The Corps of Colonial Marines:
Black freedom fighters of the War of 1812

John McNish Weiss

Notes on sources


In these notes I concentrate on published sources since they are the most easily accessible in the first instance. The main body of my research has nevertheless depended on documentary sources whose locations are noted briefly in the last of the source notes and will be fully documented in forthcoming publications.

Although this project deals with an aspect of the War of 1812 that has been little considered in the past, it lies in a familiar context of slavery and resistance, migration and contention for land and empire, for which the literature is immense and growing yearly with the development of new perceptions and ideas. These notes give a personal view of published sources, though only a selection, and dealing in particular with those that are relevant to the special and local issues.
Section headings and numbering give general references back to the main article.
In my own readings on slavery I attempted to gain, first, an overall picture of slave life and culture in the localities concerned, and then a knowledge of slave resistance as a significant part of the background to events in the War of 1812. I looked for the most recent work available, but the period of the War appears to lie in a gap when it comes to social issues: writers on the Early Republic rarely venture even up to 1810, and the Modern seems to start some time after 1820. I found the books listed below especially illuminating, but they represent only a fraction of what is available. In addition, a recent bibliography is to be found in a new work on those of the refugees of the War of 1812 that went to Canada, including a good account of their background in American slavery as a prelude to their experiences in Canada: Harvey Amani Whitfield, Blacks on the Border: The Black Refugees in British North America, 1815-1900 (2006).
Life and culture

• BALL, Charles: Slavery in the United States: a narrative of the life and adventures of Charles Ball, a Black man, who lived forty years in Maryland, South Carolina and Georgia as a slave (Lewistownn, PA: J W Shugert, 1836; New York: Taylor, 1837); republished as: Life as a Negro Slave (New York: Muskett, 1846); and as: Fifty years in chains (New York: 1859); modern reprint: Fifty years in chains [1837 New York edition] with a new introduction by Philip S. Foner (New York, London: Dover: Constable, 1970)
• BERLIN, Ira: Many thousands gone: the first two centuries of American slavery (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1998)
• DUNN, Richard: ‘Black society in the Chesapeake 1776-1810’ (in Berlin & Hoffman, ed: Slavery and freedom in the age of the American Revolution, Symposium papers. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986)
• MORGAN, Philip: Slave counterpoint: Black culture in eighteenth-century Chesapeake and Low Country (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998)
• SOBEL, Mechal: The world they made together: Black and white values in eighteenth-century Virginia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987)
• SMITH, Julia Floyd: Slavery and rice culture in low country Georgia, 1750-1860 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985);
and, because the War of 1812 was very much a naval war, and in the Chesapeake and Georgia mostly touched only those slaves within reach of the water:
• BOLSTER, W Jeffrey: Black Jacks, African American seamen in the age of sail (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1997).

Resistance and escape
• APTHEKER, Herbert: American slave revolts (New York: Columbia University Press, 1944; another edition, 1991)
• FREY, Sylvia: Water from the rock, Black resistance in a revolutionary age (Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1991)
• MULLIN, Gerald W: Flight and rebellion, Slave resistance in eighteenth-century Virginia (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972)
• QUARLES, Benjamin: The negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1961)
• SIDBURY, James: Ploughshares into swords: Race, rebellion and identity in Gabriel's Virginia 1730-1810 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)
• WISH, Harvey: ‘American slave insurrection before 1861’ (Journal of Negro History, vol 12, 1937).
5-8 THE WAR OF 1812 and the refugees

As regards the war itself, an excellent review of the progression of sources and attitudes is to be found in:
• HICKEY, Donald R: ‘The War of 1812: Still a Forgotten Conflict?’ (Journal of Military History 65 (July 2001): 741-69).
In addition, I have found useful information in two bibliographies of the War of 1812 that were published over fifteen years ago and remain major guides to the literature:
• FREDRIKSEN, John C: Resource guide for the War of 1812 (Los Angeles: Subia, 1979)
• SMITH, Dwight L: The War of 1812. an annotated bibliography (New York, London: Garland, 1985).

Out of the many histories of the war published in the last half-century, I have used:
• HICKEY, Donald R: The War of 1812, a forgotten conflict (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990)
• HORSMAN, Reginald: The War of 1812 (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1969)
• MAHON, John K: The War of 1812 (New York; Da Capo, 1991).

Two recent works set the story of the Colonial Marines in a general context of Black American armed service:
• HORNE, Gerald: Negro Comrades of the Crown: African-Americans & the British Empire fight the U.S. before emancipation (New York University Press, 2011)
• SMITH Gene Allen: The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

The following works deal specifically with the flight of the refugees in the two main areas of British incursion on the Atlantic coast, CASSELL for Maryland and Virginia and BULLARD for Georgia:
• BULLARD, Mary: Black Liberation on Cumberland Island 1815 ([South Dartmouth, MA]: M R Bullard, 1983)
• CASSELL, Frank A: ‘Slaves of the Chesapeake Bay Area and the War of 1812’ (Journal of Negro History volume 67, 1972);
and informative references to the flight of slaves from one major slaveholder are included in:
• BELL, Malcolm: Major Butler's Legacy (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1987).

An eye-witness account of the training and drilling of the new recruits in Georgia is to be found in:
• KINGSLEY, Zephaniah: A treatise on the patriarchal, or co-operative system of society as it exists in some governments, and colonies in America, and in the United States, under the name of slavery, with its necessity and advantages; by an inhabitant of Florida. ([n.p.]:1829 (2nd edn); reprint: Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries, 1970).

The Colonial Marines and their service are mentioned in the semi-official NAVAL CHRONICLE and MILITARY REGISTER, in a few of the officers' memoirs of the War and in some histories of the Royal Marines:
• FIELD, Cyril: Britain’s Sea-Soldiers. A history of the Royal Marines and their predecessors and of their services in action .. (Liverpool: Lyceum Press, 1924)
• GLEIG, George R: The campaigns of the British army at Washington & New Orleans in the years 1814-1815 (London: J Murray, 1836)
• NICHOLAS, Lt Paul Harris: Historical record of the Royal Marine Forces (1845)

For the Naval Chronicle, a useful modern compilation is:
• TRACY, Nicholas, ed,: Naval Chronicle. the contemporary record of the Royal Navy at war, prepared for general use Vol. 5. 1811-1815 (London: 1999).

The lengthy negotiations on the peace treaty, the Treaty of Ghent of December 1814, are dealt with in a large number of works on international relations and diplomacy, but for the aftermath and the debate and negotiations on compensation to slaveholders I have found the most useful accounts in:
• BIGELOW, John [the Younger]: Breaches of Anglo-American Treaties; a study in history and diplomacy (New York: Sturgis and Walton Co, 1917).
The primary documentary account of the founding of the Company Villages
• LAURENCE, K O: ‘The Settlement of Free Negroes in Trinidad before Emancipation’ (Caribbean Quarterly v9 1963)

Among the many books, articles and dissertations on the history of Trinidad and Tobago, those listed below give the most substantial reference to the African American settlers of the Company Villages or to the administration of Trinidad at the time of their settlement.

• ANTHONY, Michael: Glimpses of Trinidad and Tobago (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad: Columbus Publishers Ltd, 1974)
• ANTHONY, Michael: Profile Trinidad, a historical survey from the discovery to 1900 (London: Macmillan, 1975)
• ANTHONY, Michael: Towns and Villages of Trinidad (Port of Spain, Trinidad: Circle Press, 1988)
• BARRON, Thomas James: James Stephen, the development of the Colonial Office & the administration of three Crown Colonies, Trinidad, Sierra Leone and Ceylon (University of London, PhD thesis, 1969)
• CARMICHAEL Gertrude: ‘Some notes on Sir Ralph James Woodford, Bt.’ (Caribbean Quarterly v2 1992)
• BREWER, Peter David: The Baptist Churches of South Trinidad and their Missionaries 1815-1892 (University of Glasgow: MA thesis, 1988)
• HACKSHAW, John Milton: The Baptist Denomination (Diego Martin, Trinidad: [J.M.Hackshaw],1992)
• HACKSHAW, John Milton: Two Among Many (Diego Martin, Trinidad: [J.M.Hackshaw], 1993) (compilation of oral accounts of genealogies within the Company Villages)
• PHILIPPE, Jean Baptiste: An address to the Right Hon. Earl Bathurst by a free mulatto. (Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; 1823-24; 1987)
• STEWART, John O: Mission and Leadership among the ‘Meriken’ Baptists of Trinidad (American Anthropological Association: in the Latin American Anthropology Group contribution to ‘Afro-American Ethnohistory in Latin America and the Caribbean’, Norman Whitten ed., 1976)
• STEWART, John O: Drinkers, Drummers and Decent Folk: Ethnographic Narratives of Village Trinidad (New York: State University of New York Press, 1989)
• WOOD, Donald: Trinidad in Transition, the Years after Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986) [containing an ample account of the settlement of the American refugees as part of an introduction to the main theme of the book].

The author's The Merikens, a preliminary publication on the African American settlers in Trinidad, contains listings of all the settlers of 1815 and 1816 (and those refugees of the War of 1812 that came from Nova Scotia in 1821) introduced by a historical outline, a description of archival sources and a discussion of surnames among the slave population of the Chesapeake Bay. Prepared first in 1995 for an annual gathering of the descendants, it was intended as a foretaste of a book on the recruitment, organisation, service and settlement of the Corps of Colonial Marines, now in the process of completion.
• WEISS, John McNish: The Merikens: Free Black American Settlers in Trinidad 1815-16 (London: 2002) [a revised edition of Free Black American Settlers in Trinidad 1815-16: A handlist . . (London: 1995)].
The following article was published at an early stage in the project and in several respects is revised by the historical outline in ‘The Merikens’ and by the present article:
• WEISS, John McNish: ‘The Corps of Colonial Marines 1814-16: a summary’ (Immigrants and Minorities, 15/1, April 1996)

As noted above, the main body of my research has depended on documentary sources, firstly in the United Kingdom, primarily in the UK National Archive (the Public Record Office) and also in the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Marines Museum; secondly in the United States, primarily in the US National Archives at College Park (NARA2) but also in repositories in Maryland and Virginia, through the generosity of librarians and archivists in those states responding to postings on e-mail discussion lists or hearing of the project by other routes. The primary sources will be fully documented in forthcoming publications.

article: Corps of Colonial Marines
article:'Averse to Any Controul': paper for Bermuda Dockyard & the War of 1812
papers and publications

© John Weiss 2013

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