Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the editor in chief of The Oxford African American Studies Center. In this New York Times op-ed, Dr. Gates uses a little-known story about the Revolutionary War to demonstrate the role of black patriots in the birth of our nation:
ON June 11, 1823, a man named John Redman walked into the courtroom of Judge Charles Lobb in Hardy County, Virginia, to apply for a pension, claiming to be a veteran of the Revolutionary War. Redman, more than 60 years old, testified that he had been in the First Virginia Regiment of Light Dragoons from Christmas 1778 through 1782, serving initially as a waiter to Lt. Vincent Howell.
The Light Dragoons fought mainly on horseback, using sabers, pistols, and light carbines. They marched from Winchester, Va., to Georgia, where, in the fall of 1779, they laid siege to Savannah. The following year, they fought in Charleston, S.C., narrowly escaping capture in a rout by the British. Redman’s regiment fought the Creek Indians and the British early in 1782, ultimately triumphing over them in June at Sharon, Ga., near Savannah. After the war, Redman settled in Hardy County, where he and his wife kept a farm.
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