Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1775 Royal Ethiopian
Subject: Royal Ethiopian irregular infantry
Culture: Afro-British freedman
Setting: American Revolution, eastern America 1775-1781

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Virginia Historical Society > Sites and Stories -- African American History in Virginia
"... In the American Revolution, African Americans had to decide whether to believe the rhetoric of liberty employed by Virginia's patriot leaders -- mostly slave owners -- or the promise of Royal Governor Lord Dunmore to free slaves who would fight for King George III. Dunmore organized escaped slaves into what he called the Royal Ethiopian Regiment."

* Chartrand/Embleton 2008 p11
"Ethiopian Regt (aka Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regt)  Raised from November 1775 at behest of Lord Dunmore, governor of Virginia, from seized African American slaves belonging to American rebels against the Crown.  The slaves were promised their freedom in exchange for their service, and the regiment soon had about 200 men led by white Loyalist officers and NCOs.  Elements were defeated at Great Bridge near Norfolk, VA, on December 9, 1775.  Lord Dunmore's forces remained in the Norfolk area until evacuated to New York in August 1776.  The regiment seems to have dissolved at that time, its men being taken into other corps such as a 'Virginia Company of Blacks,' reported in 1778 as employed as laborers by the Royal Artillery in New York."


* Chartrand/Embleton 2008 p42
"An account of December 1775 mentioned that the men of Lord Dunmore's 'black regiment' had the slogan 'Liberty to Slaves' as an 'inscription on their breasts' -- or rather, on the breast of the clothing they wore.  Since they were armed and equipped from British ships lying off Norfolk, VA, it is believed that the men of the regiment generally wore smock-like 'slop' shirts of linen or old sailcloth with the slogan written on the chest. A red ribbon may have also been worn around the crown of their hats." [reference omitted]

* Virginia Historical Society > Sites and Stories -- African American History in Virginia
"... There was no time for proper uniforms, but frocks reading 'Liberty to Slaves' were issued to them."


* Chartrand/Embleton 2008 p42
"The arms would have consisted of Sea Service muskets for those who were trained to handle firearms, and of boarding pikes and sabers for the others." [reference omitted]