African Americans in History

The first all-black military unit in America

July 1778, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, the first all-black military unit in America, was assembled into service. On August the 29th, 1778, they fought in the battle of Rhode Island on Aquidneck Island. They successfully held their line for four hours against British-Hessian assaults, enabling the entire American Army to escape a trap. At Yorktown they took part in the assault and capture of Redout 10. Unlike their white counterparts, these black Soldiers did not receive any compensation for the service after the war. A monument to the regiment’s courage was erected at Portsmouth.