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Steven J. Niven

militia leader, was born in Georgia to parents whose names have not been recorded. Some sources list his name as Doc Adams. He was probably born a slave, as were the vast majority of African Americans in Augusta's cotton-rich hinterlands in the late 1830s; the 1840 U.S. census lists fewer than two hundred free blacks in Richmond County. As a carpenter Adams, like other slave artisans, may have been able to hire out his time, and he may have saved enough money to purchase his freedom. In any case Adams joined the Union army during the Civil War, and he acquired enough money to purchase five hundred acres of land—worth three thousand dollars—near Nashville, Georgia, where he lived for a time after hostilities ended in 1865. By 1872 he had returned to Augusta where he earned good wages working as a boss carpenter Adams was also involved ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor, is known for his service on the Continental navy sloop Ranger under Captain John Paul Jones. A story passing as truth has been written about Scipio Africanus stating that he was a slave owned by Jones and accompanied him on the ships he commanded. In fact virtually nothing is known about Africanus except for the fact that he was a free man when he enlisted to serve on board the eighteen-gun Ranger for one year while she was building at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sometime between March and July 1777.

While we know little about Scipio Africanus the man some guesses as to his servitude and character may be ventured That he was a slave prior to his naval service as suggested by his first name is likely Classical Roman names such as Scipio Cato and Caesar were commonly given at birth by owners to slaves ...

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Like many slaves from Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), Pablo Alí crossed the border to serve in the Spanish colonial army of Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic) as a means of obtaining his freedom. In 1795Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France. Alí subsequently participated in the War of Reconquest, in which French troops were defeated and Santo Domingo was reunited with Spain (1809). In 1811 the Spanish throne named him first colonel and granted him a gold medal in recognition of his service to the Crown.

In 1820 Alí served as colonel of the Batallón de Morenos (Black Batallion) in Santo Domingo. After learning that his application for Spanish citizenship had been denied, in 1821 Alí pledged his loyalty to the insurrectionists, led by José de Núñez Cáceres and served as their chief military commander That same year ...

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Eric Paul Roorda

one of the most famous and prolific poets of the Dominican Republic, was born on 6 September 1833 in the town of Moca, in the Cibao Valley, the son of Félix Alix and María Magdalena Rodríguez. The Cibao, the breadbasket region of the country, fringed by mountains and home to tobacco cultivation, is its own patria chica, or “little country,” an area of strong personal identification for those people who are native to it. Alix began writing poetry there at the age of 16, mastering the distinctive Cibao dialect that he would use extensively in his work. After his rural upbringing in the valley, Alix went on to lead a picaresque existence. He is best known for composing in a popular form of verse called the décima, which has ten lines and a complicated rhyme scheme. Décimas typically comment on a wide range of issues of a ...

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Caroline M. Brown

aviation mechanic and pilot, was born in Quitman, Wood County, Texas, the youngest of three children; both of his parents were teachers. Allen's father died when Thomas was three months old. His mother, Polly, continued to teach school and to run the family farm.

Allen became interested in flying in 1918, when an airplane made a forced landing in a pasture. The pilots paid the two young Allen brothers to guard the plane overnight so that its fabric and glue would not be eaten by cows. From this experience, Thomas Allen decided to become either an aviator or a mechanic.

In 1919 when Allen was twelve the family moved to Oklahoma City where his mother resumed teaching school Allen often bicycled to a nearby airfield In his teens he persuaded the field owner to take a $100 saxophone as partial trade for flying lessons He worked off the ...

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Haggai Erlich

Ethiopian military leader, is considered by many in Ethiopia as the country’s national hero and “Africa’s greatest general” of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, an era during which he was a pivotal figure in Ethiopia’s internal and external affairs. This was a period of formative significance, during which the Ethiopian empire managed to stem Western imperialism, defeat Islamic neighbors, and double its territory. Ethiopia’s victories at that time ensured her unique independence, but also solidified her traditional institutions, which remained almost unchallenged until the final decades of the twentieth century. He is better known as Ras Alula. Ras was the highest rank in Ethiopia of the time, similar to duke in medieval Europe. Another form of his name is Alula Engeda.

Alula was born into a peasant family in Tigray but was talented and ambitious enough to climb the ladder of local administrative and military service In November ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Mexico, Oswego County, New York. Unrecorded in the 1850 federal census, the names of Anderson's parents are confirmed to be unknown. However, likely candidates are Samuel and Mary Anderson, the only black or “mulatto” family recorded living in Oswego County in the 1840 (town of Granby) and 1850 (town of West Oswego) censuses. Samuel Anderson was a native of Bermuda, and his wife, Mary, was a New York native. Bruce Anderson does appear in the 1860 census, listed as a fourteen-year-old “mulatto” residing in Johnstown, New York, on the farm of Henry Adams and his daughter Margaret; he was likely a simple laborer. How he came to live with the Adams family is unknown, but Anderson would remain a resident in the area—except during the time of his Civil War service—for the remainder of his life.

While some ...

Article

aviator and instructor of the Tuskegee Airmen, was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Janie and Iverson Anderson, of whom little else is known. During his early childhood, he lived with his grandmother in Staunton, Virginia. There Anderson longed for an airplane so he could fly to see what was on the other side of the mountains that surrounded Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley. He frequently left home in search of airplanes that were rumored to have crashed in the valley. His constant disappearances frustrated his grandmother, and she sent him back to his parents. Once back in Pennsylvania, however, he continued leaving home in search of airplanes.

At the age of thirteen Anderson applied to aviation school, but was denied admission because he was African American. In 1926 at the age of nineteen he used his savings and borrowed money from friends and relatives to purchase a ...

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Charles Edward Wiles

U.S. Marine and Medal of Honor Recipient, was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson Sr. Anderson attended and graduated from Carver Elementary School, located in Los Angeles, in 1958. After moving to Compton, he graduated from Willowbrook Junior and Centennial Senior High School. Anderson went on to attend Los Angeles Harbor College for approximately a year and a half.

Anderson left college and enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corps on 17 February 1966. He participated in recruit training with the First Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California. After graduating from recruit training, Anderson was promoted to Private First Class in August 1966. Transferring to Camp Pendleton, California, Anderson attended infantry training with the Second Battalion of the Second Infantry Training Regiment.

Private Anderson arrived in Vietnam in December of 1966 There ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

a Civil War soldier and veterans leader and Reconstruction-era legislator, was born and lived all of his life in Louisiana. Felix Antoine was born into the distinct community of gens de couleur libre, free persons of color, which existed in the New Orleans area and some other parts of Louisiana since French colonial times. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812, who fought under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, and his mother was a native of the West Indies. His paternal grandmother was reputed to have been the daughter of an African prince, who purchased her freedom from slavery; she saved $150,000 as a free woman (Shreveport Journal obituary of C.C. Antoine, 14 Sept. 1921). Antoine was the younger brother of Louisiana Lt. Governor Caesar C. Antoine who moved from New Orleans to Shreveport prior to ...

Article

Richard Roberts

French general and architect of military conquest and the early colonial state in the French Sudan, was born in Le Havre, France on 11 February 1850. His father, also Louis Archinard, was born into a Protestant peasant family and moved to Le Havre, where he taught in a Protestant school. His mother, Sophie (née Cattelain), grew up in an artisanal family and also moved to Le Havre, where she too taught school. Le Havre benefited from the expanding Atlantic commerce, including the slave trade. In 1850, it was a major French port with deep connections with the colonial world, feeding the textile manufacturing sector in Normandy with imported raw materials, and exporting finished goods.

Archinard was admitted in 1868 into the École Polytechnique in Palaiseau near Paris which trained students to become civil or military engineers The school stressed science in the service of the state Although ...

Article

Amalia K. Amaki

sculptor, ceramicist, and educator, was one of America's most prolific and respected three‐dimensional artists in the mid‐twentieth century. Born in Washington, North Carolina, to Elizabeth Davis and Thomas Miggett, he lived primarily with his father until the fall of 1926 when he relocated to Harlem and began living with his mother and her husband, George Artis. In New York he assumed the surname of his stepfather. He attended Haaren High School and went on to study sculpture and pottery at the Augusta Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in the early 1930s, joining the ranks of Jacob Armstead Lawrence, Gwendolyn Knight, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and other notable artists whose initial studies included instruction under Savage. Artis was also a contemporary of his fellow sculptors Selma Hortense Burke and Richmond Barthé the latter the most exhibited and honored three dimensional artist associated with ...

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Jane Brodsky Fitzpatrick

first African American member of the Oklahoma City Council, family physician, and civic leader, was born in Trinidad, West Indies, to Gertrude St. John, a domestic worker, and John Atkins. He had one younger sister. Charles Atkins immigrated to the United States, arriving at Ellis Island in March 1929. He was required to attend Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, New York City, because the United States did not accept his education credentials from Trinidad. One of the first black students at DeWitt, he graduated in 1933. Aided by the Urban League, he worked as a summer counselor to earn money for college. Although he took some classes at City College of New York, he moved to North Carolina to attend St. Augustine's, an Episcopalian historically black college in Raleigh. He graduated in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. On 27 March 1943Atkins ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

United States Navy enlisted man, Spanish‐American War combatant, and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Brunswick, Virginia. Though nothing is known of his early life, it is likely that he was born to parents who had been formerly enslaved and who gained their freedom during the Civil War years. Perhaps because of his childhood proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the major naval base at Norfolk, Virginia, Daniel Atkins joined the United States Navy around 1886.

The navy that Atkins joined in the 1880s was one in which opportunities for African Americans were steadily declining. In the years between the American Revolution and the close of the Civil War, black sailors served in a variety of shipboard posts, rated anywhere from cabin boy, cook, and steward to such higher positions as able‐bodied seaman and gunner. In 1842 Senator John C. Calhoun attempted to have blacks banned from ...

Article

Jeffery Othele Mahan

soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Manuel Caldera and Beulah Baker. After the deaths of his parents, Vernon and his sisters, Irma and Katherine, were raised by their maternal grandparents, Joseph Samuel Baker, a retired brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Dora Lucas. Although his grandparents never officially adopted him, Vernon took the surname Baker and did not know his original surname until later in life. Baker was educated at various elementary and secondary schools, including two years at Father Flanagan's Boys Home in Omaha, Nebraska. Baker finally earned his high school diploma at Clarinda, Iowa, in 1939.

After graduation, Baker returned to Cheyenne, where he found work at the army depot at night doing maintenance, repair, and cleaning jobs. Baker was rejected on his first attempt to join the army. Finally in June 1942 he enlisted and was ...

Article

was born to free black parents in Santiago de Cuba, in the province of Oriente. Quintín Bandera, as he was commonly known, enlisted as a private in the Cuban Rebel Army, in 1868, just as the anticolonial movement against Spain erupted into a full-scale insurgency, known as the Ten Years’ War (1868–1878). He eventually rose to the rank of general. In 1897, during the Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898), the general was court-martialed and stripped of his rank, an ominous precursor of the shortcomings of Cuba’s colorblind nationalist discourse. So frustrated were Bandera and other blacks with the island’s post-revolutionary political course that he led a group of veteran officers and soldiers in an uprising against then president Tomás Estrada Palma in what was known as the 1906 Constitutional Revolution Shortly after this Bandera was brutally killed by rural guardsmen Today Bandera is ...

Article

Quintín Banderas's parents were free but poor. To help support his family, Banderas began to work in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba as a bricklayer at the age of eleven. Dissatisfied with the profession, he left home when he was thirteen years old and enlisted as a sailor on a Spanish merchant ship. After he was in Spain for a few months, his mother filed a petition before the merchant for his return because he was a minor. Banderas was returned to Santiago and went back to working as a bricklayer.

During the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), Cuba's first major war of independence, Banderas joined the revolutionary army led by the black military leaders Máximo Gómez and Antonio Maceo and the white Creole Carlos Manuel Céspedes. Due to his bravery and military achievements, Banderas soon attained the military rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1879 ...

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Benjamin Van Dine

Civil War solider, was born in New York State in 1833. His parents are unknown. Little is known about his early life, but he worked as a sailor until he enlisted in the Union army in Philadelphia on 13 June 1863, just a few weeks after the War Department established the US Bureau of Colored Troops. At the time he was thirty years old and married to his Pennsylvania-born wife, Matilda. Banta enlisted under the name Perry Bandy—likely a typographical error—in the Twenty-fourth Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, commanded by Captain M. Yardley. Initiated as a private in 1863 he undertook the role of waterman During his first deployment his regiment was stationed at Camp William Penn in Cheltenham Pennsylvania Over the course of the war this fort trained eleven thousand former slaves and free African Americans to be soldiers During that time Banta s regiment ...

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David A. Grantham

military leader and son of a freed Afro-Argentine soldier, Lorenzo Barcala, was likely born in La Rioja Province or neighboring Catamarca Province of northwestern Argentina, sometime in the first half of the nineteenth century. Following in his father’s footsteps, Barcala fought in the Argentine Civil Wars (1814–1880), joining a May 1866 revolt in the Catamarca region.

The civil wars in Argentina were largely a struggle over the centralization of power In the shadow of independence the nascent nation battled over future governing strategies provincial authority and access to wealth namely the lucrative ports Some powerful Argentines known as Federalists sought to consolidate power within the capital city of Buenos Aires while inhabitants of many cities and provinces outside the city rebelled against the centralization Afro Argentines played a particularly important role in both the fight for independence and the subsequent civil wars Freed blacks and conscripted slaves served ...

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Florence M. Coleman

slave, Civil War soldier, politician, and Baptist minister, was born Peter Barnabas Barrow, a Virginia slave. The month and day of his birth are unknown. It is believed that he was born near Petersburg, Virginia, and may have been taken to Mississippi or Alabama with his owner. In 1864 Barrow joined Company A, 66th U.S. Colored Infantry and in 1865 became a sergeant. A year later Barrow was discharged because of an injury he received. He went on to teach school at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Barrow, who was most likely self-educated, served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives for Warren County, Mississippi, from 1870 to 1871. From 1872 to 1875 he served in the Mississippi State Senate. He migrated to Spokane, Washington, in 1889 and settled there in the city s African American community Barrow and other African Americans were determined to thrive by establishing ...