Thoughts on War
The Rhode Island Regiment consisted of white men, free and enslaved blacks, and Narragansatt Indians who fought with the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.
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"Good day to you. My name's Robert Evans. I'm a free black. I can tell you about the war. It's been a few years since it come through here in Virginia. I was a free black before the war. I owned property. I owned land, I had a wife and children. I even owned a slave, Nanny Trail. And, I had to pay a tax on my wife back in those times before the war.
Once the war came, things kind of changed. Life was hard. And I felt like somebody caught between two big rocks - the British on one side, and the Americans on the other. Well when the war come about, the governor in Williamsburg, he decide that he was gonna issue a proclamation. In his proclamation, he offered freedom to all Negroes that would join him in fighting the patriots.
I don't think so.
But, time come where I had to make a decision. Well, I decided to fight with the Continental Army. There wasn't much war to fight here in Virginia until about 1780. That's when the British come back into the Chesapeake, burning up towns like Portsmouth, shooting cannons into the towns, bringing fear to everybody. I had to protect my family, my children, my wife.
But many of the slaves they was running to the British. Some of 'em even jumped into the water trying to get on those ships. Many of 'em didn't make it. Well, I can't tell you too much more about the war, but I say this - even after we won the independence, I'm still half free, half slave..."
Harvey Bakari is manager of program planning and production
and interprets a number of characters for Colonial Williamsburg.