1-20 of 85 Results  for:

  • Before 1400: The Ancient and Medieval Worlds x
  • Military and Intelligence Operations x
Clear all


ʿAbd al-Muʾmin  

Allen J. Fromherz

builder of the Almohad Empire and great Moroccan military leader and able administrator, led the Almohad movement for tawhid, absolute monotheistic unity, after the death of the Mahdi Ibn Tumart, the Almohad founder, in c. 1130. His full name was ʿAbd al-Muʾmin ibn ʿAli ibn ʿAlwi bin Yaʿla al-Kumi Abu Muhammad.

After defeating the Almoravid Empire at Marrakech, he established the administrative and military foundations of the Almohad state while securing a caliphal succession for his descendants, the Muʾminid dynasty. In a matter of decades ʿAbd al-Muʾmin and his followers transformed the Almohads from a vigorous but vulnerable ideological movement in the small Atlas Mountain town of Tinmal to one of the largest and most successful Islamic empires in North African and Andalusian history.

Effectively an outsider ʿAbd al Muʾmin s ancestry was different from the noble Masmuda ethnic groups that made up the core of the Almohad ...


Abd Al-Rahman, Ibrahima  

Allan D. Austin

a military leader in Africa, a slave in Mississippi, was born into the rising Bari family of the Fulbe people in the fabled but real African city of Timbuktu. His name is sometimes written as Abdul Rahahman and Abder Rahman. The Fulbe people were prominent leaders in West African jihads from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries and, though enslaved, the most persistent adherents to Islam in the Americas. Abd al-Rahman's father and family had moved south to territory soon to be called Futa Jallon in the highlands of present-day Guinea after he and non-Muslim allies wrested power from their animist opposition between 1776 and 1778. Well into the twentieth century the military Bari-Soriya and religious Karamoko Alfiya families, usually peacefully, traded rule over their people and lands.

For about a century Futa Jallon was the strongest nation in the area. In its capital Timbo, Abd al-Rahman ...


Badr, al-Jamali, Abu al-Najm  

Kurt J. Werthmuller

commander of the Fatimid armies in Egypt and Syria, was the first in a sixty-year era of Muslim viziers and military rulers of Armenian origin, a position he assumed following his restoration of order in the Fatimid lands after a period of political and social turmoil. Nothing is known about his birth or childhood, save the patronymic Ibn (son of) ʿAbdallah, which is sometimes included in his full name and title. He was father to at least two sons: al-Awhad, whom he likely executed after a brief rebellion, and al-Afdal, who succeeded him as military vizier. The earliest references to Badr’s life begin as an adolescent Mamluk (slave-soldier) in the service of a Fatimid governor of Aleppo around 1020 This official ʿAziz al Dawla had apparently begun recruiting Mamluks into his military from among those Anatolian communities that retained a sense of their Armenian identity but had in fact ...


Baker, Brister (Bristol)  

Kane Cross

was possibly born in Connecticut, but other than that he was born into slavery, nothing is known about his parents or his early years. Baker enlisted to fight in the Revolutionary War on 24 May 1777, in the town of New Haven. His name appears as both Bristol and Brister in multiple documents, presumably due to his being a slave before enlisting in the army. His discharge papers list the name as Brister.

Baker served during the years 1777–1783 until he was discharged in 1783; his discharge letter was signed and approved by General George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army, and does not indicate that he was a black soldier. It seems Connecticut recruiters had a difficult time bringing in soldiers, because by March 1777 Brigadier General Samuel Parsons reported that of the nine Connecticut regiments only two had 250 men far short of the ...



James Allan Evans

Byzantine general, was born in what is now western Bulgaria. He was the military commander during Emperor Justinian’s reign (527–565 CE), whom we know best thanks to Procopius of Caesarea, the most notable historian of the period, who joined his staff as legal secretary (assessor) in 527 and remained with him during his campaigns in North Africa and, up until 540, in Italy. Hence Belisarius is the central figure in Procopius’ History of Justinian’s Wars, published in 551, where he appears full of promise early in his career, but as time wore on, there is an insistent undertone of criticism. In the same year in which Procopius completed Justinian’s Wars in seven books, he also wrote a coda containing information that he did not dare publish. This closet history is first mentioned in the Suda, a tenth-century lexicon, which refers to it as Procopius’ Anekdota ...


Biassou, Jorge  

Jane G. Landers

Haitian revolutionary, was born a slave in Cap Français (or Guarico, in Spanish), on the northern coast of Saint Domingue, in modern Haiti. Spanish documents give his parents' names as Carlos and Diana, and Biassou and his mother were the slaves of the Holy Fathers of Charity in Cap Français, where Biassou's mother worked in the Hospital of the Holy Fathers of Charity, probably as a laundress or cook. Biassou's father's owner and occupation are unknown.

In 1791 Biassou joined Boukman Dutty, a slave driver and coachman considered by the slaves to be a religious leader, and Jean‐François, also a slave from the Northern Plains of Saint Domingue, in leading the largest slave revolt in the Western Hemisphere on–the richest sugar colony of its day, French Saint Domingue. Boukman was killed in November of 1791 only three months into the revolt and Biassou and Jean François assumed command ...



William Seraile

a mixed race slave, also known as Will or William, was the subject of an alleged treason case during the American Revolution. Nothing is known about Billy's birth, family, or childhood.

The Billy, or Will, of the treason case was the slave of Colonel John Tayloe, a resident of Richmond County, Virginia. Billy and others were arrested and convicted of seizing an armed vessel on 2 April 1781 to wage war against Virginia. He was condemned to death by the court of Oyer and Terminer in Prince William County on 8 May. Henry Lee and William Carr, dissenting justices, noted that he was not a citizen and owed no allegiance to Virginia. Furthermore, Billy argued that others had forced him onto the vessel, and there was no evidence that he had gone aboard voluntarily.

Only Governor Thomas Jefferson could grant Billy a reprieve Jefferson was profoundly ambivalent ...


Bowles, Charles  

Floyd Jr. Ogburn

soldier and evangelist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was an African servant and his mother was the daughter of Colonel Morgan, an officer in the rifle corps during the American Revolutionary War. As an infant Bowles remained with his father but dwelled with a foster parent in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, until age twelve. After the death of his foster parent, he lived with a Tory family until fourteen, when he joined the Colonial artillery as a waiter to an officer. Two years later he enlisted in the American army and served until the war concluded.

The war over, Bowles traveled to New Hampshire and married Mary Corliss his cousin and the granddaughter of Colonel Morgan Soon after marriage he was baptized and joined the Calvinist Baptist Church in Wentworth New Hampshire Finding the Calvinist denomination too inflexible he later converted to the Free Will Baptist embracing ...


Brace, Jeffrey  

Kari J. Winter

slave, sailor, soldier, and farmer, was born Boyrereau Brinch, the seventh of eight children (four boys and four girls) born to Whryn Brinch, the son of Yarrah Brinch, and of Whryn Douden Wrogan, the daughter of Grassee Youghgon. He lived in the city of Deauyah in the kingdom of Bow-woo, which was probably situated in the Niger River basin, in the area that would later become Mali. In 1758 when he was around the age of sixteen Boyrereau was abducted by slave traders transported to Barbados and sold to Captain Isaac Mills of New Haven Connecticut who trained him for British naval service Like thousands of other slaves and freed Africans in the Caribbean Brace as he would come to be called years later after his manumission This may have been an anglicized version of Brinch was forced to labor aboard ship during ...


Brown, James  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, served with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie. A native of Maryland, Brown was a free man and resident of Somerset, Pennsylvania, when he married his wife Elizabeth, also from Maryland, in April 1812. Although details are lacking, Brown may have served in a local militia unit in 1812–1813 before being sent to serve in Perry's newly formed Lake Erie squadron in the spring of 1813. When Perry arrived at Erie, Pennsylvania, to finalize the construction of the twenty-gun brigs Lawrence and Niagara the mainstays of his fleet he found that he was severely lacking in manpower and requested more men from his superior Commodore Isaac Chauncey After some dispute and delay a disappointed Perry finally received 150 men commenting that The men that came are a motley set blacks Soldiers and boys Altoff ...


Brown, Robert  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a soldier and sailor during the War of 1812, was born in Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the war he likely served in a Pennsylvania militia regiment, but sometime after March 1813 he was sent for duty at sea aboard the Lake Erie squadron under the command of Oliver Hazard Perry. Short on manpower during the outfitting of his fleet at Erie, Pennsylvania, including the twenty-gun brigs Lawrence and Niagara, Perry was forced to plead with his superior, Commodore Isaac Chauncey, to send him more men. After much wrangling, Chauncey finally sent Perry 150 men in two separate drafts, including African Americans Robert Brown, Jesse Walls, and James Brown Unfortunately Perry was unhappy with the caliber of the men he received complaining to Chauncey that The men that came are a motley set blacks Soldiers and boys I cannot think that you saw them after they ...


Butler, Nace  

M. Kelly Beauchamp

a fifer in the Second Maryland Regiment during the War of Independence, enlisted in 1776 and served for the duration of the war. At least two other black men served in the same regiment. A position as a musician was not an uncommon assignment for African Americans, particularly in the first years of the conflict. The army raised by the Continental Congress was initially multiracial, but soon after George Washington took command in the spring of 1775 he ordered recruiting officers not to enlist African Americans. In a council of war on 8 October 1775, Washington and other prominent officers decided unanimously to bar all slaves and—by a wide majority—all African Americans from enlisting in the Continental army. Confronted with a shortage of soldiers, Washington reversed this decision. By the end of the war African American soldiers had usually served longer terms of enlistment than their white counterparts.

Early ...


Carlisle, Cato  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor, is a man about whom little is known. Thought to have been a slave at some time in his life, Carlisle enlisted for service in the Continental navy aboard the sloop of war Ranger in July 1777 at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This 18-gun, 318-ton craft was commanded by the famed Captain John Paul Jones. Earlier writers have erroneously stated that Carlisle, as well as another black member of Ranger's crew, Scipio Africanus, were slaves owned by Captain Jones. Though Cato Carlisle was a free black from the Piscataqua region, records do not state whether he was already a freeman or used his enlistment bounty money to buy his freedom. Just who Carlisle's former master was is open to speculation. Two possibilities include the Carlisle family of Portsmouth or Captain Daniel Carlisle of Westmoreland, New Hampshire.

Despite the meagerness of details regarding Cato Carlisle ...


Cato the Elder  

Jonathan P. Roth

Roman military leader and politician, was born in Tusculum, a town southwest of Rome, to a wealthy landowning family. Some of his ancestors had distinguished themselves in military service, but none had ever held office in Rome or been members of the Senate. Cato’s father died when he was still a child, and he grew up on a farm he had inherited. One of his neighbors, Lucius Valerius Flaccus, belonged to a powerful Senatorial clan; he and Cato shared the idea that Rome’s traditional values were being undermined by the more sophisticated Hellenistic culture. Although both were about the same age, Flaccus became Cato’s patron, supporting him financially and politically.

Cato was seventeen when Hannibal invaded Italy in 218 BCE and like virtually every Roman male of his age he went to war Given his social class Cato probably served either in the legionary cavalry or as the commander of ...


Chappell, Edward Carter, Jr.  

Timothy Nicholson

a Revolutionary War soldier, was born Edward Carter in Colchester, Connecticut, to Edward (Ned) and Jenny Carter. Edward had six siblings, Aaron, Jacob, Asher, Esau, Sally, and an unidentified child who died in 1763. Ned, Jenny, and Edward were documented slaves of Mr. Jonathan Kellogg of Colchester, as were three of Edward's six siblings. Some of the remaining siblings may also have been slaves. Edward's father served in the armed forces at Crown Point during the campaign of 1755 in the French and Indian War, earning his emancipation as a result. It is possible that Ned Carter served on the behalf of Mr. Kellogg, a common practice at the time, but there are no records stating that this was so. The children were not all owned by Jonathan Kellogg, but divided among his sons. Ned also served during the American Revolution from 1777 to 1783 ...


Charlton, Samuel  

M. Kelly Beauchamp

slave and soldier in the Continental army, is a person about whom little early information is available. Nothing is known of his parents, childhood, or young life. What is known is that Charlton served as a teamster, a fairly common assignment for African American soldiers. States tended to use African American troops, particularly in the early years of the war, as unarmed privates to serve the functions of orderlies, servants, or regimental musicians or else consigned them to logistical functions. Charlton, however, despite being a teamster, often found himself in combat situations.

The Continental army raised by the Continental Congress was multiracial, but soon after George Washington took command in the spring of 1775 he ordered recruiting officers not to enlist African Americans. In a council of war on 8 October 1775 Washington and other prominent officers decided unanimously to bar all slaves and by a wide majority all ...


Cheswell, Wentworth  

Richard Alperin

teacher, coroner, scrivener, selectman, and justice of the peace, was born in New Market (now Newmarket), New Hampshire, the only child of Hopestill, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, housewright, and Catherine Cheswell. The name is sometimes spelled “Cheswill.” Wentworth's grandfather, Richard Cheswell, a black slave in Exeter, New Hampshire, purchased twenty acres of land from the Hilton Grant after he gained his freedom. The deed, dated 18 October 1716/17 (the discrepancy arises from the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar) is the earliest known deed in the state of New Hampshire showing land ownership by a black man. The land was located in what was to become the town of Newmarket. Richard's only child, Hopestill (1712–? became a housewright and worked mostly in Portsmouth He took part in building the John Paul Jones House as well as other important houses Hopestill was active in local affairs and ...


Collins, Hannibal  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, fought in the Battle of Lake Erie with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Little is known about Collins's personal life although it is possible he was born into slavery in Newport, Rhode Island, or the surrounding area. As of the 1790 Census there were still over nine hundred slaves in the state, which pursued a policy of gradual emancipation after 1784. Hannibal may have been a slave for less than a decade of his life, although this is not certain. The 1810 Federal Census does detail two white Collins families in Newport that either owned slaves or had black persons residing in their household; the entry for John Collins details just one person of color in his household, whereas that of Job Collins details seven Although not specifically identified as such these individuals may have been slaves However the same census ...


Cozzens, Richard A.  

Shennette Garrett-Scott

Revolutionary War soldier and fifer, was born in Africa and brought to work in the British colonies as a slave. Some sources assert that he was a free man when he enlisted in the Continental Army, but it is more likely that he secured his freedom in exchange for enlistment. His name does not appear on the list of enslaved recruits to the First Rhode Island Regiment compiled by historian Lorenzo Greene in his seminal 1952Journal of Negro History article Some Observations on the Black Regiment of Rhode Island in the American Revolution which may explain why historians and writers consider Cozzens a free person Greene admits that the primary source records are incomplete In addition like other enslaved recruits Cozzens would be emancipated if he passed muster and then served through the end of the war Cozzens may have been enslaved by members of the distinguished ...


Crafus, Richard  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

sailor and prisoner of war leader, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, or vicinity and was also known as Richard Seavers. His status as a free man or slave prior to his seafaring service is unknown. In 1814 Crafus, aged twenty-three, was a sailor on the Baltimore privateer schooner Requin when she was captured by British warships off Bordeaux, France, on 6 March 1814. According to one obituary, however, Crafus had joined the British Navy at about age sixteen. When or how he returned to the United States is uncertain. While little is known about Crafus before his capture, he was likely an accomplished sailor and, at six feet three inches or six feet five inches in height, surely a dominant figure among the Requin's crew. His size and forceful personality would be traits that brought Crafus to prominence during his time as a prisoner of war.

The service ...