Sunday, April 25, 2010

Comments, sources, and Edmond Mooney, 55th Regiment

Thanks to those readers who have posted (legible) comments on this blog. For some reason, many of the comments are not readable, apparently because they require character sets that are not supported on my browser. Because there are many such comments, I sometimes miss the legible ones.

One reader asked about sources. Excellent question. I haven't been included citations in these posts just to make them easier to read. But if you would like the specific sources used for any post, please contact me using the email address described in the 'About the Author' information. Most of the information comes from three sources: muster rolls, proceedings of courts martial, and soldiers' discharges. Muster rolls tell us the dates in which men served in specific companies of a regiment, and dates of events such as promotions, transfers, desertions and discharges - so when I give this sort of information, it probably came from the muster rolls in the War Office 12 collection in the National Archives of England.

In the same archive is a collection of trial proceedings from general courts martial. These fascinating documents record the testimony of witnesses and defendants at military trials for major crimes. Most of the postings that tell stories of incidents like thefts and murders are amalgams of the trial testimony; usually the trial will be mentioned in the post.

When a soldier was discharged from the army he was given a document (called a discharge) that recorded much valuable information. Most discharges include some information on the man's background (place of birth, age, trade, etc.), some description of his military service, and a statement about why he was entitled to be discharged. Because soldiering was generally a lifelong career, men were discharged from the army only when they were no longer fit for service (there were exceptions). The document was critical for the man to prove that he was lawfully discharged and not a deserter. Some soldiers were awarded pensions, and when they did the pension office retained a copy of the discharge. These discharges survive in the National Archives, and are the source of most of the information in these blog posts concerning age, trade, nativity and such.

Various other sources are also used, but these three constitute the majority. If you need a specific source, please ask for it.

Here's an example of the information that we can get just from a discharge:

Edmond Mooney was born in county Cork, Ireland in 1749 and learned the trade of a sawyer. He joined the 55th Regiment of Foot at the age of 21 in late 1770. Five years later the 5' 6 1/2" tall Mooney was with the regiment when in landed in Boston.

The first significant action seen by the 55th came in August 1776 when the regiment was part of the army that routed American forces on Long Island. The British army did suffer a number of casualties in their overwhelming victory; one of them was Edmond Mooney who was wounded in the right hip.

Mooney apparently recovered from his wound fairly quickly, for he was with his regiment on 3 January 1777 in the battle of Princeton. Here he was wounded again, this time in the left leg.

He recovered from this wound too, and continued to serve in the 55th Regiment for another 15 years. This included service in the harsh climate of the West Indies in the closing years of the American Revolution. He took his discharge from the army in Dublin in March of 1792 at the age of 43, having served in the 55th Regiment for 21 1/2 years. He received an out pension from Kilmainham Hospital in Dublin. His discharge notes that “He is discharged, being worn out & unfit for further Service, having served in North America & the West Indies, and been Twice wounded, during the late War, Once in his Right Hip in Long Island near New York, and Once in his Left Leg at Princetown, in New Jersey-”. An army surgeon verified Mooney's condition, noting on the discharge that he "has the mark of the wounds described on the other side & is worn out by the Effects of foreign climates & long service.”

It bears noting that Mooney signed his own name on the document, suggesting that he knew how to read and write. While his name is given on the discharge as "Edward", he signed himself as "Edmond."

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for answering the question! Also, those replies are with Chinese characters, probably automatically posted comments by spam programs.