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38901Re: 1812 Re: African Americans in US Forces

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  • richard lytle
    Jan 7, 2009
      Dear Brian, John, Colin, et al,
      I'm sure that most everyone will agree that between, say, 1820 and 1862, black soldiers in U.S. army uniforms just didn't exist---at least I have never seen or heard of any verifable source to contradict that statement. I agree with you that prior to 1815 there probably were some, especially during war time. Proving that there were some is the problem and if anyone knows where such proof may be found----PLEASE, I beg of you, tell me!!
      Bye the bye, Captain William Bezeau (spelling per Heitman's Historical Register and Dictionary) was transferred to the 26th Infantry as a first lieutenant "officially" on 12 May 1814 and promoted to captain "officially" on 1 August 1814. He was not retained in the service after the War of 1812 ended but was honorably discharged with the date of 15 June 1815 (the last three months "probably" saw him carried on the War Department rolls as his severance pay).
      I know that the continential lines of several middle states during the Revolutionary War contained a significant percentage of black soldiers, some free and some slave substitutes, and I know that there were several black citizens in Massachusetts who were listed in the 1790 cenus/land warrent rolls as veterans. Add them to the known service of blacks already mentioned and it becomes a distinct probability that some were in the ranks of land force regiments during the War of 1812 but so far the only way I have found to get any physical description of any soldier during those early years is to look through newspapers of the day and find advertisments of rewards for the return of deserters. Again, if anyone knows another source---please let me know.
      Richard Lytle

      --- On Wed, 1/7/09, John Ogden <johnjogden@...> wrote:

      From: John Ogden <johnjogden@...>
      Subject: Re: 1812 Re: African Americans in US Forces
      To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, January 7, 2009, 8:16 AM

      Interesting. I understand all too well about finding a tidbit of potential
      interest and not following up on it immediately because you were looking for
      something else, then not being able to locate the randomly discovered item
      later when you are free to follow up on it. If I had more free time to
      devote to researching this, I would love to follow up on this. My wife is a
      woman of color and, as a father and reenactor, I want our son to understand
      that while African-Americans have usually been marginalized by
      conventional/ traditional historians, many did play pro-active and
      significant roles in the formation of our Republic.

      On Tue, Jan 6, 2009 at 11:24 PM, nappingcrow <nappingcrow@ gmail.com> wrote:

      > Hi 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
      > citation.)
      > 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.
      > LINK: http://www.archives .gov/genealogy/ military/ 1812/discharge-
      > certificates. html
      > 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.
      > Regards,
      > Brian Smith
      > --- In WarOf1812@yahoogrou ps.com <WarOf1812%40yahoog roups.com> , richard
      > lytle <richard6616@ ...>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > > Colin,
      > >
      > > In speaking of the service of blacks in the U.S. Army, I was
      > referring to the Regulars and not the militia. You are quite correct
      > 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.
      > >
      > > The "purge" you mentioned was yet another reorganizing and
      > restructuring of the Army that was conducted effective May 15, 1815,
      > 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
      > >

      John J. Ogden

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