Today's Fact Friday comes from the Mecklenburg Historical Society's website.
At least 5,000 African-Americans, both free and enslaved, served in the Continental army, state troops, navies, and militias. A substantial number of these African-American patriots came from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Some served as body servants and laborers, but the majority served as front line troops, including non-commissioned officers. African-Americans also served in the British army and navy. There was no segregation in the military during the Revolutionary War, and troops of European, African and Native American ancestry served side-by-side and suffered the same hardships.
An example of an African-American soldier from Mecklenburg County is Dempsey Reed, a freedman, who served as a substitute for a Mecklenburg resident named Nathaniel Harris. Reed was wounded in battle and received payment for his military service from the State of North Carolina in 1783.
Another local African-American soldier was Ishmael Titus, a slave from Rowan County who served as a substitute for his owner, Lawrence Ross. Titus fought in the battles of Kings Mountain, Guilford Courthouse and Deep River. He was granted his freedom after the war and died at the age of 110 in Massachusetts.
A bronze plaque commemorates their contributions on the Liberty Walk (shown below).
Until next week!
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“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.” - James Baldwin