Oliver Cromwell

c1752 – 1853

I was a free black man who proudly served my new country.

My origins are a little mysterious, I was born in the village of Black Horse in Burlington County, and some believe I was a mulatto – with white and black parents – while others think I may have been Indian. I was probably a mix of European, African, and Native American.

I was a free farmer, but in February 1777 I enlisted in the Second New Jersey Continental Regiment for the duration of the war. Recruits of color like me were not always welcomed in the army, but I was allowed to enlist and proud to serve. And my service was impressive. I fought at the battles of Short Hills, Monmouth, Brandywine, Springfield and the great victory at Yorktown. When I was discharged in June 1783, my six faithful years of service earned me the “Badge of Merit.”

But my story doesn’t end there. In 1818, the United States Congress passed a law to provide pensions to former Continental soldiers in need. I applied in 1818 and again in 1820, and was awarded a pension of $96 a month.

I loved to tell stories about the Revolution to anyone who would listen. In 1850, I told a census taker that I was 97 years old and that my occupation had been “drummer in the Revolution.” I died shortly thereafter, in 1853, about 100 years old, and I was buried in the cemetery of Broad Street Methodist Church in Burlington.


Learn More
Image Oliver Cromwell