The Canadian Military Heritage Project
Lest We Forget
Copyright © by Todd W. Braisted
We thank Todd for his kind permission to put this lecture online on The Canadian Military Heritage Project
In the annals of Loyalist history stands forth a regiment raised by an island governor while a prisoner of war, composed of Connecticut Yankees and which spilled the blood of its young men in the unforgiving battlegrounds of South Carolina. Raised in 1776/1777, this corps went by several names, including the Prince of Wales' American Volunteers and Prince of Wales' Royal American Volunteers. Commanded by the immodest Montfort Browne, Governor of the Island of New Providence, this regiment was to be the 1st battalion of a "brigade," often referred to as Governor Browne's Brigade. Even though this brigade never materialized as envisioned, the officers and men of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment wrote their history at such places as Danbury, Newport, Charlestown, Hanging Rock, George Town, Friday's Ferry and Cowpens. When the smoke had cleared, the regiment ended its existence in what was left of British North America, a mere fraction of its original size and composition. This then is their story
The Summer of 1776. The British Army in America is gathering its force on Staten Island, New York. Lieutenant General William Howe is preparing to attack Continental General George Washington in the campaign that would wrest New York City and its environs from Rebel control. Howe has also done one more thing: he has invited the Loyalists, those Americans still owing their allegiance to the British crown, to join his army. The countryside in this area contains many Loyalists. New Jersey would provide the largest single Loyalist regiment of the war, the New Jersey Volunteers. New York would provide more Loyalist soldiers and militiamen than an y other province. And then there was Connecticut.
Connecticut, in keeping with the other New England colonies, was firm in its opposition to the British and sent thousands of its citizens to assist George Washington and the Rebel cause. Like all the other colonies however, Connecticut also had a population that included many Loyalists, b iding their time until the British Army should make its appearance. Thrown into this mix was Governor Montfort Browne of New Providence in the Bahamas. Browne had been taken prisoner on New Providence by Commodore Esek Hopkins of the Continental Navy on 3 March 1776.(1) The island had no garrison to defend the place, but it had a huge stash of military ordnance and stores, which were much wanted by the Rebels on the continent. Browne managed to secretly ship off 150 barrels of powder to the garrison at East Florida but ended up on a voyage to imprisonment in Connecticut for his trouble. Given his civil station in life, Browne was kept under house arrest in Middletown, where he quickly became acquainted with several leading Loyalists. Amongst the first to visit Browne was an old officer of the French & Indian War, Major Timothy Hierlihy.(2) Hierlihy was previously acquainted with Browne when both were involved in the province of West Florida, the former as a member of the "Company of Military Adventurers," and the latter as lieutenant governor there. Southern life not agreeing with Hierlihy, he moved home to Middletown where his acquaintance with Browne was renewed in 1776.(3)
Hierlihy, judging Browne unequal to the task of raising the Loyalists, himself
"plan'd the raising of a Regiment of Loyalists, and engaged a number of Gentlemen he knew had the greatest influence with those that were so, and inclined to come off; for Governor Browne who was then a Prisoner and unacquainted with the Inhabitants of the Country85"(4)Indeed, Browne boasted on 2 August 1776 that
"through the assistance of a few Confidential friends85I have through their aid & assistance, meditated a plan for the forming a Brigade for his Majesty's Service to consist of four Thousand Men, which with indefatigable diligence & a good deal of Expence I have already nearly carried into execution."(5)This information was sent off by Browne to General Howe, conveyed by Timothy Hierlihy, Junr. and Jesse Hoyt, a Loyalist from Norwalk.(6) These two Loyalists reached Howe safely, and the contents of Browne's letter interested him to some degree. So much so that Howe immediately proposed to George Washington to exchange Browne for Continental General William Alexander, known as Lord Stirling, who had been captured at the Battle of Brooklyn on 27 August 1776. This exchange was effected and Browne became a free man within the British lines.(7)
Browne immediately set about the arduous task of raising a complete brigade for the British service. Establishing his headquarters at Flushing, Long Island, he set about issuing warrants to officers to recruit throughout New England and other places. He fumed that November that General Howe had not been forthcoming in sending shipping to bring off the Connecticut Loyalists, the result of which was that many of his recruits had been drafted into the Rebel militia.(8) Undeterred, Browne wrote out warrants by the dozen and issued them to whomever stood a chance of raising men . A typical warrant read:
"Whereas His Majesty's Commissioners for Restoring Peace and Tranquility to the Deluded Subjects in America Have Impowered and Fully Authorized me to Grant Warrants and Inlisting Orders to all Officers Ingaged in a Brigade under my Command. This may Certify there fore that the Poseser Mr. Gershom French is appointed a Lieutenant and is hereby Authorized to Rase men for His Majesty's Service. Given under my Hand and Seal at Flushing on Long Island this Twenty Sixth day of October An. Do. 1776. [signed] Montfort Browne, Captain Genl. Of His Majesty's Bahama Islands."(9)
These warrant officers ranged very far and wide in the search for recruits. George Wightman, describing himself as a "Colonel in [Browne's] Brigade," established his headquarters at British occupied Newport, Rhode Is land in the hopes of raising men there.(10) Francis Hogle led Gershom French as his captain up the Hudson to take part in the Burgoyne Campaign of 1777. He and French claimed to have raised 216 men for Browne, 94 of whom they brought into the Army at Saratoga but were
"Chiefly Allured away with Frivelous Promises and have not since been Restored."(11)
Some gentlemen received warrants, enlisted men, but did not receive commissions to continue as officers in the regiment or army. Two Irishmen who were less than happy with Governor Browne were Cornelius Ryan and Dennis O'Reily. Ryan settled in New York City in 1754 and established himself as a "Leather Dresser and Breeches Maker," not professions normally associated with a gentleman. Sent as a spy into New York City before the British attack, he was able to secure the colours of the New York City Militia, which had been presented to them by Royal Governor William Tryon. For this triumph he was given a warrant as captain by Browne and succeeded in bringing in 27 recruits from the Ringwood Ironworks of New Jersey. These recruits, however, were distributed to other companies, leaving Ryan without a commission and A3 200. in debt.(12) O'Reily was similarly circumstanced, recruiting 21 men after receiving a captain's warrant, but never receiving a promised commission. He would spend the war seeking recovery of his personal wealth expended in the service.(13) Apparently Old Countrymen were not the only people Browne strung along. Samuel Jarvis, a native of Connecticut, was also one who received a captain's warrant with the promise that his recruiting expenses should be refunded. Jarvis produced thirty men to Browne at Flushing but received no reimbursement, prompting him to take a minor position in the Commissary General's Department.(14) At least three other members of this family continued to serve under Browne, including Munson Jarvis, who was a lieutenant until forced to resign in order to better support his family.(15)
One officer at least had military experience in the present conflict. Richard Vanderburgh of Dutchess County, New York was an active Loyalist early on in the conflict. In October of 1775 he was able to get on board HMS Asia in New York Harbor and offer his services to Governor William Tryon. Vanderburgh was made a sergeant in Captain Alexander Grant's New York Company and accompanied this officer to Boston, Halifax and back to New York. With his company he took part in the Battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776, displaying great gallantry in battle, evidenced by his receiving "seven severe and dangerous wounds." For his valor he was made an ensign under Browne and shortly afterwards a lieutenant. He would go on to be captain of light infantry in Lt. Col. Emmerick's Chasseurs in 1778 , in which station he would once again be wounded in battle.(16)
Left to reign in all these recruits and would(96)be officers was Montfort Browne. He was significantly aided by the use of an armed sloop owned by Captain Stephen Hoyt of Norwalk, which vessel cruised Long Island Sound, picking up parties of recruits as they became available.(17) The sloop of course could not be in all places at once, frustrating Browne in January of 1777 in delaying picking up a company's worth of recruits.(18) Browne at this time was serving as a colonel, but he had much higher aspirations.(19)
Having been informed by Sir William Howe that he should be commissioned Brigadier General of Provincial Forces in the Spring of 1777, Browne fumed, quickly putting pen to paper, words to the ears of government at home.
"I flatter myself, my Sufferings, my Losses, my long Captivity, my zeal & Ardor for His Majesty's Service, the great Expence attending the bringing over my Brigade, and finally the Risque I have exposed my Person to in procuring my Men, in the Midst of an inveterate Enemy's Country, will induce your Lordship to procure for me from His Majesty the Rank of a Major General in America for it will be grating for to me, who have seen so much real Service, to be commanded by Brigadiers deLancey & Skinner who have never seen a Shot fired; I must in such Case resign and knowing well my Influence over my Officers & Men, I will with unremitted Ardour engage as a Volunteer with them in the Ranks."(20)The objects of Browne's anger were Brigadier General Cortland Skinner of the New Jersey Volunteers and Brigadier General Oliver DeLancey, who commanded a brigade of his own. Both held commissions older than Browne, hence they would out rank him on the field.(21) His letter reached England very quickly and was laid before the King. While there was no objection given to Browne holding rank as major general, it was decided to leave it to the discretion of Sir William Howe.(22) Howe never bothered waiting for a reply, commissioning Browne a brigadier general on 30 May 1777 and announcing him in general orders the next day.(23) Naturally, Browne did not follow through with his boast to Germain to serve in the ranks, and he continued as a brigadier general for the remainder of the war. Despite this setback, he could be pleased about one thing: he was in command of a complete regiment, if not a brigade.
"Colonel Innis will be so obliging as to acquaint Governor Browne that the Commander in Chief is extremely well pleased with the report made of his Corps, and the Active Spirit and ardour which animates both Officers and men, he has no doubt of their being of very great Service in the Course of this Campaign."That last sentence would become reality quicker than anyone may have foreseen.(24)
While several hundred recruits had been gathered for Governor Browne, a ll was not harmonious. For one, Timothy Hierlihy, expecting a lieutenant colonel's commission for his services, was only offered one as major. Rather than serve at this rank, Hierlihy left the men he had recruited ("one hundred & Twelve fine Recruits" he claimed) and set off with a warrant as lieutenant colonel to raise a 2nd battalion. His association with Browne, along with that of his son and Richard Vanderburgh amongst others, would cease at this point as they recruited what would become known as the Independent Companies. They would continue to consider themselves as part of "General Browne's Brigade" but for all practicality they were an independent corps. This was cemented when Hierlihy's battalion (of only four companies) was shipped off from New York in the Spring of 1778 to Halifax, Nova Scotia and shortly thereafter to the Island of Saint John, which two places they would remain until incorporated into the Nova Scotia Volunteers in 1782.(25)
The reason for Hierlihy's departure and lack of success was an apparent surprise appointment by Sir William Howe into the regiment, now known of ficially as the "Prince of Wales Royal American Volunteers." Howe announced in general orders of 2 February 1777 that he had commissioned Cornet Thomas Pattinson of the 17th Light Dragoons as the new lieutenant colonel of the regiment.(26) This effectively meant the regiment was commanded by officers whose previous highest rank was that of lieutenant and 2nd lieutenant respectively. Howe continued to tinker with the unit, first by joining an independent company raised by Captain John Collett, who had served under Lord Dunmore in Virginia.(27) Another officer, elevated to senior captain in the regiment by Howe, was John Bowen of Princeton, Massachusetts. This gentleman had served the previous war in America as an ensign and lieutenant in the 45th Regiment of Foot and was held in high rega rd by Howe's predecessor, Thomas Gage, while at Boston. Why he received such preferential treatment is unclear, but the decision could not have been well received by the other captains in the unit, all of whom had risk ed their lives in raising their men.(28) Indeed, it does not appear Browne was in the least consulted in any of these moves. In a letter to Edward Winslow he wrote:
"Lieutenant Colonel Pattinson is arrived here last night, and has brought me copy of the General orders of Monday in which the General has appointed him to my Corps(85)"Browne at the time had been soliciting Captain John Howard of the 1st Dutchess County Independent Company to join the PWAR. Howard's Company was eventually joined to the New York Volunteers.(29)
In the end, however, a complete regiment of ten companies was formed, properly officered and organized. The regiment was patterned after the standard British infantry regiment of the day, complete with a company of light infantry commanded by Captain Daniel Lyman and one of grenadiers led by Captain Andrew Maxwell.(30) Even though Browne would never lead his envisioned brigade, he could be proud of his new regiment. On 21 April 1777 it mustered 34 officers of different rank, 30 sergeants, 11 drummers, and 520 rank & file, with eight recruits waiting to join on Long Island. (31) They undoubtedly appeared in their new uniforms that day: green regimental coats faced with white, the uniform being issued to all Provincial troops at New York at that time.
The time had come to put his new regiment to good use. Hearing of between 80 and 90 new recruits of his being imprisoned in Fairfield Jail, he embarked a detachment of the PWAR on board Capt. Hoyt's vessel and a schooner they had liberated from New Jersey the month before. Escorted by the warships Niger and Merlin, Browne desperately tried to land his men at Fairfield, but was prevented by extremely poor weather and rough surf. Hearing that there was a Rebel guard and a high ranking committee member a t Norwalk though, the little fleet steered that way. On 16 March 1777 Captain Stephen Hoyt led 19 men onto the shore and marched undiscovered to the house quartering the guard. They attacked with such spirit as to capture two captains, two lieutenants, an ensign, ten privates and the committeeman, a Mr. Richards. Their loss was but one man who had gotten separated. He later rejoined the regiment and brought in two new recruits at the same time.(32) The capture of Richards probably pleased the Loyalist s the most, as they viewed the various committees as the source of all their misfortunes. This is born out in a letter from a Loyalist in New York a few days after the raid was reported in the papers.
"(85)an Expedition which pleased me most is that of a small party of Govr. Brown's new Corps commanded by Capt. Stephen Hoyt(85) Such excursions as these will keep the Rebels in constant trepidation & give life & Spirit to our new made Soldiers & Officers."(33)It indeed did give life and spirit to a party of thirty new recruits under "a recruiting Captain" who less than two weeks later marched fifty miles through Connecticut before safely embarking for Long Island.(34) It is not known what corps they enlisted in, but they may indeed have been on their way to join Browne. Next time, Browne would come to them.
The day after the regiment was mustered at Flushing, they embarked on 22 April 1777 as part of a large expedition to Connecticut under Major General William Tryon, the senior Provincial officer in America.(35) The object of the expedition was the huge cache of military stores located at Danbury, 26 miles north of the coast. The troops, six British regiments a nd the PWAR, plus artillery, landed near Norwalk on 25 April. They immediately pushed for Danbury, where they found by all accounts an immense quantity of stores, including over 1,700 tents, 4,000 barrels of beef and pork, 1,000 barrels of flour, rice, hospital stores, engineering tools, 5,000 pairs of shoes and stockings, a printing press, rum, molasses, sugar, wheat, Indian corn, etc., all of which was destroyed, except for four days bread issued out to the troops.(36) The easiest method of destroying the stores was to burn them, whereby the town itself was burned down.
While the destruction of the stores had been relatively easy, Tryon and his men had spent a couple days in land and now needed to get back to their shipping, 26 miles away. The Rebels had not been idle during that time, positioning troops in their front and rear. Those who attacked from the rear were led by General David Wooster, who was killed in the battle, and those in front were commanded by General Benedict Arnold. Arnold constructed a breastwork along the route of the British retreat, prompting a large scale battle. This was the first time under fire for Browne and his men, and they did not disappoint him. The troops fixed bayonets and charged, breaking through Arnold's force and continuing their march to Long Island Sound and safety.(37) Each side had suffered heavy losses. Hugh Quigg, a New Jersey Loyalist serving in Captain Bridgewater's Company of the PWAR, served on the expedition with his son. Only the elder Quigg returned alive.(38) The regiment's losses totaled 1 drummer and 6 rank & file killed, 3 officers, 3 sergeants and 11 rank & file wounded, plus 3 rank & file missing. Amongst the wounded was Browne himself (slightly) and Captain Daniel Lyman of the Light Infantry Company.(39) Lyman's injury, a musket shot through the body, would eventually force him to England by 1779 to try and recover, which he never fully would. He returned to New York later in the war but never took an active part with the regiment again.(40)
One rather bizarre footnote to the battle involved one of the three missing soldiers of the regiment, Michael Burn. Burn had been taken prisoner at Danbury and sent to the prison at Hartford, from which place he escaped on 8 May 1777. He was described as
"a native of Ireland, about 35 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, sandy short hair, thin GR on the fore part of his head, grey eyes, a little glaring red complexion, thin visage, large nose, a weaver by trade, speaks very harsh, pretends to a smattering of Latin and Greek, had a considerable number of books with him, among which are Homer's Illiad, Ovid's Metamorphosis, Lillie's Grammar, &c."(41)It is not known whatever became of the very unusual Michael Burn. He does not appear on any later muster rolls for the regiment.
The raid, despite the losses, was a resounding success. The destruction of the stores had been the principal object of the expedition and in that they were certainly fortunate. They also brought back 53 prisoners, including several committeemen, much to the Loyalists delight. The troops were praised by both Generals Tryon and Howe for their spirit during the raid, and the regiment in particular caught the notice of the local press.(42)
"Governor Brown's regiment behaved in such a manner, in said expedition, as does them honour."(43)The regiment had their initial taste of both battle and victory. It would be a long time before they saw either again.
After the excitement of the Danbury raid, the PWAR settled into a routine of mundane garrison duty that was to mark their existence for the next three years. The relative boredom (which combined with drunkenness was the leading cause of desertion) and the fatal introduction of small pox seriously weakened the regiment for the rest of 1777. Between 26 May and 1 July 1777, the regiment lost over 35 men, am alarming 75 in total since their large April 21st muster. Almost one quarter of the regiment was returned sick in May, and new recruits came in only at a trickle.(44)
Not all men deserting from the regiment made it away safely. One example is that of a group at the end of June who strayed from Kinsbridge as far north as Valentine's House and were there apprehended by some men of the Westchester County Militia (Loyalist). They plead that they had been drinking to such a degree that they did not know where they were, nor how one man's coat was turned inside out while on him, but were sure he had only gone out to take a walk! The court martial trying him did not believe the excuse and sentenced Private Charles Stewart to receive 1,000 lashes on the bare back with the cat o' nine tails. Privates Jeremiah McCarty and Patrick Moore were found guilty and sentenced to corporal punishment as well.(45)
Occasional brushes with danger undoubtedly had a sobering effect. A young warrant lieutenant named Edmund Palmer found this out in the most dire way. Edmund was the son of Lewis Palmer of New York and was recruiting for his company in Westchester when taken up by the Rebels. Word of this reached Sir Henry Clinton, commanding the New York garrison, who immediately dispatched Captain Montagu in HMS Mercury to Verplank's Point as a flag of truce. Montagu was to deliver
"to the Person hyhest in Rank, who shall receive Him" a certificate from Browne signifying that Palmer was indeed a lieutenant in the British service to prevent him from "being maltreated." Sir Henry was greatly concerned "as the Prisoners Life from this Mistake is said to be in danger."(46)The Mercury arrived and Captain Montagu delivered the certificate, but it was in vain. For answer, he received an immediate and bitter reply from General Israel Putnam, command ing the Rebel troops in that quarter:
"Edmond Palmer an Officer in the Enemy's Service Was taken as a Spy lurking within our lines, has been Tried as a Spy, Condemned as a Spy and Shall be Executed as a Spy(97)and the Flag is ordered to depart immediately. [signed] I Putnam. N.B. he has been accordingly Executed."(47)Such was often the fate of Loyalists caught behind the lines recruiting. It was generally hoped by the Rebels that such immediate examples would greatly deter others from trying to recruit as well, thereby depriving the British of any further augmentation to the Provincial forces. In this they were probably successful.
The remainder of 1777 passed by uneventfully for the PWAR. Twenty Nine of their men would be transferred to Captain Andreas Emmerick's new company of Chasseurs, where they would serve as riflemen on the outposts of Kinsbridge. This company would serve in Sir Henry Clinton's foraging expedition to Bergen County, New Jersey in September of 1777 and in the storming of Forts Clinton and Montgomery the following month. In the latter, the PWAR themselves would remain behind at Kingsbridge while hundreds of other Provincials took a part in the fighting. A small detachment of the regiment under Ensign John Manning made up a force of 200 Provincials landed at Tappan for the Bergen County expedition.(48) Of those serving under Emmerick, three deserted, one was killed and a dozen were taken prisoner, all by 3 January 1778. Seven would eventually return to the PWAR by April of 1778.(49)
The dullness of the duty led to exposing some deep rifts amongst the officers of the regiment. Ensigns Joseph Garrison and Ebenezer Leech took to fighting each other by means of slaps, punches, cane beatings and even kicks in the encampment. Leech, considered the aggressor by the court, was cashiered, while Garrison was ruled to have acted in self defense.(5 0) An instance of pure petty was shown when several officers accused Cap tain John Collett of refusing to do duty and selling his men's blankets. The truth of the matter was Collett was sick, as proved by the regiment's own doctor, and unable to do duty, and the two blankets he sold were his own private property, not that of his company, which was complete with them. He was acquitted, the court adding the charges were groundless and malicious. While a prisoner, Collett even had to endure the taunts of an officer not a member of his own regiment, Lieutenant Beasly Joel of the Queen's American Rangers. Joel was found guilty in January of 1778 of defaming Collett's character and suspended without pay for four months and ordered to ask Collett's pardon at the head of the PWAR.(51)
The regiment suffered a permanent loss with the death of Captain James Holden on 31 January 1778. At the age of fifty seven, he had served in the army thirty six years and had been an inhabitant of New York City for ten, as well as being an active member of the Masonic order.(52) Holden was replaced by an appointee of Sir Henry Clinton, Stephen Holland of New Hampshire. Holland had been an influential Loyalist there and a confidant of Governor Wentworth. While in the country, he had provided money and necessaries to many British prisoners, including Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell of the 71st Regiment. He also attempted to recruit men for the British, which landed him in Exeter Jail. Breaking out of prison, he escaped to Rhode Island, where he was given a commission in Holden's room.
Stephen Holland had absolutely no use for the PWAR, considering his commission in the corps
"only a present subsistance."He solicited and received a staff appointment in Newport and avoided doing duty with the regiment.(53) On 12 December 1778 he even received a warrant to raise men, either for a Battalion commanded by himself, or to increase such other corps. This corps never materialized, and Holland fumed when the few men he did raise were ordered to join the corps to which he belonged, the PWAR. Through his connections he was able to remain absent with leave for the remainder of the war, either in New York or London, a complete waste of an important position in the regiment.(54)
The time had finally come for the regiment to leave its long(96)time post at Kingsbridge and travel to more familiar territory97New England. On Thursday, 21 May 1778, Brigadier General Browne and his corps received orders that they would be embarking for somewhere "on the Shortest Notice, " and that all men absent from the corps should rejoin immediately. It came at a bad time for the unit, as they were just then in the process of making and receiving new uniforms, this time the red coat common to British infantry. Another hardship was that the corps would only be allowed to bring thirty women with them, and therefore had to leave behind a number of the soldiers wives and children.(55) Three days later, at five in the morning, the regiment left their post to march to Turtle Bay, where th ey embarked on board three transports, the Jenny, New Blessing and Peggy. (56) They totaled 443 officers, other ranks, servants and women, showing a loss over the previous 13 months of close to 200 men dead, discharged, transferred or deserted.(57) The destination of the regiment was Newport, Rhode Island.
There had been a British garrison in Newport since its capture in December of 1776. The main purpose of it as a post was its excellent harbor for the Royal Navy. With only enough troops there for defensive operations, Newport was not a post sought by those wishing active campaigning. As the main British army, though, was being removed from Philadelphia and r eturned to New York, and as the French were now involved in the war, it was thought best to beef up the garrison there. The PWAR would be the first of these reinforcements. Deputy Adjutant General Frederick Mackenzie noted the arrival of the corps on the 11th and 12th of June.
"About 10 o'Clock last night a fleet arrived from New York, under Convoy of The Cerberus; having on board Brigadier General Brown's 1st Battalion of the Prov incial Regiment Called The Prince of Wales's American Volunteers, consisting of about 400 men...[12th June]. The Prince of Wales's Volunteers, disembarked this day, and Encamped; 6 Companies behind Green(96)end Redoubt; two behind Irishes; and 2 in the work on Tomini hill. They appear to be a very good body of men, and are well Clothed and Armed. They are provided with new Camp Equipage."(58)
No sooner had the regiment gotten its land legs back than half of it went away. One of the most difficult items to obtain for the garrison at Newport was firewood, the fuel of both the military and the civilian population. Little to none was to be had on Rhode Island itself, at least not enough to satisfy their needs. To obtain the necessary amount meant im porting it, and in 1778, that meant obtaining it from the British post at Lloyd's Neck, Long Island. Located just north of Huntington in Suffolk County, New York, this post was taking shape as the largest permanent British outpost on the east end of Long Island. On 17 June 1778, just five days after they disembarked at Rhode Island, two captains, four subalterns and two hundred men of the PWAR, all under the command of Lt. Col. Pattinson, embarked for Lloyd's Neck.(59) While the duty was tiresome, fatiguing and undoubtedly boring, it was also profitable for those involved. Pattinson immediately took the opportunity to try and attract new recruit s, promising them the possibility of earning between fifteen and twenty shillings per day for their wood cutting labors, an extraordinary amount of money for a common soldier.(60) Their labors would also force them to miss all the excitement that would soon be unfolding on Rhode Island.
For those remaining on the Newport garrison, there would be the unglamorous task of "making Hay, and(85)other public services" on the island of Connonicut, between Rhode Island and the mainland.(61) This illustrates the complete misuse of a fine regiment. Using a military regiment for duties normally reserved for the Civil Branches of the Army only tended to lower their morale, keep away new recruits preferring an active corps, and devalue their use in the campaign.
This was especially true in the ensuing Siege of Rhode Island in July and August of 1778. On the first appearance of the French fleet on 29 July 1778, the PWAR and the rest of the garrison of Connonicut were withdrawn to Rhode Island, as the former was thought indefensible, given the large French naval presence.(62) After rejoining the rest of the garrison, the PWAR were posted to the first line facing the massive Rebel forces on the northern part of the island.(63) However, given their strength of barely 200 Rank & File fit for duty due to the wood cutting detachment, their activities during the siege itself were severely limited.(64) Despite being posted on the same line with their fellow Provincials in the King's American Regiment, they took no offensive action during the entire event, while the latter was heavily involved.
When daylight broke on the morning of 29 August, it was clear that the Rebels had given up the siege. The French fleet had been heavily damaged , both by the British Royal Navy and a terrible storm, and had since sail ed to Boston for repairs. Without the assistance of the French, the siege was given up. The British troops, under the command of General Robert Pigot, immediately left their lines in pursuit of the retiring foe. The PWAR was not immediately ordered out, but later sent, along with the 54th Regiment, to reinforce the column commanded by Brigadier General Smith, consisting of the 22nd and 43rd Regiments, plus the Flank Companies of the 38th and 54th. The great battle that would be known as Quaker Hill heavily engulfed General Smith's column, so much so that they were nearly defeated. By the time the 54th and the PWAR joined him, the Rebels had been driven from the hill.(65) The battle would flare in some other quarters for a few hours more, but for the troops at Quaker Hill, there was little they could do but view the massed Rebel Army to their front. After a day of preparations, they went off, leaving the British in sole possession of the island. The PWAR, having not suffered a single casualty in the siege (owing to their inactivity), had the dubious honor of proceeding to Honeyman's Hill to level the fortifications the Rebels first made on the island, and fill up their trenches.(66) The Siege of Rhode Island was over.
For the next fourteen months, the regiment would lay idle in the garrison. The troops under Lt. Col. Pattinson at Lloyd's Neck returned to Rhode Island on 12 October 1778, when they were ordered to rejoin the regiment, then constructing fortifications on Connonicut Island.(67) The duty there must have been very disagreeable, as ten men deserted from there over a one week period in the beginning of November.(68) They would hut on the island for the winter. On 29 November 1778 they mustered a mere 255 Rank & File fit for duty, a far cry from eighteen months before. The PWAR had lost over 217 men dead, discharged and deserted since that time.(69 )
One man who was not on Connonicut, or at Rhode Island at all, was Montfort Browne. On 18 November the commanding officer was in New York City, preparing to return to his government at New Providence. Despite his return there, he had no intentions of giving up the command of his regiment. In fact, he planned on turning this to advantage, by proposing to Sir Henry Clinton that he be allowed to raise two additional companies of the PWAR in the islands:
"The Bahamians are in general fine men and I will be answerable when incorporated with my Corps will do everything that may be required of them."(70)It is not known what Clinton's answer to this p roposal was, but it is unlikely it was favorable. Browne would have been extremely hard pressed to have found a hundred men in the Bahamas willing to serve in America, and in the end, no additional companies were raise d. Browne would return to his government at the head of two companies of the Garrison Battalion and begin an absence from his corps of almost five years. During that time, the British demanded he resign either one or the other of his appointments. Twice, in the summer of 1779, Adjutant General Lord Rawdon pressed him for an answer, but somehow Browne managed to continue in both, at least for the time being.(71)
He left behind his regiment which would sit idle in Rhode Island for almost the entire year of 1779. They recruited but little and continued to lose men by disease and desertion. They would see no action. To their undoubted satisfaction, Rhode Island was evacuated on 11 October 1779. They numbered a scant 309 Rank & File but had increased their number of women and children considerably since their arrival in Newport.(72) The destination of the regiment, and their new home for the next five months or so, was Lloyd's Neck, home of their wood cutting activities.
The British army in New York City was getting ready now for a major shift in the theater of the war. Sir Henry Clinton embarked himself at the head of eight thousand or so men, the cream of the army, to undertake the reduction of the largest Southern city97 Charlestown, South Carolina. While the PWAR was not initially intended for this campaign, a special temporary corps composed of detachments of Provincials from the New York garrison was created to take part in it. Under the command of Captain Patrick Ferguson of the 70th Regiment of Foot, this corps, called the America n Volunteers, was made up of about 180 volunteers, half armed with rifles and half with muskets. The PWAR made a hefty contribution to this unit. From their ranks they provided two sergeants, one corporal, one drummer and twenty eight privates (almost 10% of their effective strength), under the command of Captain Charles McNeill and Ensign Patrick Garrett.(73) Only ten of the thirty four officers and men of this detachment would still be alive or serving on active duty within fifteen months of their sailing to the South.
To make up for the constant losses to the regiment, either by detachments or by attrition, new recruits were desperately sought. The happy days of sending recruiting officers into the countryside were long since over . The new recruits would consist primarily of deserters from the Continental Army. Men such as William Bundy, formerly of the 8th Connecticut Regiment, Matthew Sampson of the 1st Pennsylvania and James McGraugh of the 10th Pennsylvania would make the PWAR their new home in fighting on the side of the Crown Forces.(74) This was one of the sad realities of the war, that its later stages would be fought as much by the deserters of the two sides as by the true patriots or professional soldiers. During the winter of 1779/1780, the regiment would enlist twenty one such men, their last augmentation in the North before they too changed theaters.
Early in March of 1780 the corps left Lloyd's Neck for Flushing Fly, in Queens County, Long Island. From here they received their orders to embark with four other regiments to join the Siege of Charlestown. The embarkation return of 25 March 1780 shows 25 officers, 28 sergeants, 9 drummers and 292 rank & file making the voyage, with no dependents, probably in part due to space limitations on the transports.(75) A later return, 1 April 1780, shows even less made the trip, only 25 officers, 26 sergeant s, 9 drummers and 274 rank & file, a total of twenty men less than a week before. Ten were known to have deserted since 15 March 1780.(76)
Whichever figure is correct, the fleet weighed anchor and sailed uneven tfully for South Carolina on 7 April 1780, reaching it in less than two weeks.(77) Their part in the siege was uneventful, and for the second straight major engagement, they suffered not a single casualty in battle. With the fall of Charlestown, South Carolina was now free to be secured for the Crown.
After the success of the Siege of Charlestown, the British set about to pacify the countryside. The PWAR was part of the main British army and took quarters at Camden, where they constructed huts for themselves meant to resist the hot weather.(78) In the latter part of July the bulk of the regiment, along with three other corps, was advanced towards Hanging Rock in part to "awe the disaffected," having first stopped at Rocky Mount .(79) This last post had been attacked by a large force of militia and partisans under the command of Thomas Sumter, who had been repulsed by the New York Volunteers under Lt. Col. George Turnbull and some South Carolina Loyalist Militia. On the night of 5 August 1780 the troops continued their march, arriving at Hanging Rock in the dark of night, and neglected sending out proper patrols.
Sumter and his force, reinforced since his repulse at Rocky Mount, made their appearance before Hanging Rock shortly after dawn. He launched his attack between six and seven in the morning, directing his force agains t the newly formed North Carolina Volunteers under Colonel Samuel Bryan, on the right flank of the camp. Bryan's corps, being undisciplined, soon broke, leaving the right flank exposed. In this situation Major Carden of the PWAR ordered a part of his regiment and the Royal North Carolina Regiment to fill the gap. The slaughter was terrible. Dozens from both regiments fell, compelling a further retreat. The line finally centered on a three pounder field piece protected by a party of Colonel Henry Rugeley's Regiment of Camden Militia. One hundred and sixty men of the British Legion twice charged Sumter's line, likewise the Royal North Carolina Regiment. Just at this critical period of the battle, forty mounted infantry of the British Legion appeared from Rocky Mount and dismounted, deploying in extended files to appear greater in number than they actually were. This turned the tide. As an officer of the PWAR wrote:
"The Legion a nd Prince of Wales's pouring in a well(96)directed fire, charged and total ly routed the enemy, pursuing with a dreadful carnage."The battle was over. And as a fighting regiment, so was the Prince of Wales'.(80)
When the smoke had cleared and the bugle horn ceased sounding, the Loyalists counted their dead. The losses were appalling for the numbers involved. Of the estimated 181 officers and men of the PWAR that had taken the field that day, 93 were dead, wounded or missing. It was amongst the worst losses of any Loyalist regiment during the war. The other corps, Bryan's excepted, suffered grievously as well. The Royal North Carolinian s lost 50 officers and men, while the British Legion infantry counted 35 out of about 200 officers and men as their casualties. The North Carolina Volunteers likewise had men killed and wounded, but since they fled the field early, they were not thought significant. No return of Sumter's casualties was ever made. But by far, the PWAR had fought and bled the most on that hot summer's day in South Carolina. Of the 17 sergeants that had fielded that day, 5 were killed and another 4 were badly wounded, 3 of whom were also taken prisoner by Sumter. Seven corporals were also amongst the wounded and captured, a devastating blow to the non commissioned officer's corps. Six of the eleven officers on the field were also eithe r killed or wounded. Lieutenant Abraham Hickox and Ensign John Fowler were killed immediately. Lieutenant Benjamin Ogden lived for fifteen hours after the battle before he too died. The regiment was left shattered and in little shape for any more active campaigning. To make matters worse , the Southern climate proved too much for many of these Northern constitutions. As many as seventeen soldiers had died of disease within that month. Ten of the officers, including the surgeon's mate, were sick and Major Carden, who had led the regiment in battle, was just then recovering. Twelve others were otherwise absent or on command elsewhere, leaving the remnants of the unit with virtually no officers to do duty.(81)
One of the Loyalists taking part in the fighting that day was General Browne's servant, Samuel Burke. This Black Loyalist was a native of Charlestown, South Carolina and met Governor Browne in England in 1774. He "entered into his service" and traveled with him to the Bahamas, being take n prisoner with the governor by Hopkins' fleet. All the time Browne was in captivity and later raising the regiment, Burke was by his side assisting. While in New York, he married a "free Dutch mulatto Woman" by whom he acquired a house and garden in the city. These, however, were soon appropriated as barracks for the troops, and his new wife was soon turned out of doors. Undaunted, Burke, along with his wife, continued to serve Browne, taking part in the Danbury expedition where he was "badly wounded. " After Browne left the regiment after the Siege of Rhode Island, Burke continued to serve with the unit, but in what capacity is not known. He was, however, in the fighting at Hanging Rock, being so severely wounded that he was almost given up for dead. His fighting days were over, and he would end up destitute in England in August of 1783, seeking the help of a government he had served for eight years.(82)
On the whole, the Battle of Hanging Rock was a loss from which the PWAR would never recover. As a complete unit, they had fought their last battle.
After the bloody 6th of August, the PWAR started a southern odyssey that was not to end until their embarkation for New York in December of 1782 . Tracking their movements around South Carolina can be extremely challenging and sometimes elusive.
Following the action at Hanging Rock, the corps was removed to Camden, the main British outpost in the countryside. While a very large Continental and militia force under Major General Horatio Gates was bearing down on the town, Major Carden commanded an exposed outpost at Rugeley's Mills , consisting of the British Legion infantry and a detachment of the PWAR. (83) Lord Cornwallis, fearing their loss and wishing the Legion to join his field army, ordered the PWAR to repair to Camden, where they mostly sat out the spectacular British victory of 16 August 1780.(84)
Quickly on the heels of the Battle of Camden was the successful rout of Sumter's forces at Catawba Fords by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton on 18 August 1780. This action was significant in that one hundred prisoners were thereby freed, including many taken at Hanging Rock, undoubtedly some from the PWAR.(85) The regiment, along with the New York Volunteers and so me of Colonel John Phillips' Camden Regiment of Militia, were sent on the 30th of the same month to "make a tour" around Rocky Mount in quest of a party of Rebels. After this was accomplished, the detachment, under the command of Lt. Col. George Turnbull, was to return to Camden. There is no record of their success or failure.(86)
Sometime after their return to Camden, the corps was removed to the garrison of Charlestown. Not being of sufficient strength to serve on their own, the PWAR was reduced to being parceled out to every outpost and detachment in South Carolina. Colonel Alexander Innes, Inspector General of Provincial Forces, commenting on their reduced state, derisively said they did "not deserve the name of Corps."(87)
To try and get a grasp of where the regiment was for the next six month s or more, as well as understand what they were doing, let us examine an excellent return made out by the paymaster of the regiment at the beginning of May, 1781. Indeed, he could not have been in an enviable position, attempting to account for all these men. The return, which does not include officers, is as follows:
The surviving records provide some clues as to the happenings and reasons for all these detachments. For brevity, we shall examine only the sizable detachments. The Georgetown garrison was commanded in early 1781 by Captain John Saunders of the Queen's Rangers cavalry. The men of the PW AR sent were initially to be twenty five or thirty under two officers, described as "the best in the Corps."(89) The troops that actually went left Charlestown on 27 October 1780, thirty men under the command of Ensign James Place.(90) This garrison was augmented temporarily in the beginning of the year by Saunder's small troop of cavalry and by the King's American Regiment. By 20 April 1781, however, it was reduced to "86 Infantry with twenty mounted."(91) In a little over a month after that, the post would be evacuated entirely.(92)
The troops under Major McArthur of the 71st Regiment of Foot were operating south of Charlestown "in order to cover that country" and support a militia post commanded by Colonel Edward Fenwick. Fenwick and his post were captured in April of 1781, at which time McArthur's detachment was to join the garrison at Dorchester. Dorchester, at that time, consisted of 150 infantry and 60 cavalry, including the PWAR detachment there.(93)
At some point, anytime between October, 1780 and January, 1781, the light infantry company, under Lieutenant Thomas Lindsay, was attached to a small corps of light infantry operating under Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. This light infantry corps consisted of the two companies from the 71st Highlanders and the company from the 16th Regiment of Foot. All three had been joined together since 1779 in Georgia. The rest of Tarleton's column consisted of the British Legion, the 7th Regiment of Foot, the 1st Battalion, 71st Regiment of Foot and a detachment of the 17th Light Dragoons and Royal Artillery. After an exhausting march through the country, Tarleton ordered his infantry immediately to form a line of battle and attack the Continental and militia forces under General Daniel Morgan, waiting to meet him at a place called the Cowpens. The British were at first victorious but eventually were beaten back and routed. Roderick Mackenzie, an officer of the 71st present in the battle, attributed the loss to the extreme fatigue of the troops, the rashness of Tarleton's attack, and a lack of coordination with the troops in reserve. Mackenzie commented on the PWAR's participation: "The light infantry company of the Prince of Wales's American regiment, when but newly raised and indifferently disciplined, acquired reputation under General Tryon at Danbury; their only officer was here [at Cowpens] wounded."(94) Most of the infantry involved in the battle were taken prisoner, but only a few of Tarleton's cavalry. Lieutenant Lindsay was wounded, captured and paroled to Charlestown, as was Private Francis Traver.(95) At least twenty one other non commissioned officers and privates were taken prisoner(96) and eventually marched to Lancaster, where they were "close confined."(97) The detachment mentioned as being with Lord Cornwallis in North Carolina was actually the surviving element of the light company that had participated in the battle, now incorporated as cavalry in Captain Francis Gildart's Troop of the British Legion.(98) These men would remain with the Legion until after the British surrender at Yorktown, when the survivors were returned to the PWAR. Lindsay, upon recovering from his wound and exchanged, was transferred to the light infantry company of the Volunteers of Ireland.(99)
This leaves the largest detachment of troops to be discussed, those und er Captain Maxwell of the grenadier company. Maxwell had been detached so early as October of 1780 to raise standing militia in the Orangeburgh District of South Carolina. He established a post at Friday's Ferry on the Congaree River, a square redoubt enclosing two or three storehouses kno wn as Fort Granby. His garrison consisted of his own men from the PWAR, the standing militia he had raised, commanded by Captain Samuel Tolles (and of which Maxwell held the rank of major), plus over 100 of the country militia. Wade Hampton, a notorious Rebel partisan, was in contract to supply Maxwell's garrison with provisions. Delaying until he felt the stores of Fort Granby were nearly expended, he notified Thomas Sumter of the garrison's situation. Sumter crossed the river at the head of as many as 400 of his followers and laid siege to the place about the 20th of February 1781. Lord Rawdon, hearing of the threat to Fort Granby, marched at the head of 600 infantry, 100 cavalry and 2 pieces of artillery to relieve the post. Sumter received intelligence of this move and gave up his attempts on Maxwell. He would be repulsed, not only by Maxwell, but over the next few days twice more, once at Thompson's by the South Carolina Royalists under Major Thomas Fraser, and then on the Santee by Lt. Col. John Watson and the Provincial Light Infantry. The British were pleased by Maxwell's performance. Lt. Col. Balfour, commandant of Charlestown wrote:
"I have now the honor to inform you, that by the good Conduct of Major Maxwell of the Prince of Wales's Regiment, the Rebels were repulsed in the ir attempts on that Post."(100) Lord Rawdon was pleased to report to Cornwallis "Lt. Col. Watson, Major Fraser & Major Maxwell have all acquitted themselves very handsomely." (101)
Maxwell's second encounter with a large Rebel force was not to be so fortunate. General Sumter once again visited Fort Granby in the middle of May, 1781. While the general himself left the skirmishing with a part of his troops to attack Orangeburgh, he left a corps of militia under Colonel Thomas Taylor to harass Maxwell. Taylor was joined on the 15th of May by Lt. Col. Henry Lee, leading a larger force of Continentals, with artillery, fresh from their conquest of Fort Motte. Lee had no fondness or respect for Maxwell, saying he was
"disposed to avoid, rather than to court, the daring scenes of war. Zealous to fill his purse, rather than to gather military laurels, he had, during his command, pursued his favorite object with considerable success, and held with him in the fort his gathered spoil." The Rebels demanded a quick surrender of the fort "couched in pompous terms, calculated to operate upon such an officer as Maxwell was represented to be."Knowing that a sizable British force under Rawdon was rapidly approaching for the fort's relief, Lee granted very generous terms to Maxwell, particularly as it related to his own property, which induced him to surrender the fort and garrison that same day.(102)
The surrender actually angered people on both sides. The British were furious at Maxwell, not just for losing the fort, but for putting up no resistance. Forts Watson and Motte had had fallen in the previous weeks, but only after a gallant resistance at each. Sumter was angered to the point of near resignation that Lee had allowed Maxwell to take two covered wagon loads of private baggage, plus the officers being allowed to keep their horses, swords and pistols.(103) This was most disagreeable to Sumter as he provided his followers with plunder in lieu of pay. Without this plunder Sumter had nothing to offer his partisans. What Maxwell should have been most ashamed of was putting his men in a compromising position, as some had formerly served in the Continental army. A total of nine men, including four from his own regiment, were claimed as deserters and returned to their old regiments, all with the chance of facing a firing squad. All the other officers and men were allowed to proceed to Charlestown on parole. From the PWAR that meant Maxwell, Surgeon James A. Thomas , Sergeant Major Matthew Smith (who had been badly wounded and taken prisoner at Hanging Rock), four sergeants, five corporals and fifty seven rank & file. One additional soldier was listed as missing, and presumably escaped.(104) An exchange of prisoners for the Southern Army took place shortly thereafter, returning the officers and men to their duty, but the stain would forever remain on Maxwell's reputation.
After Fort Granby, there was not much left of the regiment to make any sort of impact on the further development of the war. Even before then, the "regiment" was only able to field thirty six rank & file fit for duty in Charlestown at the end of January, out of an effective strength of just two hundred thirty four men.(105) Some detachment of the regiment was scraped together to join the flying column under Lord Rawdon to relieve the Siege of Ninety Six in June of 1781 but appear to have done little after that by way of fighting.(106) The remainder, on 1 July 1781, would repair to Haddrell's Point at the mouth of Charlestown Harbor to do duty, followed the next month by a march southward that would eventually take them to Beaufort, South Carolina. They would evacuate this post in November of 1781 and spend the next year doing garrison duty on John's and Jame s Islands.(107)
The regiment continued their days in the South in a contentious and unhealthy state. Their lieutenant colonel, Thomas Pattinson, had not active ly been with the regiment since 1780. He had returned to New York, having been under arrest at the time of Hanging Rock and in a low state of health. Given his circumstances, he was apparently allowed to retire upon half pay, and on 14 August 1781, applied for leave to return to England for the recovery of his health, which was approved for the space of six months.(108) He applied for an extension of six months further leave in 1782 and may never have returned to America.(109) To replace him, Sir Henry Clinton placed Lt. Col. Stephen DeLancey in charge of the regiment, effective 25 April 1781.(110) DeLancey had served as lieutenant colonel to the 2nd Battalion, DeLancey's Brigade, since 1776, and had served in the South with his unit, but had just then left them in Georgia for leave in New York.(111) After two and a half years in Georgia, DeLancey had no wish to return to the South, and decided to swap regiments with Lt. Col. Joseph Barton of the 1st Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers. Barton had been fairly humiliated in consecutive courts martial in 1781 and had been at odds with his commanding officer, Brigadier General Cortland Skinner, for the past two years at least. He served in the NJV until "the twenty first of October , One thousand seven hundred & eighty one, when with the approbation of the Commander in Chief, he exchanged with Lieut. Colonel Stephen DeLancey, of the Prince of Wales's American Regiment. And lastly from a Representation he made to his Excellency the Commander in Chief of his bad state of health, from an old wound he received last war that his Constitution would undergo great Risque if he served in a warm Climate; he obtained on the fifteenth of January One thousand seven hundred & eighty two his Excellency the Commander in Chief's Permission to resign the Command of the Regiment, and Retire on the List of Seconded Officers."(112) Enter lieutenant colonel number four for 1781, Gabriel DeVeber. De Veber was a New Jersey Loyalist who had entered the service in 1778 as major in the West Jersey Volunteers. Upon this corps being drafted in 1778, he became major to Emmerick's Chasseurs early the next year.
Upon their being reduced in 1779, he joined the 3rd Battalion, DeLancey's Brigade. His promotion to the Prince of Wales' American Regiment came on 15 January 1782.(113) As of 24 June 1782, he had not left New York a nd may not have joined the regiment until their return to New York at the end of the year. 0D0D Wholesale changes amongst the other officers soon came about. Lieutenants Matthias Ross(114) and Josiah Wheeler(115) died from sickness and fatigue. Major John Carden had been very ill since as early as May, 1782, when his death was finally reported in Charlestown on 4 December 1782.(116) Even the twenty six year old surgeon's mate, Luke D'Evelin, succumbed to the climate, passing away on 5 August 1782.(117) At least one officer died needlessly. Ensign Robert Keating was shot dead in the streets of Charlestown by Lieutenant Anthony Allaire of the Loyal American Regiment, as the former was beating the latter with his cane. The incident stemmed from a drunken Saint Patrick's Day, 1781 argument over who would take the bagpiper of the Volunteers of Ireland to serenade whose woman.(118) Keating's widow Ann applied for the bounty award ed to widows of Provincial officers killed in battle and was supported in her claim by Lt. Col. DeVeber, who almost certainly had never met Keating or been aware of his situation.(119) She appears on the 1783 list of widows, which included Ann Holden, Sarah Wheeler and Rachel Ogden.(120) A nother officer left the regiment in disgrace. Lieutenant William Conroy was tried and convicted of neglect of duty, disobedience of orders and be ing drunk on the regimental parade when the regiment was under arms.(121) Others, like Thomas Lindsay, left for hopefully bigger and better thing s. Captain John Collett had resigned from the corps in order to raise two troops of Provincial Cavalry at Charlestown, which effort was quickly ended by the new commanding officer in the South, Lt. Gen. Alexander Leslie. To make matters worse, Collett had purchased thirty horses out of his own pocket for his would(96)be troops, and since he had resigned his commission, he could not receive half(96)pay during or after the war.(122) En sign Patrick Garrett had served most of 1781 attached to the 23rd Regiment of Foot, with whom he was taken prisoner at Yorktown.(123) Deciding the regulars were for him, he obtained a commission in the 30th Regiment of Foot on 17 April 1783.(124)
Morale in the rank and file was apparently no better than with the offi cers. No fewer than fifteen of the men, ten percent of those present in 1782 in South Carolina, deserted to the Rebels. They were mostly men raised in 1776 and 1777, who had served throughout the hard campaigns, and included several reputable sergeants.(125) They all seem to have had a common desire(97) to go home.(126) And that is exactly what the regiment did, evacuating Charlestown along with the garrison in December of 1782.(127)
At the end of their career, the regiment spent a peaceful year on Long Island in 1783. All those officers who had been absent in New York now either rejoined the regiment or were replaced by new ones. Even the ever absent Brigadier General Browne returned to the scene. Browne had been recalled to England in 1780 and removed from his government in the Bahamas . Left with no appointment, he now zealously sought to have the PWAR placed upon the "American Establishment" which would guarantee half pay to the officers after the war and confirm their rank in America. They had actually been recommended as early as 16 December 1780 by Captain Henry Rooke, Deputy Inspector General of Provincial Forces.(128) The request was angrily denied by Lord George Germain, as the PWAR and some of the other corps recommended were well below strength at the time.(129) In January of 1782 he memorialed Lord Amherst directly for this honor, but again to no avail.(130) He even took the extraordinary step of attempting to recruit his corps in Ireland, and apparently with some degree of success, but was forced to leave them behind when ordered on board the Renown for his voyage back to America in 1782. By a coincidence, the regiment in Charlestown had been augmented by about fifty drafts from the Volunteers of Ireland when that corps was drafted in October of 1782.(131) In the end, the matter of establishment mattered little, as Parliament voted most Provincial officers half pay on 27 June 1783.(132)
That settled, the only task left to the regiment was its disbandment an d the settlement of its surviving officers and men in what was left of British North America. Twenty three sergeants and men opted to take their discharge in New York City on 3 September 1783, either from a desire to go home or to settle their affairs.(133) One man not left around to super vise the end of the regiment was their commanding officer. Browne, his services in America at an end, was returning to England on 1 August 1783 on board a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Emerald, in company with Lt. Col. Andre as Emmerick, the former commander of the Chasseurs from way back in 1777, and 93 men from the Ansbach(96)Bayreuth Regiment.(134) On 12 September 1 783, 173 officers and men, 28 servants, 68 women, and 61 children embarked for the River Saint John, Nova Scotia (modern New Brunswick).(135) The corps was disbanded on 10 October 1783, and the men would start their new lives in the wilderness of the Maritimes. Those who had survived the six years or seven years of service were few, but they could look back with some pride as to their services. They had lost their homes and property and many had lost relatives, but they could now start new lives under the government they had fought to preserve.
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