The Gunpowder Incident was a conflict early in the American Revolutionary War between Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia, militia led by Patrick Henry. On April 20, 1775, one day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Lord Dunmore ordered the removal of the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia to a Royal Navy ship; this action sparked local unrest, militia companies began mustering throughout the colony. Patrick Henry led a small militia force toward Williamsburg to force return of the gunpowder to the colony's control; the matter was resolved without conflict. Dunmore, fearing for his personal safety retreated to a naval vessel, ending royal control of the colony. Military tensions began to rise in the British colonies of North America in 1774 when a series of legislative acts by the British Parliament known as the Intolerable Acts began to be implemented in the colonies; the colonies, in solidarity with the Province of Massachusetts Bay, singled out for punishment by those acts in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, had organized a Congress to meet in September 1774.
During the meeting of the First Continental Congress word arrived of a militia uprising in Massachusetts that became known as the Powder Alarm. In early September, General Thomas Gage, the royal governor of Massachusetts, had removed gunpowder from a powder magazine in Charlestown, militia from all over New England had flocked to the area in response to false rumors that violence had been involved. One consequence of this action was that the Congress called for the colonies to organize militia companies for their defense. Another was that Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, advised the colonial governors to secure their military supplies, prohibited importation of further supplies of powder. In early 1775, Virginians began to organize militia companies and seek out military supplies to arm and equip them. Lord Dunmore, Virginia's royal governor, saw this rising unrest in his colony and sought to deprive Virginia militia of these supplies, it was not until after Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech at the Second Virginia Convention on March 23 that Dunmore " it prudent to remove some Gunpowder, in a Magazine in this place."
Although British Army troops had been withdrawn from Virginia in the wake of the Powder Alarm, there were several Royal Navy ships in the Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay. On April 19, Lord Dunmore brought a company of British sailors into Williamsburg and quartered them in the governor's mansion. Dunmore ordered Captain Henry Collins, commander of HMS Magdalen, to remove the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg. On the night of April 20, Royal Navy sailors went to the Williamsburg powder magazine, loaded fifteen half barrels of powder into the governor's wagon, transported it to the eastern end of the Quarterpath Road to be loaded aboard the Magdalen in the James River; the act was discovered by townsfolk while underway, they sounded an alarm. Local militia rallied to the scene, riders spread word of the incident across the colony. Dunmore had as a precaution armed his servants with muskets, it was only the calming words of Patriot leaders, including the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Peyton Randolph, that prevented the assembling crowd from storming Dunmore's mansion.
The city council demanded the return of the powder, claiming it was the property of the colony and not the Crown. Dunmore demurred, stating that he was moving the powder as protection against its seizure during a rumored slave uprising, would return it; this seemed to satisfy the assembled crowd, it dispersed peacefully. Unrest however spread throughout the countryside. After a second crowd was convinced to disperse by Patriot leaders, Dunmore reacted angrily, warning on April 22 that if attacked, he would "declare Freedom to the Slaves, reduce the City of Williamsburg to Ashes." He told a Williamsburg alderman that he had "once fought for the Virginians" but "By God, I would let them see that I could fight against them." By April 29, militia mobilizing in the countryside had learned of the battles at Lexington and Concord. Nearly 700 men mustered at Fredericksburg, decided to send a messenger to Williamsburg to assess the situation before marching on the capital. Peyton Randolph advised against violence, George Washington, a longtime leader of the Virginia militia, concurred.
In response to their advice, the Fredericksburg militia voted by a narrow margin not to march. However, militia from other parts of the colony did march to Williamsburg; the Hanover County militia, led by Patrick Henry, voted on May 2 to march on Williamsburg. Henry dispatched a small company to the home of Richard Corbin, the Deputy Collector of the Royal Revenue in Virginia, in a bid to force him to pay for the powder from Crown revenue in his possession; that day Dunmore's family escaped Williamsburg to Porto Bello, Lord Dunmore's hunting lodge on the York River, from there to HMS Fowey, lying at anchor in the York River. Corbin was not at home—he was in Williamsburg, meeting with Dunmore. Henry was advised by Carter Braxton, Corbin's son-in-law and a Patriot member of the House of Burgesses, not to enter the city, while Braxton rode into the city and negotiated a payment; the next day, May 4, Henry received a bill of exchange for £330 signed by a wealthy pl
Fifth Virginia Convention
The Fifth Virginia Convention was a meeting of the Patriot legislature of Virginia held in Williamsburg from May 6 to July 5, 1776. This Convention declared Virginia an independent state and produced its first constitution and the Virginia Declaration of Rights; the previous Fourth Virginia Convention had taken place in Williamsburg, in December 1775. George Washington had been appointed in Philadelphia from the First Continental Congress as commander of Continental troops surrounding Boston, Virginia patriots defeated an advancing British expeditionary force at the Battle of Great Bridge southeast of Norfolk; the newly elected delegates to the Fifth Virginia Convention re-elected Edmund Pendleton as its president on his return from Philadelphia as presiding officer of the First Continental Congress. The membership could be thought of as belonging to one of three groups: radicals from western Virginia, who had agitated for independence from Britain before 1775. A malapportionment of delegates granted disproportionate influence to this latter group.
The Convention sat from May 6 to July 1776, meeting at the Capitol in Williamsburg. It elected Edmund Pendleton its presiding officer after his return as president of the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia. There were three parties in the Fifth Convention; the first was made up of wealthy planters, who sought to continue their hold on local government as it had grown up during colonial Virginia's history. These included Robert Carter Nicholas Sr. who opposed the Declaration of Independence from King George. It dominated the convention by a malapportionment. One historian maintained that this party ensured the continuation of slavery at a time when other states began gradual emancipation, it ensured the continued self-perpetuating gentry rule of county government with a franchise limited by property requirements underpinning the republican form of state government. The second party was made up of the intellectuals of the Enlightenment: lawyers, physicians and "aspiring young men"; these included the older generation of George Mason, George Wythe, Edmund Pendleton, the younger Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
The third party was a minority of young men from western Virginia. This party was led by Patrick Henry and included "radicals" who had supported independence earlier than 1775. On May 15, the Convention declared that the government of Virginia as "formerly exercised" by King George in Parliament was "totally dissolved" in light of the King's repeated injuries and his "abandoning the helm of government and declaring us out of his allegiance and protection"; the Convention adopted a set of three resolutions: one calling for a declaration of rights for Virginia, one calling for the establishment of a republican constitution, a third calling for federal relations with whichever other colonies would have them and alliances with whichever foreign countries would have them. It instructed its delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia to declare independence. Virginia's congressional delegation was thus the only one under unconditional positive instructions to declare independence. According to James Madison's correspondence for that day, Williamsburg residents marked the occasion by taking down the Union Jack from over the colonial capitol and running up a continental union flag, keeping the Union Jack of the British Empire in the canton and adding the thirteen red and white stripes of the self-governing British East India Company.
On June 7, Richard Henry Lee, one of Virginia's delegates to Congress, carried out the instructions to propose independence in the language the convention had commanded him to use: that "these colonies are, of right ought to be, free and independent states." The resolution was followed in Congress by the adoption of the American Declaration of Independence, which reflected its ideas. The convention amended, on June 12 adopted, George Mason's Declaration of Rights, a precursor to the United States Bill of Rights. On June 29, the convention approved the first Constitution of Virginia; the convention chose Patrick Henry as the first governor of the new Commonwealth of Virginia, he was inaugurated on June 29, 1776. Thus, Virginia had a functioning republican constitution before July 4, 1776; the delegates to the Virginia Convention of 1776 – elected in 1776 Virginia Conventions Andrews, Matthew Page. Virginia, the Old Dominion. Doubleday, Doran & Company. ASIN B0006E942K. Grigsby, Hugh Blair; the Virginia Convention of 1776.
Da Capo Press, NY. ISBN 978-1-4290-1760-2. Heinemann, Ronald L.. Old Dominion, New Commonwealth: a history of Virginia, 1607-2007. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0-8139-2769-5. Pulliam, David Loyd; the Constitutional Conventions of Virginia from the foundation of the Commonwealth to the present time. John T. West, Richmond. ISBN 978-1-2879-2059-5. Tartar, Brent; the Grandees of Government: the origins and persistence of undemocratic politics in Virginia. University of Virginia Press. ISBN 978-0-8139-3431-0. Dunaway, W. F.. The Virginia Conventions of the Revolution; the Virginia Law Register
The Virginia Conventions have been the assemblies of delegates elected for the purpose of establishing constitutions of fundamental law for the Commonwealth of Virginia superior to General Assembly legislation. Their constitutions and subsequent amendments span four centuries across the territory of modern-day Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky; the first Virginia Conventions replaced the British colonial government on the authority of "the people" until the initiation of state government under the 1776 Constitution. Subsequent to joining the union of the United States in 1788, Virginia's five unlimited state constitutional conventions took place in 1829–30, 1850, around the time of the Civil War in 1864, 1868, in 1902; these early conventions without restrictions on their jurisdiction were concerned with voting rights and representation in the General Assembly. The Conventions of 1861 on the eve of the American Civil War were called in Richmond for secession and in Wheeling for government loyal to the U.
S. Constitution. In the 20th century, limited state Conventions were used in 1945 to expand suffrage to members of the armed forces in wartime, in 1955 to implement "massive resistance" to Supreme Court attempts to desegregate public schools. Alternatives to the conventions used commissions for constitutional reform in 1927 for restructuring state government and in 1969 to conform the state constitution with congressional statutes of the Voting Rights Act and U. S. Constitutional law; each of these 20th century recommendations was placed before the people for ratification in a referendum. The First Convention was organized after Lord Dunmore, the colony's royal governor, dissolved the House of Burgesses when that body called for a day of prayer as a show of solidarity with Boston, when the British government closed the harbor under the Boston Port Act; the Burgesses, elected by propertied freeholders throughout the colony, moved to Raleigh Tavern to continue meeting. The Burgesses declared support for Massachusetts and called for a congress of all the colonies, the Continental Congress.
The Burgesses, convened as the First Convention, met on August 1, 1774, elected officers, banned commerce and payment of debts with Britain, pledged supplies. They elected Peyton Randolph, the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, as the President of the Convention; the Second Convention met in Richmond at St. John's Episcopal Church on March 20, 1775. Delegates again chose a presiding officer and they elected delegates to the Continental Congress. At the convention, Patrick Henry proposed arming the Virginia militia and delivered his "give me liberty or give me death" speech to rally support for the measure, it was resolved that the colony be "put into a posture of defence: and that Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Robert Carter Nicholas, Benjamin Harrison, Lemuel Riddick, George Washington, Adam Stephen, Andrew Lewis, William Christian, Edmund Pendleton, Thomas Jefferson and Isaac Zane, Esquires, be a committee to prepare a plan for the embodying arming and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient for that purpose."
Between conventions in April 1775, both the Speaker of the House of Burgesses and President of the Virginia Conventions, negotiated with Lord Dunmore for gunpowder removed from the Williamsburg arsenal to a British warship during the Gunpowder Incident, a confrontation between the Governor's forces and Virginia militia, led by Patrick Henry. The House of Burgesses was called back by Lord Dunmore one last time in June 1775 to address British Prime Minister Lord North's Conciliatory Resolution. Randolph, a delegate to the Continental Congress, returned to Williamsburg to take his place as Speaker. Randolph indicated; the House of Burgesses rejected the proposal, later rejected by the Continental Congress. The Third Convention met on July 17, 1775 at St. John's Church, after Lord Dunmore had fled the capital and taken refuge on a British warship. Peyton Randolph continued to serve as the President of the Convention; the convention created a Committee of Safety to govern as an executive body in the absence of the royal governor.
Members of the committee were Edmund Pendleton, George Mason, John Page, Richard Bland, Thomas Ludwell Lee, Paul Carrington, Dudley Digges, William Cabell, Carter Braxton, James Mercer, John Tabb. The convention divided Virginia into 16 military districts and resolved to raise regular regiments; the convention ended August 26, 1775, while the Committee of Safety would continue to meet and govern between Convention sessions. The Fourth Convention in Williamsburg met in December 1775 following November's declaration that the colony was in revolt by Lord Dunmore and fighting between his royal forces and militia forces in the Hampton Roads area. Edmund Pendleton served as President of the Convention, succeeding Peyton Randolph who had died in October 1775; the Convention declared that Virginians were ready to defend themselves "against every species of despotism." The convention passed another ordinance to raise additional troops. Back in Britain, in December 1775, the King's Proclamation of Rebellion had declared the colonies outside his protection, but throughout the first four Virginia Conventions, there was no adopted expression in favor of independence from the British Empire.
By the new year of 1776, George Washington, a delegate in the Virginia Convention and in the Continental Congress, had been appointed in Philadelphia from
Battle of the Chesapeake
The Battle of the Chesapeake known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American Revolutionary War that took place near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781. The combatants were a British fleet led by Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves and a French fleet led by Rear Admiral Francois Joseph Paul, the Comte de Grasse; the battle was strategically decisive, in that it prevented the Royal Navy from reinforcing or evacuating the besieged forces of Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. The French were able to achieve control of the sea lanes against the British and provided the Franco-American army with siege artillery and French reinforcements; these proved decisive in the Siege of Yorktown securing independence for the Thirteen Colonies. Admiral de Grasse had the option to attack British forces in either Virginia. Admiral Graves learned that de Grasse had sailed from the West Indies for North America and that French Admiral de Barras had sailed from Newport, Rhode Island.
He concluded. He sailed south from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, outside New York harbour, with 19 ships of the line and arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake early on 5 September to see de Grasse's fleet at anchor in the bay. De Grasse hastily prepared most of his fleet for battle—24 ships of the line—and sailed out to meet him; the two-hour engagement took place after hours of maneuvering. The lines of the two fleets did not meet; the battle was fairly evenly matched, although the British suffered more casualties and ship damage, it broke off when the sun set. The British tactics have been a subject of debate since; the two fleets sailed within view of each other for several days, but de Grasse preferred to lure the British away from the bay where de Barras was expected to arrive carrying vital siege equipment. He broke away from the British on 13 September and returned to the Chesapeake, where de Barras had since arrived. Graves returned to New York to organize a larger relief effort. During the early months of 1781, both pro-British and rebel separatist forces began concentrating in Virginia, a state that had not had action other than naval raids.
The British forces were led at first by the turncoat Benedict Arnold, by William Phillips before General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, arrived in late May with his southern army to take command. In June he marched to Williamsburg, where he received a confusing series of orders from General Sir Henry Clinton that culminated in a directive to establish a fortified deep-water port. In response to these orders, Cornwallis moved to Yorktown in late July, where his army began building fortifications; the presence of these British troops, coupled with General Clinton's desire for a port there, made control of the Chesapeake Bay an essential naval objective for both sides. On the 21st of May Generals George Washington and the Comte de Rochambeau the commanders of the Continental Army and the Expédition Particulière, met to discuss potential operations against the British and Loyalists, they considered either an assault or siege on the principal British base at New York City, or operations against the British forces in Virginia.
Since either of these options would require the assistance of the French fleet in the West Indies, a ship was dispatched to meet with French Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse, expected at Cap-Français, outlining the possibilities and requesting his assistance. Rochambeau, in a private note to de Grasse, indicated that his preference was for an operation against Virginia; the two generals moved their forces to White Plains, New York, to study New York's defenses and await news from de Grasse. De Grasse arrived at Cap-Français on 15 August, he dispatched his response to Rochambeau's note, that he would make for the Chesapeake. Taking on 3,200 troops, De Grasse sailed from Cap-Français with his entire fleet, 28 ships of the line. Sailing outside the normal shipping lanes to avoid notice, he arrived at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on August 30, disembarked the troops to assist in the land blockade of Cornwallis. Two British frigates that were supposed to be on patrol outside the bay were trapped inside the bay by de Grasse's arrival.
British Admiral George Brydges Rodney, tracking de Grasse around the West Indies, was alerted to the latter's departure, but was uncertain of the French admiral's destination. Believing that de Grasse would return a portion of his fleet to Europe, Rodney detached Rear Admiral Sir Samuel Hood with 14 ships of the line and orders to find de Grasse's destination in North America. Rodney, ill, sailed for Europe with the rest of his fleet in order to recover, refit his fleet, to avoid the Atlantic hurricane season. Sailing more directly than de Grasse, Hood's fleet arrived off the entrance to the Chesapeake on 25 August. Finding no French ships there, he sailed for New York. Meanwhile, his colleague and commander of the New York fleet, Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves, had spent several weeks trying to intercept a convoy organized by John Laurens to bring much-needed supplies and hard currency from France to Boston; when Hood arrived at New York, he found that Graves was in port, but h
Dunmore's Proclamation, is a historical document signed on November 7, 1775, by John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, royal governor of the British Colony of Virginia. The proclamation declared martial law and promised freedom for slaves of American revolutionaries who left their owners and joined the royal forces. Formally proclaimed on November 14, its publication prompted a flood of slaves to run away and enlist with Dunmore, it raised a furor among Virginia's slave-owning elites, to whom the possibility of a slave rebellion was a major fear. The proclamation failed in meeting Dunmore's objectives. John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore from Scotland, was the royal governor of the Colony of Virginia from 1771 to 1775. During his tenure, he worked proactively to extend Virginia's western borders past the Appalachian Mountains, despite the British Royal Proclamation of 1763, he notably defeated the Shawnee nation in Dunmore's War. As a widespread dislike for the British crown became apparent, Dunmore changed his attitude towards the colonists.
Dunmore's popularity worsened after, following orders, he attempted to prevent the election of representatives to the Second Continental Congress. On April 21, 1775, he seized colonial ammunition stores, an action that resulted in the formation of an angry mob; the colonists argued. That night, Dunmore angrily swore, "I have once fought for the Virginians and by God, I will let them see that I can fight against them." This was one of the first instances. While he had not formally passed any rulings, news of his plan spread through the colony rapidly. A group of slaves offered their services to the royal governor not long after April 21. Though he ordered them away, the colonial slaveholders remained suspicious of his intentions; as colonial protests became violent, Dunmore fled the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg and took refuge aboard the frigate HMS Fowey at Yorktown on June 8, 1775. For several months, Dunmore replenished his forces and supplies by conducting raids and inviting slaves to join him.
When Virginia's House of Burgesses decided that Dunmore's departure indicated his resignation, he drafted the formal proclamation, signing it on Nov 7. It was publicly proclaimed a week later. In the official document, he declared martial law and adjudged all revolutionaries as traitors to the crown. Furthermore, the document declared "all indentured servants, Negroes, or others...free that are able and willing to bear arms..." Dunmore expected such a revolt to have several effects. It would bolster his own forces, cut off from reinforcements from British-held Boston, numbered only around 300. Secondarily, he hoped that such an action would create a fear of a general slave uprising amongst the colonists and would force them to abandon the revolution; the proclamation was, designed for practical reasons rather than moral ones, for expediency rather than humanitarian zeal. Virginians were outraged and responded on December 14, 1775 with an unambiguous declaration that all fugitive slaves would be executed: WHEREAS Lord Dunmore, by his proclamation, dated on board the ship William, off Norfolk, the 7th day of November 1775, hath offered freedom to such able-bodied slaves as are willing to join him, take up arms, against the good people of this colony, giving thereby encouragement to a general insurrection, which may induce a necessity of inflicting the severest punishments upon those unhappy people deluded by his base and insidious arts.
And to that end all such, who have taken this unlawful and wicked step, may return in safety to their duty, escape the punishment due to their crimes, we hereby promise pardon to them, they surrendering themselves to Col. William Woodford, or any other commander of our troops, not appearing in arms after the publication hereof, and we do farther earnestly recommend it to all humane and benevolent persons in this colony to explain and make known this our offer of mercy to those unfortunate people. Newspapers such as The Virginia Gazette published the proclamation in full, patrols were organized to look for any slaves attempting to take Dunmore up on his offer; the Gazette not only criticized Dunmore for offering freedom to only those slaves belonging to revolutionaries who were willing to serve him, but questioned whether he would be true to his word, suggesting that he would sell the escaped slaves in the West Indies. The paper therefore cautioned slaves to "Be not then...tempted by the proclamation to ruin your selves."
As few slaves were literate, this was more a symbolic move than anything. It was noted that Dunmore himself was a slaveholder. On December 4, the Continental Congress recommended to Virginian colonists that they resist Dunmore "to the uttermost..." On December 13, the Vir
Battle of Great Bridge
The Battle of Great Bridge was fought December 9, 1775, in the area of Great Bridge, early in the American Revolutionary War. The victory by colonial Virginia militia forces led to the departure of Royal Governor Lord Dunmore and any remaining vestiges of British power over the Colony of Virginia during the early days of the conflict. Following increasing political and military tensions in early 1775, both Dunmore and colonial rebel leaders recruited troops and engaged in a struggle for available military supplies; the struggle focused on Norfolk, where Dunmore had taken refuge aboard a Royal Navy vessel. Dunmore's forces had fortified one side of a critical river crossing south of Norfolk at Great Bridge, while rebel forces had occupied the other side. In an attempt to break up the rebel gathering, Dunmore ordered an attack across the bridge, decisively repulsed. Colonel William Woodford, the Virginia militia commander at the battle, described it as "a second Bunker's Hill affair". Shortly thereafter, Norfolk, at the time a Loyalist center, was abandoned by Dunmore and the Tories, who fled to navy ships in the harbor.
Rebel-occupied Norfolk was destroyed on January 1, 1776 in an action begun by Dunmore and completed by rebel forces. Tensions in the British Colony of Virginia were raised in April 1775 at the same time that the hostilities of the American Revolutionary War broke out in the Province of Massachusetts Bay with the Battles of Lexington and Concord. John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, had dismissed the colonial legislative assembly, the House of Burgesses, who established a provisional assembly in Virginia Conventions; the Burgesses authorized existing and newly raised militia troops to arm themselves, leading to a struggle for control of the colony's military supplies. Under orders from Lord Dunmore, British forces removed gunpowder from the colonial storehouse in the capital of Williamsburg, causing a confrontation between royal and militia forces. Although the incident was resolved without violence, fearing for his personal safety, left Williamsburg in June 1775 and placed his family on board a Royal Navy ship.
A small British fleet took shape at Norfolk, a port town whose merchants had significant Loyalist tendencies. The threat posed by the British fleet may have played a role in minimizing Whig activity in the town. Incidents continued between rebels on one side and loyalists on the other until October, when Dunmore had acquired enough military support to begin operations against the rebellious colonists. General Thomas Gage, the British commander-in-chief for North America, had ordered small detachments of the 14th Regiment of Foot to Virginia in response to pleas by Dunmore for military help; these troops began raiding surrounding counties for rebel military supplies on October 12. This activity continued through the end of October, when a small British ship ran aground and was captured by rebels during a skirmish near Hampton. Navy boats sent to punish the townspeople were repulsed by colonial militia in a brief gunfight that resulted in the killing and capture of several sailors. Dunmore reacted to this event by issuing a proclamation on November 7 in which he declared martial law, offered to emancipate colonist slaves in Virginia willing to serve in the British Army.
The proclamation alarmed rebel and loyalist slaveholders alike, concerned by the idea of armed former slaves and the potential loss of their property. Dunmore was able to recruit enough slaves to form the Ethiopian Regiment, as well as raising a company of Tories he called the Queen's Own Loyal Virginia Regiment; these local forces supplemented the two companies of the 14th Foot, in addition to the naval forces, that were the sole British military presence in the colony. This successful recruiting drive prompted Dunmore to write on November 30, 1775 that he would soon be able to "reduce this colony to a proper sense of their duty." Lord Dunmore had, on arrival in Norfolk, ordered the fortification of the bridge across the Elizabeth River, about 9 miles south of Norfolk in the village of Great Bridge. The bridge formed a natural defense point since it was on the only road leading south from Norfolk toward North Carolina, it was bordered on both sides by the Great Dismal Swamp, the access to the bridge on both sides was via narrow causeways.
Dunmore sent 25 men of the 14th Foot to the bridge, where they erected a small stockade fort they called Fort Murray on the Norfolk side of the bridge. They removed the bridge planking to make crossing it more difficult; the fort was armed with two cannons and several smaller swivel guns. The men of the 14th were augmented by small companies from the Ethiopian and Queen's Own regiments, bringing the garrison size to between 40 and 80 men. In response to Dunmore's proclamation, Virginia's assembly ordered its militia troops to march on Norfolk. William Woodford, the colonel leading the 2nd Virginia Regiment, advanced toward the bridge with his regiment of 400 and about 100 riflemen from the Culpeper Minutemen. On December 2 they set up a camp across the bridge from the British fort. Upon their arrival the British set about destroying buildings near the fort to ensure a clear field of fire. Woodford was at first unwilling to assault the British position, thinking he lacked enough cannons to overcome an overly generous estimate of the garrison's strength.
He therefore began entrenching his position, while more and more militia companies arrived from the surrounding counties and North Carolina. Some cannons arrived with a contingent of North Carolina men, but they were useless because they lacked mountings and carriages. Woodford bec
The Ethiopian Regiment better known as Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment was the name given to a British colonial military unit organized during the American Revolution by John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, last Royal Governor of Virginia. It has nothing to do with the present day country of Ethiopia. Composed of slaves who had escaped from Patriot masters, it was led by British officers and sergeants. Black Loyalists served in guerrilla units such as the elite Black Brigade, as well as together with British troops and white Loyalist militia recruited in the colonies. In 1775, Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation offering freedom to all slaves of revolutionaries who were willing to join him under arms against the rebels in the American Revolutionary War. Five hundred Virginia slaves promptly abandoned their Revolutionary masters and joined Dunmore's ranks; the governor formed them into the Ethiopian Regiment known as Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment. During the war, tens of thousands of slaves escaped, having a substantial economic effect on the American South.
An estimated 25,000 slaves escaped in South Carolina. Slaves escaped in New England and New York joining the British forces occupying New York for freedom. While thousands went to the British lines for freedom, others took advantage of the wartime confusion to migrate to other areas of the colonies."Smallpox ruined the British plan to raise an army of slave and indentured servants by promising them freedom after the war- the disease killed off most of the Ethiopian Regiment as it assembled."Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment, composed of escaped slaves, was the first black regiment in the service of the Crown during the revolution. By December 1775 the regiment had nearly 300 black people, including its most famous member, an escaped slave called Titus known as Tye. In years, he became known as Colonel Tye as an honorary title for his military skills. Private Tye and his comrades believed that they were fighting not just for their own individual freedom but for the freedom of enslaved black people in North America.
The Ethiopian Regiment saw service from 1775 to 1776. The Ethiopians saw action for the first time at the Battle of Kemp's Landing in November 1775; the Earl of Dunmore defeated the rebellious colonial militia. Two of its colonels were captured. One colonel was taken by one of his former slaves; the black regiment in British service was a symbol of hope for Americans of African descent. That black people were trained to bear arms and kill was a revolutionary idea at the time as they were with one of the world's best armies. In 1775 the Queen's Own Loyal Virginia Regiment, the Ethiopian Regiment, the 14th Regiment of Foot occupied Norfolk and Dunmore established his headquarters there. Virginia's Committee of Safety ordered Colonel William Woodford in command of 500 Virginia rebels to Norfolk to oppose Dunmore, his men and others gathered at one end of a key bridge, on a causeway that connected the mainland to the port of Norfolk. Dunmore's forces, including some of the Ethiopians, had constructed Fort Murray at the other end of the bridge, Colonel Woodford entrenched on his side of Great Bridge.
Woodford sent a black man to Dunmore as a double agent with false news of Woodford's strength The spy further said the force were "green" recruits who would be frightened off. Captain Samuel Leslie ordered Captain Charles Fordyce to lead 120 men of the 14th Foot down the causeway to attack the rebel position; the Ethiopian Regiment stood ready on Great Bridge supported by British cannon. Rebel sentries, notably the William Flora, slowed the British advance with "buck and ball". Alerted by the noise of battle, the rebels manned the breastwork; the Revolutionaries did not fire, waited until the British were close. Emboldened by the lack of an all-out assault, the British rushed forward. "The day is ours!" declared Captain Fordyce. Silence was followed by gunfire; the Americans cut down 12 privates. Of the wounded, two were former slaves who belonged to the Ethiopian Regiment: James Sanderson was wounded in the forearm. Woodford marched some of his men through the swamps and attacked the Ethiopian Regiment's flank, forcing them back in confusion.
The revolutionaries seized two British cannon, the British retreated back into their fort. In the following days, the British evacuated the fort and Norfolk, occupied by revolutionary forces including Woodford and his men. Titus was a slave who had run away from his master in Monmouth County, New Jersey before Lord Dunmore's proclamation of emancipation to slaves of rebels who would join his ranks, he heard of Lord Dunmore's proclamation, went to Virginia to enlist in Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment. Ethiopian Regiment regimental uniforms had sashes inscribed with the words, "Liberty to Slaves". Although the men were used for foraging and other labor, they saw battle. Dunmore's defeat was the first significant engagement of the American Revolutionary War in the South. Dunmore disbanded the Ethiopian Regiment in 1776 on Staten Island, although many of its members served as Black Pioneers during the occupation of New York. Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment was formed under white officers and noncommissioneds, although it is probable that some of the black recruits became sergeants.
Nothing is known of Tye's activitie