African Americans in the Revolutionary War
Courtesy of Stockbridge Library Association Historical Collection.
Agrippa Hull began his military service in 1777 as an orderly to General John Patterson. As a member of Patterson's staff, he was probably among the eight hundred black men who fought at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. Afterward, he became an orderly for General Tadeusz Ko'sciuszko, a Polish officer who fought for the American cause, with whom he developed a close friendship. Hull assisted Ko'sciuszko for four years and two months, in which time he participated in the campaign in Saratoga, New York, and worked as a surgeon's assistant in South Carolina. Although he declined Ko'sciuszko's offer to accompany him to Poland after the war's conclusion, Hull traveled to New York to meet the Polish general upon his return to the United States in 1797. He remained proud of his service throughout his life, treasuring his discharge papers signed by George Washington and becoming a venerated citizen of his community of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he was well known for telling stories about the Revolution. This portrait in oils, painted in 1848 by an unknown artist who copied a daguerreotype of 1844 by Anson Clark, is one of the few formal portraits of an African American Revolutionary War veteran.