In its fourth year, the American Revolution had become an international conflict. Rebelling American Colonies and their French allies attempted to capture Savannah from the British in 1779. Haitian soldiers of African descent were part of the allied forces. Following the battle, many of these Haitians were diverted to other military duties, returning to their homes years later, if at all. Several veterans of the campaign became leaders of the movement that made Haiti the second nation in the Western Hemispere to throw off the yoke of European colonialism.
Although hundreds of other "Chasseurs Volontaires" remain anonymous today, a number of them are documented and listed below.
Pierre Astrel; Louis Jacques Beavais; Jean-Baptiste Mars Belley; Martial Besse; Guillaume Bleck; Pierre Cange; Jean- Baptiste Chavannes; Henri Christophe; Pierre Faubert; Laurent F?rou; Jean-Louis Froumentaine; Barth?lemy-M?dor Icard; G?d?on Jourdan; Jean-Pierre Lambert; Jean-Baptiste L?veill? Christophe Mornet; Pierre Obas; Luc-Vincent Oliver; Pierre Pinchinat; Jean Piverger; Andre Riguad; Caire Savary; Pierre Tessier; J?rome Thoby; Jean-Louis Villate
We Honor All Of Their Collective Sacrifices, Known And Unknown.
Acknowledging the deeds of "Les Chasseurs Volontaires De Saint Domingue" at Savannah, American Secretary Of State Cordell Hull dedicated a commemorative plaque on April 25, 1944, at the Cathedral in Saint Marc, Haiti, with these words:
" Nous Payons Aujourd 'Hui Tribut Au Courage Et ? L'Espirit Des Volontaires Haitiens De 1779 Qui Risqu?rent Leurs Vies Pour La Cause De La Libert? Dans Les Am?riques."
" Today we pay tribute to the courage and spirit of those Haitian Volunteers who in 1779, risked their lives in the cause of American Liberty."
In the Battle of Savannah on October 9, 1779, "Les Chasseurs Volontaires De Saint Domingue," our forfathers, fought alongside the American Army of General Benjamin Lincoln. Distinguishing themselves by their bravery, as part of the reserve, they provided cover during the retreat of American and French Allies, saving many lives by deterring a fierce counter attack of defending British troops.
In the fall of 1779, over 500 "Chasseurs Volontaires" sailed from Saint Domingue, the modern island of Haiti. soldiers of African descent, "Les Chasseurs Volontaires De Saint Domingue," left their families to participate in the Georgia Campaign, under French commander Charles Henri d'Estaing.
The drummer represents young Henri Christophe, who participated in the October 9, 1779 Battle of Savannah. Christophe later became a leader in the struggle for Haitian Independence from French colonial rule, ending in 1804. A commander of the Haitian army, he became King of Haiti, being amoung the first heads of state of African descent in the Western Hemisphere.
The largest unit of soldiers of African descent who fought in the American Revolution was the brave "Les Chasseurs Volontaires De Saint Domingue" from Haiti. This regiment consisted of free men who volunteered for a campaign to capture Savannah from the British in 1779. Their sacrifice reminds us that men of African Descent were also present on many other battlefields during the Revolution.
A Project of the Haitian American Historical Society, 2001- 2007:
Board of Directors
( list of 13 members )