(Note: The names in parenthesis after their given names are purely conjectural on the part of the writer of this blog. As stated earlier, in the post concerning Hessian soldiers on board the frigate South Carolina, the Spanish had a tendency to transcribe names using Spanish sounds or, in some cases, Spanish equivalents of the names. Thus, Carl becomes Carlos and Heinrich becomes Enrique. The last names of these men would be transcribed using Spanish phonetics. Again, Klein becomes Clayne and Weber becomes Vebber. These almost certainly were German soldiers who had been captured at the fall of Pensacola, along with the rest of the garrison there.)
Yet, Commodore Alexander Gillon also recruited from among Spanish troops based there in Cuba. Dr. Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 63, indicates that Gillon did not hesitate to recruit from the Spanish army's Regiment of Flanders, which was stationed in Cuba at that time. Dr. Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 63, states that "this regiment , a legacy of an earlier century when Hapsburg Spain ruled the Low Countries, was composed of Dutch and French-speaking troops." According to a post on the RevList website of December 18, 2000, Patrick O'Kelley of North Carolina states that "The Flanders Regiment was composed of Dutch and French-speaking troops." This would line up with Gillon's recruiting practices once he arrived in Philadelphia and began to personally speak to Hessian prisoners of war in an attempt to sway them towards signing on board the frigate South Carolina. Alexander Gillon was fluent in at least four languages of Europe - Dutch (his native langauge), German, French, and English. Once again, Gillon might have recruited personally among these troops and swayed them towards desertion and signing on board the frigate South Carolina.
(Note: It is interesting to note that at the same time Commodore Gillon was recruiting among the Spanish Regiment of Flanders, this same Spanish regiment was picking up deserters from the frigate South Carolina. Commodore Gillon had a poor reputation for paying the personnel on board the frigate South Carolina and this led to the desire for desertion among his crew and marines. Letters of insult were exchanged between Commodore Gillon and the commanding Colonel of the Spanish Regiment of the Flanders, whose name was evidently El Marques Vanmarck, and complaints were sent to the commanding Spanish official in Havana, Cuba, Captain-General Juan Manuel de Cagigal by each about the other and their recruiting practices. Dr. Lewis in his work, Neptune's Militia, page 63, states that "both collected a sizable number of discarded uniforms when new conscripts (deserters from the other's unit) were inducted into their companies". The text does also note that, in the final analysis, Commodore Gillon probably lost more personnel than he gained while in the Havana due to his poor reputation for paying his men.)
(Note: It is also interesting to note that when Commodore Gillon and the frigate South Carolina moored in the Havana on January 12, 1782, the Legion (or Volunteers) of Luxembourg were still on board the frigate as her marine contingent. As noted in the post below concerning the Legion of Luxembourg, these men all spoke either French or Dutch as their native language, with some German-speakers among their ranks, no doubt. According to Dr. Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 34, "while the last names suggest that almost all legionnaires spoke French, the native tongue of some Luxembourg troops must have been German or Dutch. There is no evidence that anyone in the legion, including officers, spoke English". Several of the men listed below, those from the Spanish Regiment of Flanders, must have also spoken French, Dutch or German as their native language. These men may have been swayed by the persuasive arguments of Commodore Gillon to enlist with the frigate South Carolina. But, what may have finally swayed them to make the choice in favor of Commodore Gillon was that there were other speakers of their native language on board the frigate already. Yet, in the same way, legionnaires on board the frigate South Carolina may have chosen to desert the frigate due to the presence ashore of the Spanish Regiment of Flanders, containing speakers of their native language.)
This is very interesting to think that wherever he went, on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, Commodore Alexander Gillon was cognizant of individuals of a northern European background and would intentionally target these men for his own personal brand of propaganda and gentle persuasion. But, if one examines the men he persuaded to sign on his frigate, one sees that at least some of them may not have spoken either Dutch or French. At least a few of them must have spoken Italian as their native language, perhaps as many as four. The following list is drawn from Dr. Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina, pages 135-170. Of interest here is not so much the rank or position within the regiment of a man but, rather his nationality.
Bertain, Juan Baptista Flemish
Bertali, Francisco Piedmontese
Casteli, Phelipi Piedmontese
Chevenes, Antonio(?) Flemish
Helt, Henry (Enrique?) German(?)
Languenaquer, Miguel Flemish, soldier
Le Clerc, Charles Antoine French, soldier
Luca, Geronimo Flemish, corporal
Mecessa, Antoine French, sailor
Minossi, Domingo Italian, soldier/sailor
Ponsa, ------------ Flemish
Sumarrisa, Domingo Genoese
Valenti, Juan Baptista Italian
These thirteen men represented quite a cross-section of European society. Five of them were Flemish, two were Piedmontese, two were Italians, two were French, and one Genoese and one possible German. Only one of these men has a rank listed - Corporal Geronimo Luca, one of the Flemish men. Henry Helt, if he was indeed a German, could easily have the name of Heinrich Helt rather than Henry or Enrique. These men could seem to be just a random mix of European society but, there could indeed be much more continuity here than meets the eye. Using, France as the base area and thus, the French people as the starting point (since two of the men listed above are French), all of the remaining men could easily have come from areas of Europe to either the northeast or southeast of France. The Piedmont region of Italy (two of the men listed came from the Piedmont region of Italy) lies on the southeastern border of France. Genoa (one man is listed as being Genoese) lies immediately south of the Piedmont. Of course, the Piedmont region is a part of Italy and could easily account for the two men listed as being Italian. The Flemish area of Europe lies on the northeastern border of France and this area accounts for five of the men listed above. The single, possible German could have come from this Germanic-speaking, Low Country area of Europe or he could be from the German-speaking Tyrol area of northeastern Italy, to the east of the Piedmont. This is all pure conjecture on the part of this blog writer. These men easily could have emanated from other areas of the continent and found their way into the Spanish Regiment of Flanders by other roads. These men could also been swept up by a Spanish recruiter or press gang anywhere in Europe. There are only eleven men represented here and these probably only represent a small portion of the overall strength of the Spanish Regiment of Flanders, as ethnically and culturally varied as it was at that time.