What: Probable port of departure of Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue to support the French in 1779 Siege of Savannah and elsewhere
19.7577779, -72.2041670, Cap-Francais
Maps: [map notes]
- 19.7577779, -72.2041670, Cap-Francais, probable port of departure
- Mapquest. Click "Find Places". Use aerial view. Zoom out 6 times.
- Confidence: 5 (of city), 3(of port of departure for Saint-Domingue troops)
- Stewart King, personal email, 15 Nov 2006, entry suggested by
You ought to have an entry for the Saint-Domingue participation in the
Savannah expedition of 1779. More than 1000 soldiers from Saint-Domingue
(about 800 black troops and the rest whites) participated along with regular
French soldiers and sailors.
Details in my book "Blue Coat or Powdered Wig: Free People of Color in
Pre-Revolutionary Saint-Domingue" (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press,
Saint-Domingue was a French colony from 1697 to 1804 that is today the independent nation of Haiti.
Saint-Domingue is the French version of the Spanish term Santo Domingo (a literal translation of which would be Saint-Dominigue or Saint-Dimanche). Spain once controlled the entire island of Hispaniola, which was also known as Santo Domingo. But in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, Spain recognised that France had established control of the western third of its territory.
The Siege of Savannah was a battle of the American Revolutionary War in 1779. The year before, the city of Savannah, Georgia had been captured by a British expeditionary corps under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell. The siege itself consisted of a joint Franco-American attempt to retake Savannah from September 16, 1779 to October 18, 1779. On October 9, 1779, a major assault against the British siege works failed. During the attack, Polish Count Kazimierz Pulaski, fighting on the American side, was mortally wounded. With the failure of the joint American-French attack, the siege failed, and the British remained in control of Georgia until July 1782, close to the end of the war.
The battle is much remembered in Haitian history; a legion of over 500 gens de couleur—free men of color from Saint-Domingue—fought on the French side. Henri Christophe, who later became king of independent Haiti, is thought to have been among these troops.
- "The Real Story of the American Revolution":
Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue
Saint-Domingue was an island colony of France in 1779 that has since become the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. This volunteer regiment (composed of ten companies) of light infantry (chasseurs) was made up of an estimated 545 "free men of color" -- making it the largest unit of men of African descent to fight in the American Revolution. They formed one-tenth of the allied army at Savannah GA in 1779.
As a new and relatively inexperienced unit, the Chasseurs participated in the six-week-long siege of Savannah GA in the fall of 1779, including the battle of September 24th and the attack of October 9th. Twenty-five of their number were recorded as wounded or killed during the failed attempt to dislodge the British from Savannah.
Over 60 Chasseurs were captured when Charleston SC fell to the British in May 1780. The British Navy also captured three transports carrying Chasseurs; these soldiers were made prizes of war and sold into slavery.
A subsequent unit of Haitians took part in the successful allied (French and Spanish) campaign against Pensacola in May 1780 where they faced some of the same British regiments that their comrades had faced in Savannah.
- John D. Garrigus, "Catalyst or Catastrophe? Saint-Domingue's Free Men of Color and the Savannah Expedition, 1779-1782" (1992)..
- John Welsh, Revlist post:
You might consider
the Chasseurs-volontaires de Saint-Domingue which participated in the siege
of Savannah, and whose uniform is shown in the Osprey vol.244, "The French
Army in the American War of Independence", available in most hobby shops. It
was the first full-time serving free Black troops to be sent into action in
the French army. The booklet also describes the various uniforms of the
West Indies colonial infantry for Du Cap, Porte-au-Prince, Martinique, and
Guadaloupe, as well as Cadets de Saint-Pierre, and the Martinique Regiment,
including the Fort Royal battalion.
- NBBAS:One p.322.
Lieutenant Bailly de Menager
Régiment Port-au-Prince (Black Haitian Regiment)
Canonniers-bombadiers de Saint-Dominque
- Sep 1779 listing. 9/24 - 10/19/1779 Siege of Savannah. British victory.
- May 1780 listing. 5/12/1780 Surrender of Charlestown. British victory.
Confidence level: 3