PETERSBURG AND THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

Petersburg's African American resdients served in the American Revolution both as patriots and as loyalists. Black patriots and black loyalists were both fighting for freedom.

 

PETERSBURG's BLACK PATRIOTS

Numerous free African Americans fought in the Continental Army. Several of Petersburg's black patriots applied for pensions after the war. Enslaved Petersburg residents might be awarded their freedom for service. For example, James Armisted Lafayette was granted his freedom by the Commonwealth of Virginia for his services as a double agent during Yorktown campaign. Ronald Seagrave reprinted an engraving that couples his portrait with a testamonial by the Marquis de Lafayette in The Early Artisans and Mechanics of Petersburg.

 

 

 

PETERSBURG's BLACK LOYALISTS

 

Many Africans Americans in Petersburg, inspired by the British's promise of freedom in exchange for military service exemplified in Dunmore's Proclamation, chose to seek freedom for themselves and their families abroad after the war. Thousands of black loyalists resettled outside of the US, some went to the Caribbean but most, over 3000, went to Nova Scotia. (From Nova Scotia, many relocated once again to England or Sierra Leone.) The Book of Negroes contains the manifests listing African American passengers aboard British ships embarking from New York City in 1783 for Canadian ports. The following men and women from Petersburg are listed in these records:

Peter Randall, 23, stout fellow, (William Cassels). Formerly slave to James Field in Petersburg, Virginia whom he left 4 years ago & came to New York.

James Collin, 43, ordinary man, pilot by order (Capt. Mowat). Formerly slave to John Williams, Norfolk, Virginia; taken by Gen. Arnold at Petersburgh 3 years past.

George Black, 40, stout fellow, (Jere Ketcham). Formerly slave to Josiah Portress, Petersburg, Virginia; left him 4 years past.

Betsey Black, 35, ordinary wench, (Jere Ketcham). Formerly slave to Josiah Portress, Petersburg, Virginia; left him 4 years past.

William Black, 14, fine boy, (Jere Ketcham). Formerly slave to Josiah Portress, Petersburg, Virginia; left him 4 years past.

Thomas Tait, 23, stout fellow, almost white, (Major Brown,NYV). Free born at Petersburgh in Virginia. Indented to serve till 21 years of age to John Graham of Petersburgh; left him 5 years.

John Green, 35, stout fellow. Formerly the property of Ralph Faulkner of Petersburgh, Virginia; left him 4 years ago.

Robert Fleming, 30, stout fellow. Formerly the property of John Holloway of Petersburgh, Virginia; left him 4 years ago.

Thomas Basset, 39, stout fellow. Born free at Petersburgh, Virginia; left 2 years ago.