Date: Tue, 3 Oct 1995 15:41:50—0700 (PDT)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Bob Corbett <>
Subject: Haiti’s aid to US in 1779 (fwd)
Message-Id: <>

Scholar Glenn Inghram sent the note below looking for some help. Anyone can respond to him? If so, please be sure I get a copy so that we can all benefit from the exchange.

---------- Forwarded message—---------
Date: Tue, 03 Oct 1995 10:46:03—0400 (EDT)
Subject: Haiti’s aid to US in 1779

Haiti’s aid to US in 1779

Dialog from Bob Corbett’s Haiti List, October 1995


I am wondering if you or anyone else on the list has any additional info on the following:

Hayti’s Aid in 1779: How Eight Hundred of Her Freedmen Fought for America

The New York Tribune, 6 July 1921

To the Editor of the Tribune.

Sir: The generous Haytian contribution to the cause of the independence of the United States is scarcely known in this country, for the American historians do not mention the fact.

In 1779, 24 yrs before Haytian independence, responding to the call of the Comte d’Estang, the Affranchis, that is to say the Haytain freedmen numbering about 800 blacks and mulattoes, left their families and their homes and went to fight side by side with the soldiers of George Washington. At the seige of Savannah, the colored sons of Hayti fearlessly shed their blood for the independence of the United States.

In an official record prepared in Paris, secured by Richard Rush, the American Minister to Paris in 1849, and preserved in the Pennsylvania Historical Society, are these words: This legion saved the army at Savannah by bravely covering its retreat. Among the blacks who rendered signal services at that time were: Andre, Beauvais, Rigaud, Villatte, Beauregard, Lambert, who latterly became generals under the convention, including Henri Christophe, the future King of Hayti.

The Haytian legion in the army of Comte d’Estang was known in the army as Fontages’s legion, commanded by Vicomte de Fontages. They met the fierce charge of Lieutenant Colonel Maitland and saved the retreating Franc-American army from total disaster.

The Haytian people know that the great American nation, burning for liberty and justice, having the highest traditions of political ideals and human solidarity, the champion of the defenseless peoples of the world, is always working for the happiness of mankind.

Having aided the united colonies of N. Amer. in 1779 to achieve their independence, the Haytian people remain convinced that they can to-day expect from the spirit of justice and humanity of the American people and their present government a more attentive consideration of Hayti’s freedom, rights, and interests.

Signed by Stenio Vincent, NY July 4, 1921.

To set the context, this was published during the US occupation of Haiti, specifically while a Haitian Memorial (commission of Haitians) was in the US, under NAACP sponsorship, to provide testimony to the US Senate Select Committee investigating the US occupation.

call of the Comte d’Estang??
Also, does anyone have any further info on this event or related events, as a whole?

I am currently researching info for an extensive lecture on US/Haitian relations (18 and 19th c’s). This article I found very interesting.

On a related note, what is the consensus on Alfred Hunt’s book, Haiti’s Influence on Antebellum America? I found the book to be nothing more than a diatribe on the dangers of Haitian independence for the US slavery institution. I, for one, grow tired of reading these type of accounts that can find no other redeeming quality in history of blacks than to talk of slavery (as if there were no other contributions made to history) This is why the above article caught my attention.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Glenn Inghram
Univ. at Albany.

Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 12:36:14—0700 (PDT)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Bob Corbett <>

Subject: Re: Haiti’s aid to US in 1779 (fwd)
Message-ID: <>

From: Stewart R. King <>

Thanks to Steward King for this informed reply to a subscriber’s request.
Bob Corbett

This is one of the important topics of my forthcoming dissertation Room to Wiggle: Social Mobility of Free People of Color in Pre-Revolutionary Saint-Domingue 1776-1789. Brief historical synopsis: the Comte d’Estaing, former governor of Saint-Domingue and recently appointed leader of the French expedition to Savannah, attempted to recruit colored militiamen to serve in the expedition. Coloreds had been recruited for regular military service before, during the 7 Years’ War and also for the expedition to Cartegena in the 1690’s. Free coloreds formed the majority of the colony’s military forces and military participation was important to the free colored’s view of themselves as active citizens. It proved important to their claim for expanded civil rights at the time of the French Revolution.

The colonial government had long wanted to regularize the militia as it had done in France. White colonists resisted increased militia obligations in rebellions during and just after the 7 Years’ War. Coloreds had less ability to resist this process and may also have seen something for them in the process (the argument of my dissertation—- coloreds, especially poorer men, saw military service as one route to social advancement).

With the help of free colored leaders, D’Estaing recruited a force of about 900 free coloreds, mostly from the North province (the area around Cap). This force accompanied his expedition and, as the letter states, made an important contribution in the last battle which preserved the force from a British counterattack and allowed it to escape more or less intact. After the retreat from Savannah, the French forces were sent to garrison different colonies. The Free coloreds, who had only enlisted to go to Savannah, found themselves serving as garrison troops all over the Caribbean. Some even went to France. There was considerable resistance to further enlistment and the idea of a more regular colored militia died after the end of the revolutionary war.

Some people have credited the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue (for such was the name of this force) with being the training ground for the high officers of the Revolutionary armies in Saint-Domingue. I have heard it said (with little evidence) that Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe, Rigaud, Petion, and other leaders were members of this force. The only future Haitian leader I have been able to find in the ranks of the Chasseurs-Volontaires is future President Jean-Francois L’Eveille. However, it is certain that free coloreds had greater military skills than either their white opponents or the black slaves they led because of service in the pre-colonial military.

Hope this helps, feel free to email me with further questions

Stewart King
Johns Hopkins University
Dept. of History