August 9, 2018
James scurried through the trees on trails he knew blindfolded. He spotted the camp and darted around to the commander’s tent. James could hear voices inside and strained to understand the words. One voice was unmistakeable as his French accent highlighted his perfected English. James glided around to the entrance unnoticed before slipping inside. It was the moment that changed the war.
Born in Virginia, James was the slave of William Armistead. As such records for slaves were not well kept, if even recorded at all, his actual birthdate is unknown. It is believed to be around December 10, 1748, in New Kent, Virginia, or December 10, 1760, Elizabeth City. Regardless, after the Marquis de Lafayette retuned to the states and the Revolutionary War in 1780, James requested permission from William to join the Continental Army under Lafayette, which William granted. James had heard the stories of heroism of Lafayette, who was now stationed in Virginia, and wanted to serve under him. As was common, James enlisted as James Armistead, taking his owner’s last name.
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