Rebels in Arms

Black Resistance and the Fight for Freedom in the Anglo-Atlantic

Title Details

Pages: 320

Illustrations: 5 b&w images

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 11/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6280-9

List Price: $32.95


Pub Date: 11/01/2022

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6279-3

List Price: $114.95

Rebels in Arms

Black Resistance and the Fight for Freedom in the Anglo-Atlantic

How enslaved people turned armed conflicts into opportunities to promote Black emancipation

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  • Description
  • Reviews

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.

Justin Iverson’s Rebels in Arms makes an important contribution to the recent scholarship on African and African American armed resistance to slavery. Looking comparatively, Iverson sees intriguing patterns across the Anglo-Atlantic. Freedom seekers mastered the weapons and tactics necessary to challenge the enslavers’ monopoly on violence while also forging strategic alliances with the enemies of their enemies. Rebels in Arms is must-reading for every student of the protracted struggle to abolish slavery in the Americas.

—Joseph P. Reidy, author of Illusions of Emancipation: The Pursuit of Freedom and Equality in the Twilight of Slavery

Rebels in Arms offers an interesting take on the topic of Black/maroon resistance to white control in the Atlantic World during a roughly two-hundred-year period.

—Gene Smith, author of The Slaves' Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812

Iverson investigates well-researched, discrete episodes stretching over almost two centuries to illuminate the important martial role played by enslaved and free Africans in the Americas.

—Gerald Horne, author of The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America

About the Author/Editor

JUSTIN IVERSON is the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing Historian at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. His research has appeared in Florida Historical Quarterly and Atlantic Studies. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia.