Solomon Soutice: Black Revolutionary War soldier of Wilton
As many as 400 African American soldiers fought in Connecticut’s Continental and state regiments during the Revolutionary War, according to David Oliver White, author of Connecticut’s Black Soldiers, 1775-1783.
Forgotten Patriots, published by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 2008, lists only one African American soldier from Wilton — Solomon Soutice, who served from 1778 until 1782.
According to the DAR, Soutice may have also been a “Pequot Indian.”
In 1973, White published his book containing a list of 289 names belonging to Connecticut men who fought in the war and “have been identified from documentary sources as black soldiers.”
According to White, the documentation for the names came from “manuscript and published Connecticut Revolutionary War archives, private manuscripts, and town and local histories.”
Both enslaved and free African Americans served in the army as soldiers, laborers and servants. Some were offered freedom when they enlisted, while others remained enslaved and were substitutes for their masters.
“There were several situations where slaves fought without any promise that they would be emancipated,” White wrote, “but served out of a love for their home, for adventure, or perhaps for a different way of life than the drudgery of slavery.”
No records were found that showed the reason for Soutice’s enlistment, nor were any records discovered that showed where in Wilton Soutice lived, when he was born or when he died.
According to National Mall Liberty Fund D.C. founder and CEO Maurice Barboza’s Fairfield County Background African-American Revolutionary War Resolution fact sheet, African Americans served in “at least the 1st through 9th Connecticut Regiments and many other units, including the Continental Army and those associated with the names of captains and colonels.”
According to the DAR, Soutice served in Col. David Humphreys’ company of “Colored Troops.” However, service records show that Soutice joined the war as non-commissioned private in Capt. Eli Leavenworth’s company of the 6th Connecticut Regiment, commanded by Col. Return Jonathan Meigs, on June 17, 1778 .
Company payroll records note that “this company was designated at various times as Captain Eli Leavenworth’s, Lieut. Col. Ebenezer Gray’s and 1st Company.”
According to a March 4, 1779 company muster roll, Soutice enlisted for three years on Dec. 27, 1778.
Based on company muster rolls, the winter of 1778 was not easy for Soutice:
- Nov. 4, 1778: Soutice was “sick in ... hospital [on] Oct. 28.”
- Dec. 12, 1778: Soutice was “sick at Danbury [on] Nov. 5.”
During the summer of 1778, the Connecticut Line was encamped with Gen. George Washington’s main army in White Plains, N.Y.
According to 6thconnecticut.org , it was in White Plains that the Connecticut Line divided into two brigades. The 6th Connecticut Regiment was placed in the 1st Brigade under Col. Samuel Holden Parsons and “took up winter quarters” in Redding, Conn., where Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam took command of all forces.
According to a June 2, 1779 muster roll, Soutice and his company were encamped at Nelson’s Point on the bank of the Hudson River.
A company muster shows that Soutice and his company were at “Camp Highlands of York” — across from West Point, N.Y. — on June 15, 1779 .
In July, Gen. William Tryon and 2,600 Redcoats raided Connecticut ports in New Haven, Fairfield and Norwalk, destroying stores, supply houses, ships, private homes, churches, and other buildings. The Connecticut Line was sent to defend the state but didn’t arrive until after Tryon and his men had left.
On July 15, 1779, members of the 6th Connecticut Regiment joined Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne in storming a British fort in Stony Point, N.Y., known as the Battle of Stony Point.
From Stony Point, the 6th Regiment was stationed with the Connecticut Line around West Point, N.Y., where it worked on fortifications in the area, according to 6thconnecticut.org .
In August and September, Soutice’s company was at “Robinsons House,” according to an Aug. 2, 1779 muster roll; and “Robinsons Farm,” according to a Sept. 1, 1779 muster roll — otherwise known as Camp Robinson’s Farm in Garrison, N.Y.
It was here, according to The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution by Henry P. Johnston, that troops worked on “the ‘North’ and ‘Middle’ redoubts, and engaged in daily drills.”
The two Connecticut brigades spent the 1779-80 winter in huts in Morristown, N.J. A muster roll verifies that Soutice’s company was here on Jan. 1, 1780 .
During the company’s time there, the troops “protested their conditions and mutinied,” according to 6thconnecticut.org , and Meigs “quelled this mutiny with reason and affection and with no loss of life.”
According to a company muster roll dated Feb. 1, 1780 , Soutice was “on detachment” and remained “on detachment” through at least March, when his company was in Westfield, N.J., according to a March 15, 1780 muster roll.
Soutice was transferred to Meigs’ 6th Company in June 1780, according to his July 4, 1780 muster roll.
The 6th Regiment was consolidated with part of the 4th Connecticut Regiment as part of the reorganization of the Connecticut Line in January 1781.
Col. Zebulon Butler commanded the redesigned regiment until January 1783, when it was merged into the 1st Connecticut Regiment, according to 6thconnecticut.org .
Other than a 2nd Company of the 1st Connecticut Regiment muster roll with Soutice’s name on it, The Bulletin was unable to find later records for Soutice.
According to 6thconnecticut.org, the 1st Connecticut Regiment disbanded on Nov. 16, 1783.
- Connecticut’s Black Soldiers, 1775-1783 by David Oliver White (available at Wilton Library).
- Fairfield County Background African-American Revolutionary War Resolution by Maurice Barboza.
- Forgotten Patriots (second edition, 2008) by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
- The 6th Connecticut Regiment.
- The Record of Connecticut Men in the Military and Naval Service During the War of the Revolution, 1775-1783 by Henry P. Johnston.