“I never forgot that I was an American”: the story of the Maryland Loyalist Regiment

One of the books that talks about Marylanders who sympathized with the British Crown (people like Robert Alexander), which the governments of MD and DE tried to suppress.

In March 1783, Major Walter Dulany, in the Maryland Loyalist Regiment, wrote to Sir Guy Charlton, saying that while he still saw “miseries” of American independence, and “acted with the great zeal, against my rebellious countrymen,” he never “forgot that I was an American.” A such, he said that if the war still continued after independence was granted he would resign, as he could not ” act either directly or indirectly against America.” Some have called this “an excellent declaration of principles and demonstrates just exactly what Loyalists had to put themselves through to serve the British. Not only a material risk, but one which troubled many a conscience.” [1] It is this spirit which informs a discussion about the sympathizers of the British Crown (often given the moniker of “loyalist” which obscures their role in this historical context) that joined the “Maryland Loyalist Regiment,” people who groups, like the Daughters of the American Revolution (and undoubtedly the Sons of the American Revolution), automatically dismiss as being “patriots,” treating them as noting better than “traitors.” As such, it is worth telling their story.

In come the Marylanders

While the Maryland Loyalist Regiment (also called the Col. Chalmer’s Corps, the First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists or the Maryland Loyalist Corps) is one of the 38 “loyalist” regiments which lasted from 1777 to 1783, very little information is available on those that served in their ranks. [2] However, we do know that the regiment was headed by a man named James Chalmers, who became the lieutenant colonel and had drafted a pamphlet called Plain Truth which was opposed to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the previous year.

Chalmers advocated for the creation of the regiment, which was granted in October 1777, arguing that control of the Delmarva Peninsula was important for success in the war, which turned to be correct in historical terms. [3] One of the other major generals in the regiment was man by the name of Philip Barton Key, who was Francis Scott Key’s uncle. According to his account, in December 1777 he met Chalmers in British-occupied Philadelphia where he commissioned him a Lieutenant while William Howe “permitted the enthusiastic Key to raise his own company, which proceeded to make dangerous forays into the countryside to recruit more loyalists.” [4] Due to his success as a “natural leader, [who was] brilliant and brave,” on March 1, 1778, he was promoted to the rank of captain.

The story of Barnet Turner, who I wrote about while working at the Maryland State Archives, gives a good general context of the regiment:

…The unit was created by British general William Howe after the British capture of Philadelphia in the autumn of 1777. Recruiting started around the captured American capital and later expanded to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The unit was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Chalmers, a Kent County planter. After training from November 1777 until spring 1778, the soldiers marched up to Long Island. The unit stayed there until the end of 1778. It later saw action in West Florida until its surrender after the Spanish siege of Pensacola in 1781. They were later sent back to New York.

Other officers would be Philadelphia native Walter Dulany, the commissary general for Maryland, whose son Grafton served with the regiment in Florida, “where he died in 1778” and William Augustus Bowles (1763-1805), a Frederick County, MD “adventurer who had first lived among the Creeks after he was cashiered from the Maryland Loyalist Corps that had been sent to Pensacola in December 1778.” Bowles, also known as Estajoca, organized “Native American attempts to create their own state outside of Euro-American control” and convinced the Creeks to “support the British garrison of Pensacola against the Spaniards, but the garrison fell when its ship was hit by artillery fire from the Spanish ships” while Bowles, after the battle in Pensacola “was reinstated in the British Army, and went to the Bahamas.” Beyond that, he would establish “a trading post along the Chattahoochee River,” have two wives which he used “as the basis for his claim to exert political influence among the Creeks,” and later received and seen as a powerful leader “for Creek and Cherokee Nations.” I’ve written before about him, and his connections with the British.

Another officer was a man named Daniel Dulany Addison, a captain for the regiment in 1782, and a major in the corps in 1783. Beyond that, John Stewart and William Stirling were ensigns, John Stirling and Levin Townsend were lieutenants. [5] Also among them was a paymaster named Anthony Stewart who held that position in January and March 1783 at least. Other commissioned officers included Captains Patrick Kennedy, Grafton Dulany, Alexander Middleton (for a short time), Walter Dulany, Caleb Jones (former sheriff of Somerset County), Isaac Costin, James Frisby, and Major John McDonald. Eventually, captains of the regiment were eventually divided between the Eastern and Western shores of the Chesapeake Bay (I’m taking some of this text from my biography on Barnet Turner which I’ll talk about later).

In following years, the regiment would fight in Pensacola for the British (in 1778 and 1779), joined by other British “loyalist” regiments, all part of the British army as a whole. [6] The regiment was, when it marched “out of Philadelphia along with the rest of the British Army in June 1778,” consisted of “370 officers and men,” making it second in size “only to the Queen’s Rangers amongst the Loyalist units leaving the city.” In December 1778, in Pensacola, the Marylanders were joined by their “brothers” to the north: “183 Pennsylvania Loyalists commanded by Lt. Colonel William Allen.” [7] Unfortunately for the Marylanders, the British never fully trusted them, with Chalmers’ soldiers shipped to the war’s periphery, fighting “gallantly” in Pensacola, with captured survivors paroled, waiting out the rest of their lives in New York City. This included men such as John Noble, a corporal, who “was held as a prisoner of war in Havana and eventually repatriated to New York City.” By the end of 1779, the Maryland and Pennsylvania “loyalist” groups merged temporarily, later breaking apart due to the battle at Pensacola. [8] Their “motley” group, fought for years to come in this part of West Florida for the British Crown. By February 1781 the united MD and PA soldiers “contained only 300 rank-and-file members” likely because Marylanders were some of those who took the offensive against the Spanish in previous months but were repulsed. [9] By May the number had shrunk even more: the “combined strength of both the Maryland and Pennsylvania Loyalists” was only 160 men.

By 1782, Chalmers, the gentleman in “his neighborhood,”did not have a full roster of recruits since the regiment was “very deficient in numbers.” [10] While officers paid for rations, by April there were only 137 in the Maryland unit, and 68 in the corresponding one from Pennsylvania. Even so, abstracts of pay show that depending on the number of officers 591-623 pounds were paid out, the equivalent to approximately $86,800 to $91,400 today. [11] That is a sizable amount to say the least. This proves what one historian writes about the regiment: that it was one of the only pro-Crown regiments that was “regularly organized, officered, and paid.” [12] Even so, over the years, the soldiers in the regiment, dressed in “tatters and rags instead of uniforms” (in the summer of 1779), with many killed by smallpox in Pensacola, and the unit suffered a huge problem with desertion.

What the Library and Archives Canada can tell us

While there are varying resources, such as this page by the Loyalist Institute or the Orderly Book of the regiment from June to October 1778, the original records, specifically muster rolls, tell more of the story. [13] Unfortunately they basically begin in mid-1782 as attested on a spreadsheet I put together using microfilm from here and here, within this collection, on enlisted men and their officers in the Maryland “Loyalist” regiment. I can’t thank enough the Josée Belisle of the Registration and Reprography Unit at the Library and Archive Canada, telling me, after I requested copies that

The material you have requested above is already digitized and available online. There is no charge for material available on our website. Please note that you have to do your own research within the microfilm link to find the appropriate document. To make sure your reference matches the document, you have to rely on the page number on the document itself, not on the pagination provided from the microfilm link. Please note that any material provided online by LAC is restricted to research purposes or private study only. Users wishing to use the copies for any other purpose should inform themselves of Copyright regulations.

I would say this article falls under the “research purposes” and “private study” restrictions without a doubt.

By April 1782, Patrick Kennedy’s company, of which James Chalmers and Walter Dulany were part of, consisted of a small number of individuals, seemingly only numbering 29 individuals, three of which were prisoners of the Spanish. These three people were: Frederick Beehan, James Cummins, and John Ratcliff, while other documents listed William Wells, Thomas Clay, and Patrick Hervey as prisoners (who were in different companies). Otherwise, the rest of the company was intact.

Fast forward to June 1782. The names of 19 or 20 officers within the regiment was recorded as was the subsistence (money) due to the officers (non-commissioned and commissioned) and the regular soldiers. Also there was, likely that month, a listing of the men with the companies of Kennedy, Jones, Key, Frisby, and Addison, along with the Abstract of Subsistence due one Corporal and Six Private Men to the 24th of June 1782 Inclusive. These documents showed that there were six companies within the regiment, composed of the following officers:

Captain Patrick Kennedy — 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, 17 soldiers (privates)

Caleb Jones — 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, 18 soldiers (privates)

Philip Barton (B.) Key — 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, 16 soldiers (privates)

James Frisby — 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, 24 soldiers (privates)

Daniel D. Addison — 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, 6 soldiers (privates)

The Vacant Company — 1 sergeant, 2 corporals, 1 drummer, 14 soldiers (privates)

Additionally, apart from Chalmers as the Lieutenant Colonel, Walter Dulany was the major, Levin Townsend and John Sterling as Lieutenants, William Sterling, John Henley, William Bowles, and John Stewart as Ensigns while John Patomon was chaplain, James Henby was adjutant, Thomas Welch was quartermaster, and William Stafford was Surgeons Mate.

October 1782

By October 1782 the muster rolls for all the companies, all of which were clearly not at full capacity, likely from fighting the Spanish and because they were at the “edge” of the British empire meaning that it was hard to get new recruits. They could keep getting pay for the Officers and Private Men but that wouldn’t change much about the loss within their ranks.

Starting with Patrick Kennedy’s company, none deserted that month, but those who had been prisoners with the Spanish rejoined the company. One man, John Patterson (same as John Patomon listed earlier), the Chaplain, was in Newton, while soldier James Orchard was in the hospital and soldier John Urguhart was sent to serve in James Frisby’s company. A reprint of that muster roll showed no differences among the enlisted men from the original.

Then we move onto Caleb Jones’s company. The original muster roll, and the reprint later on, showed just about everyone staying in the regiment, with one individual considered to be promoted (corporal Robert Harris) but it never happened. More significant were the five individuals who deserted in October: James Start, Darby Riggan, Thomas Pittut, Nathaniel Luign, and Joshua Townsend. Interestingly, two of them deserted on October 9 (Start and Riggan) and three on October 15 (Pittut, Luign, and Townsend), making it seem that there was a plan to desert, not just a singular instance. Perhaps they were deserting and giving information to the enemy (the Spanish) or were tired of fighting on the “edge” of the British empire. We will never know their true reasons. It is clear however that this desertion likely would not qualify them to be “patriots” under the existing DAR standards since they would have to either assist the cause of independence in some other way possibly by enlisting in the Continental line.

From there, we move onto Dulany Addison’s company. Again, the original muster roll and the reprint, don’t show much out of the ordinary. In the month of October one man, Ephraim Tilghman, likely a member of the Tilghman family of the Eastern Shore of Maryland, deserted, while James Coland died on August 11, 1782, ensign John Stewart was on leave in New York, and Lieutenant John Sterling moved to Frisby’s company.

The same month, those in James Frisby’s company were also recorded. The original muster roll and reprint tells an interesting story. Apart from the five soldiers who deserted during the month (James Lowe, Daniel Jones, James Murray, James Tindell, and Barnard Foster), and the two “on guard” (John Cauh and John Cayton), the captain, Frisby, seemed to be in some trouble. He was under arrest! It is clear that Frisby had testified to a court-martial before, but now he was taken away in hand cuffs. Already, according to M. Christopher News’s Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution, other captains such as Sterling would be vying for his company, so he may have been under some pressure. He had been a captain of his company since 1777 and was a native to Kent County, Maryland. While varied sources mention him, most often only as one of the many “loyalists,” nothing more about his case is known.

Philip B. Key’s company had a different story even with its dwindling number of soldiers as attested by the original muster roll and reprint. During the month of October perhaps the soldiers were more disciplined as there no desertions. However, Captain Philip B. Key was sick, George Fettiplace was reduced in rank from serjeant, private Matthew Bennett was sick in camp, John Ink and John Henderson were on guard with Colonel James Chalmers, John Stephens was working with Captain Key, and Christian Smith was on guard. If you subtract the five privates who had other duties, there were only 11 privates in the company, undoubtedly short of their full capacity.

Finally there is the “vacant company” which was given that name due to the death or absence of a captain. The original muster roll and reprint, recorded in either October or November, showed the company without a captain or ensign but effectively commanded by lieutenant Levin Townsend. Like Key’s regiment, there were no desertions but two soldiers (George Wilkerson and Joseph Tallant) were on guard while James McGuire and John Synder were prisoners “with the Spaniards.” That left only 14 soldiers within the company, which again is a number lower than the full capacity of a company.

To end this section it is worth looking at the pay rolls for October 1782. These documents listed Ephraim Cunningham as injured, and listed all of the deserters:

Ephraim Tillman, Darby Riggan, James Start, James Lowe — October 9, 1782

Barnard Foster — October 10, 1782

Nathaniel Ledger, Thomas Pettit, Joshua Townsend, James Murray, James Tindell, and Daniel Jones — October 15, 1782

That’s a total of 11 deserters in October! The pay accounts also delineated the six companies and amount that was paid to those in each rank.

That brings us to the ranks from August to October 1782 document showing that the Lieutenant Colonel is paid the best and so on, with 591 pounds distributed among the men and their officers. Other documents made it clear that there was only 85 soldiers in the regiment, well short of the number to make a full and complete regiment.

December 1782

In December, the muster rolls of two companies were recorded: the “vacant company” and the other led by Caleb Jones. While the dates on both say “25 December 1783” it is clear these muster rolls really mean to say December 1782, with an error by the person writing it. For the “vacant company” little is said other than that Levin Townsend is going to England and that Daniel Fisher is in the hospital. The same goes for Caleb Jones’s company noting the enlistment of a new person as a soldier: Thomas Steeples on November 1, 1782 (further proving this muster roll is really in December 1782).

Interestingly neither muster roll shows desertion from the ranks of the respective companies. Perhaps this is due to some level of discipline within the ranks of the companies or that people had more dedication to the British crown in these companies than elsewhere.

February 1783

Lets start with Caleb Jones’s company. By February 24, 1783, nothing had changed among his ranks. But with other companies the story was different. For the “vacant company,” Daniel Fukes, a soldier, was in the general hospital while Levin Townsend, the captain, was in England.

For Dulany D. Addison, his company was very small. It only had eight individuals in all, half of which were soldiers. One man, Lewis Barrens? deserted on November 24, 1782. This likely hurt the morale in the existing company. Then there’s James Frisby’s company. Within his company, Ephraim Cunningham was promoted from serjeant to corporal, a step up in rank and pay. While no one deserted, John Coah died on February 13, 1783.

Then we get to Patrick Kennedy’s company, which had all sorts of problems. For one, Jacob Rogers and William Kelley were in the general hospital while James Orchard and James Cummins died on November 15, 1782. Additionally, Thomas Gray and Mark McNair deserted on November 24, 1782. So, his company was facing some hard times to be frank.

Finally there is Philip B. Key’s company, showing that Philip Key was still in England while George Fettiplace, then a soldier, was sick in New York. Also John Ink was apparently not working with Col. James Chalmers anymore and two individuals deserted:

James Henderson — November 3, 1782

Christian Smith — November 24, 1782

April 1783

In April there was a broad collection of muster rolls for varying companies in this regiment. Let’s start with Caleb Jones’s company. While Robert Laws and Joseph Newbourne were “on duty,” Robert Harris was promoted to serjeant, likely from his rank of private. Nothing else seems to have changed about Jones’s company by April.

As always, there is the “vacant company.” Again there were no desertions. However, Levin Townsend was in England while Ambrose Miles and Lawrence Messit were in the “general hospital.” Then there is Patrick Kennedy’s company. Apart from showing Nicholas Branch from the New Jersey volunteers (as was shown in February), Jacob Rodgers and William Kelley were in the “general hospital” while there was at least one desertion, the name(s) of which aren’t known because the paper is cut off at that point.

From here we move to muster rolls which both end in April. One covers a series of months and ends on April 24.

The first of these worth examining is for Dulany D. Addison‘s company. It again shows Lewis Barrens’s desertion and is a bit similar to the one from February, with little change. However, the second muster roll shows Jacob Ramson on duty, with no other changes.

The second of these is the muster roll of James Frisby’s company. While James Frisby was sick and Ephraim Cunningham was promoted, John Coah is noted as dying on February 13, 1783. No other changes from the previous muster roll is noted here. However, the second muster roll issued later that month notes that James Frisby resigned in March as a captain. As the previous search for Frisby turned up almost nothing, so it unlikely there are any writings, available online, about his resignation.

Finally there is Philip B. Key’s company. Again, little has changed from the previous muster roll as Philip B. Key is still in England and George Fettiplace is sick in New York. However, John Ink is again working with Col. James Chalmers but “present on parade.” The muster roll later that month is slightly different. It shows William Wells and Samuel Woodward “on guard” while John Ink is still with Col. James Chalmers, and George Fettiplace is restored to being a serjeant (by order of Col. Chalmers) even as he is still sick in New York. Nothing else seems to be changed as Philip B. Key is still in England.

June 1783

There is only one muster roll that falls into this category is for Patrick Kennedy’s company. It shows Lt. Col James Chalmers and Chaplain John Patterson in New York while William Kelley is in the “general hospital.” No other changes from the previous muster roll can be found.

Those pesky Continentals

From my research, mainly relying on articles by other scholars, there are (at least) five individuals (all soldiers) who seems to have deserted from their regiments in the Continental Army and joined the Maryland “Loyalist” Regiment.

On November 6, 1777, two men from the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment joined the MD regiment (Jacob Ringler and John Kelley), along with another man likely on that date from the same PA regiment: John Sullivan. Interestingly John Ringler deserted on February 27, 1778 from the MD Regiment and rejoined his old regiment the following month, from which he deserted in May 1778. A wild story if you tell me.

Then there’s Daniel Gill who deserted from his original regiment, and sailed with the MD regiment for Pensacola, West Florida. However, once in Jamaica, he deserted on December 16, 1778. While he did not rejoin his original regiment, he joined battalion of New Jersey Volunteers attached to provincial light infantry and proceeded to desert again on January 27, 1781.

Last but not least is Barnet Turner, whose bio I quoted earlier, talking about his possible service in the regiment:

Barnet Turner was born in 1749, in Ireland. In early 1776, at age 27, Turner enlisted as a private in Edward Veazey’s Seventh Independent Company. He was five feet, five and half inches tall…Turner served with his company at the Battle of Brooklyn in late August 1776…Turner’s fate at the Battle of Brooklyn is not known. On December 25, 1777, a man with the same name as Turner joined the Maryland Loyalists Regiment…If Turner had served in this regiment, he was there for only a short time, deserting on August 6, 1778, when it was en route to the eastern part of Long Island. Ultimately, further facts about Turner’s life cannot be ascertained.

After the war

With the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the Maryland “Loyalist” Regiment was disbanded. Many of the members of the regiment embarked for Nova Scotia (specifically New Brunswick) from New York on a ship called the HMS Martha. However, the ship wrecked in the Bay of Fundy after the captain refused to lower lifeboats until he could row away on his own, with over a hundred killed, with only 72 of the 137 Marylanders surviving. [14] As the survivors came to Nova Scotia with nothing left but promises of land and the clothes they were wearing, “cold, wet, hungry, and exhausted” while some historian declared years later: that this is “the price that came with being on the wrong side of history.” Todd W. Braisted wrote about this shipwreck specifically in the Journal of the American Revolution, telling more of the story:

…Five years later [in 1783], after campaigns primarily against the Spanish forces invading West Florida, the corps mustered less then ninety enlisted men. With preliminary articles of peace in the spring of 1783, their days as soldiers were coming to an end. And if they desired to remain living under His Majesty’s government, then they would need new homes…Those not wishing to leave received their discharges the first week of September, including sixteen of the Maryland Loyalists…Among them were 122 men, women and children from the Maryland Loyalists on the transport Martha, John Willis master…Besides the Maryland Loyalists, the Martha carried part of another Provincial regiment, DeLancey’s Brigade..,It would appear that the officers and men of the Maryland Loyalists and DeLancey’s were not the first survivors of the Martha to make it ashore…The troops from DeLancey’s would settle amongst the parishes of Northampton and Southampton, while the Maryland Loyalists drew lots on both sides of the mouth of the River Nashwaak, a tributary of the Saint John.

With this, the survivors settled in New Brunswick, specifically on the “east side of St John” and another grand near “the present town of Marysville.” [14] These who survived included Captain Caleb Jones, Philip Barton Key, “whose nephew was Francis Scott Key,” Captain Jonathan (John) Stirling who lived until age 76, dying in “St. Mary’s, York County, New Brunswick” just like his wife.

At the same time, Walter Dulany “returned to Maryland from England with his new wife, Elizabeth Brice Dulany,” in 1785, a woman who was the “widow of his uncle, Lloyd Dulany.” His wife even visited George Washington’s Mount Vernon that year, with Washington describing one of his guests as “Mrs. Dulany wife to Waltr. Dulany, lately from England came to Dinner, & stayed all Night.” I guess the fact they were on different sides during the war didn’t matter to Washington in 1785. As for James Chalmers, he was no longer welcome in the US, so he fled into exile, returning to England just like Dulaney Addison, a captain in the regiment. [16] There he rejoined the military, served as inspector general in the West Indies, did some writing and died in London in 1806, with Addison dying in the same place in 1808.

James Frisby likely went to Nova Scotia too. But he may have returned to Kent County by 1808 as a Richard Frisby, in Kent County, bought “seven negro men from James Frisby for five shillings” in 1802. In a note worth mentioning, Philip Barton Key returned to the United States and his seat in the Tenth Congress was contested since he was an “officer in the Maryland Loyalist Regiment” but he defended himself in a manner which might show a “changed viewpoint” [17]:

He said that his constituents knew the very circumstances of the follies of his early life, and his enemies had represented to them that, having been over twenty years ago in the British army, he was not a proper person to represent them. The people scouted the idea; they knew me from my infancy; but I had returned to my country, like the prodigal son to his father; had felt as an American should feel; was received, forgiven, of which the most convincing proof is my election to this house.

A conclusion

There are many other sources I could have used in this article including page 149 of Washington’s Immortals, page 49 of “Loyalists and Redcoats: A Study in British Revolutionary Policy,” and page 57 of Cliff Sloan and David McKean’s The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court (New York: PublicAffairs, 2010), among many others. [18] Clearly the Wikipedia pages for the “Maryland Loyalists Battalion” and James Chalmers are utterly worthless. The Maryland Historical Society has a number of records relating to Maryland sympathizers of the British Crown, as noted here, to name some of the important ones:

Fisher Transcripts – Maryland Loyalist Papers, 1771-90: transcriptions of Loyalist claims (MS360)

American Loyalist Claims (E277.C688)

Frederick County Treason Papers: Loyalist insurrection plot (MS576)

Maryland Loyalist Muster Rolls (MS548)

Meyer and Bachman, “First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists,”  Maryland Historical Magazine. Vol. 68, pp. 199-210 (MF176.M18)

Orderly Book of the “Maryland Loyalist Regiment”, June 18, 1778-Oct. 12, 1778 (MF185.M39)

Scharf Papers: Loyalist political activity during Revolution (MS1999)

Perhaps the Dulany Family Papers has something as well.

This is just a start on the Maryland Loyalist Regiment but it is something that definitely needs to be written. I look forward to your comments as always.

 

Notes

[1] Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 422; Stuart Salmon, “The Loyalist Regiments of the American Revolutionary War 1775-1783,” Ph.D Dissertation, 2009, University of Stirling,p.94.

[2] Salmon, “The Loyalist Regiments of the American Revolutionary War 1775-1783,” pp iii-vii, 55.

[3] David W. Guth, Bridging the Chesapeake: A ‘Fool Idea’ That Unified Maryland (Blomington, IN: Archway Publishing, 2017), 64.

[4] Sina Dubovoy, The Lost World of Francis Scott Key (Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 53; Sabine, The American Loyalists, 410.

[5] Sabine, The American Loyalists, 633-634, 650; Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 336, 423, 428.

[6] The latter link cites James Moody, Lieut. James Moody’s Narrative of his Exertions and Sufferings in the Cause of Government, since the Year 1776, Richardson and Urquhart (London, 1783), 8-9.

[7] Siebert, Wilbur H. “The Loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District.” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol. 2, no. 4, 1916, pp. 473;Guth, Bridging the Chesapeake, 64-65.

[8] René Chartrand, American Loyalist Troops 1775–84 (US: Osprey Publishing, 2008), 8, 14, 16; Siebert, “The Loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District,” 474. Seibert talks about PA Loyalists at entrance to harbor

[9] Siebert, “The Loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District,” 476.

[10] Sabine, The American Loyalists, 204; William Odber RaymondThe United Empire Loyalists, 36; Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Vol. III (Hereford: Anthony Brothers Limited, 1907), 87, 107, 280; Siebert, “The Loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District,” 481.

[11] “Subsistence Due the Commissioned and Non Commissioned Officers and Private Men from 25th June 1782 to the 24th of August, all days included being 61 days,” August 1782, British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series) – DOCUMENTS, p. 8. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada; “Abstract of 61 Days Pay for the Commissioned Staff and Noncommissioned Officers and Private Men from the 25th of June to the 24th of August 1782, inclusive,” August 1782, British Military and Naval Records (RG 8, C Series) – DOCUMENTS, p. 9. Courtesy of Library and Archives Canada. This calculation comes from 2016 US dollars according to Measuring Worth.

[12] Lorenzo Sabine, The American Loyalists: Or, Biographical Sketches of Adherents to the British Crown in the War of the Revolution; Alphabetically Arranged; with a Preliminary Historical Essay (Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1847), 60-61; Robert S. Allen, Loyalist Literature: An Annotated Bibliographic Guide to the Writings on the Loyalists of the American Revolution (Toronto: Dundurn Press Limited, 1982), 44. Other units created at the same time included the Roman Catholic Volunteers unit and the First Pennsylvania Loyalist Battalion/Regiment.

[13] For more see Ford, Paul Leicester, ed. Orderly Book of the “Maryland Loyalists Regiment” . . . 1778. Brooklyn: Historical Printing Club, 1891. The book is also mentioned here, here (full book), and here.

[14] Siebert, “The Loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District,” 482; Guth, Bridging the Chesapeake, 65; William Odber RaymondThe United Empire Loyalists (St. Stephen, N.B.: Saint Croix Printing and Publishing Co., 1893), 38. The Provencal Archives of New Brunswick, Canada adds that “one unfortunate ship, the Martha, having on board detachments of the Maryland loyalists and of de Lancey’s third battalion, was wrecked on a ledge of rocks near Yarmouth, and out of 174 souls about 100 were lost. The other vessels arrived safely after a voyage of from ten to twelve days.”

[15] Sabine, The American Loyalists, 62, 634; Theodore Corbett, Revolutionary Chestertown: Loyalists and Rebels on Maryland’s Eastern Shore (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2014), 120; William Odber RaymondThe United Empire Loyalists, 43.

[16] Guth, Bridging the Chesapeake, 65; Sabine, The American Loyalists, 118.

[17] Maryland in Prose and Poetry: Recitations and Readings Pertaining to the State, pp 222-223.

[18] Other sources include: Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 2016, paperback), 113-114, 155, 165, 182, 204, 215; issue 68 in 1973, article in Maryland Historical Magazine by Mayer and Bachmann titled “The First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists”); Murtie Jane Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1981), 16-17; Mary K. Meyer and Virginia B. Bachman, “Genealogica Marylandia: The First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists,” Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 68, No. 2, summer 1973, 199, 209; M. Christopher New, Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution (Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1996), xi, xii, 20, 45-46, 49-51, 57-58, 63, 65, 82-83, 89-95, 100, 151, 148; Albert W. Haarmann, “The Siege of Pensacola: An Order of Battle,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 44, no. 3 (1966): 193-199; Timothy James Wilson, “”Old Offenders:” Loyalists in the Lower Delmarva Peninsula, 1775-1800″ (PhD diss., University of Toronto, 1998), 116, 179-180, 182-183; Richard Arthur Overfield, “Loyalists of Maryland During the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1968), 207, 214-215, 234, 237-238, 243; Robert Mann, Wartime Dissent in America: A History and Anthology (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2010), 15-17; David H. White, “The Spaniards and William Augustus Bowles in Florida, 1799-1803,” The Florida Historical Quarterly 54, no. 2 (1975): 145-155; Major Walter Dulany, Maryland Loyalists to General Carleton, New York 13 April 1783, PRO 30/55/10078; nd Major Walter Dulany, Maryland Loyalists to General Carleton, New York 13 April 1783, PRO 30/55/10078. Sadly I can’t access this, this or this.

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From the Revolutionary War to the 1790s: the Creek Nation in the Southern Gulf Region

A map of indigenous nations before the ‘Trail of Tears’ courtesy of Pinterest.

Where we last left off, I wrote about how Gaither, a veteran of the Maryland 400, had served “seven years on the Georgian frontier, and two years in the Mississippi Territory as a U.S. Army officer” in which he was involved in numerous incidents on the frontier of Georgia, with disputes between the Creek Nation (Muskogee), other indigenous nations, and Georgian inhabitants. Specifically I told the stories of an incident in 1793 at the fork of the Tallahatchie River, reports of  robbery and murder of two Whites on the St. Mary’s River later that year and anger among the Creek Nation after James Seagrove, US Ambassador to the Creek Nation, called for retribution. Beyond this, I told the story of Major General Elijah Clarke’s failed expedition to invade Spanish territory in Louisiana in mid-1794, alarming even George Washington’s government, and Gaither at the end of his life, serving on the Mississippi River, and dying in 1811, at age 61 on a Washington D.C. plantation. A relatively new book by Early American/”North American borderlands” historian Kathleen DuVal titled Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution sheds light on the Creek Nation, which is even reviewed positively in the New York Times by Woody Holton and the post-war environment on the new frontier.

Before the revolutionary war, the Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Nations spread from the Gulf Coast into the interior of the North American continent. [1] While these nations dominated the Southern Gulf (of Mexico) Coast region, the Choctaws likely had the biggest population, numbering, likely, twenty thousand by the early 1700s, in contrast to the five thousand Chickasaw and ten thousand Creek at the same time. [2] By the 1770s, Payamataha, chief of the Chickasaw, had made peace with the Choctaws, Cherokees, Catawbas, Creeks, and Quapaws, other nearby indigenous nations, while Creek-Chickasaw peace, starting in 1760s, continued to flourish. [3] As for the Creeks, the main focus of this story, they had a unique form of government. Living in the river valleys in a region that would become the present-day states of Alabama and Georgia, the Creeks, divided into the Lower Creeks and Upper Creeks comprised a loose confederation of 60 towns which had their own farms and lesser towns in their jurisdiction, with limited consultation on foreign policy and defense. [4] While this meant that each town or clan had the decision to go to war, engage in diplomacy, or create new towns,with a broad spread of governance, most of those in the towns spoke “related languages” and had “similar cultural practices and beliefs” to fellow members of the society. [5]

One man, named Alexander McGillivray, tried to change this. McGillivray, born into a matrilineal Creek society, with his mother, Sehoy Marchand, and maternal uncle, Red Shoes, was multi-racial because his father was a Scottish highlander and trader named Lachlan McGillivray. [6] He soon tried to gain an important role in the world of Creek politics and society. However, he had trouble persuading the Creek people as a whole to succeed against the British not only because “no one could dictate foreign policy to even one Creek town of clan, much less the loose Creek Confederacy” but he was not a Creek headman and proven warrior. [7] Additionally, the British, seemed be fighting against the Continental Army and pro-revolutionary individuals, but not against settlers, leading certain US individuals to try and sway the Creeks, complicating McGillivray’s attempts at diplomacy and persuasion of the Creek people. Apart from this changing aim, the Creek-British alliance seemed to go forward despite failed efforts at British-indigenous coordination, especially in 1778, leading to tension among the indigenous nations such as the Creeks and Chickasaws who fought alongside the British. [8] Additionally, the minds of the Creek people were taken off the war for a number of reasons. For one, the spread of smallpox across the continent limited the ability of the Creeks to contribute especially since they quarantined fellow indigenous (and British) towns infected by smallpox, and the involvement of the French and Spanish in the revolutionary war led to less inclination to be involved in an inter-empire conflict. [9]

By 1781, as the siege of Pensacola, then a town within colonial British Florida, seemed imminent, with the approach of a Spanish fleet, people’s hopes were scattered, depending on the groups of people affected. For McGillivray, who “hoped for personal glory and Creek victory,” he had trouble getting the Creeks to fight the Spaniards but succeeded by stressing stressed Creek interests in the war and “opportunities for glory on the Gulf coast.” [10] Not everyone was convinced, however, as some Creeks went to the Spanish as a show of strength and attempt an alliance, but this failed not only because of the unification on foreign policy, like the Chickasaws, and because the two parties (Spanish and Creek) could not come to an agreement. [11] In a united front, January 8, 1781, Maryland and Pennsylvania loyalists fought alongside hundreds of Lower Creeks and Choctaws on an attack on a Spanish post at the “Village, which was on the other side of bay from Mobile. [12] In the attack, ending in a clear Spanish victory, Daniel Higgins of Maryland Loyalist Regiment, could have been among those who fought, along with many other loyalists from Maryland and Pennsylvania. [13] There were two other complicating factors. For one, despite the fact that about 1,700 soldiers under the command of General John Campbell, who had been in British West Florida since 1778, the city’s defense depended on warriors from the Chickasaw, Creek, and Choctaw nations since reinforcements had not arrived. [14] The other factor was that many Creeks were tired of the British treating them poorly, with some questioning McGillivray’s motives, since he was paid as a British agent, but he was successful yet again in countering them by saying that “cultivating interdependence with the British would facilitate Creek protection of their eastern border, where the British were fighting the Creeks’ most hated enemies, Georgians and Virginians” as DuVal notes. [15]

On May 8, the Spanish, helped by the French, were victorious in their siege, as the city of Pensacola surrendered. Generally this meant that “the British had lost a colony that had not rebelled” and it would lead to a British decision to  “recognize American independence before things got any worse.” [16] As Ray Raphael has pointed out, even after the Battle of Yorktown, resulting in the British surrender of Lord Cornwallis’s almost 7,000 troops, on October 17, the war was far from over despite what “conventional wisdom” says. Not only was King George III not ready to capitulate, but Washington was worried of future British advances, and peace was not even proposed by British military commanders until August 1782, with a preliminary peace treaty signed on November 30 of the same year. [17] Compounding this was a total of 47,000 British soldiers stationed in New York, Canada, South Carolina, Georgia, and the West Indies, “four times as many as those serving in the Continental Army.” [18] It is worth also noting that Washington was worried about a separate peace treaty between British and France, dooming the colonies, that over 300 revolutionary soldiers dying after Yorktown, the global nature of the American Revolutionary War, the “strategic retreat” rather than surrender by the British, which tells more of the story than acting like the battle at Yorktown was the end of the war. [19]

For the Creeks the was also not over. As the Creeks left Pensacola before Spanish victory, they instructed Alexander Cameron to describe Creek commitment and bravery during the siege, especially the “details of Creek and Choctaw participation,” in a letter to the British in Georgia. [20] Apart from this, the Creeks and their allies fought even harder. Hundreds of Continental soldiers were killed until the final peace agreement in 1783 and the fight against US settlers moving westward intensified as the British were pulling out of their colonies. [21] While the British, Spanish, French, Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws, had seemed like bigger players in the war in the Southern Gulf region than the revolutionaries/”rebels,” the postwar arrangement would change all that. [22]

The Treaty of Paris, actually negotiated, in part, in the Versailles Palace, was signed by the US and Britain, with France and Spain begrudgingly accepting it. Angriest of all were the Creeks, Chickasaws, and Cherokees. In a letter to the Spanish King,these indigenous chiefs, brought together by McGillivray, said that the Treaty was not valid. They argued that the British ceded land they never possessed and that the Creek, Chickasaw, and Cherokee were nations of indigenous people who had independence and natural rights. [23] To complete this insult, the US government under the Articles of Confederation, made a broad assertion. They declared that indigenous nations between the Appalachians and Mississippi were not sovereign nations but aggressors in the war. [24] Essentially, this denied “independent sovereignty” of indigenous nations, which had been accepted by the British and Spanish in their negotiations with such nations, especially during the Revolutionary War.

In the years after the war, there were a number of changes. For one, McGillivray  went back to the town his mother was living, staying there with his family as his   British connections had become irrelevant. [25] Around the same time, Hoboithle Miko, also called the Tame King, Tallassee King, and Halfway-House King, the latter which recognized his role in negotiating good terms for those on both sides, of Great Tallassee, an Upper Creek town, and Niko Miko of Cussita, a Lower Creek town, led the negotiations with North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia since the British gave St. Augustine to the Spanish, along with broadly removing themselves from the region. [26] In terms of diplomacy, McGillivray led the way, helping push forward an alliance and trade with the Spanish, at a time that large numbers of Americans settling in lands claimed by Spanish and indigenous people. [27] The Creeks also experienced the unfriendly nature of the new United States first hand. When Hoboithle Miko and Niko Miko attended a meeting of the Georgia legislature, in 1783, to try to maintain good relations with the United States, a treaty was quickly negotiated. [28] While Georgians thought it was valid, Creeks from only a few towns out of the 60 were there, meaning that it held no weight, but the Georgians did not realize this, possibly because of their ignorance of Creek customs, leading to tension. On the same token, while the idea of “advantageous independence,” which DuVal defines as people trying to “establish a balance in which they might have more control over dependent relationships,” expressed itself most strongly in the postwar period, just like during the war, a planter culture developed. [29] This culture, in which Creeks were slaveowners, created a disparity in the Creek Nation which hadn’t been seen before despite its existence in the nation for many years before.

In the following years, McGillivray tried to steer the Creek Nation in a more nationalist direction. First off, an alliance between the Creek and Spanish  recognized sovereignty on both sides and “mutually beneficial trade,” giving the Creeks a “European ally.” [30] Secondly, McGillivray tried to centralize the foreign policy of the Creek Nation, recognizing that  it would be more effective if this was implemented in “conjunction with other southeastern nations and even Indians to the north,” trying to create a Southern Confederacy, even as this proved exceedingly difficult. [31] Thirdly, McGillivray presented to the world, but especially to the Europeans and Americans, a strong nationalist statement. While he didn’t want the Creek Nation to become a U.S. state, he did develop “a language of independent nationhood that carried particular weight with late-eighteenth century Europeans and Americans” with his explicit claims that the Creeks governed their “own independent nation.” [32] This went beyond the arrangement in the past were issues of Creek governance were debated internally instead of projected to other governments.

As Western expansion continued, Creeks began to be nervous. With Georgians encroaching on Creek hunting lands, and they were harder to remove, the Creek National Council took up arms in their defense, along with beginning to engage in small-scale raids into Georgia starting in 1785. [33] Not only did this lead to tension, but the Georgians seemed aloof by the attacks, not understanding their role and they attempted to negotiate. Adding to this was the complications that Spain faced in white US settlers entering disputed lands in Creek Country since it was not technically Spanish land, and Georgians had major claims, even as they secretly funded the actions of the Creeks. [34]

Tension between the Spanish and Creek Nation began to grow. When the Spanish welcomed immigration from the newly created United States of America, with the Creeks seeing no value in this. [35] McGillivray was hurt by these developments as he worked on gaining connections in the United States, gaining a truce with Georgia, along with other diplomacy to force the hand of Spain. Due to these strained relations, the Creeks were glad to hear that the British were involved in the region again. As a result, they tried to gain British connections, with supplies to the Creek nation, but this faltered due to the false promises by William Augustus Bowles, a former member of the Maryland Loyalist Regiment. [36] By 1788, the situation had changed as the Spanish had reversed their previous decision. They had begun to supply the Creeks with weapons. They sent  weapons, which helped them wage “wars against the United States through the War of 1812 and beyond.” [37] It is worth noting that the Creek Nation was by no stretch a colony of the Spanish or the British, but engaged in their own independent foreign policy, like the other indigenous nations at the time.

By the 1790s, the McGillivray’s influence in the Creek Nation seemed to waning. While the Creeks continued truce with US [38], until a new government was inaugurated in 1791 with the end of ratification, McGillivray signed a Congressional treaty. The document set the border between the Creek Nation and Georgia at the Oconee River which many Creeks thought was too much of a compromise, as did Georgians about the terms put forward by the administration of George Washington. [39] There was additional tension. In 1791, a Creek and Cherokee delegation to London said that the Creeks and Cherokees were united into one with the Chickasaws and Choctaws also swayed by the Council’s measures. [40] However, the Choctaws and Chickasaws did not agree, leading to increased friction among the indigenous nations. On February 17, 1793, he died  in Pensacola, with his first and second wives mourning him and his plantations distributed among his children. [41]

DuVal’s book, in terms of historical narrative, basically ends there, with some exceptions. She notes that by 1814, few Creeks came to defend Pensacola because “a few months earlier Jackson’s forces had fought alongside one Creek faction to defeat another in a disastrous civil war.” [42] She also adds that in 1834, which may have seemed unthinkable in 1793, the US “forcibly removed most Creeks across the Mississippi” with the Chickasaws only held out a few years longer. [43] Near the end, she says that the remove of Creeks and Chickasaws from their homelands “in the 1830s took their county but not their nationhood” but that Native American sovereignty has had a resurgence in recent years. [44]

Some readers may be wondering how this all ties to Henry Chew Gaither, a revolutionary war veteran and Marylander who was a major of the First Regiment of the U.S. Army from 1791 to 1792 and Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of the Third Sub-Legion from 1793 to 1802. The truth is that he likely never met McGillivray, since he died in the sixth month of Gaither’s deployment. Even so, the history of this article is directly relevant to the experience of Gaither while spent time on the Georgian frontier, until he went to Fort Adams, which sat alongside the Mississippi River in 1800, staying until 1802, when he finally retired from the military for good. In the end, even though Gaither is not part of this story, the connections to the Maryland Loyalist Regiment and expansion of the history of the Southern Gulf Region makes DuVal’s book valuable for understanding the Early American period while informing the happenings of the present.

Notes

[1] Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 2015), xvii.

[2] Ibid, 9, 13.

[3] Ibid, 17, 19.

[4] Ibid, xviii,  xxii, 9, 25-26. The Upper Creeks lived “along the Alabama, Coosa, and Tallapoosa rivers in present-day Alabama” and the Lower Creeks  near “the Chattahoochee River, the present-day border between Alabama and Georgia” as DuVal notes.

[5] Ibid, 25-27.

[6] Ibid, xviii, 24-25.

[7] Ibid, 77-81.

[8] Ibid, 85-87, 99, 115.

[9] Ibid, 165-166, 176.

[10] Ibid, xxv-xxvi, 177-178.

[11] Ibid, 181, 185-186. DuVal writes that among the Choctaws there was broad disagreement with some joining the Spanish and others the British.

[12] Ibid, 167, 182.

[13] Higgins was related to Peter Higgins of the Fourth Independent Company, which had Archibald Anderson as its First Lieutenant and James Hindman as its Captain. While it is possible that Barnet Turner, a veteran of the Maryland 400, was part of the Maryland Loyalist Regiment, he had deserted in 1778, three years before the fighting near Pensacola. Looking this up more in-depth, the Maryland Historical Society seems to have the muster rolls of the Maryland Loyalist Regiment in 1782, the Canadian Archives seems to have some records, there’s a 1778 Orderly Book of the Maryland Loyalists (along with other Ancestry databases here and here), relevant documents on the regiment transcribed here, this muster list, parts of this book, this orderly book, bits and pieces noted here, some results in the Journal of the American Revolution, and so on.

[14] Ibid, 194, 196, 205; George C. Osborn, “Major-General John Campbell in British West Florida,” The Florida Historical Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4, p. 318, 332, 339.

[15] Ibid, 206-208.

[16] Ibid, 218.

[17] Ray Raphael, Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past (New York: The New Press, 2004), 211-214.

[18] Ibid, 214.

[19] Ibid, 215-225.

[20] DuVal, 217.

[21] Ibid, 228-229.

[22] Ibid, 128.

[23] Ibid, 236.

[24] Ibid, 236-237.

[25] Ibid, 246-247.

[26] Ibid, 247, 251.

[27] Ibid, xv, 248.

[28] Ibid, 250-253.

[29] Ibid, xxi, 249.

[30] Ibid, 257-258, 260.

[31] Ibid, 295-296.

[32] Ibid, 254-255.

[33] Ibid, 298-301.

[34] Ibid, 310-311.

[35] Ibid, 323, 326-327.

[36] Ibid, 327-329.

[37] Ibid, 341.

[38] Ibid, 332.

[39] Ibid, 342.

[40] Ibid, 304.

[41] Ibid, 343.

[42] Ibid, 340.

[43] Ibid, 343-344.

[44] Ibid, 350.