38899Re: African Americans in US Forces
- Jan 6, 2009Hi Richard,
This has become something of an interest of mine. I believe that in
spite of the regulations forbidding their service, there were African-
Americans serving in the regular US army during the War of 1812. I
can't speculate as to numbers, but I believe today even the US Army
states they served. (Sorry, it's late and I can't give you a proper
The US National Archives notes the following:
"African Americans also served in the Regular Army, primarily in the
26th Infantry. The notation "(B)" appears following their names in
Appendix III for those whose physical description indicates black or
mulatto skin color. Persons whose skin was described simply as "dark"
are not indicated as "black" since they were probably "dark"
caucasians. "Blacks" and "mulattos" noted during records
arrangement... " and it goes on to list men in three different
regiments, including the 26th infantry.
A number of years ago I ran across a list of 'denied' 1812 veteran
bounty applications which appeared to have been denied simply because
the applicants were black. The veterans were all from the 26th
infantry, and served under Captain William Bezeau (also written as
Begeau or Bezean in some other records) but like an idiot, I was
looking for something else at the time and so didn't take enough
notes - now of course I can't find the source.
I suspect the logic at the time went something like "black men
weren't elegible to serve, therefore didn't serve, so they are
lying", or more probably "weren't elegible to serve, therefore aren't
elegible for the land bounty granted to veterans".
I could try to run down the names of all the men known to have served
in his unit, and cross reference with bounty land applications, but I
have too many other projects going to take on another one at this
time... maybe in my retirement, if someone hasn't written a doctoral
thesis on it by then.
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, richard lytle <richard6616@...>
>referring to the Regulars and not the militia. You are quite correct
> In speaking of the service of blacks in the U.S. Army, I was
in that plenty of black americans (free persons of color usually but
that might have included black slaves as substitutes) served during
the War of 1812. Practically all of them were in militia units and
they might have been "federalized" at one point or another. The
Louisina militia had at least one free colored battalion, maybe
two, at New Orleans and they, being the most noted, are easy to
cite but there were others. I have read that as many as one out of
every six men manning the U.S. fleet on the Great Lakes was black and
I suspect that quite a few were employed by the U.S. Navy as sailors.
>restructuring of the Army that was conducted effective May 15, 1815,
> The "purge" you mentioned was yet another reorganizing and
and the entire U.S. land forces went through a complete shaking up.
The First Infantry became the Third Infantry, the Second Infantry
became the First Infantry, the Sixth Infantry became the new Second
Infantry, etc, etc. The whole force was scaled down from 44 regiments
to only 8 and it stayed at eight regiments until 1855. Of course, the
Artillery and the horse mounted troops were added furing those years
but, considering the growth in population and the expansion to the
west coast, that was damn few troops.
> Richard Lytle
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