In 1759 ten slaves captured from the French were presented to
the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot for use as drummers, and
started a tradition which would last nearly a century.
Over the next 84 years nearly 50 black men were actively recruited
to serve as drummers in the 29th. Each man was a volunteer, and many
served for 20 or more years, receiving equal pay, pensions, medals
and status as any other soldier. Some sons followed fathers, and fresh
recruits joined from Canada, Ireland, the West Indies and India.
Even though the black drummers sometimes made the 29th unpopular (as
floggings were carried out by drummers recruits were sometimes deterred
by the thought of being flogged by a black man, and the citizens of
Boston even wrote to the commanding officer about it), they remained
an important and proud part of the Regiment until the last drummer
died in 1843.