Monday, March 2, 2015

Ludwig Rose, 23rd Regiment, a German drummer

In 1786, the ranks of the 23rd Regiment of Foot, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, included a sixteen-year-old drummer named Ludwig Rose. He was born in Hanover, Germany, and the Germanic pronunciation of his name resulted in it being recorded on the muster rolls as "Rosie." In spite of his youth, this young man had already seen considerable service; he had been a drummer for five years.

While not all drummers started as young as Ludwig Rose, many did, usually because their fathers' were in this army. Such was the case with Rose. His father, Johann Rose, was a soldier in Hanover and was recruited for British service in early 1776. He was one of some 2000 men recruited in Europe to serve in the ranks of British regiments in America, part of the ambitious recruiting efforts required to support the new war in the colonies. Johann Rose, born in the city of Paderborn, was thirty-four years old when he enlisted, and brought his wife and three children with him into the army. Ludwig was six years old when his family embarked at Stade on the Elbe River in May 1776.

Unlike British soldiers who were recruited by individual regiments, the German recruits were assigned to regiments after enlisting. Rose and thirty-four others were put into the 23rd Regiment of Foot, a corps that had been in America since 1773. The recruits arrived in New York in late October and joined up with their new regiments some time after that.

We don't know whether Mrs. Rose and the children stayed in the garrison in New York or followed the 23rd Regiment into the field during the campaigns of the next five years. They may have done both, depending on the campaign. The 23rd was involved in the campaigns around New York in 1776 and in New Jersey in 1777, and on the campaigns to Philadelphia and back in 1777 and 1778. 1779 saw a variety of movement in the New York area. When the regiment moved south for the campaign that took Charleston, South Carolina in 1780, some of its soldiers and dependents remained behind in New York.

The rigorous southern campaign that culminated in the British defeat at Yorktown in October 1781 saw the 23rd fragmented; while a substantial portion of it surrendered with Cornwallis's army at Yorktown, there were some soldiers still in the garrisons of New York and Charleston. There is no evidence that Johann Rose was among the Yorktown prisoners, but his actual whereabouts are not known, nor is the action at which he was wounded during the war.

Ludwig Rose appears on the rolls as a drummer beginning in 1781. With no evidence that he became a prisoner, we can assume that he was in either New York or Charleston, working with recruits for the regiment who had arrived in early 1781 who were unable to join the regiment on campaign. Ludwig's brother John (probably anglicized from Johann) also joined the regiment around this time as a private soldier; this suggests that John was older than Ludwig.

Having no rolls that tell us which women and children were with British regiments, only their numbers, we don't know whether Mrs. Rose or all of the children survived the war. The muster rolls show us that Johann Rose and his children John and Ludwig returned to Great Britain with the regiment, among the last British troops to leave New York in 1783 and arriving in Europe in early 1784. In February, Johann Rose took his discharge, having served eight years with the British army and fifteen years in Hanover before that. He was awarded a British pension for his long service and his wound.

But his children, John and Ludwig, soldiered on. How long John remained in the British army has not been determined. Ludwig was still in the regiment in 1786, but his subsequent career has not been traced. He may be the Ludwig Rose from Hanover who was discharged from the 60th Regiment of Foot in 1818 at the age of 48.

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