Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pensioner: William Shanly, 38th Regiment of Foot

In studying the careers of British soldiers who served in America, it is important to understand the meaning of the word Draft. Drafting referred to transferring men from one regiment to another, as opposed to the modern meaning of how men enter military service. Men who were drafted were called drafts, and least at times when their transferred status was important.

During the American war, there were many circumstances under which men were drafted:
  • When regiments were preparing to go overseas, they were brought up to strength by drafting men from regiments remaining in Great Britain
  • When recruiting for regiments overseas was not keeping pace with requirements, men were drafted from regiments in Great Britain
  • When regiments serving in America (or other overseas posts) were due to be sent back to Great Britain, men who were still fit for service were drafted into regiments remaining in America
  • When escaped or released prisoners of war arrived in locations away from their regiments, they were often drafted into local regiments
  • When sick men in army hospitals recovered after their regiments had left the area, they were often drafted into local regiments
  • When recruits arrived in a location different from where there regiment was serving, they were sometimes drafted into local regiments
An example of the latter appears to have occurred when recruits for the 15th Regiment of Foot arrived in New York in 1781. This regiment had departed New York for the West Indies near the end of 1778. Nonetheless, new recruits arrived at New York on 26 June 1781; along with recruits for many other regiments, they had sailed from Cork, Ireland on 27 March (after some of them had first sailed from England to Cork) arriving first in Charleston, South Carolina before continuing on to New York. These men were immediately drafted into other regiments. Among them was a 31-year-old Dubliner named William Shanly.

Shanly had enlisted in the army some time in 1779. In typical fashion, he remained in Great Britain first with the recruiting party that enlisted him and then at a training depot, in this case probably in Cork. As such, he was certainly well-trained at least in basic military discipline by the time he arrived in America. At 5' 8 ½" he was of medium height for a soldier. Enlistment at age 29 was unusual during times of peace but reasonably common during the war.

When the recruits for the 15th Regiment were drafted Shanly was put into the 38th Regiment of Foot which was then part of the garrison in New York. Although there was a war on and service on the lines around New York meant frequent alarms and occasional skirmishes, this regiment which had been quite active in previous years saw no major fighting from the time that Shanley joined it through the end of the war. There was, however, always army work to be done. Shanley spent some of his time making fascines, bundles of brush and saplings used to build field fortifications. One military writer described a fascine as a

...faggot about six feet long and eight inches diameter, or which is the same thing, about twenty-four inches in circum ference; they have two bandages placed at the distance of about a foot from each end; sometimes they have three bandages.

A popular military dictionary of the era gave this more detailed description:

Fascines, in fortification, are a kind of faggots, made of small branches of trees or brush-wood, tied in 3, 4, 5, or 6 places, and are of various dimensions, according to the purposes intended. Those that are to be pitched over, for burning lodgements, galleries, or any other works of the enemy, should be 1½ or 2 feet long. Those that are for making epaulements or chandeliers, or to raise works, or to fill up ditches, are 10 feet long, and 1 or 1½ feet in diameter. They are made as follows: six small pickets are struck into the ground, 2 and 2, forming little crosses, well fastened in the middle with willow bindings. On these trestles the branches are laid, and are bound round with withes at the distance of every 2 feet. Six men are employed in making a fascine; 2 cut the boughs, two gather them, and the remaining 2 bind them. These 6 men can make 12 fascines every hour. Each fascine requires five pickets to fasten it.

The army often stockpiled fascines in preparation for possible campaigns, sending working parties to make them by the hundreds. The opportunistic nature of soldiers even during mundane activities such as making fascines is evident in a general order given to the British army in Boston on 21 August 1775:

Complaints having been made that the Soldiers employed on the working parties, under pretense of cutting down the small wood to make fascines with, cut down large branches, and even whole trees, and are selling them in a Scandalous manner about the town to the Inhabitants, the Officers who command these parties will be made answerable for the conduct of the men under their care; and any man found guilty of such practices will be severely punished.

For William Shanly the work proved hazardous. He served in the 38th Regiment until 1786, and after his discharge joined a corps called the Royal Irish Invalids. Invalid companies and battalions were composed of soldiers who were not fit for active service in regular regiments but who were still able to perform garrison duties; these corps existed throughout Great Britain and in some foreign stations. Shanly remained in this battalion until September 1802 when he was discharged and awarded an out pension though Kilmainham Hospital in Dublin. His discharge after 23 years and 7 months of service reveals an injury he received early in his career:

He is astmatick Rheumatick, loss of an Eye in America by making [fashenes?] by the 38th Regt. And unfit for any service & being afflicted with inward Piles and not able to earn his bread.

No trade is listed on his discharge but he did sign his own name, suggesting that he was a literate man. William Shanly saw no fighting but served long in spite of the serious injury he sustained in America. His pension was a just reward for his dedication to the military.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pensioner: Joseph Driver, 33rd Regiment of Foot

Joseph Driver was born in the city of Leeds in 1750. He joined the army in 1768, enlisting in either the 33rd or 46th Regiment of Foot. He was in the 33rd by the time that regiment arrived in America as part of the abortive assault on Charleston in early 1776. The regiments on that expedition joined the main army in New York during the summer, and the 33rd campaigned around New York and New Jersey throughout the Autumn and into the Winter. While campaigning general stopped between December and June because roads became impassible, the British posts in New Jersey were scenes of a number of skirmishes during these months. During one of them at Bonum Town in April, Joseph Driver was taken prisoner.

Driver and a few other British prisoners were taken to American headquarters and examined on 16 April. A record of this interview survives but it is cryptic; the examining officer apparently asked prepared questions from a list and recorded only Driver's responses. It is this numbered list of responses that survives in the George Washington Papers. From it we can deduce most of the questions, and the information reveals some interesting details about the harsh conditions that British soldiers in New Jersey endured during the first half of 1777:

1 - Joseph Drever 33rd no Brigade. Taken at Bonum Town.
2 -
3 - 59 Rank & File when compleat.
4 - does not know how many now.
5 - }
6 - } does not know.
7 - }
8 - does not know.
9 - Have been sickly, pretty well now.
10 - very healthy at present.
11 - Has been unhealthy but getting better.
12 -
13 - Salt provision plenty. no fresh.
14 - Plenty of Oats, some fresh Hay.
15 - Five thousand Waggons and Horses to them.
16 - Horses in tolerable order.
17 - Talk of the Army that Carlton is to join before the Campaign opens, and that 20000 Foreigners are to come over.
18 - included in the above.
19 - saw 28 Waggons go to Brunswic two months ago with ten Boats.
20 - Agree very well.
21 - In good Spirits.
22 - Old Tents cut up to make Trowsers. No new ones yet come from York.
23 - Never was at Amboy, knows nothing of Ships. Carltons Army 60,000 men and 30,000 Indians. Genl. How 50,000 fit for duty.
most extravagant in all his Accounts.

Question 3 surely refers to the number of men in Driver's company of the 33rd Regiment, while 13 and 14 refer to provisions for soldiers and horses respectively. The rumor mentioned in question 17 may refer to the impending expedition by General Burgoyne from Canada to Albany; the remark about "foreigners" is unclear since German auxiliaries had already joined the British army in America.

The most interesting response is to question 22, which appears to relate to whether the British army was able to move from quarters to encampments. It was typical for new tents and other camp equipage to arrive in America once a year in the spring, in time for the campaign season. In this case tents from the 1776 campaign had been cut up for clothing; although new tents may have been delivered to New York, they had not yet been distributed to outlying posts (more about the difficult conditions faced by British soldiers in this theater can be found in the article "Bloody Footprints in the Snow? January 1777 at Brunswick, New Jersey" by Linnea M. Bass, Military Collector & Historian number 45 (Spring 1993), pp. 9-10). The examiner's closing remark about Driver's "extravagant" accounts provides our only clue to his personality.

Joseph Driver and other prisoners of war were sent to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. That summer, he noticed an American soldier who looked familiar. He proved to be a fellow soldier of the 33rd Regiment, William Walsh. Walsh had deserted on 4 June 1777, two months after Driver was captured. Walsh asked Driver how he was doing, to which Driver responded that he was sickly. Walsh flippantly responded "the Devil relieve you." Later on, Driver saw Walsh serving in the capacity of a corporal, parading an American guard.

By June 1778 Driver had rejoined the 33rd Regiment of Foot. Whether he was exchanged or escaped is not currently known. In April 1779 he was called upon to testify at a court martial in New York. The man on trial had been on board an American schooner that was captured off Charleston, South Carolina by a British tender - William Walsh. Driver and another repatriated soldier of the 33rd told of their encounters with Walsh which resulted in a guilty verdict not only for desertion but for bearing arms with the enemy. Walsh was sentenced to death.

Joseph Driver soldiered on with the 33rd Regiment, serving on Cornwallis' 1781 campaign which led to his capture at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781. He spent another year and a half as a prisoner of war until the Yorktown prisoners were repatriated to New York early in 1783. When the British army evacuated New York the 33rd was among the regiment sent to Canada. In August 1786 a large number of men were drafted from the 33rd into the 37th Regiment of Foot, including Driver. He was discharged from the army in 1790 at the age of 40 and received an out pension for his nearly 22 years of service. The abstract of his discharge available on the British National Archives web site indicates that he served for a time in the 46th Regiment, but does not indicate whether that service was before joining the 33rd or after joining the 37th.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Deserter: Walter Graham, 22nd Regiment of Foot

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp This installment includes a request for leads or further details to complete the story. Most students of the American Revolution have at least a passing knowledge of the capture of Major General Richard Prescott on the night of 10-11 July 1777. Prescott, commander of the British garrison of Rhode Island, had established his quarters in a house near the middle of the tall, narrow island so that he was equidistant from the town of Newport to the south and the principal army encampments to the North. A mile to the west was the shore of Narragansett Bay, providing several miles of separation from American forces on the mainland. In spite of this apparent safety, Prescott was spirited away during the night by a brave party of Americans who rowed two whaleboats more than seven miles across the bay, eluding detection by British warships. They surrounded the house, took the general and Lieutenant William Barrington, his aide-de-camp, hurried them back to their boats, and had them securely on the mainland by dawn. This bold stroke was admired by British and Americans alike, and gave the Americans a prisoner of war to exchange for their own general, Charles Lee, who had been captured seven months before.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The Americans took one additional prisoner that day, who is largely overlooked in contemporary and modern accounts of the raid. The British sentry who stood at the door of the house where Prescott was quartered was a private soldier named Walter Graham of the 22nd Regiment of Foot, and he was also carried off.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Walter Graham first appears on the rolls of the regiment on 12 December 1772, meaning that he was probably enlisted by a recruiting party earlier that year. The regiment was serving in Scotland at the time, and most of the men that joined that year (whose nationalities we know) were Scottish, suggesting that Graham was probably Scottish. There is evidence that he deserted in 1772 before joining the regiment (that is, while still with a recruiting party), and was taken up and returned by the 15th Regiment. On 27 March 1774 when the regiment was in Dublin, Ireland, Graham deserted again. This time he returned on 17 June of the same year, but it is not known whether he returned volutarily or was apprehended.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The regiment seems to have been able to keep better control of Graham for the next few years as it moved from Ireland to Boston, then to Halifax and New York, and finally to Rhode Island at the end of 1776. In July of 1777 he was one of a small guard housed in an outbuilding a few hundred yards away from General Prescott’s quarters. He appears to have been the only British soldier standing sentry on the night of 10–11 July, when around midnight he challenged an approaching stranger.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Abel Potter, one of between 30 and 40 men in the American raiding party, described his encounter with Graham in his pension deposition:

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The mode in which he took the guard standing at the door was as follows. He answered as a “friend” and then stepped up to him to whisper the countersign in his ear and stooped forward to him, and as the sentinel inclined towards him he seized the sentinel’s piece with his left hand and told him not to speak or he should die, the only words which this claimant spoke while on the island.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The sentinel answered “I won’t,” tremblingly.

Other accounts said Graham had given the “Who comes there?” challenge twice, to which members of the raiding party responded that they were searching for deserters and did not have the countersign.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The prisoners were landed on the mainland at Warwick and were soon taken to Providence. The focus, of course, was on the high-value captives. We do not know exactly what was done with Graham initially, but ten days after taking him the Rhode Island Council of War

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Resolved that the Sheriff of the County of Providence forthwith take into custody the Soldier who was taken Prisoner upon Rhode Island by Lt. Col. Barton & his Party, And confine said Soldier in close Jail in the County of Providence. And the keeper of sd. Jail is hereby directed to receive him & him closely keep until further Orders.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp An American soldier named Samuel Buffum, who had been caught during one of the many raids on the British-held island, was paroled and went before the Council of War seeking to be exchanged for a serjeant of the 17th Light Dragoons who was a prisoner of war in the colony. The Council denied this request, but granted in early August that Buffum be exchanged for Walter Graham.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Neither Graham nor Buffum, however, returned to their armies. According to a letter from the governor of the colony to the British commander in Rhode Island in May 1778, “Graham was put on board the cartel vessel, while under the care of our people, in order to be sent, but made his escape.” Buffum was not granted freedom because Graham had disappeared, so Buffum broke his parole and disappeared from the colony. The governor did take the opportunity to complain that the exchange was not a fair one to begin with because

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The person we sent down was a British soldier, taken in arms, nor did he appear as an idiot, but as a fair subject of exchange; and I cannot help adding that Buffum, when here, gave evident marks of insanity, and that I am well informed he was, a considerable time, disordered in his senses when under confinement in the gaol at Newport.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Walter Graham was not returned as a deserter from the 22nd Regiment of Foot until 8 June 1778, probably because it took that long to conclude that he was not in fact coming back from captivity. After this, we find no further information about Graham – no advertisements seeking him, no trace of him entering the American military. Abel Potter, the man who deposed that he seized Graham, did offer one clue in his pension deposition: “This same sentinel afterwards taught school in Pownal, Vermont, and claimant sent a member of his family to school to him.” The inaugural settlers of Pownal in the 1790s included many Rhode Islanders, but we have not been able to find any Walter Graham among them.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp It is here that we seek the help of readers. If anyone can find details of a Vermont school teacher thought or known to have been a British deserter – either named Graham or with a background that suggests a changed name – this author would appreciate hearing of it. It would be fitting to learn the ultimate fate of this forgotten prisoner taken in one of the war’s most daring exploits.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pensioner: Peter Fetherham, 17th Regiment of Foot

The role of German regiments in service of the British government is well-covered in the literature, but a lesser known aspect of British regiments in the American Revolution is that many of the 'British' soldiers were actually German. Soon after the war began, the established size of British regiments in America was increased by almost 50%, requiring an additional 18 men for each of a regiment's 10 companies. Getting so many new men, while also keeping up with normal recruiting needs, was a tall order that was fulfilled using several methods. In addition to increased recruiting, men were drafted from regiments remaining in Great Britain (a practice that was commonly used to fill regiments headed overseas; to satisfy the augmentation, greater numbers of men were drafted). A further step was to have an agent recruit men in Germany.

The result was that nearly every regiment in America received a number of German recruits, most of whom arrived in American in October 1776. Some regiments received as few as five, while others received over 100. I've written an article that tells the story of the 40 German recruits in the 22nd Regiment. The 17th Regiment of Foot also received 40 German recruits, among whom was a eighteen-year-old named Peter Federheim from Gr├╝nstadt, southeast of Frankfurt. He had no trade to speak of, but at 5 foot 9 1/2 inches he was a very desirable size for a soldier.

Unlike the 22nd Regiment which distributed the German recruits evenly among the eight battalion companies (which always received recruits because only experienced men were sent to the flank companies), the 17th Regiment put all of the Germans into Lt.-Colonel Mawhood's company. This may have been simply to keep them together because of their language; perhaps one of the company officers spoke German. Regardless, muster rolls and a surviving orderly book confirm that 17 German recruits joined the company on 23 October, immediately after embarking in New York. Another five joined on 18 November, and another 9 on 27 December. We speculate that the stragglers had remained in New York to recoup their health after the voyage (they had originally embarked on transports in German in mid-May, then sailed to England before proceeding to America; they may have remained on board transports for the entire time from May to October). This is, however, only a guess. We cannot yet account for the other nine recruits that had been directed to the 17th.

No fewer than 10 of the German recruits in the 17th Regiment deserted by the end of June 1778, and others probably did so before the war ended. Peter Federheim, however, assimilated to his new career. In the muster rolls we see his name change from Federham to Fetherham, and he remained in the regiment through the end of the war including time among the prisoners of war captured at Stony Point in 1779 (we do not have ready access to the muster rolls that would reveal whether he was again captured at Yorktown). At the end of the war, when many Germans in British regiments took discharges and land grants in Nova Scotia, Fetherham continued in the army. He was appointed corporal and then serjeant, finally taking his discharge while in garrison on the Isle of Wight in July 1802 at the age of 44.

While his discharge lists his place of birth as "Greenstadt" in the "county of Manheim, Empire of Germany," this seasoned soldier signed his name "P Fetherham, Serjeant, 2d Battn 17th Regiment" showing that he had fully adopted the anglicization of his name. He made other annotations on the document with excellent penmanship. During his 26 years of service he had learned to learned to speak, read and write the English language fluently, allowing him to succeed as a British serjeant. The discharge document describes him as having brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion, and indicates that he was discharged due to a reduction in size of the army rather than for any health reasons. From the Isle of Wight he went to London where the board at Chelsea Hospital granted him an out pension. This man who had come into the army during an augmentation finished his long service due to a reduction, and was appropriately rewarded for his accomplishments.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Escapee: Richard Baker, 7th Regiment of Foot

Throughout the war, British soldiers became prisoners of war, and throughout the war these prisoners escaped. There was no policy of escape as a method to cause disruption to the enemy and contribute to the war effort as there was in later centuries. Instead, soldiers seem to have been motivated by a sense of duty to the service and sovereign, contempt to conditions of captivity, and the simple taste for activity over idleness. Muster rolls give a general idea of the numbers of men who made their way back into British service, and some brief depositions from a few of these men survive (which will be showcased here in the future).

Detailed accounts of escapes are rare. The most verbose and best known is that of Roger Lamb, who escaped from the Burgoyne’s captive army in 1778 and again from Cornwallis’s in 1781. Jonathan Stayer, a researcher at the Pennsylvania State Archives, recently found another detailed account and thoughtfully sent it to us: a deposition given by an escaped British prisoner, detailing his travels as a fugitive and providing information about the local inhabitants who helped him.

Richard Baker was a soldier from the 7th Regiment of Foot, the Royal Fusiliers, who was captured at the battle of Cowpens in 1781. Abetted by sympathetic guards, he escaped along with a soldier from Tarleton’s Legion. After being helped through the countryside by a network of loyalist residents, a miscue led to his capture in Maryland. He was taken to York, Pennsylvania where many British prisoners were held and where he gave his deposition, below. We have no indication of whether he returned to British service either by escape or repatriation. Because his deposition reveals the names of people who were helping escapees, we wonder if he may have chose to stay in America.

Deposition of Richard Baker
York County to wit.

Before me the Subscriber one of the Justices of the Peace [word or symbol illegible] of the said County of York personally came Richard Baker a Soldier of the Seventh British Regiment who on his Oath taken according to Law doth voluntarily and deliberately say and declare, that he (the said Richard meaning) was taken Prisoner with a certain John Thompson of Tarleton’s Legion (who was formerly of Hagers Town in Maryland but joined the British Army in Philadelphia) at the Battle of the Penns in South Carolina; that he with said Thompson left their Guard (many of whom were Tories & recommended them to go to the Moravian Towns where they would be well used or entertained as the People there were loyal subjects & Friends to the King) at the Yadkin. That they in the Day Time generally marched through the woods & were directed from one Tory House to another through North Carolina & Virginia till they (the said Richard & John meaning) came to Hagers Town aforesaid, where they were kindly entertained by a Mennonist who lives within about half a Mile of that Place. Near Chambers Town in Pennsylvania they were also kindly entertained by a Person who knew they were British and making their Escape to New York. They then came on to Lisburn where they left the main road and turned of to the Left towards the Susquehanna in the Red Lands at a Dutch House Thompson went in for Provisions, they remained in the woods there for four Days where several of the Inhabitants came to visit them. On the Night of the twenty eighth of March instant he left the Red Lands with said Thompson and came to Cadovus Creek about one Mile and an Half below York Town and some short Time before Day crossed the same Creek at that Place. They then came up by the Mill late Rankins and proceeded on the road which leads to a Fulling Mill about half a Mile where they met a Person in the Woods who told them that he had Notice from the Red Lands of their coming & was there to meet them, that he lived at York & had three or four hundred Dollars in Continental which was subscribed by the Friends of the British Government & which he gave to Thompson & this Deponent. That the Person who met them was about five feet nine or ten Inches high, well set & wore a Quaker Broad brimmed Hat, was a Dutch Man by his Language. He said he wished that the British Army would come here and that many would join it. He directed them the road to Henry Stouffers, & Thompson having some knowledge of the way proceeded by a Fulling Mill & they the said Richard & John arrived at Henry Stouffers Mill early on the Morning of the twenty ninth instant. They (the said Richard and John meaning) knocked up said Henry Stouffer. They (the said Richard and John meaning) told him who they were. He (the said Stouffer meaning) let them in, gave them Brandy & gave them a Bed to lye in. After resting some Time they (the said Richard & John) got up. He have them their Breakfast & desired them to stay all Day there as it would not be safe for them to go till Night, during which time he entertained them. He gave the said Richard the drab Coloured Coat and Jacket which he now wears in Exchange for a green Jacket. Said Stouffer also gave him a Pair of Shoes. About eight OClock on the night of the 29th inst. said Henry Stouffer got a Man and a Horse to convey the said Richard and John towards the Head of the Bay, so that they might get on Board some of the British Ships. About Seven Miles down the Baltimore Road, he this Deponent and his Companion Thompson parted, he then went to the House of Ludowick Pupp through mistake, and told him Stouffer had sent him there, that he was a Friend & that he was to shew him the way to one John Maultby’s who lives in Maryland and about five Miles from Kean’s Tavern towards the Bay & who had a Brother who would get him on Board one of the British Ships. That he received no Countenance from said Pupp, but was next Morning taken up by Mr. Daniel Peterman & said Ludowick Pupp, & that he was brought by them to this Town.

Sworn & subscribed before me at York the 30th Day of March 1781
[signed] Richard Baker
[signed] Archd McClean

[RG-33, Records of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Court of Oyer and Terminer, Court Papers, York County, 1780-1781. Pennsylvania State Archives]

Learn more about British soldiers in America

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Employed soldiers: James McGregor, 22nd Regiment

Literature on the British Army in the American Revolution often discusses the low pay received by British soldiers. These discussions usually overlook a key aspect of military life: there were many opportunities for soldiers to earn extra money by working either within or outside of the army. Opportunities for men with skills like tailoring, shoemaking or gunsmithing were obvious. Men without trade skills earned money building and maintaining roads, working on fortifications, providing labor for the navy, and all manner of similar jobs.

At this time we have no way to quantify the number of soldiers employed in a regiment, or the number of positions that the army had to offer at any given time. We do, however, have enough examples of soldiers being employed to assume that it was common practice. One such example is from the British garrison in Rhode Island in 1777 and 1778. Because the healthful effects of fresh vegetables were well known, on 24 March 1777 the following order was given to the garrison:

Each British and Hessian Regiment will send one careful man, that knows something of gardening, tomorrow at 12 o'Clock to the British Hospital, in order to cultivate a Garden for the British and Hessian Hospitals. One Serjeant from the British and the same from the Hessians. This party will follow the directions of Doctor Nooth, purveyor of the Hospital who has undertaken the cultivation of the Garden. 22d Regiment gives the Serjeant for the British.

The "Serjeant for the British" was James McGregor, a long-serving soldier in the 22nd Regiment. He was born in Duthil, Inverness-shire in 1741 and apparently joined the army as a teenager. When he joined the 22nd Regiment in December 1770, he already had served some twelve years in the army. His non-specific trade of "labourer" and his posting to this duty in the hospital garden suggests that he had experience as an agricultural worker, but was not so specialized as to list his trade as "gardener" like some soldiers did. He certainly had leadership experience; he had led a party of soldiers in repairing military roads in Scotland in 1772, followed immediately by recruiting service. By the time he was in Rhode Island he was married with two children, his family with him in the garrison.

The size of the hospital garden is not known, but it seems to have been profilic enough. By late June turnips were being supplied from the garden, and in September orders were given for

Two Bushells of Potatoes, two Bushills of turnips, 50 Cabbages, and 50 Onions to be delivered every Friday morning at the Hospital Garden, for the sick of each Regiment.

By the following year, Serjeant McGregor was the overseer of the garden. In this capacity he was entitled to additional rations over and above what he normally received for himself and his family. It is not known whether he received extra pay in addition to the extra provisions, but the provisions alone were valuable and could be resold. In November 1778 a clerk of the provisions store was tried by court martial for embezzlement, and the provisions drawn by Serjeant McGregor were among the points of contention discussed in the trial. A witness testified that Serjeant McGregor had been served

122 wt of Biscuit 122 wt of Flour, 1 Gallon and 1/2 a pint of Rice, 6 Gall and three pints of Pease, half a Barrell and 12 wt of Pork, and that he did not recollect what quantity of Rum he had delivered... and did not take any notice of it till he saw whether the Order agreed with what the Serjt. had received; but that he found the Ticket was only for 122 wt of Bread, 69 wt 3.4 of Pork, 6 wt 6 oz of Butter, 6 Gallons 3 pints of pease, 1 Gallon and a 1/2 pint of rice, and 2 Gallons 17/3 jills of Rum

To explain the discrepancy between what was on his ticket and what he actually received, McGregor testified that

about the 24th of last August he got an Order from the Quarter Master Serjeant of the 22d Regiment for Provisions for himself & his wife and two Children for two Months that were due him; that the Provisions he drew above what was expressed on the Ticket was as Overseer of the Hospital Garden, which was due him for four Months; and that he desired the Prisoner to give him half of the Bread that was due him in Flour, which he did. He further says, that in the Receipts he gave for the Provisions for the men employed in the Garden, his Rations were stopt out of it and kept in the Stores.

In response to a question from the court on how he could draw provisions without a ticket, he said

that for most of the time no Ticket was required, and that for the remainder of the time the provisions were due he had given a Ticket Weekly, out of which his Rations was Stopt.

That McGregor requested a substantial portion of his due in flour rather than bread or biscuit suggests that he either planned to save it for a long time or resell it. The quantities described are in troy pounds, equal to about 1.2 of the pounds that we're accustomed to; twelve troy pounds was equal to a stone, while 100 troy pounds equalled a hundredweight.

The clerk was acquitted of embezzlement. James McGregor continued as a serjeant in the 22nd Regiment for another year, taking his discharge around the time that Rhode Island was evacuated by the British. He was paid through 26 November 1779 in accordance with the army custom of providing a few weeks' extra pay to discharged soldiers to provide for their passage home. In November 1780 he appeared before the pension board of Chelsea Hospital in London, where he was granted an out pension in recognition of 21 years 6 months service.

The orders in this passage are from my book General Orders: Rhode Island. Details on James McGregor are from the Chelsea out pension lists, and information from the court martial from the Judge Advocate General papers, both in the British National Archives.