Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Deserter: John Grant, musician, 21st Regiment of Foot

Soldiers deserted the army for many reasons, not the least of which was to pursue the fairer sex. One such desertion was by a member the 21st Regiment of Foot, the Royal North British Fusiliers. This regiment had served in America for a number of years in the 1760s, returning to Great Britain in 1772 only to be ordered back in 1776 as part of the army in Canada. It was among the corps on Burgoyne’s 1777 campaign that was interned under the Convention of Saratoga. This deserter story, however, concerns the regiment’s time in America before the war.

In 1771, the Royal North British Fusiliers were quartered in Philadelphia. Like many regiments, the 21st had a band of music. A separate entity from the drummers and fifers of the regiment, the band of music was maintained at the expense of the officers and, during peace time, often performed at public functions. It was an excellent resource to engender harmony between the military and the local population in an era when the standing army was not widely accepted or trusted. Newspaper ads show us two events in which the regiment’s band participated:

College of Philadelphia, June 28, 1771.
THIS being the Day appointed for the Anniversary COMMENCEMENT in the College of this City, the Trustees, at Half an Hour past Nine o'Clock, proceeded from the Aparatus Room to the PUBLIC HALL, followed by the Provost, Vice provost and Professors, with the different Candidates in their Gowns; the Band of Music belonging to the Twenty first Regiment (or Royal North British Fuzileers) playing during the whole Procession.
[Pennsylvania Gazette, 11 July 1771]

By PERMISSION, and particular DESIRE, For the BENEFIT of Mr. JOHN McCLEAN
(Instructor of the German Flute) WILL be performed, at the Assembly Room, in Lodge Alley, A CONCERT of MUSIC, VOCAL and INSTRUMENTAL: To begin precisely at Six o'Clock in the Evening, On THURSDAY, the Fifth of DECEMBER.
THE CONCERT will consist of two Acts, commencing and ending with favourite Overtures, performed by a full Band of Music, with Trumpets, Kettle Drums, and every Instrument that can be introduced with Propriety. The Performance will be interspersed with the most pleasing and select Pieces composed by approved Authors; a Solo will be played on the German Flute, by John McLean, and the whole will conclude with an Overture, composed (for the Occasion) by Philip Roth, Master of the Band, belonging to his Majesty’s Royal Regiment of North British Fusileers. Several Gentlemen, who wish to encourage and reward Merit, have suggested this public Amusement, and have deigned to honour with their Protection the Person for whose Benefit it is intended; one Instance of their condescending Goodness, he will ever gratefully acknowledge, in consenting it should be known, they have been pleased to offer their Assistance in the Performance, which every possible Means will be used to render agreeable and entertaining to the Company, for whose further Satisfaction, it is also proposed that after the Concert there should be a Ball; on this Account the Music will begin early; and as soon as the 2d Act is finished, the usual Arrangement will be made for dancing.
N.B. The TICKETS for the Concert may be had at the different Printing Offices in this city, at the Bar of the Coffee House, and at Messieurs Duff and Jacobs Tavern, in Second and Third Streets. Price 7 s 6.
[Pennsylvania Gazette, 28 November 1771]

The day before the 5 December concert, one of the regiment’s musician’s absconded. While there is no record of whether his absence affected the concert, he was advertised in the newspaper the following week:

DESERTED, on the 4th of this instant December, belonging to the band of music, of his Majesty’s 21st regiment of foot (or Royal North British Fusiliers) JOHN GRANT, aged 23 years, 5 feet 2 3/4 inches high, born in Beverly, in Yorkshire, England, by trade a jockey, has brown hair, grey eyes, fair complexion, a little pitted with the smallpox, and very thin made; had on, when he deserted, his uniform blue jacket, turned up with a red cape, and cuffs. Whoever apprehends and secures the above deserter, shall, by giving proper notice to Captain NICHOLAS SUTHERLAND, Commanding Officer of the said regiment, at Philadelphia, receive ONE GUINEA reward, over and above what is allowed by Act of Parliament for apprehending deserters.
N.B. He is supposed to be gone to Maryland, as he has a wife and a plantation in that province.
[Pennsylvania Gazette, December 12, 1771]

This ad contains information of immediate interest to students of uniforms. This musician wore a blue coat with red facings, cuffs and collar, the reverse of the red coats with blue facings worn by the generality of the regiment. While this would be typical for drummers of most marching regiments, the royal regiments with blue facings were warranted not to reverse the drummers’ colors but to clothe them in red faced with blue. John Grant, however, was not a drummer, but a musician in the band of music. There was no warranted uniform for regimental bands, resulting in a variety of styles. Bandsman of the 17th Regiment of Foot wore red coats with white facings, while those the 22nd Regiment wore red coats with buff facings, two examples of regiments that did not reverse their bands’ colors. The 21st gives us an interesting example of a regiment that did not reverse drummers’ colors, but did reverse those of the band.

We have not been able to examine the rolls of the 21st Regiment to determine whether Grant was on the rolls as a private soldier, nor whether he ever returned to the regiment. The advertisement shows that he was born in England, but he had a wife in Maryland. It appears that he married in America, apparently into some wealth; perhaps this was his reason for abandoning the service.

The 21st Regiment soldiered on, moving to New York City by the following summer where they performed a favorable field review:

NEW YORK, June 8.
On Tuesday last the 21st Regiment, or Royal North British Fuzileers, under the Command of Major Sutherland, was reviewed near this City, by his Excellency General Gage, his Excellency William Tryon Esq; our Governor, being present, and a great Number of the principal Gentlemen of this Place. The Exercise was continued for several Hours, and exhibited a great Variety of Manoeuvres and Modes of Attack, Defence, Advance and Retreat, &c. with Firings and Movements suitable to every Occasion in actual Service; all which were performed with surprising Dexterity and exactness, to the great Delight of every Spectator, but cannot be described with Justness and Propriety, by a Person not Master of the Subject. The Notice of every one was particularly attracted by Corporal George Boss (called the Fugalman) who stood at a Distance, a little to the Right, and gave the Motions, which he made with inconceivable Vivacity and Gracefulness.
[Pennsylvania Gazette, 11 June 1772]

A flugalman was a well-trained soldier who demonstrated the manual of arms to the rest of the regiment, providing a model for them to watch and imitate during their exercise.

Because this installment concerns the 21st Regiment and married soldiers, we conclude it with another interesting newspaper ad. Apparently another soldier of the regiment married a Philadelphia woman during the regiment’s stay in that city, and she followed the army with him. Years later, when her father died, she was entitled to an inheritance, and executors suspected that she might be found in nearby Virginia where the remnants of the regiment was interned:

WHEREAS BELTHASER STAUS, late of the Northern Liberties of the city of Philadelphia, yeoman, deceased, by his last Will and Testament, ordered his estate to be sold, and the money arising from the sale thereof to be equally divided between his eight children, whereof four are living in and near the city of Philadelphia, and four absent, namely two sons FRANCIS JOSEPH and DANIEL, and two daughters SARAH and SUSANNA. The shares of which said four absent children he ordered to be put out, and continued at interest for the space of seven years, to be claimed by the said children or their legal representatives in person, &c. And of his said last Will and Testament he appointed Zacharias Endres, of the said Northern Liberties, brewer, sole Executor.
Now the said Executor, in compliance with the special directions of the said Testator, given him a few days before his deceased, has thought proper to give this PUBLIC NOTICE, hereby requiring the said four absent children of the Testator, or in case of the death of any of them, the children or guardians of the children of the deceased, to make their claims to their respective shares. The said Executor is informed that the said Francis Joseph Staus is by trade a skinner, and was some time Paymaster of the British troops in East Florida; that the said Daniel Staus was a Captain of a vessel, and an inhabitant of the Island of Providence; that the said Sarah had been married to one Andrew Lytel, and is now a widow, living somewhere in North Carolina; and that the said Susanna was married to one Andrew Kehr, of the 21st regiment of Scotch Fuziliers, who, it is said, is among the prisoners of General Burgoyne’s army, now in Virginia.
All friends and acquaintances of the persons concerned, seeing this advertisement, are desired to inform them thereof. The said Executor will take particular care that the money happening to each child’s share may be recovered upon short notice.
[Pennsylvania Gazette, 18 September 1782]

Friday, August 21, 2009

Employed soldiers: William Bayliss and John Lewis, 38th Regiment of Foot

The typical age for enlistment into the British army in the 1770s was between 17 and 25 years of age. Of course there were many exceptions, but a reasonable majority of soldiers enlisted in this age range. By the time a young man was in his late teens, however, he had been old enough to be in the workforce for many years. Thomas Watson, for example, began working in coal mines when he was seven years old, a profession he pursued intermittently until joining the 23rd Regiment of Foot when he was about 19. John Robert Shaw (or Robertshaw) began working as a weaver at the age of twelve, and joined the army three or four years later. Although surviving records are far from complete, available information indicates that over half of British soldiers during the 1775-1783 era had some experience in a skilled trade. For example, we know the pre-enlistment professions of about a third of the men who served in the 22nd Regiment during this time, and of them about 55% had some trade other than “labourer.”

The army was able to make good use of these skilled and semi-skilled soldiers. Men with backgrounds as tailors, shoemakers, smiths, carpenters and numerous other trades afforded the army a talent pool to meet needs from fitting new clothing to constructing huts. Orders given in Boston on 13 November 1775 provide an example:

Jno Farrington 49th Job Edge 35th John Benson 10th Regts & John Davis of the 2d Batt. of Marines, Bakers by Trade, to be sent to the Deputy Quarter Master Generals Office to morrow Morning at Eight oClock.

Six weeks later, on 29 December, the army put out a call for more bakers, this time offering important specifics about the skill level that was being sought:

A list of Bakers in each Corps includg Non Commissd Officers to be given in to morrow morning at 9 0’Clock, specifying such as are experience’d in the business from those who may have work’d occasionally at the Trade.

Apparently working from the lists provided in answer to the above order, on 14 January 1776 several bakers were called to work for the Commissary General. It is interesting that only one is also among those called on 13 November:

The undermention'd Corps to send Bakers to attend the Commissary Genl tomorrow morning at 8 o'Clock vizt

4th Regt, Wm Warren Wm McIntosh
10th do John Cairncross
22d do James Mills
38th Bailiss, John Lewis
43d Serjt Farley, Andw Gentles
44th Corpl Sparks, Jacob Lawser
49th John Farrington
55th James Fitzpatrick
65 Thos Curry

The "do" notation was a common abbreviation for "ditto", which saved the writer of these orders from rewriting "regt" after every numeric title. The original manuscript orders contain superscripts and nuances of punctuation that cannot be accurately typographically rendered.

There is no indication of how long these men remained employed by the commissary. The muster rolls for the 38th Regiment make it clear, however, that they didn’t stay at it for the remainder of their time in America.

William Bayless (spelled various ways on the muster rolls) enlisted in the 38th on 8 July 1774, just days after the regiment arrived in Boston from Ireland. This suggests that he was American, or at least that he was already in America when he determined to join the army. We have no information on his age or background.

John Lewis first appears on the rolls of the 38th prepared in July 1776, with no indication of how he came into the regiment. Most likely he was a recruit from Great Britain since that is how most new men came into British regiments after the war began.

In spite of their diversion from normal duties and probable receipt of extra income from their work as bakers, neither of these men had long careers. We have classified them as “employed soldiers” because of their work in Boston. John Lewis, however, deserted from the 38th Regiment on 10 June 1777 in the New York area. William Bayless was transferred to the light infantry company in early 1778, but deserted from Rhode Island on 8 July 1779. Given his proximity to Boston, it is possible that he deserted in order to return to where ever he had come from before enlisting in 1774.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Prisoner of War: Richard Hallum, 22nd Regiment

Richard Hallum first appears on the muster rolls of the 22nd Regiment of Foot on 19 January 1774. The regiment was in Ireland at the time, so we assume that Hallum, and Englishman, enlisted with a recruiting party some time the previous year. His army career included two remarkable events.

In the summer of 1779 the 22nd Regiment had been in garrison in Rhode Island for two and half years. There had been a lot of action for these soldiers in 1777 and 1778, but by June 1779 things had calmed down considerably. On 28 June Richard Hallum was drinking in the canteen of the Regiment von Ditfurth with two fellow soldiers of the 22nd Regiment. Later on, around noon, Hallum was on his way to the Bristol Ferry area at the north end of the island to go fishing. Another fellow soldier, Bartholomew Gilmore, came up and asked to accompany him. Gilmore was intoxicated, and Hallum refused his company by explaining that he had no extra line or hook. Gilmore then asked if Hallum wanted to drink, which Hallum also refused. At some point, they stopped and were sitting on the ground about a hundred yards from a windmill near the ferry, when Gilmore took one of Hallum’s shoe buckles. He admired it, noting that it was a handsome pattern. Gilmore then asked what Hallum’s intentions were, a question typically asked of soldiers who were suspected of deserting (whether to collaborate or apprehend them). Hallum replied that his intentions were honest, that he was going fishing. In a surprise outburst, Gilmore suddenly hit Hallum in the face three times, then used a stone to hit him in the the chest. He took Hallum’s watch from his pocket, and started to run off towards the encampment to the southeast. Hallum gave chase for a hundred yards or so and caught up with Gilmore when Gilmore stumbled and fell. Gilmore tried to get up and pick up another stone, but Hallum knocked him down, put the stone on his chest, took the watch back and returned it to his pocket.

Just then two German soldiers came by who saw Hallum take the watch from Gilmore. In spite of their different languages, Gilmore managed to convey to the Germans that Hallum was stealing the watch from him. The Germans detained Hallum but did not take possession of the watch. Gilmore told the Germans that he would complain to their commanding officer for not getting the watch back for him, then ran eastward towards Common Fence neck. Hallum managed to make the German soldiers understand the true situation; they released him and he gave chase, calling for assistance.

Gilmore ran on a road that ran along low ground near the northern shore of the island. He was observed from a small advanced redoubt on higher ground that covered this area. From here an officer and three soldiers of the 22nd came to apprehend him since his behavior was obviously suspicious. Gilmore left the road and ran into a pond, endeavoring to get across. The officer's party split up and surrounded the pond. Hallum in the mean time, came up carrying a stone and told the soldiers that Gilmore had stolen his watch, and that he was going to knock Gilmore’s brains out. Gilmore ranted at the soldiers to go ahead and kill him, but then waded out of the pond to Hallum and another soldier. He attempted to strike Hallum, but they were able to secure him and end the bizarre chain of events. All of this information comes from the court martial of Bartholomew Gilmore which took place on 22 July.

This amusing vignette brings out a few interesting details about garrison life and about Hallum. In spite of chronic issues with alcohol abuse in the British army, soldiers of the 22nd Regiment were allowed to drink in the morning at a canteen operated by a German regiment. Hallum was able to spend some leisure time fishing, and had tackle to do so. He owned shoe buckles that caught the attention of a fellow soldier, indicating that they were not of a standard regimental pattern. And he owned a watch. Conventional wisdom would suggest that watches were too expensive to be among the scant possessions of a common soldier, but court martial proceedings and other documents suggest otherwise. Watches are the most frequently mentioned non-issue possession of soldiers, although the overall number of references to them is nonetheless quite small.

It is possible that Richard Hallum could afford noticeable shoe buckles and a watch because he was employed by the army. In addition to his regular duties as a soldier, he was one of five drivers for the five wagons and ten horses attached to the 22nd Regiment. These wagons were used to move the regiment's tents and other camp equipage during routine shifts in encampment locations. We have no information about whether this work did in fact earn extra pay or if it was considered even considered a specialized skill; we know only that Hallum was one of five men who had this job.

We also know that being a wagon driver did not excuse Hallum from marching into battle. A year after the comical affair with Gilmore, Hallum was involved in much more serious business. The British had evacuated Rhode Island and consolidated the troops there into the garrison in the New York area. On 6 June 1780 an expedition from that garrison crossed from Staten Island to Elizabeth, New Jersey on a bridge of boats. Their goals was to move inland and surprise the American post at Morristown. Rapidly mobilized American militia thwarted the advance in Connecticut Farms (present-day Union) on 7 June, and the British force withdrew to their position at Elizabeth. The 22nd Regiment was posted in advance of the main position. On t8 June the American forces attacked this advanced post, but the 22nd was able to hold their ground with the assistance of two German regiments were sent forward to join the fight. It is not clear whether it occurred during the retreat on the dark, stormy night of 7-8 June or during the fighting on the 8th, but one half-company of Captain Edward Handfield's company of the 22nd Regiment, including two serjeants and 17 private soldiers, were captured. Among them was Richard Hallum.

The prisoners were sent to Philadelphia where they were incarcerated. At least one had been wounded in the battle. Early in 1783 when British prisoners were repatriated, 12 of these prisoners returned to the regiment. One failed to return from captivity for unknown reasons; presumably upon his release he chose to remain in America and was officially recorded as a deserter. Five men died in captivity, including Richard Hallum. A return of prisoners gives the date of his death as 25 April 1781, but the accuracy of this date is questionable because several prisoners are listed as having died on the same day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deserter: Thomas Haywood, 18th Regiment of Foot

Historian Steven M. Baule kindly submitted the story of a deserter from the 18th, or Royal Irish, regiment of foot, which appears below. His book on British officers who served in America is a highly recommended reference.

Thomas Haywood, Deserter from the 18th Foot; Draught to the 52nd and 49th Regiments

We know very little about Thomas Haywood, private in the Royal Irish Regiment, except that his officers felt he was a good soldier who made a mistake. Haywood enlisted at some point prior to embarking with the 18th Foot in May 1767 for America. He arrived at Philadelphia in July 1767 and after being detained on board ship with his fellows so the local magistrates could ensure there was no sickness on Board, the regiment disembarked and he stepped onto colonial soil. He was assigned to Major Folliott’s Company, but transferred to Captain Stainforth’s Company in April 1768. It was a lucky transfer for him, for his old company was ordered to the western outposts. Haywood was able to retain a comfortable position in the North Barracks at Philadelphia.

Haywood, however, didn’t appreciate his luck. On 13 September 1768 he left military service without permission. What he did during the next three years has been lost to history, but at some point, Haywood determined to return to the service. The returns of the 18th Foot show his return from desertion on 28 November 1771. There was no general pardon in place at the time, so his return (or capture) put him at risk of punishment. The question for the regiment was what to do with him. Desertion was a capital crime for which other men in the regiment had been shot in 1768. Without a field officer of the 18th present at Philadelphia, newly promoted Captain Benjamin Chapman had to make a decision. So, he wrote to General Thomas Gage, commander in chief of the British army in America, for advice. In a letter dated 4 December 1771 Gage outlined three courses of action available to Chapman based upon the character of the deserter:

Haywood’s Character must determine whether it will be necessary to Assemble a Gen. Court Martial to try him, or whether a Regimental One won’t answer the same purpose, if he is a very notorious Offender & a proper object for an Example, he should be brought before the former, if not, you’ll try him by a Regimental Court Martial, or if you think he will desert again, promise him a Pardon in Case he Lists into any of the West Indian Regiments.

In the end, Haywood remained with the regiment, so he must have been considered both salvageable and no longer a desertion risk. No record of his regimental court martial has been found or of his punishment. A regimental court could have pronounced a sentence of up to 1000 lashes; if such was the sentence, it may have been reduced, as was often the case in the 18th Foot.

Haywood remained at Philadelphia with Major Hamilton’s Company until late 1774. At that point, he marched with the regiment to Amboy. In the late fall, Haywood was in the barracks at New York City, where rebels were making strong enticements to get soldiers to desert. Haywood had apparently learned his lesson and remained steadfast. On 6 June 1775, Haywood embarked upon the HMS Asia in New York Harbor with the other 100 or some men remaining at New York. The log of the Asia shows him discharged that ship to the transport Pallas on 24 June 1775 for the trip to Boston. That he spent time on the Asia indicates that he most likely had no wife or children with him since those soldiers with families were put onto Governor’s Island to be with their families as they awaited transport.

Haywood arrived in Boston in June 1775 and continued to serve with the Major’s company through December. The soldiers of the 18th Regiment of Foot were drafted into other corps on 5 December 1775; Haywoord went into Captain Dayrell’s Company of the 52nd Regiment of Foot, ending his career in the Royal Irish. With the 52nd, he was listed as sick on 12 July 1776 at Staten Island. Haywood fought through the Long Island Campaign with the 52nd, and was present at Piscataway in May 1777, on Staten Island again on 8 August 1777, and at New York on 26 December 1777. Haywood was posted at King’s Bridge on 27 June 1778. Like the 18th before it, the 52nd was drafted in September 1778, and Haywood went into the 49th Regiment of Foot bound for service in the West Indies. In February 1779, he was present with the 49th at Wakefield in the West Indies. His further service record is currently unknown, but most likely he perished in the West Indies.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Deserter: John Bolton, 35th Regiment of Foot

Muster rolls are a key source of information on the individuals who served in the British army. For regiments serving in America during the 1775-1783 war, rolls were prepared once every six months for each company of each regiment. One muster roll covered the period from 25 December to the following 24 June, the next roll from 25 June to 24 December. Ideally, muster rolls were prepared very soon after each six-month muster period; in practice, regiments sometimes fell behind by months or even years, they caught up with the missing rolls all at once; for this reason it is not unusual to find rolls for several muster periods all prepared on the same date.

Each roll listed the names of each officer and soldier in the company. Next to each name was an annotation of anything that occurred during the muster period to change the man's status in the company - notations such as "joined", "discharged", "deserted", "died", as well as indications of transfers to or from other companies or regiments - along with the date that the event occurred. If a man had no changes, then of course nothing was annotated. These annotations are quite useful, but there are many nuances that can be misleading; these will be discussed at another time. The level of detail varies from regiment to regiment. For example, the rolls of the 22nd Regiment meticulously indicate where each new man in the regiment came from, whether "from the English Additional Company", "from the Irish Additional Company" (referring to recruiting parties in Great Britain), "German recruit", "from 53rd Regiment", or what have you; the rolls of the 33rd Regiment, on the other hand, refer to all new men as "inlisted" regardless of whether they are recruits, drafts, or even men from the regiment who escaped from captivity.

Occasionally, the muster rolls completely let us down. Such is the case with John Bolton, a soldier of the 35th Regiment. The 35th prepared a set of rolls in Cork, Ireland in April 1775 shortly before they embarked for America. The next set of rolls was prepared in Boston in January 1776. This set of rolls includes men who do not appear on the April 1775 rolls, but have no annotation about where those men came from. Among the new men is John Bolton.

Two sets of rolls later, those prepared in January 1777, Bolton is listed as "prisoner with the Rebels" along with three other men in his company. He appears this way on the next two rolls as well, but on those prepared on 25 June 1778 he is listed as "on command", a common term applied to many circumstances. The 35th Regiment was sent to the West Indies later in 1778, and prepared no muster rolls until April 1780. Bolton and many other men no longer appear, and again there is no indication of what happened to these men.

For John Bolton, however, we have an alternative source of information that provides details of his career. Bolton stood trial by a general court martial in New York on 30 July 1778, for desertion.

Testimony in his trial reveals that Bolton was drafted from the 20th Regiment of Foot into the 35th in April 1775 when the regiment was preparing to embark. It was common practice to draft soldiers from regiments remaining in Great Britain to bring regiments bound overseas up to strength. Because the drafts are no recorded on the 35th's muster rolls we don't know how many drafts the regiment received; when the 22nd Regiment was preparing for embarkation the following month it received 19 drafts from five regiments including the 20th.

More interesting is testimony that, rather than having been taken prisoner, John Bolton deserted. The adjutant of the 35th Regiment testified that

on the Regt. being ordered to the Cedar Swamp on or about the 6th of Octr 1776 the Prisoner was sent on Command to New York to make Cartridges, and deserted from thence

This type of duty was a common one. Regiments were capable of making their own ammunition, but during operations with armies such as that in the New York area, ammunition was usually prepared in bulk at a laboratory under the supervision of the Royal Artillery. Regiments sent detachments of soldiers to handle the labor of rolling, filling and closing cartridges. The soldier who had commanded the cartridge-making party from the 35th Regiment elaborated on Bolton's desertion:

on the 5th of October 1776 he was Ordered with a Party of which the Prisoner was one to New York, to make Cartridges and when he paraded the Party in the Evening to return to Camp, the Prisoner was absent

Why the muster rolls indicate that Bolton was a prisoner, rather than a deserter, is a complete mystery. It does prove that the muster rolls are not always reliable (although, to be fair, my experience has been that they usually are accurate).

More surprising is some of the further testimony concerning Bolton's whereabouts. After he deserted in October 1776 he did not leave the British-controlled region but instead enlisted in a Loyalist regiment, the New York Volunteers. He served in that regiment for a little over a year. In January 1778 he got into some sort of trouble in that regiment and was due to be punished. In order to avoid the punishment, he declared himself as a deserter and was returned to the 35th Regiment. The Lieutenant-Colonel of the 35th pardoned Bolton, and he returned to the same company of the regiment in which he had served in 1776.

Bolton's troubles did not end here. The captain of the company took Bolton as a servant. In some cases this was a highly desirable position which could result in better quarters, clothing and amenities than were afforded to most soldiers. For Bolton things did not go so well; the captain "ill treated him and beat him." Given Bolton's already inauspicious record, it is possible that he exasperated his master; on the other hand, the captain's treatment of servants may be the reason why it was necessary for him to take men unwillingly for that duty.

In July 1778 Bolton lost one of the captain's keys, which resulted in a beating that was the last straw for Bolton. On 15 July the regiment moved from Long Island to New York City, and Bolton was among a detachment left in Brooklyn as a baggage guard. The next day he went missing from the guard, having absconded in uniform wearing his waistbelt, cartridge pouch and bayonet, but had left behind his musket and other clothing. About two weeks later he was detained by the provost in New York. The circumstances of his capture are not known, but clearly he had not left the region. During his trial for desertion all of the above circumstances were related, and Bolton offered nothing in his defense except that he was drunk both times he deserted, and would not have deserted had he been allowed to remain in the ranks as a soldier rather than being employed as a servant. The court was not impressed by these arguments, and the man who had avoided punishment for his past transgressions was sentenced to death. We've been unable to learn whether or not the sentence was carried out.

The story of John Bolton is unusual in that the muster rolls of his regiment give a completely different impression of his career than what is revealed in the record of his court martial. Fortunately, this seems to be a rare case; usually the various sources of information on British soldiers correlate reasonably well. But a deviation as great as John Bolton's is a good reminder that things are not always what they seem.