African American Horse Soldiers - George Washington's Army

When we first began developing our Movie, Elijah and George, A Revolutionary Tale, I made a commitment to ensure historical accuracy. I personally was surprised to learn thousands of African American Soldiers served on both sides of the conflict. Yet, our history books and schools do not teach this. History is history and we must know the truths where we will learn, honor and in many cases, not repeat. While our movie is fictional, I trust the audience will be inspired by the accuracies and honor all those who sacrificed for our freedoms. Happy Independence Day!
~ Risa Leigh Clarke - Producer, Director, Writer 1663 Media Arts, LLC

African American Dragoon in the American Revolution: John Redman

June 2, 2020 - Credit: Harry Schenawolf - Revolutionary War Journal

Original Publication - Revolutionary War Journal is published by Harry Schenawolf, author of the Shades of Liberty Series about African American soldiers in the American Revolution.

Photo by Ken Bohrer at Horses In Action Foundation

John Redman was no different than any other farmer who enlisted in the Continental Army. He was among thousands who fought for what he believed in. For over three years, he and others of his company suffered hardships and extreme fatigue as they marched or rode fifteen to twenty miles a day for months on end, never knowing what horrors awaited. Many fell ill from disease, malnourishment, and died of dysentery.  The clothes on their backs literally disintegrated as few supplies were available for an army that subsisted on what they could obtain while on the march. The only difference between Redman and the next man beside him who totted a musket for the cause of liberty, was that John was an African American. But as a black soldier, he was not alone. Far from it. For it was common to find many African American among the patriot ranks who fought for the cause of freedom.

It is estimated between 5,000 and 8,000 African Americans soldiers fought and served right alongside white soldiers in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. From the very beginning of the war, there were black soldiers in every regiment of the American Army – including militia and the elite light horsemen who formed the American cavalry. It is believed, based on troop rosters and returns, that at the winter camp of Valley Forge, 1777-1778, where a new nation’s hopes hung by a thread, nearly one of every five soldiers facing General George Washington was black, a large percentage of them slaves! It is to those courageous African American men who stood firm to achieve a new nation’s dreams – suffering war’s depravities, while facing the hardships of slavery and racial inequalities, that we as a nation must come together and acknowledge what they did, and be forever grateful.

In fact, upwards of 10% of the American Army at any one time during the American Revolution were African Americans, many former and runaway slaves. The total number of whites soldiers who historians calculated served in the war included militia and ninety-day enlistments. For the most part, these men were short-term enlistees; whereas most black soldier enlistments remained for the entire war. When many enlistments were up or when hardships became unbearable, many men deserted or were furloughed over the long winter months. However, the black soldier remained in camp, sustaining the fight and thereby accounting for the higher percentage of African American soldiers’ presence throughout the war, rather than the total number compared to white soldiers. 

Black and white soldiers would not fight side by side again in the United States military until the Korean war, nearly two hundred years later. During the Revolution, thousands more African Americans acted as support for both sides of the conflict as waggoneers, ditch diggers, hauling supplies, etc., in what were termed ‘pioneers’. Generations of historical scholars and political leaders had made a concerted decision to ignore their importance to the founding of this nation. And thankfully, over the past decade, that has begun to change. The pages of time are being dusted and people are learning the truth. We as a nation must acknowledge what they did and be forever grateful.

John Redman (c1760 – Oct. 8, 1836) was one such man. When the time came, he

courageously took up his musket and joined the Virginia Line. He selflessly endured countless months of deprivation and impoverishment, right to the last days of the war, as he fought for America’s right to self-determination in a new democratic government. To ascertain his incredible accomplishments during the American Revolution, this article examines Mr. Redman’s pension application, affidavits by those with whom Redman fought, a study of the commanders he stated he served under, and the movements and actions of the units in which he served.

To read the Original and Full Article please visit:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram

1663 Media Arts, LLC. © 2018-2020 All Rights Reserved