BLACK HISTORY 2021- Prince and Primus Hall - Father/Son Colonial Army heroes
"There are many unsung heroes among the black men that served in the early American colonial militias. The father and son duo of Prince and Primus Hall is just one example of the boldness and bravery of black men who were among the heroes in great Revolutionary War battles like Bunker Hill, Harlem Heights, and Trenton. The Martin Luther King Republicans(MLKR) are proud to highlight these American heroes and encourage you to celebrate and study more about the black soldiers who were a part of the foundation of our Country. And as always, please COMMENT, LIKE, and SHARE. Thank you."- Jimmy Lee Tillman, II founder, and president.
Prince Hall, Boston's most prominent citizens during the revolutionary period, was the founder of the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of Boston, the world's first lodge of black Freemasonry and the first society in American history devoted to social, political, and economic improvement.
Not much is known of Prince Hall's life before the Revolution. It is written that he was born in 1735 and was the slave of William Hall of Boston. His son, Primus, was born in 1756 to Delia, a servant in another household. In 1762, at the age of 27, the elder Hall joined the Congregational Church, and soon after, married an enslaved woman named Sarah Ritchie. Eight years later, after Sarah's death, he married Flora Gibbs of Gloucester.
A month after the Boston Massacre, William Hall freed Prince; his certificate of manumission read that he was "no longer Reckoned a slave, but [had] always accounted as a free man." Hall made his living as a huckster (peddler), caterer, and leather dresser and was listed as a voter and a taxpayer. He owned a small house and leather workshop in Boston.
Hall and his son Primus were among Massachusetts' six black men named to have fought at Bunker Hill. A bill elder Hall sent to Colonel Crafts indicates that he crafted five leather drumheads for the Boston Regiment of Artillery in April 1777.
When the American Revolution started in 1776, Primus Hall was the age of 19 when he enlisted in the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment as an infantryman. He would first see war at the Siege of Boston. Primus was a part of Bunker Hill's Battle, where many men performed acts of heroism. At this fight, about twice as many British were slain as Americans. The colonists had to retreat because they ran out of ammo. While the British won by technicality, they considered it a hollow victory after counting how many of their soldiers died. After that battle, the colonists continued to press against their opponents until the British seized all of Boston and evacuated the city.
After this victory, his regiment fought at the Battle of Harlem Heights. Commander-in-Chief George Washington led this battle. Here 1,800 American soldiers fought against 5,000 British soldiers and won. A little over a month later, Hall's regiment was a part of the Battle of White Plains.
The next fight would be the famed 'Battle of Trenton', where Washington crossed the Delaware river with more than 2,000 soldiers. The opposing British army at Trenton was composed almost entirely of Hessian mercenaries. Hessians were German soldiers, "trained from adolescence and continued their training well through adulthood until they were dee
Despite this, the colonist army (who were almost all commoners) proceeded to attack. The colonists were rewarded with a landslide victory. They captured nearly the entire Hessian force, about 1,000 soldiers. Primus captured two runaway Hessian soldiers himself after chasing the fleeing soldiers down in the cold for more than half a mile. More than 100 other Hessians were either killed or wounded in the fight. While a handful of Americans were hurt, none died from combat.
A little over a week later, still led by Washington, the Fifth Massachusetts Regiment went to war alongside the British army at the Battle of Princeton—where they were victorious. Primus re-enlisted at the battle of Saratoga and was present for General Burgoyne's surrender.
One of the younger Hall's brothers in combat would write about this battle: "We had a hard fight. [we] took the British Artillery, but lost our Captain… I was near him [Primus] when Captain Flint was shot through the body… Primus was discharged at the same time with myself…. and [he] was much esteemed by the Officers & men, as a brave & faithful Soldier in the service of his Country."
After the battle, Washington himself signed Primus Hall's honorable discharge. After the Revolutionary War, he again served his country building fortifications for Castle Island at Boston Harbor during the war of 1812.