Clancy, Dave. "Hunting New England Shipwrecks: HMS Culloden", (www.wreckhunter.net, 2001.)
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Magruder, P.K. "Find a Grave Memorial, entry for "Richard Briggs (1753-1835)", (www.findagrave.com, record added - November 16, 2009.)
Moss, Bobby Gilmer. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983.)
Revill, Janie, copier. Copy of the Original Index Book: Showing the Revolutionary Claims Filed in South Carolina Between August 20, 1783 and August 31, 1786, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969.)
Sellers, John Blakemore. "Find a Grave Memorial, entry for Huldah Briggs Draper (1811-1844), (www.findagrave.com, record added - November 25, 2016.)
Wates, Wylma Anne, editor. Stub Entries to Indents: Issued in Payment of Claims Against South Carolina Growing Out of the Revolution, Books C-F, (Columbia, SC: South Carolina Archives Department, 1957.)
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "HMS Culloden (1776)", (wikipedia.org, last modified - November 25, 2016.)
Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458
Richard Briggs has only appeared in a single post contained within this overall blog. In addition, he was only a small part of this particular post as can be seen from the title of this specific post, which is as follows:
"New Englanders Aboard the South Carolina", post dated "10/20/2014"
This particular post was chronologically near the inception of this overall blog and at a time when the writer of this blog found the inclusion of New Englanders on board the frigate South Carolina as rather novel and unique. Since then the writer of this blog has located several natives of various New England colonies who served on board the frigate, most with stories not unlike Richard Briggs's story. Richard Briggs, too, like many others on board the frigate South Carolina, had previous military experience, though his was apparently exclusively at sea rather than also comprising land experience in the Continental Army or militia.
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 139, the citation for Richard Briggs is as follows:
Richard Briggs (Baiggs?) Surgeon's Mate
(Note: As has been noted through out this overall blog, whenever a variant of a last name exists for an individual who served on board the frigate South Carolina, Dr. James A. Lewis has always been diligent in including the variant last name in the section of his work, Neptune's Militia, entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", pages 135-170. There does exist a variant last name for Richard Briggs which is "Baiggs?". The writer of this blog believes that the variant form of spelling the last name is incorrect. Several other sources, cited in the bibliography of this specific post, refer to this individual as "Richard Briggs". These various sources are Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots, Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, and Wate's work, Stub Entries to Indents. Also, the pension application of Richard Briggs only records the spelling of his last name as such - Briggs. Finally, and much more concretely (no pun intended), the headstone of "Doct Richard Briggs", as it appears in "Find a Grave Memorial, entry for Richard Briggs (1753-1835)", spells his last name as such. The last name of "Baiggs" never appears in any source with which the writer of this blog is familiar, other than the citation in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", page 139.)
According to his pension application, "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458", page 1, Richard Briggs personally states that he "...was born in Norton in the County of Bristol in Massachusetts in 1753 as I believe...". Yet, according to "Find a Grave Memorial, entry for Richard Briggs (1753-1835)", Richard Briggs was indeed born in the year 1753 but in the town of Abington located in Plymouth County, Massachusetts. This same source also indicates that Richard Briggs was the son of Richard and Mercy Cobb Briggs and was baptized on October 22, 1758 at the age of five years old in Norton township in Bristol County, Massachusetts. This may be the discrepancy of the birthplace issue with Richard Briggs - an issue of possible confusion between his actual birthplace with that of his place of baptism. This is the sum total of known information on the early life of Richard Briggs.
Again, according to the pension application of Richard Briggs, "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458", page 1, Richard Briggs begins his account of his sea service during the American Revolution with the following statement:
"In the month of October 1778, I sailed in a small privateer from Boston in Massachusetts to cruise off Rhode Island and was captured by the British 74 Gun ship Culloden Capt. Belfast and carried in November or December to Milford Haven in England where I remained a prisoner on board till the following Spring when we moved round Portsmouth, where we were placed at Fortum Prison [sic, Forton Prison] where I remained about 7 months. I then made my escape and went to London from which I got a passage to Ostend from which place I went to Paris and got some small relief from Dr. Franklin and proceeded from thence to L'Orient.".
The writer of this blog has been unable to locate the name or any of the details of the "...small privateer..." in which Richard Briggs sailed from Boston, MA in "...October 1778...". The readership of this blog, as well as the writer of it, would expect that enough information has been recorded to, at the very least, identify the ship and possibly other minor details regarding the ship or its capture by the HMS Culloden. But, a search of all sources available to the writer of this blog has turned up nothing, except for certain small details concerning the HMS Culloden that partially corroborate the above passage from Richard Briggs's pension application.
(Note: According to the Wikipedia article, "HMS Culloden (1776)", page 1, the following information is recorded concerning the operations of the HMS Culloden:
"She served with the [English] Channel Fleet during the American War of Independence seeing action at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, before being sent out to the West Indies. Her stay there was brief, sailing for New York with Admiral Rodney in August 1780 to join the North American station. The ship's specific duties were to blockade the French at Newport, Rhode Island where a French army of 6,000 had disembarked in July 1780.
On January 23, 1781, while trying to intercept French ships attempting to run the blockade at Newport, RI, Culloden encountered severe weather and ran aground at North Neck Point (Will's Point) in Montauk. All attempts to refloat the vessel were unsuccessful, but all the crew were saved and Culloden's mast were taken aboard HMS Bedford. The area is today known as Culloden Point.".
Again, according to the Wikipedia article, page 2, "... the British conducted salvage operations on the ship throughout March , retrieving all 28 eighteen-pounder guns from the upper deck, and all 18 nine-pounders from the quarterdeck. The larger cannons were pushed into the sea and the ship was then burned to the waterline and abandoned.".
According to Clancy's article, "Hunting New England Shipwrecks: HMS Culloden", pages 1-2, the wreck of the HMS Culloden lies about "...150' off Culloden Point, Montauk, NY..." in approximately 20' of water.
Richard Briggs's pension application refers to being captured by the HMS Culloden in October 1778 while the Wikipedia article references the HMS Culloden as arriving off North America in August 1780. It is completely possible that since Richard Briggs was filing his pension application in September 1832 at the age of seventy-nine years old, he may have become confused as to when these specific events took place.)
The only piece of information concerning Richard Briggs that the writer of this blog has been able to locate is taken from Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, page 23, and is as follows:
"Richard Briggs - he was committed to Forton Prison. He was pardoned for exchange on December 11, 1779.".
This is the full extent we have of information recorded on the service of Richard Briggs during the American Revolution, exclusive of that contained within the pension application of Richard Briggs. Even by the standards of the Kaminkow's work, this is a very brief citation for an imprisoned sailor. Usually, the name of the ship he was captured on is included, along with occasional references to his occupation on board that ship-of-war, his hometown or place of origin, and any other information pertinent to the incarceration of this individual. As the readership can see, none of these pieces of information are included in the citation for Richard Briggs. Yet, Richard Briggs's claim to being a mariner on board a privateer, being captured by a British man-of-war off the coast of North America, and taken to Forton Prison, near Portsmouth, England all corresponds with the claims made by numerous other captive patriot sailors who ended up in British hands during the course of the war. Thus, this above quoted citation does definitively indicate that Richard Briggs was indeed a captured mariner who, after his capture, was incarcerated on English soil.
This leads to another issue cited by Richard Briggs in his pension application but, not referenced in other documents - Richard Briggs's successful escape from British custody. Kaminkow's work, Mariners of the American Revolution, is usually excellent and quite thorough in recording escape attempts and successes by American prisoners-of-war from English prisons. According to the "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458", page 1, states that:
"...we were placed in Fortum Prison [sic, Forton Prison] where I remained about seven months. I then made my escape and went to London from which I got passage to Ostend from which place I went to Paris and got some small relief from Dr. Franklin and proceeded from thence to L'Orient.".
Kaminkow's work contains no reference, even an oblique one, to these events or the success of the escape attempt. Escapes were frequent from both Old Mill Prison, in Plymouth, England and Forton Prison, near Portsmouth, England. But, usually the escaped prisoner was re-captured and taken back to the prison from whence he had escaped and there placed in the "black hole" or solitary confinement for a duration of two weeks. There are extraordinary, yet completely factual, accounts of escapes, disguises and evasions of British authorities, ultimately resulting in the eventual freedom of the escaped prisoner by his reaching France or Holland. But, these are understandably few and far between. It is feasible that Richard Briggs, after a relatively brief period of incarceration in Forton Prison, may have engineered an escape from this prison and ultimately reached Ostend, Holland. But, it is also possible that the elderly Briggs, when he was filing his pension application on September 11, 1832, may have "overstated" his zealous activities while in British custody to make his case with the government of the United States of America a bit more heroic and thus more likely to earn him the requested pension amount from the government. Unfortunately, due to the paucity of information on this subject, we may never know the complete truth concerning the purported escape of Richard Briggs from Forton Prison.
The "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458" goes on from this point to state that:
"At L'Orient in the month of April or May 1780, I engaged as Surgeon's first Mate on board the Frigate South Carolina belonging to the State of South Carolina, Capt. Joyner under Commodore Gillen [sic, Alexander Gillon] then lying at Amsterdam, and traveled overland to that place and joined the Ship the 28th of August. We lay in Amsterdam till the Summer of the following year when we proceeded to Corrunna [Corunna] in Spain and from thence to Teneriffe [Tenerife} and from thence homeward to Charleston, which finding in the hands of the enemy we stood for Havana where we spent the winter. In the Spring we joined the expedition from Havana against New Providence and took it from thence we conveyed some 2 or 3 vessels to Philadelphia where we arrived early in June 1782 where I was discharged after nearly 26 months service.".
Richard Briggs's description of his activities while in France and leading up to his actually joining the ship's company are quite detailed. He notes that he was in L'Orient, France in either April or May 1780 when he was engaged or signed on "...as Surgeon's first Mate...". He also recognizes and states, as not too many other pension applications note, that the frigate South Carolina was actually under the direct command of Captain John Joyner who was himself under the command of Commodore Alexander Gillon, Commodore of the Navy of South Carolina. Briggs also notes that he "...traveled overland..." to where the frigate lay in Amsterdam, Holland and joined the ship's company on "...the 28th of August ...". The writer of this blog finds it peculiar that Richard Briggs could recall this very specific information concerning the patriot ship-of-war and when he exactly joined the ship's crew but, is rather vague or altogether forgetful concerning name of the "...small privateer..." he served on board of when he was captured by HMS Culloden and the means of his escape from Forton Prison.
Again, Richard Briggs is quite precise as to when the frigate South Carolina departed the harbor of Amsterdam, Holland. He clearly notes that "...we lay in Amsterdam till the Summer of the following year...". The frigate South Carolina moved out of Amsterdam harbor and area of The Texel on August 4, 1781, almost one year to the day after he signed on with the frigate's company on August 28, 1780. He then proceeds to give, in short order, a brief but, accurate description of the frigate's maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean towards the rebellious American colonies in North America. He only details the port harbors into which the frigate South Carolina put, except for Charleston, SC where he explains why they immediately left that port city, "...which finding in the hands of the enemy we stood for Havana...", and an ever-so-slightly longer description of the patriot frigate's participation in the Spanish lead assault on New Providence. Richard Briggs succinctly states the course of the frigate across the Atlantic Ocean in a very brief, descriptive passage that is explained in great detail in Lewis's work, Neptune's MIlitia, pages 34-95. He concludes his recitation of the maiden voyage of the frigate South Carolina with the simple statement that "...we conveyed some 2 or 3 vessels to Philadelphia where we arrived early in June 1782 where I was discharged after nearly 26 months service.". Richard Briggs definitively states in this passage contained in his pension application that he was only on board the frigate South Carolina for her first or maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and did not serve on board the patriot frigate for her brief, second voyage.
There is ample evidence that the state recognized and acknowledged the services of Richard Briggs as a Surgeon's Mate on board the frigate South Carolina. According to Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, page 100, the entry for Richard Briggs is as follows:
Richard Briggs - He served as a privateer and was also on board the frigate South Carolina as a surgeon's mate. A.A.754A; C533; Revill, p. 285. He married a woman named Huldah -------. He filed a pension application cited as S10458.
(Note: In this citation, Richard Briggs's pension application is numbered as "S10458" which is incorrect. His pension application is actually "W10458". An initial "S" would indicate that the pension was issued to a "survivor" or actual veteran of the American Revolution. But, even though Richard Briggs applied for a pension, it was his widow, Huldah Briggs, who actually received the pension amount after he was deceased. Hence, the initial "W" at the front of his pension application number, which indicates that the pension amount was received by his widow, Huldah Briggs.)
According to Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, page 385, the document entitled "A List of the Officers & Men of the Frigate South Carolina To Whom Certificates Have Been Issued", Richard Briggs received a certificate for 124p/6s/81/4d on October 6, 1784.
This is supported by Wates's work, Stub Entries to Indents, Books C-F, page 94, which provides the fullest account of the military experience for which he was being paid the amount cited in the above source. This entry for Richard Briggs is cited here in full and is as follows:
"No. 533, Book C: Issued to Mr. Richard Briggs late of the Frigate So. Carolina Surgeons Mate, the 7th October 1784 for One Hundred & Twenty four pounds 6/8 1/4 Ballance of Wages and One Years full pay, he having been in France with Commodore Gillon & Served on board & returned in Said Ship as per the Certificate from the Auditor General dated the 6th October 1784.
Principal - 124p/6s/8 1/4d Interest - 8p/14s/0d"
Again, the fact that no part of the second voyage of the frigate South Carolina is referred to at all, strengthens the argument for Richard Briggs having left the service of the patriot frigate after her maiden voyage. He did not serve with the crew or marines of the frigate South Carolina on her second, brief voyage that ended on December 21, 1782. His statements contained in his pension application, "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458", as well as the information contained in his certificate and indent stub bear this out as being factual.
This is all that is known to the writer of this blog concerning the military experience of Richard Briggs. Evidently, he never filed for a bounty land grant nor did he file any other claims for services rendered during the course of the American Revolution. As regards the particulars of his life and how he remembered these, one has only to read his pension application. He filed it on September 11, 1832 and stated that:
"...I was born in Norton in the County of Bristol in Massachusetts in 1753 as I believe -- but no official record of my age. I lived and studied my profession in Braintree at the Commencement of the War, and pursued it in Abington till the year 1807 when I removed to Worthington, where I have lived since.".
According to his pension application, "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458", supporting statements were provided by one William Ward and one William Wilmore. By saying that he "...studied his profession..." one can assume that he referred to his medical studies. This is further proven out by the inscription on the headstone of Richard Briggs which refers to him as "Doct. Richard Briggs". It sounds as though from the above cited information that Richard Briggs remained in the medical field for the remainder of his natural life.
The next piece of information that we have pertaining to Richard Briggs appears on page 10 of his pension application and states the following information:
"On September 2, 1839, in Bond County, Illinois, Huldah Briggs, 71, filed for a widow's pension stating that she is the widow of Richard Briggs, "Surgeon on board the frigate South Carolina;" that he husband was pensioned at the rate of $40/month; that she married him August 12, 1784; and that he died April 10th or 11th 1835 in Worthington, Hampshire, Mass. She appears to sign her name "Heldah Briggs."
The very next paragraph of the pension application (which is noted as appearing on page 12 of the pension application) contains the following statement:
"On September 2, 1839 in Bond County Illinois, Huldah B. Draper gave testimony that she was present in Worthington, Hampshire County, Massachusetts when the veteran died on the morning of April 11, 1835 at which time he was receiving a pension for his service in the revolutionary war; that the affiant lived in the same house with the widow and removed with the widow to Bond County Illinois where they continued to live together in the same house; that the widow remained unmarried since the death of her husband. The relationship, if any, of the affiant to the widow and/or the veteran is not stated."
(Note: According to "Find a Grave Memorial: Richard Briggs (1753-1835)", page 1, indicates that the second daughter of the union between Richard and Huldah Briggs was Huldah B. (Briggs) Draper. According to "Find a Grave Memorial: Huldah Briggs Draper (1811-1844), page 1, she had married William Henry Draper on July 5, 1835. Thus, at the time of the filing of the widow's pension on September 2, 1839, Huldah B. Draper was the married daughter of Richard and Huldah Briggs. On page 2 of the "Find a Grave Memorial: Huldah Briggs Draper (1811-1844), the following explanatory statement appears:
"William H. Draper provided a home for his mother-in-law Huldah Briggs, age 73, widow of Richard Briggs, Revolutionary War Veteran, on June 1, 1840, Bond Co., IL. The 1840 Census of Pensioners for Bond County, IL., lists her as receiving a pension for her husband's service in the Revolutionary War.".
Even though the dates do not match up perfectly or some portion of the complete story is missing, it appears that Huldah Briggs's son-in-law, William Draper, did provide for his mother-in-law in her declining years as she experienced these same years in Bond County, IL, far from Worthington, MA where Richard Briggs had died.
According to the "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458", page 38, the following citation appears and seems to be a fitting conclusion to this addendum on Richard Briggs:
"Bond County, Illinois, January 18, 1844, James Bradford, resident of Greenville in said County, is appointed administrator of the estate of Huldah Briggs, who died December 17, 1842; said Bradford being her son-in-law.". Huldah Briggs had outlived her husband, Surgeon's Mate Richard Briggs, late of the frigate South Carolina, by seven years.
Just as an aside and to complete the finale concerning the Briggs's family, according to "Find a Grave Memorial: Huldah Briggs Draper (1811-1844)", William Henry Draper would bury Huldah Briggs Draper on August 20, 1844, less than two years after the death of her mother, Huldah Briggs. Huldah B. Draper succumbed to a "malarial fever" which also claimed the lives of four of her five children within a two week period of her death. She was buried in family plot in Bond County, IL, in the vicinity of Greenville, IL. The location of that plot has been lost to the passage of time and her final resting place is thus unknown.)
Being that Richard Briggs filed his pension application late in his life, the following statement appears in bis application, as it does in all too many pension applications filed by veterans of the frigate South Carolina as they, too, began to age. This statement is quoted here as follows:
"When I left the Service I had a Certificate of my service which is lost. I have made diligent search for living witnesses of my service but can find none. Nicholas Bartlett of Marblehead was first Lieut. in the ship. Jon. Bartlett of Marblehead was Lieut. of Marines, Richard Pierce of Marblehead was Sail Maker (and Joseph Gridley of Boston was Purser and left the Ship at Havana). They are all dead. If anyone but myself exists I know not where. I am compelled therefore to rely for proof to a copy of a Certificate from the Auditor of the State of South Carolina, and a Certificate of the Comptroller General stating the payment made to me as one of the Crew of the Frigate South Carolina which are forwarded with the declaration.".
Fewer and fewer veterans of the frigate South Carolina survived with the subsequent passage of time. Richard Briggs would not be the only one who would make a "...diligent search for living witnesses..." but would not be able to find any at all. They would be increasingly forced "...to rely for proof..." on earlier documents such as stub indents and certificates issued to them by the State of South Carolina for proof of their service during the American Revolution on board the frigate South Carolina.
The final, concluding statement attached to the "Pension Application of Richard Briggs W10458" provides a sense of assurance that right was done by the government to these aged veterans. This statement simply says:
"Veteran was pensioned at the rate of $480 per annum commencing March 4, 1831, for service as a Surgeon in the South Carolina Navy. His widow was pensioned in a like manner.".
So, it was Richard Briggs's service on board the frigate South Carolina on her maiden voyage from Holland to the rebellious North American colonies for which he was recompensed by the government of the United States of America which he had personally struggled and fought to establish.