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Richard Pierpoint and the Coloured Corps

In 1812, with Upper Canada facing invasion by the Americans, Pierpoint made a request to form a military unit made up entirely of Africans. Many of the Africans living in Upper Canada were exslaves, but any African that was captured by the Americans would face being sold into slavery, so victory for the African community was especially important. A unit of about 30 men called the Coloured Corps, under a white officer, Captain Runchey, was raised. Pierpoint, although over 60 years age, served as a common soldier. The unit saw action at the battles of Queenston Heights, Fort George and Stoney Creek. After the end of the war in 1814, many of the ex-soldiers were owed back pay by the government. Finally, the government offered land instead of money. Pierpoint asked for a return voyage back to his home in Bundu, but this was denied. The reason why is not certain. Possibly the government did not want to foot the bill if most of the many hundreds of Africans in the colony decided to return to Africa. Also the government may not have wanted veteran soldiers, who would be useful in any future wars, to leave the country. Instead he took a lot in the new township of Garafraxa, near present day Guelph. Pierpoint died here in 1838, and was apparently buried on his farm, but his grave site remains lost. An important early settler of Upper Canada, Pierpoint's story was neglected for more than 150 years. Only in 1995 was a plaque erected commemorating Pierpoint at John Black School (located on Pierpoint's former farm near Fergus).