Sunday, April 13, 2014

Edward Wade, 35th Regiment, jumps his bounty

British regiments serving in America left a cadre of officers and soldiers in Great Britain to recruit the new soldiers that wartime attrition would necessitate. It was no easy job, particularly for those regiments that came to America in 1775; an order was given that June to increase the size of each regiment in America by 180 private soldiers. Some of those new men were provided by transferring ("drafting") men from other regiment in Great Britain, but many needed to be recruited. This meant that the recruiting officers had to raise many more men that the usual (but unpredictable) number required to make up for annual losses.

The 35th Regiment had arrived in Boston in 1775 just in time to participate in the battle of Bunker Hill. It's recruiting officers, in the mean time, set to work. On 3 March 1776, when the 35th was preparing to evacuate Boston with the rest of the British army, the recruiters enlisted a man named Edward Wade. Desertion, however, was a problem for recruiting parties: for a host of reasons, men changed their minds about the military as a career and absconded from their contractual obligation. Edward Wade did so, for reasons that we don't know. His desertion was advertised in the newspapers:

Deserted from Ensign Bevan’s Recruiting Party at Neath, near Swansea, South Wales, Edward Wade, Inlisted for the 35th regiment of foot the 3d of March, by trade a Shoemaker, sallow complexion, black hair, pitted with the small-pox, 5 feet 6 inches and a half high.  He had on, when he deserted, a patched black coat, white waistcoat, leather breeches, and white stockings, and wore a broad-brimmed hat, cocked up behind only, with a large brass button upon it.
Whoever apprehends the said Deserter, and secures him, so that he may be brought to justice, shall receive Twenty Shillings reward over and above the allowance by Act of Parliament, by applying to the Commanding Officer at Neath, or to Messrs. Gray and Ogilvie, Agents, in Conduit-street, London.
[London Chronicle, 11 April 1776]

Whether he was caught or returned of his own volition, he was back with the 35th's recruits in time to embark for America that summer. He was among those who arrived in New York in October, having spent some two months on board a transport ship crossing the Atlantic.
As a shoemaker, Wade had good prospects in the army. It was a common trade for soldiers, but if he was diligent at it he could earn significant extra income working within his regiment or taking outside work. Even British prisoners of war enhanced their incomes making shoes for the Continental Army. But it was not to be. For reasons not recorded, Edward Wade died on 25 December 1776, having experienced only a glimpse of the war that would occupy his fellow soldiers for many more years.

Learn more about British soldiers in America!

No comments:

Post a Comment