Archibald Artis

Patriot of Color Archibald Artis offers a particularly special window into the world of Revolutionary military service and how the possible cross-racial comradery bred from the experience of fighting affected one’s fellow soldiers. Artis was born in 1753 in Johnston County, North Carolina,1 and was identified as mulatto.2 According to existing data, he was paid directly for serving in the militia in Wilmington District, North Carolina, during the American Revolution,3 so it would be reasonable to conclude that Artis was born free and volunteered for combat against the British in his home colony of North Carolina. The Wilmington District Brigade of Militia was formed May 4, 1776 and lasted until the end of the war, when it was disbanded.4 It was headed by generals John Ashe, Sr., John Alexander Lillington, and James Kenan, with regiments assigned to the brigade from Bladen, Onslow, Duplin, New Hanover, Brunswick, and Cumberland counties.5

Although he appeared to fight in the Wilmington District, Artis received voucher no. 511 in the New Bern District, which totaled nine pounds specie on August 19, 1782. This was his payment for the militia duty he provided in Anson County, North Carolina, according to what was recorded in “Captain Griffen’s Pay Roll.”6 Unfortunately, the life of Artis would end shortly thereafter, apparently along with any trace records of his experiences after the war. Artis died from unspecified causes in November 1782, when one Stephen Powell was granted administration of Artis’s estate in Johnston County on a bond of 200 pounds.7 According to the Johnston County Court minutes, the account of sales of the estate amounted to a little over 43 pounds.8

Sources

Jim Shepard, Larry Russell, and Vicki Russell, “Archibald Artis,” https://lost-creek.org/genealogy/getperson. php?personID=I5199&tree=tree2.

Lisa Y. Henderson, “Free negroes and mulattoes frequently mustered,” last modified November 26, 2012, https://ncfpc.net/tag/hethcock/.

Paul Heinegg, “List of Free African Americans in the Revolution: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware (followed by French and Indian Wars and colonial militias),” last modified January 1, 2021, http://www.freeafricanamericans.com/revolution.htm.

J.D. Lewis, “The American Revolution in North Carolina: Wilmington District Brigade of Militia,” https://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/nc_wilmington_district_brigade_of_militia.html.

J.D. Lewis, “The American Revolution in North Carolina: Wilmington District Brigade of Militia,” https://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/nc_wilmington_district_brigade_of_militia.html.

In confirming the participation of Archibald Artis in the Revolutionary War in response to Holiday Hethcock’s petition, Bryan was endorsing the importance of non-whites to the American Revolutionary moment.

Incidentally, Artis would later be mentioned in the 1834 pension application of Patriot of Color Holiday Hethcock (or, Hathcock/Haithcock), granting a minor, individual, but nonetheless important view into how wartime service may have changed the racial attitudes of white Patriots toward their Black or multiracial counterparts. For the pension application of Hethcock, as transcribed and annotated by Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, indicates that Hethcock appeared before William Bryan, North Carolina Justice of the Peace and a white Patriot.9 It was Bryan who swore that “in the times of our Revolutionary War free negroes and mulattoes mustered in the ranks with white men in [North Carolina] – at least in that part of the State in which he then resided – and in which Holiday Hethcock then resided – to wit in the County of Johnston. This affiant has frequently mustered in company with said free negroes and mulattoes – and he believes he had mustered with the said Holiday Hethcock.”10 Bryan proceeded to state how “that class of persons [negroes and mulattoes] were equally liable to draft – and frequently volunteered in the public service. ~ This affiant was in the army a short time at Wilmington at the time [Col. James Henry Craig] was near that place and remembers that one mulatto was in his company as a common soldier whose name [was] Archibald Artis — This affiant has always known the said Holiday Hethcock – and has always understood that he was in the army of the Revolution[.]”11

In confirming the participation of Archibald Artis in the Revolutionary War in response to Holiday Hethcock’s petition, Bryan was endorsing the importance of non-whites to the American Revolutionary moment. His affidavit has consequently served as a symbol of the martial recognition that Blacks and other non-whites have received in spite of their race, especially as the antebellum period progressed in the nineteenth century and Blacks became less free or completely lost what freedom they did have, particularly in the American South. For this reason, Artis, though he lived for only a short time, is able to be remembered significantly through the recollection and affirmation of his fellow white Patriots.

Sources

J.D. Lewis, “The American Revolution in North Carolina: Wilmington District Brigade of Militia,” https://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/nc_wilmington_district_brigade_of_militia.html.

NCGenWeb Project, “African-Americans in the American Revolution,” last modified January 12, 2022, http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncstate/amrev/files/af-am.htm.

NCGenWeb Project, “African-Americans in the American Revolution,” last modified January 12, 2022, http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncstate/amrev/files/af-am.htm.

Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, “Pension Application of Holiday Hethcock (Hathcock) R4812,” http://revwarapps.org/r4812.pdf.

Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, “Pension Application of Holiday Hethcock (Hathcock) R4812,” http://revwarapps.org/r4812.pdf.

Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, “Pension Application of Holiday Hethcock (Hathcock) R4812,” http://revwarapps.org/r4812.pdf.

Sources

Jim Shepard, Larry Russell, and Vicki Russell, “Archibald Artis,” https://lost-creek.org/genealogy/getperson. php?personID=I5199&tree=tree2.

Lisa Y. Henderson, “Free negroes and mulattoes frequently mustered,” last modified November 26, 2012, https://ncfpc.net/tag/hethcock/.

Paul Heinegg, “List of Free African Americans in the Revolution: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware (followed by French and Indian Wars and colonial militias),” last modified January 1, 2021, http://www.freeafricanamericans.com/revolution.htm.

J.D. Lewis, “The American Revolution in North Carolina: Wilmington District Brigade of Militia,” https://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/nc_wilmington_district_brigade_of_militia.html.

J.D. Lewis, “The American Revolution in North Carolina: Wilmington District Brigade of Militia,” https://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/nc_wilmington_district_brigade_of_militia.html.

J.D. Lewis, “The American Revolution in North Carolina: Wilmington District Brigade of Militia,” https://www.carolana.com/NC/Revolution/nc_wilmington_district_brigade_of_militia.html.

NCGenWeb Project, “African-Americans in the American Revolution,” last modified January 12, 2022, http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncstate/amrev/files/af-am.htm.

NCGenWeb Project, “African-Americans in the American Revolution,” last modified January 12, 2022, http://www.ncgenweb.us/ncstate/amrev/files/af-am.htm.

Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, “Pension Application of Holiday Hethcock (Hathcock) R4812,” http://revwarapps.org/r4812.pdf.

Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, “Pension Application of Holiday Hethcock (Hathcock) R4812,” http://revwarapps.org/r4812.pdf.

Will Graves and C. Leon Harris, “Pension Application of Holiday Hethcock (Hathcock) R4812,” http://revwarapps.org/r4812.pdf.

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