Cornwallis pondered army of former slaves

“More than any other British field commander, General Charles Cornwallis considered creating an army of former slaves. Although he ultimately rejected that course, during his drive through North Carolina Cornwallis transformed the black people who trailed his army into foraging units.

“They did their work too well, and he ordered that ‘no Negroe shall be Suffred to Carry Arms on any pretence’…. At last Cornwallis called a halt to the ‘Shameful Maurauding’ and ‘Scandalous Crimes,’ [but] the mobilization of black stragglers had already had a powerful effect….One North Carolina slaveholder was certain Cornwallis could have raised an army of ‘500 Negroes’ in Wilmington alone.”

— From “Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America” by Ira Berlin (1998)

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