Braisted, Todd. "The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies", (www.royalprovincial.com, last updated 02/23/2015.)
Clark, Murtie June. Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Vol. I, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981.)
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Katcher, Philip R. N. Encyclopedia of British, Provincial, and German Army Units, 1775-1783, (The Stackpole Company, 1973.)
Ratcliff, Clarence E., compiler. North Carolina Taxpayers, 1701-1786, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1984.)
n. a. PRO 30/55/4799 "Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America", (The National Archives, United Kingdom.)
n. a. PRO 30/55/5208 "Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America", (The National Archives, United Kingdom.)
n. a. PRO 30/55/10354 "Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America", (The National Archives, United Kingdom.)
n. a. "The Royal Gazette" (New York), issue of December 25, 1782.
This specific post concludes the three-part set of posts addressing with the presence of "former' British and Loyalist military personnel who were also captured on December 21, 1782 on board the frigate South Carolina along with the frigate's crew members and marines. As with the earlier post entitled "'Former' British and Loyalist Soldiers on board the Frigate South Carolina, Pt. II - Additional Information on British Military Personnel Captured on board the Frigate South Carolina on December 21, 1782" and dated "August 18, 2016", the eternal thanks of the writer of this blog goes out to Mr. Todd Braisted of New Jersey for providing the information contained within this post. Thank you, Mr. Braisted once again for your excellent research and your extreme graciousness in sharing this information with me and my readership!
As stated in the introductory material in the post dated "08/18/2016", one of the most pressing issues facing Commodore Alexander Gillon of the South Carolina Navy and commanding officer on board the frigate South Carolina was the matter of recruiting and maintaining an full complement of shipboard personnel on board the patriot ship-of-war. The two previous posts entitled "'Former' British Soldiers on board the Frigate South Carolina -" and dated "01/08/2015" and the post, "'Former' British and Loyalist Soldiers on board the Frigate South Carolina, Pt. II - Additional Information on British Military Personnel Captured on board the Frigate South Carolina on December 21, 1782" and dated "08/18/2016" both addressed some of these efforts as they reflected on the recruitment of British soldiers onto the frigate South Carolina. At the conclusion of these two posts, the number of British soldiers on board the frigate at the time of her capture by elements of the Royal Navy just off the Capes of the Delaware on December 21, 1782 were twelve "former" British soldiers representing seven distinct regiments of foot of the British Army serving in North America during the American Revolution. As other "former" British soldiers are located in the course of this research, their names, unit histories, and speculative circumstances of how they came to be on board the patriot ship-of-war will be added to this overall blog.
There were also loyalist soldiers who were found to be serving on board the frigate South Carolina when she was captured that fateful day in December 1782. Originally, the information available to the writer of this blog was somewhat inaccurate concerning the number of these men and their former loyalist regimental affiliations. Now, this must be addressed because more accurate information has come to light. The "former" British soldiers were easier to address due to their regiments being numerically ranked. These men were presented in numerical order as regards their regimental number and, within that regimental order, alphabetically if more than one man represented a regiment. The loyalist regiments were usually named rather than numbered. Thus, the men will be presented according to the alphabetical name of their regiment. Since there is only a single regiment that is represented by two men, the men of this regiment will be cited alphabetically within their regimental affiliation. The first column will contain the name of the individual man. The second column will contain the "position" according to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", pages 135-170. The third and final column will contain their regimental affiliation as elucidated through the work of Mr. Todd Braisted in The National Archives of the United Kingdom. This information is recorded in the Public Records Office document numbered "30/55/10354" and cited as PRO 30/55/10354 . The "former" loyalist soldiers are as follows:
William Taylor sailor "...formerly a Guide..."
(probably a reference to the Guides and Pioneers)
John Finley British soldier (Queen's Rangers) King's American Dragoons
George Jones British soldier (King's American Dragoons) King's American Dragoons
John McGowin "John McGowan", British soldier Royal North Carolina Regiment
(Royal North Carolina Regiment)
In citing each of these men's personal histories, a short unit history is necessary so that the man's service on behalf of the British Crown can be placed in its proper perspective. Yet, the reader will notice that these unit histories are shorter than the unit histories of the British soldiers who were also captured on board of the frigate South Carolina. This is due to the nature of these men's allegiances and when and how these allegiances were tested. None of the loyalist regiments cited above existed prior to the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, whereas the vast majority of the British regiments existed well before the outbreak of those specific hostilities. Their regimental histories and traditions had frequently been formed well before the commencement of hostilities with the rebellious colonists here in North America. It was at the outbreak of the American Revolution that the individual loyalist regiments began to take form and be established under the overall command of the British commanding general here in North America, whoever that was at that specific period in the war. Thus, all of the loyalist regiments histories are necessarily more brief than their British Army counterparts, in some cases very brief with the regiment being formed at virtually the end of hostilities. Also, almost as soon as the war concluded, the loyalist regiments were immediately disbanded and their personnel frequently dispatched to other British colonies, friendly territorial holdings or even England herself.
The first of these four loyalist soldiers found among the captive crew members and marines of the frigate South Carolina on December 21, 1782 was William Taylor. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 167, William Taylor is cited as a "sailor" on board the frigate. Yet, according to the Public Records Office document, PRO 30/55/10354, William Taylor is cited as being "...formerly a Guide...". This must certainly be a reference to the loyalist unit known as the Guides & Pioneers. This is the sole loyalist unit that contains the name "Guide" in the full name of the unit, so this must certainly be the unit in question. According to Katcher's work, Encyclopedia, page 86, this unit was raised in the fall 1776 and shortly thereafter attached to the Loyal American Regiment. Most of the engagements it participated in were in the northern theater of the war such as the siege of Newport, RI 1776-1777, the Philadelphia campaign 1777, the attacks on Forts Clinton and Montgomery and the raid on Danbury, CT in April 1777. But, the unit also participated in a few major actions in the southern theater of the war such as the second siege of Charleston, which ended in the largest capture of Continental troops during the war, and the raid into Virginia under the command of Benedict Arnold in 1781. Along with the Loyal American Regiment, the entire unit was sent to Nova Scotia and disbanded there in 1783.
There is no single engagement cited here that presents itself as a likely action leading to the capture of William Taylor by the rebel forces. But, the key may lie with the statement in the document, PRO 30/55/10354, when it states that William Taylor was "...formerly a Guide...". This would seem to imply at the time this document was drafted that William Taylor's service in the Guides & Pioneers was in the past. This could easily indicate that William Taylor had served as a member of the Guides & Pioneers but, had completed his term of service and been discharged to return home. Much of New York north of New York City was a type of no-man's-land called the "Neutral Ground" patrolled by both loyalist and patriot militias, seeking vengeance on the other for perceived or real wrongs done to them. Since the unit was raised in New York, a deeply divided colony as to the loyalties of its residents, William Taylor may well have returned home only to be arrested or abducted by local patriot militias and taken to a patriot place of incarceration. He may have then chosen to sign on board the frigate South Carolina in order to escape his prison conditions and been recaptured by the Royal Navy ships-of-war that took the frigate South Carolina on December 21, 1782. Thus, according to the document, PRO 30/55/10354, he would have found himself in the provost at New York on January 6, 1783 with the crime of "...taken from on board the South Carolina, rebel frigate...". What the final outcome of his hearing before the courts-martial was and his ultimate disposition at the end of the war are both unknown.
(Note: The information provided above concerning the unit history of the Guides & Pioneers was drawn from Katcher's work, Encyclopedia of British, Provincial, and German Army Units, 1775-1783. But, the site, "The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies", owned and managed by Mr. Todd Braisted, offers a slightly different history of the Guides & Pioneers and their participation in the American Revolution. According to the On-Line Institute entry for "A History of the Guides & Pioneers", page 1-2:
"The Guides & Pioneers was a unique corps raised in December of 1776 at New York City... The corps never consisted of more than five companies and seldom contained more than 150 men at one time. A large number of men were from Westchester County, New York, but it included small numbers of men from many of the provinces, including the South... The regiment served in detachment strength at many of the outposts at New York as well as in several forays and campaigns. Some were in the Danbury, Connecticut raid of April, 1777. Many were on the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777. A large detachment served in the Charleston Campaign of 1780, returning to New York in June of 1780, but leaving a small detachment in South Carolina. Other detachments left for the South under Generals LESLIE, ARNOLD and PHILLIPS. Some were captured at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781... The corps, consisting of 100 officers and men plus 103 dependents, embarked for the River Saint John on 12 September 1783 where they were disbanded on 10 October 1783.".
It would appear from this account of the movements and engagements of the Guides & Pioneers that they participated in numerous hard-fought battles in which William Taylor could have been captured, especially being incarcerated at the fall of Yorktown in October 1781. Yet, again, the phrase utilized in the PRO document, 30/55/10354, when identifying William Taylor was "...formerly a Guide...". Again, this phrase seems to indicate a past tense as if this specific function was in the past for William Taylor. None of the other three loyalist soldiers are referred to as being "formerly" of their regiment but, are cited as being members of that specific regiment. So, it is completely possible that William Taylor had served out his enlistment in the Guides & Pioneers and had withdrawn from the military phase of the American Revolution until his capture by the patriots, under whatever those circumstances were.)
The next two loyalist soldiers, John Finley and George Jones, actually belonged to the same unit - the King's American Dragoons. According to Katcher's work, Encyclopedia, page 88, the King's American Dragoons were formed at rather late date of February 1781 in New York through the amalgamation of several independent mounted companies. The unit spent the remainder of the war in the vicinity of New York City until it was sent to Halifax, where the unit was disbanded in April 1783. The unit appears to have never served outside of its home colony but, may well have been engaged in the vicious fighting between loyalist and patriot forces in the "Neutral Ground" area just north of New York City.
As indicated above, there were two men found on board the frigate South Carolina that seem to have been former loyalist soldiers of the King's American Dragoons - John Finley and George Jones. According to the Public Records Office document, PRO 30/55/4799, on the muster roll for Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Thompson's Troop, King's American Dragoons, the name of George Jones appears as the last entry on the "effectives list" just prior to the citation of the "non-effectives list". This muster roll is dated June 15, 1782. According to the Public Records Office document, PRO 30/55/5208, on the muster roll for Captain John Fulton's Troop, King's American Dragoons, the name of John Finley appears towards the beginning of the muster roll. The muster roll is headed "Camp Fresh Meadows" and is dated August 4, 1782.
There are no engagements that the unit was known to have participated in, other than possibly the sharp, bitter engagements of the "Neutral Ground". It is certainly possible that both men could have been captured by patriot forces and taken to incarceration near the British troops captured at Yorktown, VA after the conclusion of that action on October 19, 1781. It is even possible that the two men deserted separately and sought out asylum among their former enemies and signed on board the frigate South Carolina. Unless further evidence is located through research, this issue may remain unresolved.
The fourth and final loyalist soldier found on board the frigate South Carolina was John McGowan. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina, page 157, John McGowan is cited as "British soldier, Royal North Carolina Regiment". All of the men who have had information presented on them in this post have not been addressed directly but, rather through extrapolation with the information being presented on the unit instead. With the information presented on John McGowan in this post, that changes because more personal information has come down to us concerning his individual services and circumstances than any of the other three former loyalist soldiers. This information constitutes pre-war activities as well as wartime circumstances.
Again, there are two somewhat disparate accounts of the unit history of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. Katcher's account as contained in Encyclopedia of British, Provincial, and German Army Units, 1775-1783 is shorter in comparison and will be presented first. According to Katcher's work, Encyclopedia, page 100, the Royal North Carolina Regiment was raised in Charleston, SC in the spring of 1780. the regiment fought at Camden, SC and Hanging Rock, SC. In November 1782, the regiment was transferred to St. Augustine, FL and disbanded there in 1783. It possessed a total strength of 600 men.
The site, "The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies", owned and managed by Todd Braisted, offers a more extensive account of the role of the Royal North Carolina Regiment in the American Revolution. According to "The On-line Institute", entry for "An Introduction to North Carolina Loyalist Units", page 3-4, the narrative begins in early 1779 with many North Carolina refugees joining the British army in Georgia:
"On 22 February 1779 Lt. Col. Campbell organized these people into a corps of two companies, one of foot, and one of horse, by the name of "Royal Volunteers of North Carolina", commanded by Lt. Col. John Moore. At some point between February and October 1779, the corps, by now known as the Royal North Carolina Regiment, consisted of two battalions. John Hamilton was lieutenant colonel of one or both of them, but it's unknown what John Moore was doing.
In any case, the corps was consolidated into one battalion between the time of the Siege of Savannah and the Siege of Charlestown... The Royal North Carolina Regiment was part of the army that advanced to the siege from Georgia under the command of General Paterson.
The Royal North Carolina Regiment served in several bloody encounters, most notably Hanging Rock and the Battle of Camden. In 1781 they were a part of Cornwallis' army that entered North Carolina, attracting more recruits to the unit. By this time the corps consisted of seven companies (including a light infantry company), with an eighth being raised later on the march to Virginia.
When Cornwallis refitted his army at Wilmington, he left the Royal North Carolina Regiment there, with the exception of their light company, augmented by men from the battalion companies. The eighth company, commanded by Captain William Chandler of New Jersey, was raised along the march to Virginia. These two companies were at the Siege of Yorktown and were taken prisoner there.".
The additional personal information to the services of John McGowan lies in the concluding statements of the above quoted passage where it clearly states the Royal North Carolina Regiment was left by Lord Cornwallis in Wilmington, NC as he journeyed northward towards Yorktown, VA and the final major engagement of the entire war. The important passage is that the regiment was left behind in Wilmington, NC "...with the exception of their light company, augmented by men from the battalion companies...". The eighth company is designated as being commanded by a "...Captain William Chandler...". According to Clark's work, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, pages 368-404, the muster rosters for the Royal North Carolina Regiment are presented according to their commanding officer's last names. None of these companies, designated by their commanding officer's last names, are specifically indicated as the light company of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. But, the key phrase used in "The On-Line Institute" article, entry for "An Introduction to North Carolina Loyalist Units", page 3, is "...augmented by men from the battalion companies...". According to Clark's work, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, page 398, John McGowen's name appears as the nineteenth private listed on the muster roster of Captain Daniel Manson's Company of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. The roster is dated "24 February 1781" and is cited as having been taken at "Hillsborough, NC". Again, there is no evidence or indication that this specific company was other than a regular company of the regiment - in other words, a battalion company. The next citation of John McGowan in Clark's work is on page 400 and is a later muster roster of Captain Daniel Manson's Company located in "Wilmington, NC" and dated "24 October 1781". The muster roster concludes with eleven privates of the company who are cited as "Prisoners with the rebels, 19 October 1781". John McGowan's name is the eleventh and final private cited as being in this situation.
(Note: There is no absent-minded misspelling on the part of the writer of this blog at work here in that John McGowan's last name is spelled two different ways - McGowan and McGowen. Both of these variations of his last name appear on the muster rosters in Clarks' work, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, pages 398 and 400.)
In the final sentence of the quoted passage above, it states that only two companies of the Royal North Carolina Regiment were captured at Yorktown, VA - the light company "...augmented by men from the battalion companies..." and the newly raised eighth company under the command of Captain William Chandler. As with the other companies of the Royal North Carolina Regiment, there is no indication that Captain William Chandler's company was a light company, either. The citation from "The On-Line Institute" article, entry for "An Introduction to North Carolina Loyalist Units", page 3-4, states that Captain William Chandler's company was captured at Yorktown, VA as well as the light infantry company. The surrender of Lord Cornwallis and the Crown troops under his command took place at Yorktown, VA on October 19, 1781. Captain Daniel Manson's Company of the Royal North Carolina Regiment was located in Wilmington, NC on that date and had a new muster roster taken on their company complement on October 24, 1781 in which John McGowan is cited as a "prisoner with the rebels, 19 October 1781". Also, only a portion of Captain Daniel Manson's Company, eleven men to be exact, are cited as a "prisoner with the rebels" and not the majority of the company's personnel. Thus, it seems logical that John McGowan was among those who were chosen "...from the battalion companies..." to augment the light infantry company and was thus captured along with the light company and Captain William Chandler's Company at the surrender of Yorktown, VA on October 19, 1781.
(Note: According to Ratcliff's work, North Carolina Taxpayers, 1701-1786, page 135, there is an entry for a "John McGowing" who is registered as paying taxes in Onslow County, North Carolina for the tax season of 1769. There exists the possibility that this is the same man as "John McGowan" cited in the main passage above. Misspellings of last names were quite common in the 18th century, sometimes with the same individual having their last name spelled multiple ways in the same document. If this is indeed the same "John McGowan" as cited above, then this could serve to possibly assign him a relative age. If he was at least eighteen in 1769, then he would have been somewhere in his early to mid thirties in 1782 when he would have been recaptured on board the frigate South Carolina on December 21, 1782.)
The names of each of these four loyalist soldiers appeared on one of the captive's lists for the three Royal Navy men-of-war that carried the captured crew members and marines of the frigate South Carolina into New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782. Once there, each of them were "discharged" in a different manner which is recorded below:
John Fenley (Finley) and George Jones were both carried into New York City harbor on board the HMS Astrea and were "...Disposed 27 December 1782 Prison Ship New York...".
William Taylor and John McGowan were both carried into New York City harbor on board the HMS Diomede and were "...Disposed 26 December 1782 Prison Ship...".
All four of these former loyalist soldiers initially ended up on board the various prison "hulks" that lined the shores of Wallabout Bay, NY. Later, after they had been identified as former loyalist soldiers, they were removed from these prison "hulks", taken to British headquarters, and formally charged with the crime of "...taken from on board the South Carolina, rebel frigate...". Evidence of the outcome of their courts-martial must exist somewhere but, have not been located by the writer of this blog at the time of the composition of this post.
So, these four former loyalist soldiers served on board the frigate South Carolina for her final, brief cruise which ended in her capture by elements of the Royal Navy off the Capes of the Delaware on December 21, 1782. It is possible that two of them, William Taylor of the Guides & Pioneers and John McGowan of the Royal North Carolina Regiment were captured at Yorktown, VA on October 19, 1781. It is also possible that John Finley and George Jones, both of the King's American Dragoons were either captured in one of the forgotten sharp skirmishes that frequently occurred in the "Neutral Ground" of New York state immediately north of New York City. They could have also deserted from their unit, made their way to Philadelphia, PA, and volunteered to serve on board the frigate South Carolina. However, it happened, all four of these former loyalist soldiers ended up on board the patriot frigate for her final, brief cruise and her capture off the Cape of the Delaware. Even though they were officially the enemy, they, too, served on board the frigate South Carolina as crew men or marines and contributed their own small personal histories to the overall life of the frigate South Carolina. Thus, their stories need to be told, too.