Archive of Soldiers of Color

The Museum of the American Revolution acquired an archive of nearly 200 documents highlighting the participation of Native American and Black soldiers during the American Revolution. Items include original muster rolls, pay vouchers, enlistment papers, discharge forms, and other documents.

“Telling the story of the American Revolution accurately means telling an inclusive story….,” said Dr. Philip C. Mead, the Museum’s Chief Historian.

Document Examples:

– a discharge for a Black soldier, Brister Baker, who served for six years in the Continental Army, signed by General George Washington.

– A pay voucher from the summer of 1778 documents the service of Cuff Liberty. Liberty, a formerly enslaved man who purchased his own freedom  may have chosen the surname “Liberty” to celebrate his new status.

– An exceptionally rare 1779 pay list from the First Rhode Island Regiment.  This regiment was explicitly formed with a promise of absolute freedom to “every able bodied negro, mulatto, or Indian man slave” in its ranks. It features the names and signatures of 38 men of color.

Other documents help tell the stories of Native American soldiers who fought and died in Revolutionary War service.

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Thank you to society member, Paul Albright for sharing this article.