Though some enslaved soldiers were granted freedom for serving in the Patriot army, the successful struggle for independence doomed generations of African-Americans to continued bondage. Great Britain abolished slavery 31 years before the United States, so it was quite possible that the American Civil War might have been averted had the thirteen colonies not rebelled.
Why would black soldiers agree to fight for a country that held many of their people in chains and excluded the remainder from all but the most menial tasks? The answer was quite simple actually- the deep-seated desire to be accepted and respected. Gifted African-American leader and orator Frederick Douglass, proudly proclaimed during the Civil War: “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.” African-Americans, of the Revolutionary War Patriot forces, were willing to fight and die to be accepted by white society as did their descendants “four score and seven years” later.
New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is located on Route 300, 374 Temple Hill Road, in New Windsor, NY, just three miles south of the intersection of I-87 and I-84. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.
Illustration: An African American Private, 2nd New Jersey Regiment.