On this last week of Black History Month let’s take a look at some of the Black heroes of the American Revolution. Most of us are not even aware that there were a large number of Blacks who fought for America’s independence from England. At one time these Black founders were mentioned in our textbooks but our textbooks are no longer teaching the whole story of America. America’s children are only getting a rather negative view of America today.
Jordan Freeman (?-1781) and Lambo (Lambert) Latham (?-1781) fought together alongside white soldiers at the battle of Groton Heights, Connecticut. It was a small group of 84 soldiers led by Lt. Col. William Ledyard. They literally sacrificed themselves to protect the town of New London from a much larger, better armed regiment led by the American traitor General Benedict Arnold.
The Americans, suffering heavy casualties retreated to Fort Griswold that was small and only equipped with few small cannons. As happened so often during the American Revolution, the Americans finally ran out of ammunition. When the British stormed the fort the Americans had to use their rifles as clubs to fight off the British. The British began scaling the walls of the fort and Major Montgomery, a British officer leading the attack, was speared and killed by black patriot Jordan Freeman. Unfortunately, the fort was overrun fairly quickly and the remaining Americans were taken prisoner.
When asked by a British officer who was in charge, Col. Ledyard bravely stepped forward and handed his sword over which was the customary act of surrender. The officer took his sword from him and then thrust it through Col. Ledyard killing him in cold blood. This was witnessed by all the Americans.
Black patriot Lambert Latham, who had grabbed the American flag, when the flagpole was shot down, and held it high until he was captured. Latham was incensed by this cold blooded act and he retaliated upon the British officer by thrusting his bayonet through his body. He was immediately attacked and received thirty-three bayonet wounds and died a noble death having avenged his commander’s death.
The British then proceeded to kill all the remaining Americans including Jordan Freeman. It is interesting to note that Freeman was owned by Col. Ledyard, the commander of the fort, but had been freed by him. He stayed in the area, married and then chose to fight for American independence. Their names appear on the monument that honors all those who fought and died during that battle.
These brave and honorable men need to be held up as heroes and role models for today’s youth. The American flag was so honored that men were willing to become targets to hold it up when the flagpoles were shot down. This happened over and over during the American Revolution and again during the War of 1812. Slave masters and their slaves fought side by side. Many freed their slaves who fought with them. This part of our history is something that has been kept hidden for the last six generations.
Patriotism is something considered to be old fashioned. Unfortunately, the majority of today’s youth are unable to even speak intelligently regarding our history. But ask about video games, pop music, sports etc. and they know it all. There is something wrong with this picture! If our children grow up to become patriots it will be because we taught them to love liberty and this nation.
We are all Americans now thanks to the brave Black patriots who valued liberty enough to fight and defend the colonies from British tyranny. They did not think of themselves as hyphenated Americans.
There were many others all over the colonies who made a difference in the outcome of the war. Without men like Peter Salem who, by his action, allowed the Americans to escape safely at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was honored before General Washington for his soldierly act.
The Battle of Yorktown was won due to the heroic acts of James Armistead (Lafayette) (1760-1832). He asked his master to serve with General Marquis de Lafayette who had come from France to aid the Americans. He ended up being sent to the British camp to act as a spy while pretending he was an escaped slave. He served in the British camp and was able to find out much information critical to the Americans but then the British asked him to spy for them so that he became a double-agent with loyalties always to the Americans. After this last battle of the war he was set free.
These men were true patriots. They were Americans whether free or slave. This is the opposite of our divided times today where we are all classified by group for the purpose of keeping us divided. The oldest and most enduring strategy by the enemy has always been to divide and conquer. The Founder’s knew this would be a problem and that is why Thomas Jefferson in 1801 said, “The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one people.” It is also God’s design that we be “as one”
Dinner Table Discussion: Contrast today’s role models with the great American patriots during the beginning of the United States.