Colonel Tye was an escaped slave who fought with the British in the American Revolution. Tye became one of the most respected leaders and feared guerrilla commanders of the Loyalist troops during the Revolution.
Tye was born in 1753 as Titus and was one of four slaves owned by Quaker John Corlies from Shrewsbury, New Jersey. In November 1775, Lord John Murray Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, issued a proclamation that not only declared martial law, but also offered freedom to those slaves who would join the royal forces. Titus along with 300 other escaped slaves fled to join the British military. It was during this time that he took the adopted name of Tye and joined the Royal Ethiopian Regiment.
Tye’s group made a name for themselves, as they were known as being ruthless guerilla warriors who used all types of tactics. The group was small, but they were able to conduct numerous successful raids and assassinations across New Jersey. Most of the raids were targeted against former masters in search of revenge. In the summer of 1779, they conducted several raids on Shrewsbury in which they attacked and plundered patriot homes, taking clothes, furniture, horses, and cattle. The group was often rewarded with five gold guineas by the British.
In 1779, Tye became commander to a group of 24 black loyalists known as the Black Brigade. Tye rarely lost any of his men. Together, they freed slaves and protected New York. Due to an injury during one of the raids, Tye developed tetanus and ultimately died.