Colonel Tye

1754 – 1780

I was a leader of a Black Brigade of Loyalist raiders.

Before the Revolution, I was one of many New Jersey slaves who were farm laborers, living independently in small cabins. In Monmouth County where I lived, there had been unrest among the slaves, and the county’s white leaders were against setting slaves free, or letting them be out on their own at night. They also confiscated arms from free blacks.

So I decided to run off. This made me a runaway slave, but I considered myself a Loyalist freedman, and turned to warfare to make a living. By 1779, Loyalist raids against rebels in New Jersey were increasingly frequent and violent, and I joined a group of runaway slaves living at Refugeetown on Sandy Hook near the lighthouse and a British naval base. Soon after, I became the leader of a new Loyalist group called the Black Brigade.

I launched a string of raids where we captured horses, plundered houses, and captured rebels. During one raid, I took “several Negroes and a great deal of stock,” confusing people whether I was kindly liberating other African-Americans, or selling them as war booty. In my boldest raid, on September 1, I marched ten miles inland to Colt’s Neck to capture Captain Joshua Huddy. Unfortunately, I was shot in the wrist and died from lockjaw caused by the wound.

After my death, the Black Brigade was less effective, but it continued to raid rebel territories until 1782.



Learn More
Image Colonel Tye

Related People