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Enslaved Black people took up arms and fought in nearly every colonial conflict in early British North America. They sometimes served as loyal soldiers to protect and promote their owners’ interests in the hope that they might be freed or be rewarded for their service. But for many Black combatants, war and armed conflict offered an opportunity to attack the chattel slave system itself and promote Black emancipation and freedom.

In six cases, starting in 1676 with Nathaniel Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia and ending in 1865 with the First South Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment near Charleston, Rebels in Arms tells the long story of how enslaved soldiers and Maroons learned how to use military service and armed conflict to fight for their own interests. Justin Iverson details a different conflict in each chapter, illuminating the participation of Black soldiers. Using a comparative Atlantic analysis that uncovers new perspectives on major military conflicts in British North American history, he reveals how enslaved people used these conflicts to lay the groundwork for abolition in 1865. Over the nearly two-hundred-year history of these struggles, enslaved resistance in the British Atlantic world became increasingly militarized, and enslaved soldiers, Maroons, and plantation rebels together increasingly relied on military institutions and operations to achieve their goals.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Half-title, Title, Copyright
  2. pp. i-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. xi-xii
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  1. Note on Terminology
  2. pp. xiii-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-14
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  1. Chapter 1: Enslaved Rebels Fight for Freedom Nathaniel Bacon's Slave Rebellion
  2. pp. 15-28
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  1. Chapter 2: "Negroes Plundered by the Indians from Carolina" Slave Soldiers in the South Carolina Yamasee War, 1715-1717
  2. pp. 29-63
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  1. Chapter 3: Liberty to Slaves Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment, 1775-1776
  2. pp. 64-90
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  1. Chapter 4: Mutiny in the Caribbean Saltwater Slave Soldiers in the Eighth West India Regiment, Dominica, 1802
  2. pp. 91-121
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  1. Chapter 5: Fugitives on the Front Maroons in the Gulf Coast Borderlands War, 1812-1823
  2. pp. 122-165
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  1. Chapter 6: Resistance Militarized Slaves Soldiers in the First South Carolina Volunteers, 1862-1865
  2. pp. 166-206
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 207-212
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 213-242
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 243-290
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 291-302
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