Arnold, Stan. "Find a Grave Memorial: Dr. John Cushing (1750-1834)", (www.findagrave.com., record added - May 30, 2014.)
Arnold, Stan. "Find a Grave Memorial: James Cushing (1800-1846)", (www.findagrave.com, record added - May 30, 2014.)
Arnold, Stan. "Find a Grave Memorial: Mary Cushing (1771-1847)", (www.findagrave.com, record added - May 30, 2014.)
Kaminkow, Marion and Jack. Mariners of the American Revolution, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., reprinted 1993.)
Kellow, Ken. "American War of Independence at Sea: Massachusetts Privateer Schooner Warren", (www.awiatsea.com, posted - September 21, 2014.)
Kellow, Ken. "American War of Independence at Sea: Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington", (www.awiatsea.com, posted - September 21, 2014.)
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Parsons-Holder, T. "Revolutionary Soldiers aboard the Frigate South Carolina", contained within "Miscellaneous Equity Records, Richland County, S.C., Report No. 2, 1818", (sciway3.net, 2000.)
Pension Application of John Cushing S16356
Like so many of the crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina, the subject of this specific post - John Cushing of Haverhill, MA - also experienced previous military service during the American Revolution. Some of these men experienced extensive prior military service and were often in combat situations. John Cushing's previous military experience was all related to seafaring duty but, in the course of this wartime duties, he would spend time on several different ships as well as at least one stint in Old Mill Prison in Plymouth, England. But, as with many of the other mariners and marines who served on board the frigate South Carolina, John Cushing of Haverhill, MA has certain peculiarities unique to his service both during and after the American Revolution. While other individuals documented in this overall blog left the service of the patriot frigate in Corunna, Spain - the frigate's first port of call after departing The Texel on August 4, 1781 - John Cushing would leave the service of the frigate South Carolina in Havana, Cuba and make his own way home on a privateer bound for Massachusetts. Also, John Cushing is the only individual known to the writer of this blog that settled in and remained in New Hampshire for the duration of his life. And, finally, his service on board the frigate South Carolina was on the medical staff of the patriot frigate, like the subject of the previous post - Richard Briggs.
John Cushing is referenced in only a single post of this overall blog. It is the post entitled "New Englanders Aboard the South Carolina" and dated "10/20/2014". This is the same post in which Richard Briggs was introduced to the readership of this blog. Both of these men were natives of Massachusetts. John Cushing also had previous military experience, though his duty, like that of Richard Briggs, was exclusively on privateers out of Massachusetts prior to his service on board of the frigate South Carolina. The conclusion of this privateer service would be a term of imprisonment in Old Mill Prison due to the privateer ship-of-war he was serving on board of, the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren, being captured by the British on January 6, 1778.
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 143, the citation given for John Cushing is as follows:
John Cushing (Coshing) Surgeon's Mate
(Note: The writer of this blog will not make comment yet again on the typical confusion of last names that occasionally occurs in the extensive roster of the crew and marines contained in the appendix of James A. Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, pages 135-170. Occasionally, the writer of this blog has been able to discount one or more of the misspelled last names and, in so doing, provide the readership of this blog with the correct last name of the individual in question. The writer of this blog here believes that the first cited last name above - that of "Cushing" - is the proper last name of this individual. The alternate name of "Coshing" in direct reference to this specific individual has never been encountered by the writer of this blog in any documentation concerning this man.)
According to the "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", page 1, John Cushing states that "...I was born at Haverhill, County of Essex & State of Massachusetts December 22ns A.D. 1749...". This is the only indication the writer of this blog has discovered to date that details the birth date and birth place of John Cushing. According to "Find a Grave Memorial: Dr. John Cushing (1750-1834)", only the date of "1750" is provided as being the year of his birth. Normally, the "Find a Grave Memorial" entries give more information regarding the birth and death dates and places for the individual in question. For instance, the wife of John Cushing, Mary Cushing, has little information recorded concerning her but, still has her birth month and year as well as her full death date cited for her in the entry, "Find a Grave Memorial: Mary Cushing (1771-1847).
The seaborne experience of John Cushing during the American Revolution was varied, to say the very least, and colorful. He related his experiences in chronological order of occurrence in his pension application, "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", as follows:
"...In October A.D. 1775 he enlisted aboard of a Privateer Brig Washington & sailed out of Beverly Massachusetts, Elias Smith Commander, Benjamin Leavitt, 1st Lieut., Moses Leavitt saling master, & took 5 prizes -- one was retaken and four brought home into Salem Massachusetts was out 3 months...".
According to Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea: Washington Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine", page 1, the Massachusetts privateer brigantine Washington was originally fitted out as 90 ton vessel-of-war and "... was armed with twelve guns and several swivel guns...". This latter description was provided by British mariners who were on board some of the prizes of the Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington that were recaptured by Royal Navy men-of-war as they were bound for colonial patriot ports. Again, according to Kellow's article cited above, page 3, the Washington was fitted out at Beverly, MA on September 17, 1776 and owned by John Dyson and Thomas Davis of Beverly, MA and Jonathan Hobby and Samuel Thwing of Boston, MA. These men "...petitioned for a commission for Commander Elias Smith of Beverly, which was given on 3 October 1776.". The initial crew was eighty men with John Cushing as the Surgeon's Mate for the cruise of the Washington.
(Note: The readership of this blog can easily see a discrepancy between these dates stated earlier in John Cushing's pension application of "....October A,D. 1775..." and the statement in Kellow's article cited directly above of the commissioning of the Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington "...on 3 October 1776...". When John Cushing filed his pension application on August 27, 1832, it was duly noted by "...the Judge of the Court of Probate..." that John Cushing was eighty-two years old at that time. It may be that John Cushing had become confused as to the exact dates and times that he sailed on the Washington. This discrepancy of one year exactly is easily understood in light of this possible lapse of memory due to the passage of almost fifty-six years of time between the actual events of the American Revolution and the filing of John Cushing's pension application in 1832.)
This first cruise of the Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington was very successful for the patriot ship-of-war. According to the pension application of John Cushing, the patriot brigantine "...took 5 prizes -- one was retaken and four brought home into Salem Massachusetts...". Yet, according to Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea: Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington", page 3, the "...Washington sailed about the first of October, intending on cruising off the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. This proved to be a happy hunting ground. Eight prizes were captured on this cruise.". These eight prize vessels are listed below, along with their final dispositions, when known, and appear in the Kellow article cited above, pages 3-4:
-- The ship Betsey, Thomas Jarrold commanding, was "...captured on November 2, 1776, 120 miles east of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. She was a British victualler transport, en route from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, with a cargo of provisions for the soldiers at Halifax on board.". On November 17, 1776, as she was making her way towards Massachusetts, she was sighted and overtaken by HMS Hope, Lieutenant George Dawson commanding. She "...hove to about six miles SSW of Cape Sable, Nova Scotia.". It was British sailors on board the recaptured Betsey that gave information concerning the armaments of the Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington.
-- The snow Friendship "... captured before December 12, 1776 (probably about November 15, 1776), twenty-one miles off Cape Finisterre, Spain... She was from Quebec, Canada, bound to Barcelona, Spain.". According to the Kellow article, page 4, "...Friendship was also recaptured, by the Nova Scotia Provincial Marine Schooner Loyal Nova-Scotian and taken into Halifax, Nova Scotia. There she was tried and condemned on December 14, 1776.".
-- The brig Elizabeth, William Butson commanding, "...with three hundred pipes of wine, bound to Chepstowe, England from Oporto, Portugal..." was taken on November 20, 1776. No dispositions for the captured brig Elizabeth or her crew were given, only that "...her master was removed to the Washington. The British skipper later reported that Washington was armed with twelve guns, six swivels, and had seventy-seven men aboard.".
-- An unnamed ship was captured next, "...on November 25, 1776....within nine miles of Viana do Castelo, Portugal, with a cargo of wheat, from Barcelona...". All that is further known of this unnamed captured ship was that "...her master was removed to the Washington.".
-- The brigantine Dorothy, John Pennell commanding, was captured about November 30, 1776. She was "...75 tons, from Newfoundland to Viana, with a cargo of fish.". According to Kellow's article, page 4, "...the Washington, now being full of prisoners, [Captain Elias] Smith stopped a Dutch hoy en route to Rouen, France, and put four masters and sixteen men aboard her... The Dutchman landed the prisoners at Barfleur on December 2, 1776.". The brigantine Dorothy evidently reached her new destination and was libeled on April 10, 1777 and tried on April 29, 1777.
(Explanatory note: a "hoy" is a 17th or 18th century Dutch sailing vessel, usually sloop-rigged, which is used for fishing and coastal trading.)
-- The brigantine Salisbury, John S. Cole commanding, "...was captured on December 10, 1776, at 43 degrees N, 12 degrees W. She was from Santander, Spain to Sanlucar de Barrameds, Spain. Because of lowered crew level (due to the manning of previous prizes), [Captain Elias] Smith searched the Salisbury and took 150 pounds in specie and supplies from her, then turned her loose.".
-- The brigantine Placentia, Thomas Eldrad, commanding, "...was probably captured in December ...". She weighed 130 tons. According to Kellow's article, page 4, "...she was sent into Massachusetts, and was libeled April 10, 1777 and tried April 29, 1777.".
(Note: The dates for the libeling and trying of the brigantine Placentia are identical to those of the brigantine Dorothy. More than likely, both ships were libeled and tried in the same seaport, ostensibly Salem, MA.)
-- The brig Friend's Adventure, John Cummings commanding, "...was captured on Washington's return trip to Massachusetts.". This was the final prize taken by the Washington on this most successful cruise. She was captured off of the Madeira Islands, Portugal. The brig Friend's Adventure weighed 120 tons and was on a course from London for Barbados or St. Kitts with a cargo of beef, pork, cheese, butter, flour, and dry goods. The captured brig was libeled on February 13, 1777 and tried on February 25, 1777, again, ostensibly in Salem, MA.
The entry for the first cruise of the Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington ends with the simple sentence --"...Washington entered Plymouth, Massachusetts from her cruise on January 21, 1777, with a very good bag of eight prizes to her credit.".
(Note: Again, it would appear that John Cushing may not have remembered the proper number of prizes taken by the Massachusetts Privateer Brigantine Washington in the same manner that he may have confused the dates of the first cruise of the Washington. Fifty-six years had passed between the events he was relating in his pension application and the actual events themselves. The same confusion of the passed years may have set in and caused him the remember fewer prizes taken -- instead of "...5 prizes taken -- one retaken and four brought home into Salem Massachusetts..." the corrected record should read "...8 prizes taken -- two retaken, one let go, five brought home into Salem Massachusetts...". Possibly only a lapse of memory of heroic events of almost sixty years earlier.)
The next entry in John Cushing's pension application, in chronological order, took place about ten months later than his description of service on board the Massachusetts privateer brigantine Washington. These entries still seem to be about one year prior to the actual events when compared with the time frame detailed in Kellow's article "American War of Independence at Sea: The Massachusetts Privateer Schooner Warren". This entry detailed his next privateering military service provided during the American Revolution. This entry is as follows:
"In November A.D. 1776 entered aboard the privateer Schooner Warren of Salem Massachusetts and after being out about 3 weeks was taken by the British Ship Thomas Letter of Marque from Liverpool -- was carried into that place & kept a prisoner till May following when he was sent to Mill Prison and confined there 2 years & 7 months. He was exchanged and was sent to St. Marlowe in France...".
According to Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea: The Massachusetts Privateer Schooner Warren", page 3, the privateer Schooner Warren was originally commissioned on October 28/29, 1776 under the initial command of Israel Thorndike of Beverly, MA. According to Kellow's article"...she was listed as measuring 50 tons and as having five or six guns, ten swivel guns. and a crew of fifty men.".
The Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren had been commissioned at least three times prior to the cruise in which John Cushing served as Surgeon on board the privateer schooner. According to Kellow's article cited above, page 5, this fourth commissioning and subsequent cruise of the Warren would be under the command of John Ravell or Revell of Salem, MA. The commissioning of the patriot privateer schooner was completed on December 3, 1777. According to Kellow's article, page 5:
"...John Batchelder again made the petition, listing Warren as 60 tons, with ten guns and a crew of sixty men. Samuel Foote served as First Lieutenant. John Cushing of Haverhill, Massachusetts, served aboard as Surgeon. Her $5000 Continental and 500 pound Massachusetts bonds were signed by Ravell, Batchelder,and Ebenezer Porter.".
John Cushing is mentioned by name in Kellow's article as well as being designated as the "Surgeon" on board the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren. This was the third or fourth cruise of the privateer schooner Warren. According to Kellow's article, pages 2-3, the number of prizes that fell to the privateer schooner Warren in the last three cruises, seems to have made her a successfully sailed and manned patriot ship-of-war. Again, according to Kellow's article, the same pages as cited previously, she took six prizes between November 20, 1776 and July 4, 1777. This next cruise would turn out quite differently in every sense of the word.
(Note: In the quote from Kellow's article, listed on page 5 and cited directly above, there appears the name Samuel Foote and the citation that he served as "...First Lieutenant..." on board the privateer schooner Warren. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 147, there appears a "Samuel Foot" who also served on board the frigate South Carolina. But, he is cited as a "Master's Mate" rather than as a "First Lieutenant". These may be the same man. According to Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, page 67 contains the following entry for this individual:
Samuel Foot - he was from Salem, Massachusetts. He served on board the Warren. He was committed into Old Mill Prison in June 1778.
Nothing more is said of Samuel Foot in Kaminkow's work. It could be that Samuel Foot was captured and then pardoned later, possibly on December 11, 1779, at the same time John Cushing was pardoned. Finding himself in France with no plausible means to get home to the United States, Samuel Foot may have signed on to the most likely ship-of-war that could most readily take him home to America. This would have proved to be the frigate South Carolina, though he would have found a plethora of lieutenants already on board the patriot frigate. Thus, if he wanted to get home quickly, he might have had to settle for a position as a "Master's Mate" instead in order to obtain a berth on board the frigate South Carolina.)
According to Kellow's article, "American War of Independence at Sea: Massachusetts Privateer Schooner Warren", page 1, the final cruise of the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren originated in Beverly, MA on December 7, 1777. Again, according to Kellow's article, page 5, the following account of this cruise is given:
"Warren sailed about December 7, 1777. On December 28, ... she met the 200-ton British letter-of-marque ship Tom (or Thomas) (John Lee [commanding]). Tom was armed with twelve (or twenty) 6-pounders, and was sailing out of Liverpool, England. A three hour fight (the British referred to it as a "short Engagement") followed. Warren lost her foremast (or mainmast), one man killed and three (or two) wounded, before surrendering. The British had one man wounded. Lee [commanding officer of the British letter-of-marque] "took the Guns and every other necessary out of the Privateer, and then left them to shift for themselves."
If the readers compare the tonnage of the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren to that of the British "...letter-of-marque ship..." Tom, one can see that the patriot privateer was clearly outweighed by the attacking British ship-of-war by a factor of four to one. For single ship-to-ship battle to last three hours and for a ship to lose its foremast (or mainmast) in a fight most likely means that the ship-to-ship encounter was fierce or that the gunnery of the one ship was much more accurate as well as destructive than that of the victim. But, and quite possibly much more crucial was that the Tom seriously outgunned the Warren. The Tom is cited as carrying either "...twelve (or twenty) 6-pounders..." while the privateer schooner Warren carried only half this number as compared to the broadside that could be delivered by the British letter-of-marque ship Tom. It is also completely possible that the guns of the Tom were heavier and had greater range than the guns of the privateer schooner Warren.
But, the British letter-of-marque Ship Tom chose, for some undisclosed reason, to not take the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren into the closest harbor and have her crew imprisoned. Instead, she confiscated her "...Guns and every other necessary..." and left the patriot schooner to fend for herself on the high seas. Unless, her officers and crew were very industrious, this "sentence" could be a disastrous one for the Warren - either to drift aimlessly until she ran out of fresh food and water or to be easily captured by the next Crown ship-of-war to pass by her in her predicament. If the later possibility proved to be the truth, then her situation of being a captured patriot vessel would begin all over again. It was this later possibility that proved to be the case for the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren. According to Kellow's article, page 5, the account continues as follows:
"For nine days the Warren's crew worked on the wreck. On January 6, 1778 the British ship Fanny, bound from New York to Liverpool, happened by. Fanny took the Warren again. The prize was taken into New York. There are records of her in the High Court of Admiralty indicating that she was tried there in 1777-1778. Most of the prisoners were taken to Liverpool.
The crew was evidently taken to New York and then sent to England. There are two different lists of the men committed to Old Mill Prison. One indicates the Warren was captured on December 29, 1777, with forty men being sent to Old Mill Prison in June 1778. Of these forty, six enlisted in the Royal Navy and Ravel and another man had escaped by February 7, 1779. The second list notes that Warren was captured on December 27, 1777 and that forty-two men were committed on June 4, 1778. Of these, fourteen escaped (including Ravel), two died, twenty-five were exchanged and one was there on [until] an indeterminate date. Cushing states he was exchanged after two years and seven months.".
(Note: According to the pension application of John Cushing, "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", page 1, John Cushing relates this set of incidents but never mentions the second ship, "...British ship Fanny...". The account contained in John Cushing's pension application only refers to the "...British Ship Thomas Letter-of-Marque from Liverpool...". The references in John Cushing's account of the incident only ever refer to the Thomas and never to the Tom. The account continues with "... was carried into that place [Liverpool, England] & kept a prisoner till May following when he was sent to Mill Prison and confined there 2 years & 7 months...". Again, there is no reference to an entry into New York City, the main British naval and military installation in North America, at all.)
According to Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, page 50, the following information concerning John Cushing is recorded as follows:
"John Cushing or Cushon - he was from Haverhill, MA. He was the doctor on board the schooner Warren. He was committed to Old Mill Prison in June 1778. He was pardoned for exchange on December 11, 1779."
(Note: The spelling of this individual's last name as "Cushon" has also never been encountered by the writer of this blog in any research he has done on this specific man. The writer of this blog is relatively certain that the correct spelling of this man's last name is "Cushing".)
The "two lists" referred to a few paragraphs above only seem to confuse the issue here of when the captured crew and marines of the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren were captured and taken to Old Mill Prison in Plymouth, England. But, since John Cushing is singled out by name as being "...confined there 2 years & 7 months.". Again, there appears to be a time discrepancy here in the estimations of John Cushing as to how long he was incarcerated and the actual length of his captivity. According to Kaminkow's work, entry for "John Cushing", page 50, John Cushing was committed to Old Mill Prison in June 1778 and pardoned for exchange on December 11, 1779, a little over a year and one half later. There exist two possibilities here. First, that John Cushing, being eighty-two years old when he filed his pension application, might have accidentally misrepresented his length of incarceration by one year's time. Still in this same train of thought, it is also possible that he intentionally misstated his term of imprisonment to further strengthen his argument for having the desired pension extended to him. This may possibly only be illuminated through further research on the subject.
A second possibility here is that of the exchange date cited here - December 11, 1779. This is a very commonly cited date of prisoner exchanges. These pardoned prisoners-of-war were marched to the dockside and loaded onto ships known as "cartel" ships. Then, these vessels set sail for a port on the French coast. But, as indicated in Kaminkow's work, sometimes these dates of pardon are incorrect as cited. Frequently, the prisoners were kept for no clear reason past their date of exchange only to be exchanged at a later date, sometimes much later. So, if John Cushing was kept for another year beyond his exchange date - making that time period truly "...2 years & 7 months..." - that would make him to arrive in France around December 1780. His pension application states clearly that he was "...sent to St. Marlowe in France & thence to 'L Orion [sic, L'Orient]...". This would still place John Cushing on French soil with adequate time to reach the frigate South Carolina lying in Amsterdam harbor and be on board for her sailing on August 4, 1781. This second possibility may indeed be the correct one rather than the first stated possibility due to the time frame. Again, only further research might possibly clarify this issue.
But, one issue is clear here. These "two lists" cited indicating slightly different dates and numbers of captured crew men committed to Old Mill Prison both state that various numbers of unnamed crew members died, escaped or joined the British Royal Navy as a means of escaping imprisonment. But, John Cushing was not among any of these different groups of American prisoners-of-war. He remained imprisoned until his actual date of exchange, whenever that may have occurred. His pension application, "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", as well as any other document that addresses his imprisonment states the same situation for John Cushing.
The very next section of the pension application of John Cushing brings us to his service on board the frigate South Carolina. The writer of this blog will repeat a small portion of John Cushing's pension application previously cited in order to provide more continuity of the actual chronological story line for John Cushing. According to the pension application of John Cushing:
"He was then exchanged and was sent to St. Marlowe in France & thence to 'L Orion [sic, L'Orient] at which place he enlisted for 12 months in the service of the United States on Board of the Ship Carolina [sic, South Carolina] from South Carolina, Commodore Alexander Gillon commander, John Joiner Capt., Nicholas Bartlett first Lieut., he enlisted in May or June A.D.1780 as a surgeon's mate at $20 per month. From L'Orion he went to Amsterdam and remained in the service of said ship 19 months & 21 days, and then left the ship on her return to America at Havana from where he returned to Salem and [on] a brig commanded by Capt. Waters.".
This description of John Cushing's release and the manner in which he found the frigate South Carolina is so very, very typical of the stories told by many, many of the mariners who traveled on board the patriot frigate for her first or maiden voyage. Numerous of these formerly-captive Americans, especially the New Englanders among them, traveled to France on a "cartel" vessel and were set at liberty on French soil in a French port city. Through the auspices of one or another of the American commissioners in France at this point in the war, usually the inestimable Benjamin Franklin, these mariners would receive a little money and would be directed towards one of the patriot ships-of-war that were bound for the rebellious colonies. Ships travelling towards the colonies were usually the only direct and quick method of getting home in anything even remotely resembling a timely manner. These mariners would journey to these vessels about to set sail for America and sign on board these ships-of-war. John Cushing clearly states in his pension application that he signed on board the frigate South Carolina as a "surgeon's mate at $20 per month" for a period of twelve months.
(Note: The readership of this blog may have noticed that frequently these pension applications of various different men who served on board the frigate South Carolina will contain the names of ranking officers who also served on board the frigate for one or both of the voyages of the patriot ship-of-war. These inclusions of officer's names are for one of two reasons. The first reason would be to convince the examiners of their pension claim that they actually served on board this specific ship by citing the names of well-known or prominent individuals who were also known to have served on board this same ship-of-war and in the same time frame. Secondly, it would also provide the names of trustworthy individuals who could be consulted as to the veracity of this specific man having served on board the ship-of-war when they claim to have served. If this second reason was John Cushing's reason for citing these three names of officers, then he might have been unfortunate indeed. John Cushing filed for his pension on August 27, 1832 and all three of these ranking officers were deceased prior to 1800. None of them could have provided supporting evidence in the case of John Cushing's claim to service on board the frigate South Carolina.)
John Cushing gives us, hopefully, enough date references in his pension application so that we can estimate the "other" dates of his service on board the frigate South Carolina. In so doing, we can tentatively reconstruct his entire service for the first or maiden voyage of the frigate South Carolina. Again, there appears to be some discrepancies in John Cushing's estimations of lengths of time he spent in one place or performing a certain duty on board the patriot frigate.
Initially, John Cushing states that he signed on "...for 12 months in the service of the United States on Board of the Ship Carolina [sic, South Carolina] from South Carolina... he enlisted in May or June A.D. 1780...". Being that the frigate South Carolina did not depart from The Texel, Holland until August 4, 1781 and that we know from John Cushing's pension application claims that he was among the crew members on board at that time, then he must have either signed on again when his date of enlistment expired or, possibly more likely, he saw the patriot frigate as his means of getting home and decided to remain on board until she sailed. If this latter factor was his reason for remaining on board the frigate South Carolina, this might also be his ultimate reason for leaving the frigate when she reached The Havana, Cuba and seeking his own manner of reaching Massachusetts on board of another patriot ship-of-war. Of course, John Cushing's pension application is clear that he signed on board the frigate while he was in L'Orient, France and then traveled to Amsterdam to take up his duties as a "surgeon's mate" on board the ship.
As stated earlier, the frigate South Carolina departed The Texel, Holland on August 4, 1781 and reached The Havana, Cuba on January 12, 1782. This is a total of five months and eight days between these two dates. The frigate South Carolina lay in The Havana, Cuba's harbor until she departed on April 22, 1782 for New Providence, Bahamas along with the Spanish expedition intent on capturing that island. This is a further three months and ten days. The total time frame from the departure of the patriot frigate from Holland and the departure of the same from The Havana, Cuba on the invasion of the Bahamas would be roughly eight months and eighteen days. John Cushing had departed the service of the patriot frigate by the point in time when the frigate South Carolina had departed The Havana, Cuba for the conquest of New Providence, Bahamas. More than likely, John Cushing did not leave the service of the frigate South Carolina a soon as she moored in The Havana, Cuba but, most probably departed the service of the patriot frigate after she had been a while in the harbor there. But, it is possible that John Cushing had already made up his mind to seek out an alternate means of reaching home in a far quicker manner and began to seek that alternate means as soon after the frigate moored in The Havana, Cuba as possible. The pension application of John Cushing is silent on this matter in regards to why and how quickly he left the service of the frigate South Carolina.
So, a possible, plausible scenario for John Cushing, Surgeon's Mate of the frigate South Carolina, is as follows:
John Cushing was released from the "cartel" ship in St. Marlowe, France from where he journeyed to L'Orient, France. Here, in either "...May or June A.D. 1780..." he signed on board the frigate South Carolina "...for 12 months in the service of the United States...". He, like many of the hopeful crew members, was sure that the patriot frigate would sail soon for America and his happy homecoming. As weeks stretched into months, he became anxious and disillusioned with the command structure on board the frigate South Carolina. His twelve month enlistment would have run out while he was on board but, possibly, he would have felt compelled to remain on board the frigate and re-enlist either through the convincing arguments of the commanding officers of the patriot frigate or due to his seeing no other way of getting to America in a timely manner. When the frigate finally set sail on August 4, 1781, he was already a month or two into his second enlistment. When the frigate South Carolina, after a tedious crossing of the Atlantic Ocean and the startling discovery of the continued British occupation of Charleston SC, moored in The Havana, Cuba's harbor, John Cushing, Surgeon's Mate on board the frigate, would have wasted little time locating another ship bound for the American colonies and home. Possibly within a few days or a week, having located an American brig bound for Salem, MA, John Cushing might have "jumped ship" from the frigate South Carolina and signed on with this homeward bound privateer ship "...commanded by Capt. Waters...". Having a Surgeon's Mate approach the commanding officer of a homeward bound vessel and offer his services on board that ship might prove too advantageous for any sea captain to pass up. This "...Capt. Waters..." might have been more than pleased to take a man of medicine on board his vessel to look after the health of his homeward bound crew.
(Note: The writer of this blog cautions his readership that these above writings are merely of a conjectural nature on the part of the writer. Yes, the dates and time frame does provide for the possible plausibility of the above paragraph but, it must be remembered that John Cushing was eighty-two years old when he wrote down this account for his pension application. As has been cited a few times prior to this passage in this overall post, he may not have correctly remembered these events of almost fifty years earlier or correctly written down the time frame associated with these events.)
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 62-63, Commodore Alexander Gillon discovered that once he had moored the frigate South Carolina in The Havana, Cuba's harbor, he realized that the opportunities for the disgruntled and disaffected to depart the ship were numerous and, frequently, too alluring:
"The Commodore appreciated the financial breaks received from the captain-general [Juan Manuel de Cagigal], but he needed other types of assistance almost as badly. As a cosmopolitan commercial center, Havana offered a myriad of opportunities for crew, marines, and officers to jump ship. Too many -- disturbingly for the Americans -- did. There were French, American, Dutch, German, Danish, and Spanish ships in the harbor desperate for hands and willing to pay high wages for them. Moreover, there were French, Dutch, and Irish military regiments stationed in the city as part of the Spanish army, all offering handsome recruiting bonuses. Anyone frustrated with service on the South Carolina had any number of alternative employment opportunities. At one point, the Commodore sent Cagigal a list of fifty-two marines and twenty-five sailors who had recently deserted from the South Carolina. This constituted one-fourth to one-fifth of all the ship's marines and probably more than a tenth of the sailors. The list did not include a large number of volunteers, passengers, and petty officers who had left also, taking advantage of the frequent American shipping to continental ports. A fighting ship without a crew would be a poor escort.".
This passage indicates that there were numerous "incentives" to desert the service of the frigate South Carolina, possibly due to the perceived "heavy-handed" manner in which Commodore Alexander Gillon handled the ship while she was crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. Again, John Cushing probably had decided that when the ship reached The Havana, Cuba, he would seek out another means of reaching home in a more rapid, direct manner. When he executed this departure from the frigate South Carolina and exactly how he effected this severance of service to that patriot ship-of-war is unknown. But, it is completely possible that he simply walked away from the frigate South Carolina and signed on board another ship bound for America or, more specifically, for Massachusetts. The paragraph in his pension application, "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", page 1, concludes with the short statement that "...he returned to Salem [Massachusetts] and [on] a brig commanded by Capt. Waters.".
The issue in question here is that John Cushing, "Surgeon's Mate" on board the frigate South Carolina, is the first recorded member of the crew or marines of the patriot frigate to leave the service of that ship-of-war in The Havana, Cuba, while the frigate was moored in that foreign harbor. As stated in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 38, the frigate South Carolina arrived at The Havana, Cuba on January 12, 1782 and departed that foreign harbor, bound for the invasion and seizure of British-held New Providence, Bahamas on April 22, 1782. At some point between these two dates, John Cushing left the service of the frigate South Carolina. Possibly, as pointed out in a paragraph above, he may have already made up his mind to depart the patriot frigate as soon as he could locate a ship bound for America in The Havana, Cuba's harbor. He could easily have effected this within a few days or a week or two once the frigate was in harbor. Or, he might have petitioned Commodore Gillon to release him from the service of the frigate. Again, John Cushing's pension application is silent on this issue.
The remainder of John Cushing's pension application is information he includes in order to verify his identity. According to the "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", pages 1-2, he states where and when he was born, "...At Haverhill, County of Essex & State of Massachusetts December 22nd A.D. 1749...". He confirms his place of residence when he enlisted as "...Goffstown aforesaid..." and adds "...where I have lived ever since...". But, then he states something quite curious: "I have no record of my age." The pension application at the outset clearly states that the proceedings took place on August 27, 1832 and John Cushing earlier in this verification information stated that he was born in December 22, 1749. It would be only a matter of slight mathematical computation to arrive at the fact that on that specific date John Cushing would have been eighty-two years old, as again is stated at the outset of the pension application. Again, this may have been a factor of the extreme age of John Cushing and his possibly failing memory of events that had occurred almost fifty years ago. He also states that he "...never received any discharge..." and that "...there is no Clergyman in Goffstown with whom I am particularly acquainted.". The word of a clergyman was usually accepted as to the veracity of an individual with whom they were acquainted. John Cushing does cite the names of two individuals in Goffstown with whom he is acquainted, the "...Honorable Jesse Carr and Charles F. Gove.". It is duly noted further on in the pension application of John Cushing that these two individuals named by him submitted the standard supporting affidavits.
The final few pieces of information concerning the life of John Cushing that is known to the writer of this blog appears at the very end of the pension application of John Cushing. According to "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", page 2, the text states:
"On January 14, 1843, Mary Cushing, 71, widow of John Cushing, a pensioner at the rate of $393.33/annum, filed in Hillsborough County, NH for the arrears due her husband at the time of his death which occurred on June 22, 1834; she states she married him in January 1795.".
Quite a bit of information is contained within this brief citation concerning Mary Cushing the former wife and then-current widow of John Cushing. When she appeared in court to file her claim "...for the arrears due her husband...", she was cited as being seventy-one years old. According to the "Find a Grave Memorial: Mary Cushing (1771-1847), page 1, she was born at some point in 1771. Mary Cushing appeared in court on January 14, 1843 and was thus approaching her seventy-second date of birth, which would occur at some point later in the year, being that the date of her appearance in court was early in the year.
The amount of her husband's pension -- $393.33/annum -- is the sole reference to the amount he had been awarded for his services during the American Revolution. None of the other sources available to or known to the writer of this blog, Wates's work, Stub Entries to Indents or Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book contain any reference to John Cushing or his service on board the frigate South Carolina. Thus, this reference, if indeed correct in its amount, indicates that John Cushing's application for a pension from the United States of American was successful and the explicitly states the exact amount he received as a pension for the remainder of his natural life.
She also filed for the arrears in Hillsborough County, NH which is the county in New Hampshire where the borough of Goffstown is located. John Cushing's pension application indicates that this is the town where he resided at the beginning of the American Revolution, the town where he enlisted in the service during the war, and the town he returned to and resided in since the end of the conflict. John Cushing spent his entire life in this same town, only leaving it to serve in and fight for the patriot Cause in the American Revolution. Mary Cushing cites the death date of John Cushing as being June 22, 1834, almost eight years and seven months before she appeared in court to file for the arrears due him. According to the Find a Grave Memorial: Dr John Cushing (1750-1834), he was "...aged 84 years and 6 months...".
Her final statement indicates that they married "...in January 1795...". At this point, John Cushing would have just turned forty-five years old and his bride, Mary Cushing, would have been twenty-three years old. According to the Find a Grave Memorial: James Cushing (1800-1846), their sole child of their marital union was a boy named James who predeceased his mother, Mary Cushing, by probably a little more than one year. James is recorded as dying in 1846 and Mary Cushing is recorded as dying on November 19, 1847 "...aged 76 years and 6 months...". This would indicate that the birth month of Mary Cushing was either April or May 1771.
(Note: According to the "Find a Grave Memorial: Dr John Cushing (1750-1832), Mary Cushing (1771-1847), and James Cushing (1800-1846), the sole child of their marital union born about five years after their marriage in January 1795, all the members of this small family are buried in the Hillside Cemetery in Goffstown, NH. All three of their headstones are quite simple and plain. But, only Mary Cushing's headstone is unbroken and upright. It reads:
Wife of Dr. John Cushing,
Nov. 19, 1847
Aged 76 y[ears] 6 mo[nths].
It is squared off and simple in its execution and design. John Cushing's headstone is broken in half and lying flush with the ground with a small amount of space between the two halves. James Cushing's headstone is broken off with approximately one-third of the top leaning against the lower two-thirds, which is still planted in the ground.)
(Note: According to the "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", page 1, John Cushing "...was born at Haverhill, County of Essex & State of Massachusetts December 22nd A.D. 1749..." rather than in 1750 as noted in the "Find a Grave Memorial: Dr John Cushing (1750-1834)".)
The final statement in the pension application of John Cushing is brief and succinct. It reads as follows:
"Veteran was pensioned at the rate of $393.33 per annum commencing March 4th, 1831, for 19 months & 20 days service as a surgeon in the South Carolina sea service.".
Thus, John Cushing's efforts at securing a pension for his service in the Cause of the patriot colonies had finally succeeded. But, and of significance to this overall blog, he was awarded the pension amount exclusively for his services on board the frigate South Carolina. The phrase "...as a surgeon in the South Carolina sea service..." indicates this fact. His earlier patriot services on board first the Massachusetts privateer brigantine Washington and later the Massachusetts privateer schooner Warren evidently were not acknowledged at all in the pension application of John Cushing. For however much time he spent in Old Mill Prison, he was indeed incarcerated for a considerable period of time on English soil until he was exchanged towards the end of the war. But, according to the "Pension Application of John Cushing S16356", he was only recompensed for his services on board the frigate South Carolina, even though he left the service of the patriot frigate at The Havana, Cuba for unknown reasons and made his own way home to New Hampshire.
(Note: According to the Parsons-Holders's work, "Miscellaneous Equity Records, Richland County, S.C., Report No. 2, 1818", a document was brought before the state of South Carolina by Mathew Mathewman "...and other creditors..." confirming that a lengthy group of men "...were in the service and employment of the State of South Carolina on board the frigate South Carolina during the Revolutionary War.". The list contains sixty-five names of men who were documented as serving on board the patriot frigate. The name "John Cushing" is appears as the second name cited in this lengthy list of patriot mariners. Yet, his request for a pension from the United States of America was not granted until he appeared in court on "...27th day of August 1832..." about fourteen years after the earlier document.)
(Postscript: The writer of this blog has been intrigued by the concluding statement contained in the portion of John Cushing's pension application that addresses his service to the United States during the American Revolution. This brief statement is as follows:
"...he returned to Salem and a brig commanded by Capt. Waters.".
This brief phrase immediately follows the statement concerning John Cushing leaving the service of the frigate South Carolina at The Havana, Cuba's harbor and seeking his own way of getting home to New England. The intriguing nature of this statement comes from the fact that the writer of this blog feels that the statement was incorrectly transcribed by the recorder of this pension application. The writer feels or senses that the fifth word used in the phrase is incorrectly transcribed as "and" instead of "on". The corrected statement should thus read as follows:
"...he returned to Salem on a brig commanded by Capt. Waters.".
If this is the correct rendering of this word, it changes the meaning of the entire statement and leads one to speculate on the true identity of "...Capt. Waters..." as well as the name of the ship-of-war on board of which John Cushing returned to the United States. Some of this specific details are difficult to discern due to an inadequate amount of information being given in John Cushing's pension application. In fact, this statement is found nowhere else other than in the pension application of John Cushing as far as the writer of this blog is aware. Indeed, as far as the absolute determination of the facts regarding this return to the United States from The Havana, Cuba by John Cushing, there is just not enough definite information to verify the specifics of that return. But, a fairly accurate assessment can be made through the use of associated information such as home ports of vessels, commissioning dates of privateer ships-of-war, and names of sea captains associated with those privateers vessels. Employing a combination of these factors, the writer of this blog feels relatively certain that he is capable of narrowing the scope of the information to a possible answer to the issue of which commanding officer brought John Cushing back to the United States and on board of which vessel he did so.
The information introduced in this postscript is taken from the following sources:
Allen, Gardner Weld. Massachusetts Privateers of the Revolution, (originally published - Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1927; facsimile reprint - Westminster, MD: Heritage Books, Inc., 2010.)
Lincoln, Charles Henry, preparer. Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775-1788, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1906.)
If the reader compares the commissioning date of the privateer ship-of-war, the name of the commanding officer as being "Capt. Waters", and the port of Salem, MA as being the possible home port of that vessel, then a possible connection can be made. According to both of the works cited above, there were multiple individuals by the last name of "Waters" who were the commanding officers of privateers that sailed out of Massachusetts ports. These men had the first names of Daniel, Joseph, Josiah, Samuel, and Thomas. But, only two of them, Joseph and Samuel, are cited as being of Salem, MA. According to Allen's work, Massachusetts Privateers, page 101 for Samuel Waters and page 267 for Joseph Waters, both of these men are cited as being from Salem, MA. This information is corroborated in Lincoln's work, Naval Records, page 255 for Samuel Waters and pages 447 and 460 for Joseph Waters. John Cushing stated in his pension application that the ship "...returned to Salem...". Homeward bound ships, especially privateer ships-of-war, usually returned to their home ports after a cruise.
The privateer vessel that John Cushing sailed for The United States on board of was referred to as a "brig" in his pension application. According to the final statement of the introduction of Allen's work, Massachusetts Privateers, page 63, there exists a:
"...confusion of different rigs by writers both contemporary and recent, and even in original documents. What is evidently the same vessel may be variously described as a ship or brig, schooner or sloop. Moreover, vessels were not infrequently converted from one rig to another.".
This being the fact, we still only have this single reference by John Cushing to a "brig" as being the privateer ship-of-war in which he returned to the United States. Both Samuel and Joseph Waters are cited as having been the commanding officers on board of brigantines, as these vessels were sometime referred to as. According to Allen's work, Samuel Waters commanded the brigantines Brilliant (page 88), Comet (page 101), the schooner Dolphin (page 116), and the sloop Hawk (page 169). Again, according to Allen's work, Joseph Waters commanded the brigantine Romulus (page 267). This information is corroborated in Lincoln's work, page 255, for Samuel Waters as being in command of the brigantine Comet and on pages 447 for Joseph Waters as being in command of the brigantine Romulus and page 460 as being in command of the Pennsylvania schooner Speedwell. All of these above cited privateer ships-of-war could be described as a "brig" as long as their rig corroborated with the rig of a brig.
This brings us the readers to the last piece of information to be corroborated - the date of commissioning of the privateer ships-of-war. In the opinion of the writer of this blog, this date of commissioning would need to corroborate with the dates that John Cushing was in The Havana, Cuba which was from January 12 - April, 1782. The only vessel that seems to fit this time frame is the brigantine Comet under the command of Samuel Waters. The fullest description of this Massachusetts privateer ship-of-war is found in Lincon's work, page 255, and is as follows:
"November 23, 1781
Comet - Massachusetts brigantine
Master: Samuel Waters
Bonders: Samuel Waters, Salem; George Williams, Salem; Archelaus Putnam, Salem
Owners: George Williams and others, Salem
Witnesses: Nathan Pierce and John McMillan"
The nearest possible date of commissioning for a brigantine commanded by Joseph Waters was in the summer of 1781. Thus, it would seem that the vessel that John Cushing returned to the United States on board of and simply described as a "...brig commanded by Capt. Waters...", was the Massachusetts privateer brigantine Comet under the command of Samuel Waters of Salem MA.
Again, this is just conjectural but, the line of reasoning utilized here does include a substantial amount of corroboration of various known facts that point directly to the stated conclusion. In examining the number of guns and the total crew on board the Massachusetts brigantine Comet, it was more than likely a small ship-of-war that served only to transport John Cushing back to his home country which he had not set foot in for more than three years.)