(c.1740–97) former slave, war hero, and Revolutionary War patriot. Born into slavery in Virginia, Tarrant somehow acquired the skills of a river pilot. During the Revolution, he won appointment to the Virginia State Navy, where his skills and coolness under attack earned him much admiration. After the war, he returned to slavery, but by 1789, for reasons unknown, he had been granted his freedom by the Virginia General Assembly. He then worked to manumit the members of his family and succeeded in winning the freedom of his wife and one of his children; the other two remained in bondage. Tarrant purchased land and continued to work as a river pilot, although as a freed black he lacked the civil rights accorded to whites. He died with his two older children still enslaved; the daughter eventually bought her freedom, but the fate of his son is unknown.
From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.
Subjects: Warfare and Defence.