Braisted, Todd. "The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalists Studies", www.royalprovincial.com, 2001-2015.
Clark, Murtie June. Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War - Vol. I, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).
Gara, Donald J. The Queen's Rangers, (Westholme Publishing, 2015).
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999).
As the British captors of the frigate South Carolina began to sort through their prisoners-of-war in the days following the capture of the frigate on December 20, 1782, they found unexpected individuals among these prisoners. As noted in earlier posts, they found former Hessian soldiers who had served with General John Burgoyne and had been captured at Saratoga, NY. They found several former British soldiers who represented a variety of regiments on the regular British establishment. And, the intended focus of this post, they found three American loyalists. These three men were initially addressed in the post entitled "Other Former Prisoners on board the Frigate South Carolina - American Loyalists" and dated "04/20/2015". Little information was initially presented on these three men due to an ignorance of their conditions and dates of capture and how they came to be on board the frigate South Carolina in the first place. Now, more information has been located either directly addressing these men or reflecting more on their specific situations.
First to be addressed in this post is John McGowan, who has the greatest amount of direct information given on him. In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, the section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 157, he is cited as "British soldier, Royal North Carolina Regiment". The Royal North Carolina Regiment was a loyalist regiment of infantry and not a regular British Army regiment, staffed by British subjects. The regiment was completely staffed by American-born, British subjects, other than possibly some of the leading officers who would have been British-born. John McGowan turns up on two of the muster rolls for the regiment. Both of the muster rolls indicate that this is a roll for Captain Daniel Manson's Company of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. Thus, the company affiliation of John McGowan has been identified due to the appearance of his name on both of these muster rolls.
The first muster rolls is as follows:
Muster, Captain Daniel Manson's Company, Royal North Carolina Regiment
Hillsborough, NC, 24 February 1781
"60-days Pay" - 24 February - 24 April 1781
Number 19 McGowen, John
The second muster roll is as follows:
Muster, Major Daniel Manson's Company, Royal North Carolina Regiment
Wilmington, NC, 24 October 1781
"61-days Pay" - 25 October - 24 December 1781
Number 31 McGowan, John
There is a citation which heads this section of this second muster roll that reads "(Prisoners with the rebels - 19 October 1781)". This section includes the names of eleven men who were prisoners-of-war with the rebel forces at this point in the war. John McGowan's name is cited last among these men who were "prisoners with the rebels - 19 October 1781". The only sizable capture of Crown troops around this time during the American Revolution was the surrender of Yorktown and its besieged forces on October 18, 1781 to the combined Franco-American forces under the direct command of George Washington. The reference being made here is to this event.
There are some obvious observations to be made here. The first muster roll is taken in Hillsborough, NC and the second one is taken in Wilmington, NC. These two geographical locations in North Carolina are about 172 miles apart with Hillsborough being roughly in the northern central portion of the state and Wilmington being in the extreme southeastern portion of the state on the coast there. A "Regiment of Foot", which is what the Royal North Carolina Regiment was, could easily have moved this kind of distance in the time between February and October, 1781 - a period of eight months.
The second observation to be made is that at the time of the first muster roll, Daniel Manson, the commander of the company to which John McGowan belonged, was cited as a captain. In the second muster roll, Daniel Manson is cited as a major. So, in the same eight month period the Royal North Carolina Regiment had moved one hundred and seventy-two miles from northern central North Carolina to extreme southeastern North Carolina and Daniel Manson had been promoted from captain to major within the regiment.
The most obvious observation is that John McGowan is on active duty with the regiment at the time of the first muster roll and by the time of the second muster roll, he is a "prisoner with the rebels". His imprisonment seems to be dated "19 October 1781" which indicates that he was probably captured at the surrender of the Crown Forces under Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, VA on October 18, 1781. In Gara's work, The Queen's Rangers, page 316, indicates that at least some of the Royal North Carolina Regiment were among the forces at the disposal of Lord Cornwallis at the siege of Yorktown, VA. The passage states that: "By the end of the month (August 1781), the Gloucester side would have 1,058 rank-and-file fit for duty, and they were spread out among four redoubts....the North Carolina Volunteers (seventy-nine) and the jagers (seventy-one) were at Redoubt Number 4, to keep an eye on the French fleet anchored in the bay."
(Note: the "Royal North Carolina Regiment" and the "North Carolina Volunteers" were often used interchangeably for the same loyalist regiment.)
The passage above from Gara's work, The Queen's Rangers, cites 79 of the members of the Royal North Carolina Regiment as being at Redoubt Number 4 at Gloucester Point across the Chesapeake Bay from Yorktown proper. The muster roll taken on October 24, 1781 for Major Daniel Manson's Company identifies 74 men as being on the muster rolls of Daniel Manson's Company, even though many of them are "prisoners with the rebels". On this muster roll, 31 men are cited as prisoners while 43 are listed as "fit for duty". John McGowan is one of these prisoners and it can be assumed that he was captured at Gloucester Point when the position there surrendered to the combined Franco-American forces operating against thee position during the siege.
The final observation to be made is the slight misspelling of John McGowan's last name between the two muster rolls. On the first muster roll, his last name is spelled "McGowen" and on the second muster roll, it is spelled "McGowan". This is fairly common in the 18th century, especially on muster rolls of regiments involved in the American Revolution. It has been the experience of this blog writer that the first name is usually the same in different citations but, the spelling of the last name can vary significantly. This last observation concerning the first and last names of individual men has bearing on the next and final observation to be made concerning John McGowan.
In examining the individual captive's lists of the three British men-of-war - HMS Diomede, HMS Quebec, and HMS Astrea - that carried these prisoners-of-war into New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782, there is not a man named "John McGowan" cited on any of these lists. There is a "William McGowan" who was transported on board the HMS Diomede but, there is no one named "John McGowan". Yet, it is John McGowan, not William McGowan, who is cited as having formerly been a member of the Royal North Carolina Regiment. As demonstrated in the text above, John McGowan is cited on at least two of the muster rolls of the Royal North Carolina Regiment, one of which seems to indicate that he was captured at the surrender of Yorktown, VA. This absence of John McGowan from the captive's lists of the three British men-of-war has been addressed in the post dated "04/20/2015". It is possible that John McGowan and William McGowan are the same man. But, if John McGowan was indeed captured at the fall of Yorktown, VA, he would have been taken ultimately to Lancaster, PA for internment in a prisoner-of -war camp there and would have been possibly present when Commodore Alexander Gillon spoke to the incarcerated men in that camp about signing on board the frigate South Carolina. John McGowan may have signed on board the frigate South Carolina with the intent of securing his liberty from the prison camp only to desert at the first possible opportunity and head back to Crown lines or territory. Thus, for one reason or another, he may have taken the offer and signed on as a member of the crew or marines of the frigate, only to be recaptured on December 20, 1782 by the Royal Navy off Cape Henlopen, DE.
The next loyalist individual to be addressed is John Finley. He was a member of a loyalist combat unit known as "The Queen's Rangers". This unit has already been addressed in the earlier post entitled "Other Former Prisoners-of-War on board the Frigate South Carolina - American Loyalists" and dated "04/20/2015". In short, it was one of the most celebrated units of American loyalists that fought on the side of the Crown Forces during the American Revolution. It was well-organized and well lead by the very capable British officer, John Graves Simcoe. It served through out the conflict, being disbanded in 1784 in Canada. It served with distinction and acclaim.
A very interesting feature of John Finley's service in "The Queen's Rangers" is that his name does not turn up on any of the muster rolls of the unit contained in Clark's work, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War. In Volume II of this lengthy work, there are well over three hundred pages that are specifically dedicated to the citing of numerous muster rolls of the various different companies of the "The Queen's Rangers". John Finley is not found on a single muster roll for any of the various different companies that composed "The Queen's Rangers". But, on the captive's list of the HMS Astrea, there is a "John Finley" cited as being a prisoner-of-war from the crew or marines of the frigate South Carolina. In Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, the section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 147, John Finley is cited as a "British soldier (Queen's Rangers)". As with John McGowan cited above, this unit was composed almost entirely of American-born, British subjects rather than British-born citizens of England. There were British-born members of the unit but, these were most likely officers who were assigned to assist in command and control of the unit in the field.
It may well be that John McGowan and John Finley were literally captured at the same surrender event - the fall of Gloucester Point at the siege of Yorktown, VA on October 18, 1781. In Gara's work, The Queen's Rangers, page 316, in the same passage cited above for the Royal North Carolina Regiment, it also cites that, "the Queen's Rangers, both infantry and cavalry (two hundred and eighty-two), were at Redoubt Number 1..." This one position would have accounted for over half the operational strength of "The Queen's Rangers" at the time of the siege of Gloucester Point at Yorktown, VA. Thus, there is a strong possibility that John Finley was posted at Redoubt 1 at the same time that John McGowan was on duty at Redoubt 4. When Gloucester Point fell to the combined Franco-American forces under the overall command of George Washington, both these men would have been captured and sent to a series of prisoner-of-war camps, ultimately ending up in Lancaster, PA and signing on board the frigate South Carolina.
There are a few possibilities as to why John Finley is not on any of the muster rolls of "The Queen's Rangers". It is possible that he joined the unit shortly before the siege and surrender of Yorktown, VA and might have been overlooked on the last few muster rolls. It is also possible that he might have given a false name to the British authorities after his recapture as a crewman of the frigate South Carolina on December 20, 1782. It may be that for some reason he did not want his true identity known by his captors and thus adopted an assumed name after his capture. This could account for both his name not being registered on the muster rolls but, turning up on the captive list of the HMS Astrea as well as in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 147.
Update: Further evidence has been locate concerning John Finley that will, on the one hand, clear up his status among the loyalists on board the frigate South Carolina but, on the other hand, will provide a good segue into the final loyalist to be addressed on board the frigate South Carolina - George Jones. As stated above, there seems to be no record of John Finley among the various different muster rolls of "The Queen's Rangers". This could be because John Finley possibly never served with "The Queen's Rangers". He does not appear on any of the muster rolls of "The Queen's Rangers" but, a "John Finley" does appear on the muster rolls of "The King's American Dragoons", a unit of loyalists among whose muster rolls George Jones, the final loyalists on board the frigate South Carolina, also appears. His citation appears as follows:
Muster Roll of Captains John Fulton's Troop
King's American Dragoons
Nr 9 John Finley private
Camp Fresh Meadows
4th August 1782
Further down the same set of muster rolls appears the following citation:
Muster Roll of Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Thompson's Troop
King's American Dragoons
Nr 44 George Jones private
Camp Cow Neck
15th June 1782
The "King's American Dragoons" was composed of various different troops of mounted soldiers being "brigaded' together as a single, unified regiment of horse. Both John Finley and George Jones seem to have belonged to this regiment, though they belonged to different troops within the regiment. John Finley belonged to Captain John Fulton's Troop while George Jones belonged to the troop under command of the overall commander of the regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Thompson. The two, separate muster rolls that both of these men appear on are dated during the summer (June and August) of 1782. The frigate South Carolina did not set sail from Philadelphia, PA until late December 1782. It is conceivable that both men deserted together in New York City and made their way to Philadelphia, PA where they would have signed on with the frigate South Carolina. Or, they both could have been captured in the numerous skirmishes and ambushes that took place in the vicinity of New York City and were transported to a place where they could have heard the appeals of Commodore Gillon and signed on the frigate South Carolina. Both John Finley and George Jones appear on the captive list of the HMS Astrea on December 20, 1782. Only further research can determine what exactly happened that both of these men from the same regiment ended up on the deck of the frigate South Carolina, along with John McGowan of the Royal North Carolina Regiment, on December 20, 1782, when she struck her colors to the three British men-of-war off of Cape Henlopen, DE.