Saturday, August 27, 2011

Daniel McCarty, 22nd Regiment of Foot

I have done a poor job of responding to comments on this blog. Please don't let that stop you from commenting, though - your feedback is welcome and interesting. One reader asked for more information about the Rhode Island hospital garden mentioned in the installment about James McGregor of the 22nd Regiment. There are some details on the garden and the produce it yielded in my book General Orders: Rhode Island which gives a detailed picture of military activities during one year of a British garrison. An in-depth look at the variety of considerations given to the health of British soldiers can be found in period textbooks on the subject.

Another interesting detail about the Rhode Island garrison also comes from the general orders. Soon after the garrison was established, a newspaper began publication under the name of The Newport Gazette. This paper was the work of John Howe, who had published the Massachusetts Gazette until Boston was evacuated in March 1776. Well before the inaugural issue of that paper in the early months of 1777, in fact only a week after the British landed on the island, the army sought a capable man from within the ranks, presumably to operate presses left behind by the Newport printer who had chosen to flee the British occupation:

14 Decr. 1776
If there are Soldiers in any British Regiment who understand the Printing Business, they are to be sent to Lieut. Col. Campbell in Newport.

Probably the soldier would print notices to be posted around the town, but I wonder if the soldier-printer helped John Howe with the newspaper. I thought I had found the soldier in Daniel McCarty of the 22nd Regiment. This young Irishman, born in Cork in 1757, enlisted in the 22nd Regiment in late 1775 or early 1776. At the end of the occupation of Rhode Island, he was transferred briefly into the regiment's grenadier company, and then into the light infantry - a rare but not unprecedented move. He was in the light infantry during the 1780 siege of Charleston, South Carolina, but for some reason as yet unknown he was not with the company when it was made prisoners of war at Yorktown the following year. At the end of the war he received a discharge but reinlisted; after returning to Great Britain, however, he was once again discharged.

McCarty received a pension in 1784 due to a bad leg (perhaps this was the reason he was not on the Yorktown campaign); he also received 1 pound 12 shillings in prize money as his share of the goods seized at Charleston. Rather than subsist strictly on his pension, however, he enlisted again in the 77th Regiment of Foot, taking his final discharge and rejoining the pension rolls in 1788.

When I first found McCarty's name on a list of pensioners, his occupation caught my eye: he was a printer - or was he a painter? The faint image on the microfilm made it difficult to read the cursive writing, and the writing style left only a slight difference between the two possible words. I hoped he was a printer, and that he assisted John Howe in creating the newspapers that have provided me much rich detail on the activities and culture of the Rhode Island garrison.

The original manuscript of the pension list would probably be clear enough to discern McCarty's trade with certainty. As it happened, though, I did not need to look at it. Another collection of documents also includes McCarty's name and trade, and on this one the writing is clear. He was a painter. Also, a close examination of his career shows that he did not arrive in Rhode Island until December of 1777. His trade may have occasionally been useful for the army, but he certainly was not the man who started the presses for the British garrison in Rhode Island.


  1. I have not been commenting, but I *have* been reading, and I just want to say how much I appreciate this blog. Several of my ex-husband's ancestors were loyalists, and this is very educational.

    At the moment, I live in England, and hope to learn much more while I am here!

  2. John Howe published the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston News-Letter with Margaret Draper before moving on with the British military. He eventually settled in Canada as a Loyalist. The Boston Gazette was Benjamin Edes's radical Patriot paper during the siege.

  3. Oops! You're correct, of course; and the post has been corrected.