A native of Northampton County, Virginia, James Carter enlisted as a private in the Army of the State of Virginia early in the war and served at a garrison on Kings Creek for eighteen months. Six months after his term expired, he enlisted in the 2nd Virginia Regiment of Artillery in Portsmouth, Virginia. Around 1780, he traveled with his regiment south under the command of Colonel Charles Porterfield toward South Carolina. While in South Carolina, he fought at the Battle of Camden on August 16, 1780, under General Horatio Gates. After the battle, his regiment returned to Virginia and fought at Yorktown to assist the American siege of the city. Once General Charles Cornwallis and the British troops surrendered at Yorktown, Carter was discharged and returned to his home in Northampton County, Virginia. After the war, he received a land bounty warrant of 200-acres for his service and settled in his home county. In 1832, he successfully applied for a pension from the State of Virginia. During the 1840 census, he was listed as a “free person of color” and was recorded as eighty-five years old.