Monday, October 27, 2014

James Lodge, 52nd and 26th Regiments, finally goes home

Perhaps James Lodge wanted to get away from his home town. The shoemaker from Almondsbury, Yorkshire enlisted in the 52nd Regiment of Foot in 1762, when he was 22 years old - a fairly typical enlistment age for a man who had completed a trade apprenticeship and perhaps worked long enough to decide he needed a career change. After a few years in Great Britain, the 52nd Regiment was sent to North American in 1765, arriving in Quebec in August.

We don't know whether Lodge had any remarkable experiences in Quebec, although the foreign land with a cold climate must have been novel enough for at least the first year or so. After almost ten years in Canada the 52nd was due to be sent home in 1774, and perhaps Lodge was looking forward to returning to his native country. But it was not to be - trouble brewing in Boston caused a change of plans. The regiment sailed to the city on the Massachusetts coast, arriving late in the year. Things got tense quickly. During the early months of 1775, the 52nd and other regiments made occasional marches in to the country, training exercises designed to maintain the fitness of the soldiers which nonetheless aroused great suspicion among local inhabitants.

As a member of a battalion company, Lodge did not participate in the expedition to Concord on 19 April that resulted in open hostilities between colonists and the British military. In June, however, he marched into battle with his regiment at Bunker Hill. The 52nd sustained many casualties that day, including James Lodge who received a wound in his left knee. It was not, however, disabling; instead of being discharged and returned to England as an invalid, he recovered and was campaigning again when his regiment was part of the fast-paced campaigns in New York and New Jersey.

We don't know when it occurred, but misfortune again befell Lodge. He was taken prisoner by the enemy. By April 1777 he was interned in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a location far from the front lines. Later that year British forces took Philadelphia, and British prisoners were moved to Virginia to discourage escape and decrease the likelihood of a British attempt to liberate them.

Toward the end of 1778, he was able to return to New York and rejoin his army; probably he was exchanged, but he may have made his way by escaping. Regardless, he arrived too late to join his regiment - the 52nd had been sent back to Great Britain in September. The regiment's able-bodied men had been transferred into regiments bound for the West Indies, and the remainder went home be discharged or recruit new soldiers. Rather than being sent home to join his regiment, Lodge joined another corps, the 26th Regiment of Foot. He may have known men in this regiment from the years before the war when they served Canada.

He spent a year in the 26th before they, too, were sent back to Great Britain. He did not go with them, though; he took his discharge in America and then chose to remain in the army. He joined the Royal Garrison Battalion, a regiment composed of soldiers who were no longer fit for campaigning but who were capable of manning fortifications and other posts. This corps was formed in New York but soon went to another place that needed garrison troops: Bermuda.

Lodge spent the remainder of the war in Bermuda with the Royal Garrison Battalion. At the close of hostilities the battalion was disbanded, and James Lodge finally took the opportunity to go home. For reasons unknown, he did not appear before the Pension Board in Chelsea until 1789. Here he was granted a pension on account of his long service, the wounds he'd received, and because he was "worn out" - not surprising, given the many years of hardship he'd endured as a soldier.

A new book, coming in March 2015!

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