Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants: Awarded by State Governments, (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1996).
Hatcher, Patricia Law. Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, Vol. 2, E-K, (Pioneer Heritage Press, 1987).
Heitman, Francis B. Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army: During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December 1783, (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1982).
Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina During the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999).
Middlebrook, Louis F. The Frigate South Carolina: A Famous Revolutionary War Ship, (The Essex Institute, 1929).
Moss, Bobby Gilmer. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1983).
Revill, Janie. Copy of the Original Index Book: Showing the Revolutionary Claims Filed in South Carolina Between August 20, 1783 and August 31, 1786, (Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1969).
Stone, K. "Find A Grave Memorial - John Henderson", (created by K Stone, record added: 05/21/2011).
Trussell, John B.B., Jr. The Pennsylvania Line: Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776-1783, (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977).
Van Doren, Carl. Mutiny in January: The Story of a Crisis in the Continental Army Now for the First Time Fully Told from Many Hitherto Unknown or Neglected Sources, Both American and British, (The Viking Press, 1943).
Letter - "John Henderson to Stacy Potts, December 19, 1782", (The Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection, The Society of the Cincinnati, Washington, D.C.).
In the course of this overall blog there have been individuals addressed in specific posts who have a fair amount of information concerning them published. This is certainly true for the Commodore of the South Carolina Navy and ranking officer on board the frigate South Carolina, Alexander Gillon, whose four posts are dated, respectively, "03/31/2015", "04/02/2015", "04/04/2015" and "04/10/2015". Just from the number of posts indicated here there is quite a bit of information, both factual and inaccurate, that has been published on the life of this single man. But, Commodore Alexander Gillon is only a single example. There are numerous others of lesser station on board the frigate South Carolina about whom there is a considerable amount of information published. To name just a few, there is John Joyner, the last captain of the frigate and was post is dated "10/06/2014". There is John Spenser, a Captain of Marines on board the frigate, whose post is dated "10/16/2014". There is Michael Kalteissen, Gillon's friend from earlier days and commander of the non-Luxembourgian marines on board the frigate and whose post is dated "10/08/2014". There is Robert Coram, the 5th Lieutenant on board the frigate South Carolina, whose post is dated "10/17/2014" and, as of the writing of this post on "02/07/2016", there will be even more written on this fascinating individual. There is even the post addressing the surgeon on board the frigate South Carolina who may have been guilty of not just "shady land deals" after the war but, possibly, outright treason, James O'Fallon whose post is dated "12/03/2014". Of course, there are also numerous posts that address an entire group of men, such as midshipmen, lieutenants, African-American sailors, women, "passengers", and so forth that are scattered through out this overall blog. But, occasionally, there appears an individual who merits a post dedicated to him that there is large and pronounced gaps in the vital information concerning him and his life. One of these individuals is John Henderson, a lieutenant of marines on the second and final voyage of the frigate South Carolina.
As far as the writer of this blog knows, there is no information concerning the life of John Henderson prior to the beginning of the American Revolution. We know nothing of his parentage nor of the number of times he may have moved or to where while he was yet young. We know nothing of his family nor how large it may have been. It is completely possible that he may have been born in another colony and moved to Pennsylvania at some point after his birth. The writer of this blog holds the assumption that he was originally from the colony of Pennsylvania. But, this is only an assumption simply because he initially chose to serve in Pennsylvania army units, as will be seen later in this post. These services were performed well prior to his signing on board the frigate South Carolina.
Like many other crew and marines on board the frigate South Carolina, John Henderson's initial involvement in the American Revolution took place in the Continental Army. The evidence we have concerning John Henderson is taken from Heitman's work, Historical Register of Officers, page 284, and is fully cited here, though in list form so that his promotions and transfers between regiments might be more easily perceived:
John Henderson (Pennsylvania) -
2nd Lieutenant, 12th Pennsylvania, October 1, 1776
transferred to 3rd Pennsylvania, July 1, 1778
Captain Lieutenant, 3rd Pennsylvania, July 1, 1778
Captain, 3rd Pennsylvania, May 12, 1779
resigned, December 11, 1781
(Note: There is a second John Henderson also cited in Heitman's work Historical Register of Officers, page 284, the entry just prior to the above cited John Henderson. He, too, is cited as a native of Pennsylvania. For the sake of inclusion of the totality of information, this other John Henderson will be cited here:
John Henderson (Pennsylvania) -
Ensign, 11th Pennsylvania, September 30, 1776
Cornet, 4th Continental Dragoons, January 20, 1777
Regimental Quartermaster, July 1, 1778
omitted, September 1778
There is also no further known information concerning this John Henderson, either. It is seemingly impossible to discern which John Henderson is being spoken of here. It is the opinion of the writer of this blog that the former John Henderson is most probably the John Henderson indicated here and will be the one for whom information is introduced. The reason for choosing this John Henderson is that his dates seem to fit more with the timeline of the frigate South Carolina. His resignation from the army took place on December 11, 1781. The frigate South Carolina arrived in Philadelphia harbor on May 29, 1782 and left on December 19, 1782. All of this seems to fit "more easily" with the former John Henderson. The later John Henderson seems to have served early on in the American Revolution before he was "omitted" in September 1778. But, if there is ever an indication that it was the later John Henderson being referred to here, then the writer of this blog will change his approach and re-write this post or submit a second post noting the change of identities of John Henderson.)
Again, assuming that the former John Henderson is the correct one as regards this post, according to Heitman's work, Historical Register of Officers, page 284, this John Henderson initially was commissioned as an ensign in the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot, a Continental Line regiment originating in Pennsylvania, on October 1, 1776. According to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 136-137, between this time and the incorporation of the 12th Pennsylvania into the 3rd Pennsylvania on July 1, 1778, elements of the 12th Pennsylvania took part in the actions at Princeton, NJ (January 3, 1777), Bound Brook, NJ (April 12/13, 1777), Second Battle of Bemis Heights, NY (October 7, 1777), Brandywine, PA (September 11, 1777), and Germantown, PA (October 4, 1777). The 12th Pennsylvania spent the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge with the rest of Washington's army in what one British historian has referred to as "the most famous encampment in the history of the world". According to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 137, the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot marched out of the Valley Forge encampment with the rest of Washington's army and almost straight into the Battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778. A few days after this final major battle in the northern theater of war, the 12th Pennsylvania would be incorporated into the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot. Again, according to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 137, "...the fact is that for all practical purposes, the 12th Pennsylvania already had virtually ceased to exist. Its absorption by the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment on July 1, 1778, merely formalized the situation."
Since the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot had "elements" engaged in all these battles, John Henderson may have been at several of these engagements, though most likely not at all of these battles. He was not commended in any of the action reports as far as the writer of this blog is aware. He is not referenced in any of the works that this writer has come across. Thus, he most likely performed well as an officer should in those circumstances but, probably nothing to gain himself a commendation from a superior officer. Had he gained one of those, it would probably have been mentioned in connection with one of these battles and we would have definitive proof that he was there. That he was on active duty with the 12th Pennsylvania when its dwindling number of personnel were incorporated into the 3rd Pennsylvania can be seen by his transfer into the 3rd Pennsylvania as well as his simultaneous promotion to Captain Lieutenant being on the same day as the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment's incorporation into the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot.
Less than a year after the incorporation of the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot into the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot, John Henderson received a promotion to captain. Even this personal advancement was connected to other events concerning his new regimental affiliation. According to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 58, " [Company H] was commanded by Capt. Thomas L. Moore... On May 12, 1779, he was promoted to major, 9th Pennsylvania, being replaced as company commander by John Henderson, promoted from captain-lieutenant." Both of John Henderson's promotions took place as a direct result of some type of regimental alteration. His first promotion from ensign to captain-lieutenant took place as a result of Henderson's former regiment, the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot, being incorporated into the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot on July 1, 1778. Less than a year later, on May 12, 1779, he was promoted to captain as a result of the promotion of another captain, Thomas L. Moore, being promoted to a major and transferred to the 9th Pennsylvania. This is not to say that John Henderson was not talented and dedicated as an officer, and worthy of promotion due to personal merit. It is only meant to indicate that he seems to have risen in rank as a direct result of actions beyond his scope of personal control. These promotions possibly could have been made out of necessity to fill a certain spot in the chain of command rather than based strictly upon John Henderson being a capable officer.
(Note: It has been the experience of the writer of this blog that a company of troops during the American Revolution was designated by its commanding officer's name rather than by a letter of the alphabet, as in the American Civil War. The regimental organization here referred to a "Company H" of the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot would have been more properly known as "Henderson's Company" or "Captain Henderson's Company" of the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot, being named for its commanding officer, Captain John Henderson.)
Following the Battle of Monmouth Court House on June 28, 1778, most of the major fighting moved southward. Yet, troops were obviously left in the northern parts of the colonies in order to "pin down" British forces there and prevent them from being moved south to participate in the fighting raging there. It appears that the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot was one of these regiments involved in detaining British forces in the north. According to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 62, the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot did participate in the desultory fighting in the north when it did occur. Frequently, this fighting could turn very vicious. At dawn on April 16, 1780, a British force of cavalry and infantry surprised a detachment of 200 troops of the 3rd Pennsylvania at Paramus, NJ, scattering the American force and mortally wounding the American commanding officer, Major Thomas L. Byles, in what Trussell's work, page 62, describes as "...an act of deliberate brutality."
Three months later, on July 21, 1780, according to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 62, the entire regiment was involved in the attack on the Bergen Heights (NJ) Blockhouse. Since the regiment was mostly engaged as a blocking force to prevent a British relief force from reaching the embattled blockhouse, it did not suffer the losses sustained by the other American forces involved in the failed attack on the blockhouse. According to Trussell's work, page 62, afterwards, the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot marched with the rest of Washington's forces to Tappan, NY where on September 25, 1780, they were rushed to West Point to guard against a possible British surprise thrust after Benedict Arnold's betrayal of the post to the British. According to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 62, the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot was moved in December 1780 to winter quarters at Morristown, NJ "...where its men took part in the mutiny that began on January 1, 1781." The Rising of the Pennsylvania Line on January 1, 1781 was the largest mutiny in American military history and involved almost the entire Line of Pennsylvania, exclusive of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot that at the time was located on the western frontier operating against hostile native Americans there.
This was the most significant non-combat event to occur during the American Revolution and, as stated in the previous paragraph, was the largest mutiny to ever in American military history. It is variously referred to as the "Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line" or the "Rising of the Pennsylvania Line". The mutiny occurred between the initial rising of the Line in the early morning hours of January 1, 1781 and the resolution of the mutiny and ultimate compromise between the representatives of the Pennsylvania Line and the Pennsylvania General Council representatives on January 8, 1781. Some amount of information has been written concerning the "Mutiny of 1781" but, only a single full-length book has been dedicated to the long-ago event. It is Carl Van Doren's work, Mutiny in January, and was published in 1943, which was a dark year for the allied powers in World War II. This account of the mutiny of the Pennsylvania regiments quartered at Morristown, NJ has been attributed to more obvious reasons such as an extreme shortage of proper clothing and blankets, a lack of food and rum, but, mostly, a total lack of money sufficient to pay the troops. But, according to Van Doren's work, Mutiny in January, page 110-111, the enlisted men
"...still did not blame their sufferings altogether on Congress or Pennsylvania. As if unable to take a long view of their situation, they kept their sharpest resentment fixed on their field and company officers. Since the original enlistment papers have not survived, it is now impossible to know how the men were right in their contentions. But, they did contend, and were generally convinced, that many of them who had understood they were enlisting for a maximum of three years were entered on the lists for the war. In disputes about terms the word of an officer had almost invariably been accepted over any protest by a soldier."
In another quote from Van Doren's work, Mutiny in January, page 40, it indicates almost the same sentiment when the text states that "...it naturally came about that their resentments were specially acute towards their immediate officers, who had personally to exercise repressive discipline over the embittered men..." The men viewed "...their immediate officers..." - company officers in particular and in several documented cases regimental commanding officers - as being the source of their most grievous treatment and sought to deliver back in kind now that they had the upper hand. According to Van Doren's work, Mutiny in January, page 199,
"...to the protests of the officers the men responded with infuriating disobedience. 'Great indulgences must and ought to be shown to the feelings of the officers in this new and unexpected scene', [President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania] Reed wrote that day to the Council. 'It is a sore trial, and requires no small degree of patience and good sense to submit to it. The men certainly had not those attachments which the officers supposed, and their fears being now at an end, they give loose to many indecencies, which are very provoking to those who have long been accustomed to receive unconditional submission.' The men went beyond passive disobedience in the first days of the settlement, and forcibly excluded their officers from camp or from the hearings of the commission."
At the outset of the mutiny, several officers had been injured or seriously wounded at the hands of the mutineers. According to Van Doren's work, Mutiny in January, pages 44-45, Lieutenant Francis White of the 10th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot "...was shot through the thigh..." and Captain Samuel Tolbert of the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot was "...shot...through the belly..." Also, according to Van Doren's work, page 46, Captain Adam Bettin of the 4th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot was "shot...through the body, and ...died two hours later." His grave along the Jockey Hollow Road is still pointed out to visitors and is located under an oak tree still known as "Bettin's Oak". All fo these officers, due to their ranks of lieutenant and captain, would have qualified as the enlisted men's "...immediate officers..." and thus were the focus of their anger, frustration, and intense animosities. Some of these few killings would have resulted from an intense dislike of certain enlisted men towards these specific officers. Yet, again, the target of the anger and hatred of the enlisted, mutinying men was not some distant, ethereal group of wealthy, privileged men like Congress or the Supreme Executive Council but, those officers that they interacted with on a daily basis.
According to Trussell's work, The Pennsylvania Line, page 58, Captain John Henderson has been referred to as the commanding officer of Company H which was more properly known as "Captain Henderson's Company". He is cited in Heitman's work, Historical Register of Officers, page 284, as being a captain in the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot from the time of his promotion to his captaincy on May 12, 1779 until he resigned his commission on December 11, 1781. He was a member of the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot at the time of the Rising of the Pennsylvania Line on January 1, 1781. Nothing is known of John Henderson's personality or disposition towards others, especially those inferior to him in rank. But, he could have easily been one of the numerous company-grade officers who were driven out of their positions of command by their mutinous companies and not allowed back in their rightful place during the course of the mutiny. He may have suffered defiance, threats, attempted assault, insults and derision from his social inferiors and had to just endure them in the hope that all would be set right as far as he was concerned as the commanding officer of his company. In the aftermath of the mutiny, John Henderson may have experienced disillusionment and a sense of deep humiliation at the hands of men over whom he had once held authority. These all could have been contributing factors in his decision to resign his commission on December 11, 1781 and leave the army.
An end to a career but, not an end to the story. As should be seen from the following information, this is not nearly the end of the story for John Henderson had much to be involved in yet. The next instance that we hear from John Henderson is really rather remarkable because it is through a means that we have yet to encounter in this entire blog - a personal letter to a friend, Mr. Stacy Potts.
(Note: This unique letter was first brought to my attention by Rick Stattler, Director of Printed & Manuscript Americana, of Swann Galleries of New York, NY. The writer of this blog thought it best if he waited for the actual sale of the letter before embarking on this post concerning John Henderson and his time on board the frigate South Carolina. Since February 4, 2016, this letter has resided in the possession of the following institution:
The Robert Charles Lawrence Fergusson Collection
The Society of the Cincinnati
2118 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Ellen McCallister Clark
The writer of this blog is grateful to both Mr. Stattler as well as Ms. Clark for their permission, each in turn, to use excerpts from this letter in this post. They have made a quite unique treasure of American history available to the writer of this blog so that a bit more information on the life of John Henderson might be made known to the American public.)
The true uniqueness of the letter lies in that it was written while the frigate South Carolina was embarking on its second cruise, sailing southwards down the Delaware River towards the open Atlantic Ocean. The letter is signed "Jno Henderson" which leaves no room for doubt that the individual in question in this specific post was the actual author of this letter. John Henderson headed the letter, "On board the So. Carolina (Ship of War) off Reedy Island - December 19, 1782".
(Note: Reedy Island is a small island in the main channel of the Delaware River. The island measures just over seven hundred yards in length and, at its widest point, just over one hundred and fifty yards wide. It covers roughly fifty acres of ground. The island runs roughly parallel to both banks of the river and runs northeast to southwest. The positioning of the island in the main channel of the river places it much closer to the Delaware shore (about 350 yards) than the New Jersey shore (about one mile). The island is located approximately one mile due east of Port Penn, DE and about five miles southwest of Salem, NJ. It is currently uninhabited except for the Reedy Island Range Front Light, which is operated by the United States Coast Guard.)
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 90, Captain John Joyner, commanding officer on board the frigate South Carolina, had chosen to anchor just off Reedy Island for December 17-18, 1782 "...in the company of three vessels, the brig Constance, schooner Seagrove, and the "ship" Hope..." The text indicates that at this point the Delaware River broadens out into a bay, being only about fifty miles from Cape Henlopen and the true open sea. Again, according to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 198, only the brig Constance, commanded by Captain Jesse Harding, was an unarmed merchant vessel. Both the Hope and the Seagrove were privateers. The Hope, commanded by Captain James Proule, had ten guns and forty-two crewmen. The Seagrove, commanded by Captain Benjamin Bradhurst, had six guns and eighteen crewmen.
John Henderson, Lieutenant of Marines, begins his letter to Stacy Potts with the following reason for his being able to write the letter in the first place:
"Contrary Winds and a variety of adverse circumstances combined to retard and prevent our Sailing out as soon as expected when I had the pleasure of seeing you last; But we have now the pleasing expectation of seeing the Ocean before eight & forty Hours at farthest where I hope we shall do something more to advantage than can be expected in the land Services."
The "...Contrary Winds and a variety of adverse circumstances combined..." can best be understood in light of the movements of the frigate South Carolina from December 12 until she was just off Reedy Island when John Henderson wrote his letter, dated December 19, 1782. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 90:
"On December 12, 1782, the South Carolina began dropping down the river from Billingsport, [NJ], where the frigate had been anchored for some time. The next day [December 13] the frigate passed Chester [PA], stopping to add crew from the local jail; on December 15, Marcus Hook [north of Reedy Island] was sighted. A storm delayed further progress down the river for a day. On December 17-18 [Captain John] Joyner chose to anchor off Reedy Island...
In simple terms, Lieutenant of Marines John Henderson had time on his hands as the frigate South Carolina was gradually manoeuvred down river towards the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, he seems to have drafted the letter to Mr. Stacy Potts. John Henderson seems to indicate that he planned on posting the letter at some port-of-call further south along the Delaware River prior to the frigate South Carolina actually putting to sea or by means of hailing an inbound ship at sea and exchanging mail to be posted once the second ship had reached port. There is no indication that this actually occurred prior to the capture of the frigate South Carolina on December 20, 1782, just off the Capes of the Delaware. The letter appears to have never been posted and was among the items taken in the frigate South Carolina by the British on December 20, 1782.
In the second part of his opening sentences, John Henderson may be giving us two insights into his life up to that point in time. The first possible insight is that he speaks with such excitement concerning "...the pleasing expectation of seeing the Ocean before eight & forty hours at farthest..." that one is inclined to speculate that John Henderson may have never previously been on board a ship and most probably had never been to sea prior to that time. Thus, even though he was an officer, and a Lieutenant of Marines at that, he was most probably more properly classified as a "landsman" - an individual almost totally inexperienced with the sea and sea-faring concerns. Due to his position as an officer of marines, he may have seen the inactivity of his sea-faring soldier command as an excuse to write the letter to Mr. Stacy Potts while the ship was moving southward down the Delaware River.
The second possible insight may well contain some latent significance to it. Immediately after his expressions of excitement concerning seeing "...the Ocean...", John Henderson states "...where I hope we shall do something more to advantage than can be expected in the land services." It is true that major land-based operations had certainly been completed by late 1782 with the armies more or less sitting in fixed positions and keeping an eye on each other as such. Most assuredly, there was aggressive patrolling, skirmishing, spies being dropped off and picked up, and the ever-present illicit trade between the two opposing forces. But, major military operations had ceased for all practical purposes. There was no more territory to be captured, local populations to be policed, or enemy forces to be routed out. This is a time period that most diaries and journals, both of officers, NCOs and enlisted men, refer to as being "served in the lines". John Henderson's reference to sea service being where one can "...do something more to advantage than can be expected in the land services..." may be a direct reference to this situation of land-based inactivity. After all, there was any amount of privateering activity still going on against British-controlled shipping as well as British attempts to capture these privateers or impede these overtly aggressive activities. But, possibly, this was a more pointed statement on the part of John Henderson. He might have been referring to his own experience in the regiments of the Pennsylvania Line where, during the Rising of the Pennsylvania Line, he had been cast out by his own men and, in the opinion of Captain Henderson, these wrongs never fully addressed or righted. He might have been referring to his having left the service, possibly still hurting from his humiliation and disappointment, and turned his back on further military service until his opportunity to serve on board a powerful ship-of-war, still striking a blow for the patriot Cause. Seen in this light, John Henderson's comment may have been of a more disparaging nature toward service in the land forces, a sentiment born of his previous negative experience with the Pennsylvania Line. He may have felt that his years of faithful service in the cause of his country were soiled in some way by his last personal experiences in the Pennsylvania Line.
The next reference to the frigate South Carolina is rather brief but, very complimentary in nature. John Henderson states that "...Tho I am very well satisfied with my Situation on Board of one of the finest and best found ships in the World; Yet I wish the Cruise over as soon as possible, for the following reasons, which I take the liberty of mentioning to You in Confidence that it goes no farther..." He states that he is "...very well satisfied with my Situation..." on board an excellent ship-of-war but, his very next statement indicates that he sees it is a superlative warship of which he expects great accomplishment. But, in almost an about-face he states that he wishes "...the Cruise over as soon as possible..." for reasons that are not clearly stated in the following paragraph. John Henderson then launches into the longest single paragraph of the letter, which seems to revolve around a land deal of some sort about which he is deliberately unclear. He does make clear reference to the amount of money he feels he can earn in this deal - "...about 6 to Seven Thousand Pounds - That I should have an equal proportion of all the neat profits or otherwise a Dividend of the Lands adequate thereto - That I should be furnished with Hands and Horses sufficient at the Common Expense." It may well be that this "scheme" may have involved activities or actions that were illegal in the 18th century and that John Henderson was aware of this illegality. But, John Henderson may have also seen the chance for immense personal profit if he engaged in these activities and was willing to take the risk. Thus, a conundrum has been voiced in John Henderson's letter to Mr. Stacy Potts - he is excited about a sea voyage on an excellently appointed ship-of-war of which he expects greater things than he experienced in land service but, he also wants the cruise to end soon. His interests seem to be divergent here - personal glory at sea and personal gain on land.
Even in the middle of this lengthy paragraph, this same sentiment surfaces again when John Henderson writes, "...but that I could not think of undertaking it [the matter he is alluding to] till the Terms were fixed to a certainty, and thus the matter lay till I had engaged myself to this Ship and brought a number of worthy young Fellows from the Country on Board with me..." John Henderson seems to indicating here that he would not have signed on board the frigate South Carolina if the "...Terms..." had been "...fixed to a certainty..." in a much more timely manner. Instead, he found that he "...had engaged myself to this Ship and brought a number of worthy young Fellows from the Country on Board with me..." Again, John Henderson's words indicate that he was one of the many recruiting officers sent out onto the streets of Philadelphia, PA and into the "hinterland" - environs around Philadelphia - to gather up men to help fill out the roster of the frigate South Carolina. As a direct result of these recruiting efforts of these officers associated with the frigate South Carolina, a majority of this second crew and marines of the frigate would be native Pennsylvanians.
(Note: Another of these recruiting officers moving through the countryside of Pennsylvania was Edward Scull. Edward Scull was addressed in the earlier post entitled "'Who was Edward Scull?' - An Enigma on board the Frigate South Carolina, Possibly Solved -" and dated "03/12/2015". It is completely conceivable that John Henderson and Edward Scull knew each other on board the frigate South Carolina. Both of them were cited as Lieutenants of Marines on board the frigate for its second brief cruise. But, only John Henderson is listed on the captive's rosters of the HMS Diomede as being captured on board the frigate South Carolina. Edward Scull does not appear on any of the three captive's rosters compiled as the prisoners-of-war off of the frigate South Carolina were being recorded. New information has been located concerning Edward Scull and will be introduced in a new post concerning him very soon.)
A large portion of the following paragraph of the letter to Mr. Stacy Potts addresses John Henderson's feelings towards the crew of the frigate South Carolina. He begins this paragraph by once again referring to the "alluded-to business" by stating that:
"These are proposals that you may Suppose I should have readily Accepted of; but for my engagements on Board - Here i have brought a number of good Young Men who look up to me as their Guardian and whose Parents expect of me, not only the care of an Officer; but likewise that of a Friend - The Corps of Officers are very agreeable and I can have no pretense of leaving the Captain [John Joyner] (who is one of the worthiest Characters) than that of interest, and upon the whole if I leave the Ship, it would display a fickleness of temper that might be injurious to me in the opinions of the ill-natured World..."
John Henderson again implies that if the conditions of this "business' had developed sooner, he might have taken part in that venture instead of signing on board the frigate South Carolina. But, he next again refers to the men he has brought on board the frigate through his recruiting efforts - men who he says look up to him as their protector and whose parents have relinquished them to the care of "...a Friend..." These are tragic sentiments in light of the impeding fate of so many of these men - capture and confinement o board the British prison "hulks" in Wallabout Bay, NY. The most infamous of these "hulks" was the Jersey, which would claim the lives of so many of the "...good Young Men..." of Berks County, PA through malnutrition, disease, and mistreatment. Yet, "...their Guardian..." and "...Friend..." John Henderson was paroled on Long Island, NY until his exchange back to the patriots simply because he was an officer and thus worthy of proper treatment at the hands of the British military authorities in New York City. It must have been bitter memories for those parents when they reflected back on the trust they placed in John Henderson to protect and care for their sons, if they indeed did place that trust in him initially. It is completely possible that John Henderson was simply "building himself up" to his friend, Mr. Stacy Potts, when he wrote those words. Once again, those words may have received at least some impetus from John Henderson's possibly bitter memories of the Rising of the Pennsylvania Line on January 1, 1781.
John Henderson's attitude towards the rest of the "...Corps of Officers..." and the "...Captain (who is one of the worthiest Characters)..." in particular seem to support his earlier statements concerning fulfilling his commitments to his having signed on board the frigate South Carolina. The "...Captain (who is one of the worthiest Characters)..." is referring to Captain John Joyner, who at that point in time had already a long history where the frigate South Carolina was concerned - long enough that he first probably had encountered her as L'Indien while she lay in The Texel in Holland.
(Note: John Joyner has an entire post in this blog dedicated to him. It is entitled "John Joyner - Gillon's Second in Command" and is dated "10/06/2014". A reference to this post will illustrate the quality of character and courage of this singular officer who had known a sea-faring life, both in peacetime and war, for many years prior to the American Revolution and his own experiences on board the frigate South Carolina.)
John Henderson's next phrase possibly contains a double meaning. The phrase is an effort on John Henderson's part to clearly explain why he had chosen to stay with the frigate South Carolina:
"...and upon the whole if I leave the Ship, it would display a fickleness of temper that might be injurious to me in the opinions of the ill-natured World..."
At initial glance, this phrase seems to be direct and forthright. John Henderson did not want to be viewed as indecisive or cowardly by those who like to criticize and accuse others of such. But, on another plane, this seemingly straight-forward phrase could be full of latent meaning. Again, John Henderson might be remembering his own bitter experiences and humiliation in the unresolved situation of the Rising of the Pennsylvania Line. He may have sarcastically spoken out of his own festering anger and injured feelings he had held within himself since January 1, 1781. We cannot be completely sure of the interpretation of this seemingly simple phrase.
John Henderson's next statement tells the reader a significant fact concerning his own life and his plans for his post-war occupation- his pre-war profession as well as his intentions once he returns. John Henderson states in the final sentence of the next-to-last paragraph of the letter that:
"...I have therefore determined to finish this Cruise and if we get back in Time (which I expect we shall) I shall then make a push for Cain-Tuck and pursue my former occupation till a Land Office is opened in Pennsylvania when I hope to finish and Compleat all Your Surveys in the most advantageous manner..."
According to these statements, it is clear that John Henderson was a surveyor prior to the beginning of the American Revolution and, as of the writing of the letter, that he planned on taking on his old occupation as soon as the frigate South Carolina returned from the current cruise. But, in the letter, he specifically mentions making "..a push for Cain-Tuck..." This is a reference to the virgin, wild and rich lands of Kentucky - the First American West. This alone is an explanation for John Henderson's desire for a quick ending to the cruise and his release from his commitment to the frigate South Carolina. As a surveyor, he must have known of the easy and abundant money available to a skilled surveyor in those lands where these types of men were at a premium. John Henderson must have dreamed of these riches in that West and might even have secretly lamented his misfortune of having signed on board the frigate South Carolina instead of taking the opportunity to travel west into his own waiting fortune and rising significance in that developing society. But, maybe his own memories of the bitterness and confusing nature of the Rising of the Pennsylvania Line drove him to try to redeem that time in the army by means of one, final successful cruise on board a powerful ship-of-war. Possibly, he sensed that he would be able to personally resolve all of this painful past and put it behind him as long as he went through with this one cruise on board the frigate South Carolina.
The final paragraph of John Henderson's letter to Mr. Stacy Potts addresses the handling of the frigate South Carolina as she headed southwards down the Delaware River towards the Capes of the Delaware and the open Atlantic Ocean:
"We have met with much difficulty in getting this Ship down the River as we must always have the Wind entirely Favorable and She draws so much water that it must be half Tide before we can venture to get under Way - Tho we have been fortunate enough to escape all Accidents, Yet we find by experience that such a Ship ought never to be risqued in a River whose Navigation is so difficult as that of the Delaware where the Channel is so narrow that there is not room enough in any part of it to put about."
This portion is literally the conclusion of his letter to Mr. Stacy Potts. John Henderson then abruptly closes the letter with his closing sentiments and salutations to Mr. Stacy Potts and his family. He concludes the letter with a brief postscript in which he states that he has been sick for the past few weeks but, is better now. It appears from the text of this portion of the letter that John Henderson is not only complaining of the difficulties of navigating a sizable and difficult-to-handle ship-of -war like the frigate South Carolina down the Delaware River but, is also making comment on the difficulties of navigation on the Delaware River in general. Of course, neither Lieutenant of Marines John Henderson not anyone on board the frigate South Carolina had any idea what fate awaited them just beyond the mouth of the Capes of the Delaware - the day after John Henderson drafted his letter to Mr. Stacy Potts.
There is a bit more information recorded concerning Lieutenant of Marines John Henderson. According to Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots, page 435, the following information is cited for John Henderson:
John Henderson - he served nine months aboard the South Carolina. A.A.3522; Y219.
This brief entry is potentially packed with information. Due to its very existence, John Henderson must have certainly filed a stub indent against the state of South Carolina for recompense of pay for the time he served on board the frigate South Carolina. The title of Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, could give one the impression that all entries contained therein are for patriots who were actually natives of South Carolina. In the case of John Henderson, this is clearly not the case because, by all appearances, he was a native of Pennsylvania. But, it was his service on board the frigate South Carolina, a ship-of-war of the colony/state of South Carolina, that qualified him to file his claim against the state of South Carolina for pay due him after the capture of the frigate by the British.
The entry also records his length of service on board the frigate South Carolina - nine months. It is not clear whether this term of service was his time actually on board the frigate or whether it might also entail his time on parole while in British custody. It is most likely the latter, which would mean that his actual time on board the frigate was rather short since the captured officers spent a few months in British custody prior to being released to the patriot forces in the vicinity of New York City where they had been on parole. A reference to the two indent numbers cited at the end of his entry in Moss's work might possibly clarify this issue.
There exists one final piece of concrete information concerning Lieutenant of Marines John Henderson. This piece concerns the ultimate payment for his services on board the frigate South Carolina. According to Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, page 386, John Henderson was issued a certificate for 95p/1s/1d in Return 82 which was paid to him on October 29, 1785. This is the approximate amount paid to the other junior officers on board the frigate South Carolina for their services. By means of this entry concerning John Henderson, we know that he did indeed survive his incarceration with the British after the capture of the frigate South Carolina on December 20, 1782. His name is cited among the prisoners-of-war on board the British man-of-war, HMS Diomede, who were carried on board this ship into New York City harbor. So many of the captured crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina were consigned to one of the prison "hulks" moored in Wallabout Bay, NY where many of them met their deaths due to malnutrition, disease or mistreatment. But, according to Middlebrook's work, The Frigate South Carolina, page 20, when John Henderson does appear in the captive's list it is as such:
John Henderson Lieutenant of Marines Discharged December 28, 1782 Long Island
Most, if not all, of the officers were paroled on Long Island for the duration of the war and were safely exchanged back to the patriot forces at Dobbs Ferry, NY towards the end of hostilities. Lieutenant of Marines John Henderson was among those repatriated as seen by the appearance of his certificate being issued to him by the state of South Carolina on October 29, 1785.
(Note: The entry immediately above the entry of John Henderson in Middlebrook's work, The Frigate South Carolina, page 20, appears as such:
Gustavus Henderson 2nd Surgeon Discharged December 28, 1782 Long Island
The name "Gustavus Henderson" was the "nom de guerre" of Baron Gustav Heinrich Johan de Rosenthal of Estland whose life and activities in support of the patriot Cause during the American Revolution were covered in the post cited below entitled "A Rose by Any Other Name..." and dated "01/28/2016". This entry is identical to that for John Henderson and indicates that "Gustavus Henderson" was also paroled on Long Island to await his repatriation to the patriot forces at the end of the war. He, too, would have been spared the horrors of the prison "hulks" which killed so many others of the crew and marines of the captured frigate South Carolina.)
There only remains the information concerning the final resting place of John Henderson. This is not at all clear. Hatcher's work, Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, Vol. 2, E-K, page 141, there are nine listings of a burial for an individual named "John Henderson". Six of them are simply named "John Henderson", two of them are listed as "Capt. John Henderson" and one of them is cited as "Maj. John Henderson". Any of these could conceivably be the John Henderson in question here. The three that cite his rank could be citing a latter rank achieved as a leader in the local militia rather than his rank at the end of the American Revolution after his release from British captivity. The writer of this blog feels that of these nine burials, there are two of them that possibly fit for John Henderson, either one of these two being his actual burial spot. One of these burial spots is located as cited here:
Capt. John Henderson
Washington County PA
A search of Washington County, Pennsylvania turns up no cemetery named as "Old Cemetery" in the county. This may be a reference to the actual antiquity of the burial ground rather than an actual name of the cemetery. Evidently, the grave was identified by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1938. The second burial is cited as follows:
Taggarts Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Belmont County, Ohio
This grave was identified by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1954. According to "Find A Grave Memorial - John Henderson", submitted by K. Stone, this John Henderson is recorded as having been an ensign in the American Revolution. Also, the letter of John Henderson to Mr. Stacy Potts specifically stated that it was John Henderson's intention to "...make a push for Cain - Tuck..." as soon as he returned from the cruise of the frigate South Carolina. Again, this is a reference to making a move to Kentucky - the First American West. Either of these two burials could be that of Lieutenant of Marines John Henderson. In the former case, Washington County, Pennsylvania is located in the extreme southwestern portion of the state of Pennsylvania and closest to Kentucky. John Henderson made a reference to later returning to Pennsylvania after having first moved to Kentucky once a land office opened in Pennsylvania. In the latter case, many immigrants to Kentucky latter left the state for lands to the north of the Ohio River such as Ohio, Indiana or Illinois. According to Hatcher's work, Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, page 141, this specific burial is cited, except that the cemetery is listed as being located "...between Uniontown and Lafferty, OH..." Thus, the burial in Lafferty, OH might also be the John Henderson in question. Only further research can elucidate this issue.
There is one final piece of information concerning John Henderson but, it is of an intriguing nature. This piece of information is located in Bockstruck's work, Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants, page 241, and is cited here in full as follows:
Gustavius Henderson (Pennsylvania) - Surgeon, 14 October 1786. 300 acres to John Henderson, administrator.
This land bounty grant information, expressed in complete sentences, reads as follows:
Gustavus Henderson, a surgeon, had a bounty land grant of 300 acres made to him by the state of Pennsylvania. The grant was made on October 14, 1786 to Gustavus Henderson's administrator, John Henderson.
(Note: "Gustavus Henderson" was a "nom de guerre" for Baron Gustav Heinrich Johan de Rosenthal of Estland who served under this name as well as the name "John Rose" during the American Revolution. His story is told in part in the post entitled "A 'Rose' by Any Other Name..." and is dated "01/28/2016". There is a slight spelling discrepancy between Bockstruck's work, which is spelled as "Gustavius" and the standard accepted spelling of "Gustavus" but, the same individual is being referred to in this case.)
This is the bounty land grant made to Gustavus Henderson, the 2nd surgeon on board the frigate South Carolina for her second, brief cruise leading to her capture on December 20, 1782 just off the Capes of the Delaware. But, this grant clearly states that Gustavus Henderson did not actually take possession of his bounty land grant but, rather his administrator, John Henderson, took possession of this land grant in place of Gustavus Henderson. All evidence seems to indicate that John Henderson and Gustavus Henderson must have known each other in the course of the final, brief cruise of the frigate South Carolina. After all, both of them held officers status on board the frigate, John Henderson as a "Lieutenant of Marines" and Gustavus Henderson as a former lieutenant of a Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot as well as his status as a "surgeon" on board the frigate South Carolina. As officers, both men would have been afforded the luxury of parole as prisoners-of-war of the British and would have spent their time in British custody on Long Island rather than confined in the dark, dank prison "hulks" moored on the mudflats of Wallabout Bay, NY. Both would have been released from their custody into patriot hands at the end of the war and returned initially to Pennsylvania until Gustavus Henderson chose to return to his ancestral homeland of Estland and resume his true identity as Baron Gustav Heinrich Johan de Rosenthal of Estland while John Henderson may well have pushed westward into Kentucky. Gustavus Henderson must have known that he was guaranteed a bounty land grant from the state of Pennsylvania but, must have made John Henderson his administrator, possibly to oversee these lands and hold them for his eventual return to America, a return that never happened. This is almost certainly the same John Henderson who is the object of this post but, there is always the outside possibility that it is not. Again, only further research can possibly clarify this issue.
Thus, was the life of John Henderson, not just on board the frigate South Carolina but, also in the course of the American Revolution. His service, which we really know nothing else concerning except the dates of his service, appears by all standards to have been long and stellar. He may have seen quite a bit of combat and personally seen his first regiment, the 12th Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot, rolled into a completely different regiment - the 3rd Pennsylvania Regiment of Foot. As a captain in the 3rd Pennsylvania, he may have weathered the Rising of the Pennsylvania Line in the famous January 1, 1781 mutiny. He could well have known "Gustavus Henderson", the nom de guerre" of Baron Gustav Heinrich Johan de Rosenthal of Estland, who was fighting for the patriot Cause after having fled his homeland for killing a man in a duel. These, and much more, could have all happened to John Henderson and made up the total of his life experiences to that time. But, what we do know is that on December 19, 1782, John Henderson, a Lieutenant of Marines on board the frigate South Carolina, wrote a letter to Mr. Stacy Potts from the decks of the frigate South Carolina. The contents of this letter, along with the services records we possess concerning John Henderson, is all we know of his dedication to the patriot Cause. He seems to have served well, long and faithfully. It is the sincere hope of the writer of this blog that John Henderson realized his dream after the end of the war - making "...a push for Cain - Tuck..." - and continued to participate in the energy and vibrancy of the growing United States - in the First American West of Kentucky.