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R.I. Colonial Patriots of Color

Who is lost to the historical record? And can they be “rediscovered”? A long, often accurate, criticism of the teaching of the history of the United States is that people of color are not effectively represented.  Some recent scholarship has sought to rectify this by delving into the same old historical sources but from a new perspective.

Pay Roll for Col. Christopher  Harris Co.,  21 Dec 1756
Francisco on Pay Roll for Col. Christopher Harris Co., 21 Dec 1756
Here in this post we offer a list of soldiers of color that served in the Colonial Wars gleaned from Howard M. Chapin’s Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars (Providence: Rhode Island Historical Society, 1920.) The citations and sources for this work are held in his personal papers.  Howard Millar Chapin (1887-1940) served as the Librarian of the Rhode Island Historical Society from 1912 until his death in 1940.
While Chapin was interested only in service records, he did note ethnicity when possible in the verbage of his day. For the modern researcher that was an invaluable decision. Many of Chapin’s primary sources can still be found in the collections of the R.I.H.S. Library, including the Colonial Militia Papers, MSS 673, sg1.
Patriots of Color Who Served Rhode Island in the Colonial Wars
King George’s War, 1740-1748

  • Ahorney, Isaac (Indian) apprentice of Newport. Served in the Expedition of 1746
  • Broadfoot, James (Indian) Served in the Expedition of 1746
  • Cook, John (Indian) Served in Capt. Sheffield’s Co. in 1740
  • Frost, John (Indian) Served in Capt. Rice’s Co. in 1746
  • Slocum, Josh (Indian) Served in campaign in 1740
  • Slywood [Spywood?], Samuel (Indian) Served in Campaign of 1746
  • Thompson, John (Indian) Served in Campaign of 1746
  • Tyken/Tiken, Aaron (Indian) Served in Capt. Sheffield’s Co. in 1740, and in Capt. Hopkins’ Co. in 1743

French & Indian War, 1755-1762

  • Atwood, Scipio (colored) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Blar, Manuel (colored) Served on Privateer Providence
  • Bosworth, Nero of Bristol (colored) Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757
  • Bowen, Fortin of Smithfield (colored) Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757
  • Caesar, Obediah of N. Kingstown (colored) Served in Capt. Greene’s Co. in 1757
  • Coggeshall, Solomon (Indian) Served on Privateer Providence in 1759
  • East, Caleb of Exeter (Indian) Served in Capt. Greene’s Co. in 1757
  • George, Joshua of N. Kingstown (mulatto) Served in Capt. Greene’s Co. in 1757, in Lt. Col. Potter’s Co. in 1758, and in Col. Rose’s Regiment in 1762.
  • Gifford, — (Indian slave belonging to William Gifford of Tiverton) Served in Campaign of 1756
  • Godfrey, Cuff (colored) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Greenman, (Pompey?) (colored) Served in Capt. Russell’s Co. in 1762 and died in Havana 6 Sept 1762
  • Hull, Joseph (colored) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Ireson, Ichabod (Indian) Served on Privateer Providence in 1759
  • Jacketess, Caleb (Indian) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Johnson, George (Indian) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Johnson, James (Indian) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Josiah, of Newport (Indian) Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757
  • Lawrence, William (Indian) Served on Privateer Providence in 1759
  • Lewis, Joel (colored) Served in Col Harris’ Co. in 1760 and in Capt. Hawkins’ Co. in 1762
  • Lewis, (Indian boy) Served in campaign of 1762 and 1763
  • Lyons, William (colored) of Newport Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757
  • Mew, George of Warwick (mulatto) Served in Capt. Potter’s Co. in 1756, in Capt. J. Whiting’s Co. in 1757, and was taken prisoner at the capture of Fort William Henry
  • [Negro], Benjamin of Bristol Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757, and served on Capt. Peck’s Co. in 1761
  • [Negro], Benjamin Served in Capt. Wall’s Co. in 1757
  • [Negro], Benjamin Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1758
  • [Negro], Francisco Served in Col. Hariss’ Co. in 1756, and in Capt. Jenckes’ Co. in 1757
  • [Negro], Port Served in Col. Babcock’s Co. in 1758 and 1759
  • Paugonutt, John (Indian) Served in campaign of 1760
  • Penny, Benjamin (Indian) of Charlestown Served in Capt. Greene’s Co. in 1757
  • Phillips, Hanley (colored) of N. Kingstown Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757
  • Place, Eber (Indian); alias John Eber of N. Kingstown Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757
  • Potter, Tom (Indian); alias Tom Hill Served in campaign of 1755
  • Reed, Joseph (colored) Served in Capt. Rose’s Co. in 1760
  • Robin, Isaac (Indian) Served in Col. Rose’s Regt. in 1761
  • Rodman, Abiathar (Indian) of Richmond Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757, and served in Capt. Rose’s Co. in 1758
  • Sawnis, John (Indian) of Exeter Co. in 1757, and in campaign of 1758
  • Somog, John (Indian) Served in Capt. Whiting’s Co. in 1760 and died at Crown Point
  • Spywood, Thomas (Indian) Served in campaign of 1760, and in Capt. Kimball’s Co. in 1761
  • Stoddard, Ned (colored) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1758
  • Tillinghast, Amos (colored) Served on Privateer George of Newport in 1757
  • Waterman, Prince (colored) of Providence Marched on alarm of Aug. 1757

This list is, most probably, by no means complete. But is based on what documentation survives. It gives us a starting place for a more inclusive view of our collective colonial American history. Hopefully new sources, new research and family histories will add names to this list so that they can be remembered and commemorated.
Published in 2008 by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Forgotten Patriots:  African American and American Indian Patriots in the Revolutionary War  is an another excellent modern resource that can be found at the R.I.H.S. Library.
~ Phoebe Bean, Librarian

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