Haitian Monument, Savannah - Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue
This Savannah monument was dedicated in 2009 and commemorates the actions of five hundred Haitian soldiers who fought on behalf of the colonial patriots in the American Revolution and defended the city of Savannah in the summer of 1779. The ten companies of Haitian soldiers fought in the Southern theater of the war and were known as the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue. The monument was made possible by members of the Haitian-American Historical Society who publicized the effort of Haitian soldiers and worked with city officials to raise funds for the monument. Sculptor James Mastin designed the monument which depicts Haitian soldiers and Henri Christophe, a drummer boy who later became a leader of Haiti after its people secured independence from France. The monument commemorates the soldier's defense of Savannah against British forces in the 1779 Siege of Savannah and includes a short history of the Haitian units that assisted American forces in the Georgia.
Backstory and Context
While many free black men from the British colonies that secured independence also fought on behalf of the colonial patriots, George Washington's official policy which rejected black military service with few exceptions until late in the war deprived the colonies of manpower. The British saw the potential of black military service and the power of turning American slaves against their masters. As a result, the majority of men of African descent who fought in the war were enslaved men who fought on behalf of the British in return for the promise of freedom.
Despite the assistance of Haitians of African descent, and after several years of supporting Haitian rebels who sought independence from France in the 1790s, the United States actively suppressed the independence movement in the early 1800s. For example, while Haitians fought for independence from France, Thomas Jefferson supported French efforts to regain control of their former colony. After France abandoned their efforts to reconquer their former colony, the United States isolated the republic of Haiti by barring trade with the small republic. The United States did not offer diplomatic recognition to Haiti until 1862.
Haitian Monument in Franklin Square, Savannah, GA. Haitian American Historical Society. Accessed January 11, 2018. http://haitianhistory.org/savannah.
Miller, Chrislaine P.. Haitians in the United States Revolution. Florida International University. Accessed January 11, 2018. http://islandluminous.fiu.edu/part01-slide14.html.