the British and Americans were amazed at the eagerness of slaves to desert their masters. The mere sight of a British ship was enough to incite slaves to escape. Apparently only the white population had forgotten Lord Dunmore’s proclamation a mere 38 years earlier. With visions of "liberty and happiness" in the West Indies, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 slaves from Maryland and Virginia fled to the British (Cassell 1972:147-154). In April 1814, British Vice Admiral Cochrane issued a proclamation welcoming aboard all slaves who wished to emigrate to Britain. All fugitives had the choice of either serving with the British forces or being sent as free settlers to British possessions in North America and the West Indies (Foner 1974:23)."

    "Cochrane improved upon Dunmore’s Revolutionary proclamation by providing for anyone who wished to leave America, not just able-bodied men willing to fight. To process the thousands of emigrants, the British established a base camp on Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay (Nalty 1986:22). Most of these runaway slaves served the British as spies, laborers, and guides (Foner 1974:23). However, a contingent of 200 were formed into an all-black marine unit."

    "In May 1814, Admiral George Cockburn began enlisting and training runaway slaves for the marine unit on Tangier Island. They saw their first action in late May during the successful British attack upon an American battery at Pungoteaque, Virginia (Cassell 1972:150-151). The British commander of the expedition was impressed with the performance of the black marines and continued to use them throughout the British Chesapeake campaign, including the American defeat at Bladensburg, the burning of Washington, and the British defeat at Baltimore. The achievement of the black marines encouraged Cochrane and Cockburn to expand their use, but the war ended before they could implement additional plans (Cassell 1972:152)."

    "Battle of New Orleans."

    "Black soldiers also played a predominant role in the last major land engagement of the war: the Battle of New Orleans. Louisiana had achieved statehood only 9 weeks before the United States declared war on Great Britain. With the sudden need for defensive troops, the state legislature authorized the recruitment of free black landholders into the militia. In effect, this action reestablished the "Battalion of Free Men of Color" which had been disbanded in 1804 (Everett 1953:392). The unit’s commander was white, but Louisiana governor William Claiborne commissioned three black second lieutenants as assistants — the first African American commissioned officers in any state militia."

    "After defeats in the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake campaign in 1814, the British forces shifted their attention from the northeastern United States to the South. By the summer of 1814, it became increasingly obvious to the Americans that Britain would next attack New Orleans. In August, Andrew Jackson, commanding general of the United States 7th Military District (comprising Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi Territory), ordered the region to call up their militias into active service. Even with the New Orleans Battalion of Free Men of Color, Louisiana failed to meet its quota of 1,000 men after the first call-to-arms (McConnell 1968:61-62). To remedy this predicament, Governor Claiborne made an appeal for volunteers among the free black population of New Orleans, promising them the "same pay, rations and bounty as white volunteers" issued by General Jackson, still in Mobile at that time (Nalty 1986:24)."

    "This plea was prompted in part by fear that blacks would join the British, as many had done during the Revolution. Nevertheless, hundreds of free blacks answered the governor’s call, swelling the ranks of the Battalion of Free Men of Color from 4 companies of 64 men each to 6 companies with a total strength of 353 men (McConnell 1968:67). On 16 December 1814, the battalion became part of the United States Army and was placed under the command of Major Pierre Lacoste. The ranking black officer was Major Vincent Populus, the first African American to attain field grade rank in the United States military."

    "Jackson was so favorably impressed with the African Americans’ eagerness for military service that he endorsed Governor Claiborne’s suggestion to raise a second unit of free black soldiers. Joseph Savary, a black emigre from Santo Domingo and a veteran of the French Army, was instrumental in recruiting volunteers from among the free black immigrants from his homeland to form this battalion (Everett 1953:397). The United States Army activated this second Battalion of Free Men of Color on 19 December 1814, with a total strength of 256 men. Jackson commissioned Savary with the rank of second major. Although initially placed under the command of a white officer, Major Savary was assigned to lead the second Battalion of Free Men of Color into battle."

    "On 8 January 1815 (weeks after the peace treaty was signed between the United States and Britain) 8,000 veterans of the Napoleonic campaigns under General Sir Edward Pakenham attacked the Crescent City, defended by Jackson’s ragtail collection of 4,500 militiamen, sailors, and pirates. Both Battalions of Free Men of Color fought with distinction, helping the British to suffer its "worst defeat in years" (Foner 1974:25). The British lost more than 2,000 men in this useless encounter. American casualties numbered only 21. After the battle Jackson specifically commended the performance of the two black battalions. In a letter to Secretary of War James Monroe, Jackson specifically noted that he believed Pakenham, who was killed in the skirmish, "fell from the bullet of a freeman of color, a famous rifle shot of the Attakapas District" (Wilkes 1970:83). When they were mustered out, the black volunteers received the same pay and bounty as whites, but federal pensions and land grants of 160 acres also promised were never provided. The black militia units slowly dissolved due to lack of peacetime recruits until officially disbanded in 1834"

    "Historic Context for the African American Military Experience ", Defense Environmental Network & Information eXchange (DENIX) :

  • 4 years ago

    There were no such things as "African American" soldiers in 1812. The use of that term is a rather new phenomenon thought up by the liberal "can't hurt your feeling" gang!

  • 5 years ago

    You wouldn't happen to know which regiments of all black soldiers where in New York and if they participated in the second battle of Sackets Harbor? This is part of my senior thesis, it is almost like you wrote the first half.

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