Lewis, James A. Neptune's Militia: The Frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, (The Kent State University Press, 1999.)
Moss, Bobby Gilmer. Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983.)
Revill, Janie, copier. Copy of Original Index Book: Showing the Revolutionary Claims Filed in South Carolina Between August 20, 1783 and August 31, 1786, (Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969.)
Wates, Wylma Anne, editor. Stub Entries to Indents: Issued in Payment of Claims Against South Carolina Growing Out of the Revolution, Books C-F, (South Carolina Archives Department, 1957.)
n. a. ("Graham"). "Re: Revolutionary Langdons", (www.genealogy.com, submitted - October 17, 2000.)
Pension Application - "Pension Application of Joshua Mersereau, S7224"
Numerous previous posts in this overall blog have addressed individual sailors or marines who served in some capacity on board the frigate South Carolina. Understandably, many of these individuals have been officers, either naval or marines, who served on board the frigate South Carolina on one of the frigate's two voyages. Understandably, in that frequently more information is recorded and has been preserved concerning the officers, their station and service on board the frigate, and their latter lives in the newly independent United States. But, just because we frequently know more of the officers or more has survived until today does not mean that we do not posses information concerning the NCO ratings or the enlisted ranks on board the frigate South Carolina, either crew members or marines. So, this post will differ in two ways from the previous posts in that it will focus on an enlisted sailor, Peter Langdon, and that it will also present, hopefully, in this single post, all the information we have on ths single individual so as to form a kind of comprehensive biography. Of course, if any new information surfaces concerning Peter Langdon at a latter date, this will be presented in a separate second post, most likely more brief than this more comprehensive one.
According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, section entitled "Appendix: Crew and Marines of the South Carolina", on page 154, the following information appears:
Peter Langdon Gunner
No additional information concerning Peter Langdon, Gunner on board the frigate South Carolina, is provided in Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia.
Information of a much more personal nature concerning Peter Langdon is provided in n. a. (Graham's) work, "Re: Revolutionary Langdons", page 2. The entry on this specific page seems to indicate that Peter Langdon was in Boston, Massachusetts as evidenced by a "receipt" of some undetermined type posted in that city and dated "September 3, 1782". A physical description of Peter Langdon is provided and describes him as being "...42 years old, 5 [ft.], 9in., light complexion, gray hair, and gray eyes. He is cited as having been a "laborer" and his birthplace is given as "Ireland". These specifics provided the reader of today with an unusual physical description of an individual who disappeared from the scene of human drama over two hundred years ago and gives us today, at least, a picture in our minds of his appearance during the American Revolution. It also tells us that Peter Langdon was a common laborer who was born in Ireland.
(Note: The writer of this blog is somewhat familiar with the seventeen-volume set entitled Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. This type of descriptive entry for an individual is exactly the type of entry that occurs with marked regularity through out this work. This information sounds as though it could have been copied directly from this work and may be in an abbreviated form in that possibly not all of the information cited in that source immediately cited above may be contained in the brief citation in the preceding paragraph above. As a matter of fact, a reference is made on page 2, just prior to the above cited entry from Peter Langdon, of this same work as being the source of some of the Langdon information contained in the anonymous author's article entitled "Re: Revolutionary Langdons".)
Information concerning his time on board the frigate South Carolina is provided by a few other sources. According to Moss's work, Roster of South Carolina Patriots, page 552:
Peter Langdon - he served nine months as a gunner aboard the frigate South Carolina. A.A.4428A; C722
So, Peter Langdon served for a nine-month period on board the frigate South Carolina with no further indication as to the specific chronological time frame he would have served during the course of the American Revolution as a gunner on board the frigate. The two combinations of letters and numbers at the conclusion of the entry in Moss's work are stub indents that were specifically issued to Peter Langdon. The first entry, A.A.4428A, refers to the "Accounts Audited" work of claims filed against the state of South Carolina and is not currently available to the writer of this blog. But, the second entry, C722, is from Wates's work, Stub Entries to Indents, and is available to the writer of this blog. According to this work, on page 130, the following citation appears:
No. 722, Book C - Issued 17 March 1789 to Peter Langdon for Sixty six Pounds 3/9 Sterling for 9 Mo[nths] pay as Gunner on board the Ship South Carolina, Also for Cash paid by when recruiting at Philadelphia. Resolution of the
Legislature 13th Instant. Account audited.
Principal - 66p..3s..9d
Interest - 4p..12s..7d
(Note: an error actually appears within this citation on page 130 of Wate's work, Stub Entries to Indents. The beginning of the citation concerning Peter Langdon should read "...issued 17 March 1789..." but, instead reads "...issued 17 March 1759..". Since this stub indent was being issued explicitly for services performed on board the frigate South Carolina, and this ship-of-war served during the American Revolution, 1775-1783, this date of "1759" should read "1789". This is further corroborated by other dates of stub indents recorded on the same page, all of which are 1788, 1789, or 1790.)
According to Revill's work, Copy of the Original Index Book, page 386, the entry for Peter Langdon is quite brief. On this specific apge the following entry appears:
See Peter Langdon Entry Book No. 3. page 184
Nothing is indicated concerning the stub entry amount cited above of 66p/3s/9d being paid on March 17, 1789 to Peter Langdon, Gunner on board the frigate South Carolina.
According to the passage cited above, Peter Langdon served for nine months on board the frigate South Carolina and was recompensed for this service. But, he was also recompensed for "...recruiting at Philadelphia...". This would place him in contact with the frigate while she lay in Philadelphia harbor between her initial arrival on May 29, and her departure from the "City of Brotherly Love" on December 19, 1782. Thus, it would seem that Peter Langdon, gunner on board the frigate South Carolina, was associated with the frigate just prior to her second, brief voyage. This assumption may be further corroborated by the pension application filed by Joshua Mersereau in July 1854. Joshua Mersereau was ninety-seven years old at the time of his filing the pension application to receive assistance from the government of the United States. At one point in his pension application, Mersereau, who was engaged as a carpenter on board the frigate South Carolina, provided a detailed list of other personnel who also served on board the frigate at the same time he served. He states in his pension application, "Pension Application of Joshua Mersereau S7224", that this list comprises "...the following List of persons who served with him [Joshua Mersereau] on board the Continental Ship South Carolina, and taken prisoner in 1782...". Contained within this particular list, towards the end of the citations, is the entry "...------- Langdon, Gunner....". This must certainly be "Peter Langdon, Gunner" on board the frigate South Carolina.
Yet, in the same manner, it is interesting to note that the name of Peter Langdon does not appear on any of the three captive's lists of the three Royal Navy men-of-war that carried the captured crew and marines of the frigate South Carolina into New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782. These lists are cited in full in the posts dated "03/24/2015" for the HMS Diomede, "03/25/2015" for the HMS Quebec, and "03/26/2015" for the HMS Astraea. As stated above, the name of Peter Langdon does not appear on any of these lists of American captives taken into New Tork City harbor and, in due time, dispersed among the British prison "hulks" moored there, the Old Jersey being the most infamous of these prison ships. There may be a few reasons for this inaccuracy. First, Joshua Mersereau was ninety-seven years old when he wrote out this list of personnel captured on board the frigate South Carolina. Not only was he advanced in age and infirm at that time, as stated in the pension application, but, he was also recalling events that had occurred almost seventy-two years prior to his creating the list for his pension application. He may have remembered "------- Langdon" was the gunner on board the frigate South Carolina but, he certainly did not recall his first name. Also, the fact that Peter Langdon's name does not appear on any of the captive's lists of the three Royal Navy men-of-war further indicates that Peter Langdon was not captured on board the frigate South Carolina just off the Capes of the Delaware on December 21, 1782. Thus, Peter Langdon most probably was not on board the frigate at the time of her capture by the British men-of-war.
A second reason for this absence of Peter Langdon's name is that he might possibly have been overlooked in the processing of all these prisoners-of-war by the British authorities. This is completely possible and did happen in a few cases that are known. A third possible reason for the Peter Langdon's name being absent from the captive's lists is that he might not have wanted to attract attention to the fact that he was Irish born. He may well have given a false name instead and chosen to live as a prisoner-of-war under that name. Lastly, it is feasible that Peter Langdon was one of the handful of Americans who was killed in the eighteen-hour pursuit of the frigate South Carolina by the elements of the Royal Navy. According to Lewis's work, Neptune's Militia, page 94, there were some "...six killed and wounded...". Peter Langdon was, after all, a "gunner" and thus held a combat position on board the frigate that would have potentially placed him in "harm's way" in any ship-to-ship action. But, for whatever reason, it is most probable that Peter Langdon was not present on board the frigate South Carolina at the time of her capture on December 21, 1782. We have seen examples of other officers, NCOs, and enlisted men who signed on board the frigate South Carolina and worked off their term of enlistment prior to the frigate departing Philadelphia's harbor on December 19, 1782. They may well have chosen at that point to not renew their enlistment terms and have left the service of the frigate South Carolina. There is the existence of the above mentioned cryptic "receipt" dated September 3, 1782 and having some connection to the city of Boston and Peter Langdon. It may well be that by this time, Peter Langdon had already severed his service with the frigate South Carolina and returned to Boston, a town in which a large number of other Irishmen also lived. The notation of the "receipt" noted that at that time, Peter Langdon was forty-two years old, which would indicate that he was born around late 1739 to 1740.
So, it appears probable that Peter Langdon did indeed serve on board the frigate South Carolina for a nine month period of time at some point between May 29, 1782 but, ending prior to the frigate's departure in late December 1782. He was an immigrant from Ireland born in either late 1739 or prior to September 3, 1740. From information cited above, we actually know some of his physical description. While on board the frigate South Carolina, he served in the capacity of a "Gunner" but, was also involved in recruiting duties while the frigate lay in Philadelphia harbor. Since his name does not appear on any of the captive's lists of any of the three Royal Navy men-of-war that carried the captured crew members and marines of the frigate South Carolina into New York City harbor on December 23-24, 1782, we can assume that he must have left the ship prior to her departure from Philadelphia harbor in late December 1782. The "receipt" labelled "Boston" and dated "September 3, 1782" may well indicate that Peter Langdon had left not only the service of the frigate South Carolina prior to her sailing from Philadelphia harbor but, had also left Philadelphia herself and returned to Boston by early September 1782. Peter Langdon played his part in the story of the frigate South Carolina for nine months. That seems like a short time to be on board the frigate but, still he played an active part nonetheless as a "Gunner". It has been the distinct honor of the writer of this blog to record the life of Peter Langdon, "Gunner" on board the frigate South Carolina, for those of us today in order to remember this man, Peter Langdon, who played his part in the creation of our country by "...sailing the deep blue sea, in defiance of the British Crown...".