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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 19th, 2013, 8:41 pm

Great thread guys, nice to see it back on top, thanks to Jason, with that excellent piece of info.
unclearthur here's a painting of Lt Col Boyd Manningham with black troops in it. C 1796

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/lieutenant-colonel-boyd-manningham-25504

Sergeant Rose is a great charachter in the history of the Scottish Regiments and is an amazing link between Waterloo and Jamaica.

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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby unclearthur » October 20th, 2013, 11:02 am

Thanks for that, chaps. First uniformed black soldiers I've come across.

Interestingly there's a Scots/Australian folk singer called Eric Bogle. I wonder if there's some distant connection or whether it's a more common surname than I think?
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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby Andrew » October 20th, 2013, 11:49 am

In the last couple of years I have read a piece about black soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars but can't remember for the life of me where I saw it!! However, many regiments that served in America brought back black soldiers whose children often followed them into uniform. One of my own predecessor regiments, the Worcesters, had black soldiers that fought on the ships when the regiment served as marines during the Glorious First of June battle. Most of them served as drummers and the drums famously had a front rank of black drummers.
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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » October 20th, 2013, 12:57 pm

Peter Snow writes in his recent When Britain burned the White House:
Tempting as it might be for British commanders to provoke a black rebellion, Lord Bathurst was adamantly against –
on moral grounds. ‘You will not encourage any disposition which may be manifested by the negroes to rise upon their masters.’ Humanity, he said, forbade any idea of prompting warfare that ‘must be attended by atrocities’. If individual slaves wanted to desert or join the British ‘Black Corps’ of negroes – that was permissible, but the slaves should immediately be freed.

The irrepressible George Cockburn, in his eighteen-month Chesapeake campaign, had already recruited blacks. He was for
stretching Bathurst’s rule as far he could, short of openly promoting a slave rebellion.


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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 20th, 2013, 1:43 pm

The slave rebellion on Haiti was a nasty business, however Touissaint Louvertoure was agaisnt all massacres and atrocities, when he was captured and died however and Haiti gained its independence there were massacres.

The black corps Bathurst is referring to must be the West India Regiments, of which 12 were raised between 1791 and 1815.

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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby Student of 1812 » October 21st, 2013, 8:42 am

I've long enjoyed the painting of the death of Major Peirson without giving much thought to Pompey. (Did he change hands on arriving in England at Portsmouth?). Prompted by this thread to try to understand it I came across this website http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lord-dunmo ... n-regiment about the Ethiopian Regiment. The dates don't compute so using Pompey on this site to illustrate Lord D's Ethiopian regt. would require 'time travel'. (I'd never heard of the Ethiopian Regiment and can't think why it was so named). I guess that when Dunsmore's Regt was disbanded some of the soldiery would have been picked-up by regular British regiments and perhaps their children followed their fathers into service in later decades.?

Whilst I think less likely in case of Major P, I wonder if officers serving later in the W. Indies in Napoleonic times might have locally enlisted servants who returned to Europe and badged with their master's regiments?

Artistically, Manet's Olympia did come to mind - again wrong period - where the very pale courtesan is emphasised by the black maid, just as the British troops whiteness is emphasised by Pompey; but I think previous thoughts of a liberated black man with a rifle loyally seeking retribution probably closest to the mark;and perhaps the fairly common practice of artists through the ages to hark back to ancient Greece/Rome where a black servant gave the owner more exoticism and standing.
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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 21st, 2013, 1:42 pm

Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment is something you only hear about if you dig around in the American Revolution allot, and even then it doesn't usually get into the general histories, I fancy it was called Ethiopian in a classically stereotyped attempt to bring it into line with other regiments that were assigned to the areas they had been recruited from, although in the case of LD's E's this was Virginia, the old Roman term for all those black people south of Egypt was Ethiopian, it means burned face. Since it was a loyalist regiment it was obviously disbanded. A great many blacks who had stayed loyal were taken out of America after the British lost (60,000 blacks arrived in Jamaica between 1775 and 1787, 7,000 to the Bahamas between 1783 and 1785 and 6,500 to East Florida who subsequently left when the Spanish took it over), and sent either to Britain or the West Indies, the British granted freedom to all black slaves who escaped and would take up arms against the "Rebels" so the majority might have been freemen. All loyalist units still serving, comprising of blacks such as the black pioneers etc were sent to the West Indies were they formed the core of the new West India Regiments in 1807, loyalists who owned slaves retained their ownership. Why they chose to portray Pompey as one of Dunmore's men I don't know as the uniform was a hunting shirt, of plain colour with liberty for slaves written on it, as the article says. There was a whole debacle about what to do with the runaway saves at Yorktown, sadly 700 of them that were sick with smallpox were turned out into the no mans land between the armies, but the British government made sure that all those who had escaped, or at least the majority got out of America, much to their former owners chagrin, but I think they had to compensate the Americans for them. It is a great painting.

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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby jasonubych » October 23rd, 2013, 2:43 pm

I have had a look through some of the Regiments for Soldiers from Africa, America and West Indies and have so far found almost a dozen Black soldiers serving out side of the west Indian Regiments.
Here are a few,

Private Charles Arrendell ,
served with the 43rd in Copenhagen, Corunna, every siege and engagement from the crossing of the Coa in 1810 to the end of the war in France, New Orleans and the capture of Paris, during these campaigns he served as a bugleman to the company.
Born St,Kitts West Indies,
Served 1802-1822,

Private William Davis,
Served with the 43rd regiment from 1809-1821 then 33.
Born Boston America.

Private John Jackson,
Served with the 43rd regiment from 1809-1811 then aged 50.
Born Wilmington America.

Private Elisha Rosia
Served with the 69th regiment from 1803-1823 then aged 46.
Born Martinique West Indies
Awarded a Mgsm with clasp for Java.

Private Thomas Manuel,
Served with the 78th Highlanders from 1805-1812 then aged 42.
Born Port-a-Prince
wounded 26th aug 1811
Listed for Mgsm and clasp for Java.

Private William Smith,
Served with the Coldstream Guards from 1811-1818 then aged 32.
Born Kingston Jamaica .

Private Joseph Rapier,
Served with the Coldstream Guards from 1792-1816 then aged 56.
Born Boston America.

Private John Thomas,
Served with the 14th Light Dragoons from 1804-1814 then aged 32.
Born Grenada West Indies.

in my random search i hoped to find someone who served at waterloo but not yet, although i did find
Private Thomas de Josey served with the 30th foot from 1809-1834 then aged 43.
Born St Roque, Lisbon
Served at Waterloo and in East Indies from 1818-1829.
Described as Black hair ,Black eyes and Black complection ??

Not sure what service the coldstream guards were doing before waterloo or if they served in the west indies?
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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby unclearthur » October 23rd, 2013, 5:55 pm

I think Student's right about recruitment of blacks in the UK. Plus servants bought back, then discarded for some reason would be obvious targets for recruiting parties even if they didn't deliberately enlist to avoid penury.
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Re: Black Soldiery in the Peninsular Army

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 23rd, 2013, 8:59 pm

Here's a Black soldier, who was also a Fencing Master who served in Spain with the 32nd Line... This pic of him on Wikipedia also has a rather photographic quality about it. I have a book called By the Sword by Richard Cohen which has a small section about him, I'll look it up but for now...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Louis_Michel

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