Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Samuel Mulley, 63rd Regiment, Limps Away from the Militia
We've seen many stories here of men who received pensions after being discharged. Usually the pension was a reward for long service, but some men received them because they'd sustained disabling injuries in the army and were no longer able to "earn their bread" even though still young. In most cases we lose sight of a man once he received his pension, because that's where the trail of military paperwork ends. There may be additional details in local records, but that type of research work is time consuming (if the records are accessible at all) and can be fruitless if there's no way to prove that the man mentioned in a non-military source is the same man discharged from the army some years before.
But occasionally there's a lucky break, as in the case of Samuel Mulley. A barber from the village of Diss in Norfolk, Mulley enlisted in the 63rd Regiment of Foot in 1776 when he was twenty years old, one of hundreds of recruits raised to increase the strength of this regiment that had arrived in Boston just as war broke out in 1775. Mully and almost 200 other men, some recruits and some drafts from other regiments, joined the 63rd in New York in October 1776. Shortly afterwards the regiment was among those that occupied Rhode Island, but they were removed from that garrison and sent back to New York early in 1777.
In October of that year the 63rd was among the British forces that stormed Forts Clinton and Montgomery on the Hudson River in an attempt to support Burgoyne's army operating far to the north. The 63rd suffered many casualties in this intense, bitter fight. Samuel Mulley was among the wounded. For the next year he was reported as "sick" on the regiment's muster rolls. He was finally discharged a year after the battle and sent back to Great Britain with other invalid soldiers.
The date given on the muster rolls for Mulley's discharge is 24 November 1778, but that's deceptive - the surviving muster rolls were prepared to reconcile how men were paid, and discharged men were usually given a few extra weeks of pay as an allowance for their travel home. We don't know the exact data that Mulley left the 63rd Regiment, but we do know that he appeared before the pension board at Chelsea Hospital outside London on 18 December 1778. They recorded that he was wounded in the left thigh, and granted him an out pension - semi-annual payments of 5 pence per day which he could collect at the excise office nearest to his town of residence.
The pension board seemed to think that Mulley's leg wound was severe enough that he couldn't work at his trade as a barber. That's hard to reconcile with the fact that Mulley was able to join the Suffolk Militia, which was called out in 1778 in response to the threat of French invasion. In 1779 this militia regiment was among the forces that encamped on Warley Common east of London for training and readiness. It was from there that Samuel Mulley deserted, as described in a London newspaper advertisement:
Camp at Warley, August 5, 1779.
Deserted on Sunday last, from the first Suffolk regiment of Militia, encamped on Warley Common, and from Capt. Lord Euston’s company, Samuel Mulley, by trade a barber, about 26 years of age (late apprentice to Mr. Evans in the Cook Row, Bury), about five feet seven inches high, grey eyes, light brown hair, broad flat feet, on the left of which he appears rather lame, owing to a wound under his left ham from a bullet: has also a scar on one of his hands, occasioned by a bayonet, and marks of gunpowder on the left side of his face; is rather knock’d kneed, though very stout, and takes much snuff. He was late of the 63d regiment of foot, and had on when he went away a light coloured cloth coat, a sky blue cloth waistcoat, and a pair of brown fustian breeches, all lately new; and a round flapped hat, with strings to tie occasionally, two of which were tied up when he went off, and the fore part was flapp’d.
Whoever will apprehend, or cause to be apprehended, the said Samuel Mulley, shall receive, over and above the usual money given for the apprehension of deserters, One Guinea, by giving notice to the commanding officer.
[Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, 6 August 1779]
The age given in the ad differs from that recorded by the pension board; we've assumed that the latter is more accurate, but discrepancies of a few years are quite common among various sources of age data from this era (and sources of age data for soldiers are themselves quite rare). More interesting is the description of Mulley's wounds, which suggest the bitterness of fighting that he had experienced. The mention of a gunpowder burn is extremely rare among descriptions of soldiers, indicating that it was distinctive and disproving the modern thinking that soldiers were frequently subject to singing by the muskets of adjacent men.
This is the last data that we've found on Mulley, so have no idea whether he returned to the Suffolk militia or remained away from military service for the rest of his life. By absconding, though, this militiaman in England unwittingly afforded us with interesting insight on a fight in America.