HARLOWE, N.C. — For well over 200 years, 14 black patriots from Harlowe, N.C., who served in the American Revolution were basically forgotten.
They are forgotten no more.
The men were honored in an elaborate Sunday ceremony by the Sons of the American Revolution, with historical group representatives from across North and South Carolina in attendance.
Wreathes were placed in honor of each man and a plaque was unveiled beside the entrance to the Harlowe Community Center.
Revolutionary re-enactors added authenticity for a large audience, secured under a tent. A color guard from the Cherry Point air station stood at attention in the rain during the hour-plus event.
Harry Goodman and Rolf Maris, members of the New Bern chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, took part in the ceremony. Goodman made remarks and Maris was a wreath presenter, as was Barbara Richardson, regent of the Richard Dobbs Spaight Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Theron McCabe, the Craven County commissioner representing the Harlowe area, was instrumental in getting the event. He was one of the speakers and also one of the Colonial-era re-enactors.
Many descendants of the honored men were also in the audience. The honored men include Isaac Carter, John Carter, Joshua Carter, William Dove, John Gregory, James Manley, Simeon Moore, George Perkins, Isaac Perkins, Aaron Spelman, Asa Spelman, Hezekiah Stringer, Mingo Stringer and Absalom Martin.
Marion T. Lane, commander of the Society of Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, said the Harlowe men were part of a great contribution to America’s freedom.
She noted that while the average colonist enlisted and fought in the Revolution for six months, African-Americans “enlisted for the duration, about four and a half years.”
Lane added: “They were there in a significant way and in significant numbers. It is something our children need to learn, the significant contribution of the men of color in the Revolutionary War.”
Joseph Dooley, the president general for the National Society Sons of the American Revolution, said that as much as 10 percent of Colonial forces were black.
“Could we have won our freedom with a 10 percent loss of our troops,” he asked.
He talked about the invisibility of most blacks in the Revolution, including history books.
He said it was a century after the war before a significant book was written on their impact.
“It is sad that Americans of all colors don’t know their own history,” he said. “The men we honor today were freedom fighters.”