Lisa Oakley and the saga of John Plant

On June 26, I received a voicemail message from Lisa Oakley, a family eldercare coach in California, about her Maryland ancestor, John Plant, a member of the Maryland 400. [1] This blog aims to address her email, adding new information to John Plant’s story. I begin by using content from existing blogposts: “The post-war lives of Maryland’s revolutionary soldiers“; ““Ready to march Southward”: The story of the Maryland Extra Regiment”; “The story of the Extra Regiment’s ordinary soldiers: From McCay to Patton“;  and ““…the new Regiment now raising”: Continuing the story of the Extra Regiment.” All copyrighted material used falls under the fair use exception to U.S. copyright law as it is used for educational purposes here.

John Plant was a Charles County man who had fought in the Maryland Line, specifically part of Captain John Hoskins Stone’s First Company of the First Maryland Regiment, enlisting in Port Tobacco, Maryland. In 1781, as an experienced soldier, he served as an ensign, then lieutenant in the new Maryland Extra Regiment. He likely resigned in January 1782 as he could not retain this rank in the new unit. Still he returned as a “supernumerary” to Annapolis, beginning to receive payments after his military service eventually resulting in a pension years later.

After the war, he lived in Charles County, becoming a “well-off small farmer and slaveowner who owned two horses, one cattle, and one enslaved black child.” On June 15, 1788 he married an eighteen-year-old woman named Mary Ann Davis, with some recalling his military service in later years.Later on, Plant and Mary lived in Washington, D.C., which was then a “largely rural and sparsely populated area which had thriving ports at Georgetown and Alexanders, in addition to the federal town of Washington City, which had about 8,200 inhabitants,” with slavemasters and over 7,900 enslaved blacks being an important part of society. Plant died in DC on November 14, 1808. Many years after his death, his widow, Mary, tried to get John’s pension payments but had trouble doing so, leading her to almost be “deprived of a pension.”

What new information does Ms. Oakley add to this story? Well, John Plant’s bio managed by the Maryland State Archives, which I originally wrote back in 2016, reflects some changes, but not all. She says that he went to Prince William County, Virginia after the war as a “tenant farmer,” with a witness to his will being a “tavern owner just to the south side of the Occoquan River.” The will she attached is transcribed below, which was  tough due to the quality of the image she sent of the will (likely because it was taken on a cell phone). However, by  happenstance, someone else had transcribed this already (which I stumbled upon), so I’ll reprint their transcription, with bolding being my  emphasis:

JOHN PLANT Will

Prince William County Will Book I, pg. 3414 [sic, 414?]

10 Nov 1808; proved 5 Dec 1808

In the name of God Amen I JOHN PLANT of County of Prince William and State of Virginia being sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory knowing it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hand of Almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to the Earth to buried in decent Christian bureal at the discretion of my Executrix nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wharewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life.  I devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.  First I give and bequeath to MARY PLANT my loving wife al my estate real and personal for and during her life and at her death to be equally divided between my two daughters GRAYSON and SARAH to them and their heirs forever.  I constitute my loving wife MARY PLANT my sole Exetrix of this my last will and testament.  In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this tenth day of November in the year 1808.

JOHN PLANT {seal}

Witness

ZACH WARD

DAVID JOHNSTON

At a Court held for Prince William County Decemr. 5th 1808

This last will and testament of JOHN PLANT decd was presented to the Court by MARY PLANT the Executrix therein named who made oath to the same according to law and being proved by the oaths of ZACHARIAH WARD and DAVID JOHNSTON is ordered to be recorded and the said Executrix having performed what is usual in such cases certificate is granted her for obtaining a probate thereof in due form.

Teste

J.WILLIAMS  Ct. Cur.

I tried to look for another version of this on Family Search and Ancestry, but was sadly unsuccessful.We do know from this that he died between November 10 and December 5th. According to his pension, we know he died on November 14. Finding his cemetery may be extremely hard, as there are no results for the name Plant in Prince William County, Virginia and Find A Grave lists 279 cemeteries in that county! We know that Prince William County sits right on the Potomac and is 36 miles away from the heart of D.C. Still, possible candidates  for where he could be buried includes Woodbridge, Sudley Springs, or elsewhere. Yet, the family narrative, noted at the end of this post claims he is buried in Charles County, Maryland. But no results come up for Plant in that county either. Some sources seemed to say he had land in the county.I looked at MDLandRec to see if I could find anything. I found a listing for Horatio Plant in 1814, interestingly enough:

He is listed on Liber 213, no. 10, p. 519

I looked further, finding a James Plant in 1755 (Liber A, no. 1 1/2, p. 345) and 1757 (Liber G, no. 3, pp 129, 157). On the next page there were no listings for any individuals with the Plant surname at all! Looking at it in another indice gave me the same exact result:

Should be IB, not JB

I tried to look for Liber A, no. 1 1/2, p. 345 but no results came up. The link to it in the Guide to Government Records did not work when I tried it. I looked at pages 129 and 157 of Liber G, no.  3. It shows James Plant owning a piece of land called St. Michaels, which was 100 acres in 1757. Other records that year show Plant buying even more land, related to the Saint Michaels tract, from Richard Coffer. The next set of records are in 1814. Its between George Bradley Stewart of D.C., Horatio Plant and his wife Mary Cassandra Plant of Montgomery County, MD, Mary Eleanor Stewart of Montgomery County, MD, and William Dement of Charles County, MD. George, Horatio, Mary, and Mary paid William Dement $500 for a tract of land called South Hampton which is between tracts owned by John Thurman Stoddert (later a congressmember who would introduce Mary Ann’s pension claim), and Mary  Truman Fendall. And that’s it!

I checked on Plats to see if there was anything on Saint Michaels. It turns out there was an entry, but it was back in 1664. But, it doesn’t seem to be on Plats. I did find South Hampton however. It was unpatented in 1799. There is a long history, with the specifics of the land. The land itself is basically a set of rectangles and squares, nothing to write home about:

Courtesy of plats.net

The family trees on Ancestry aren’t very reliable on this subject, claiming that John was born in England in 1755,  with debate on whether he died in  Charles, Maryland or Prince William County, Virginia, USA. I seem to think that he died in the latter place. [2] The one Ancestry user, Adam Perry, writes that “John lived for a time in Northern Virginia in Prince William County based upon his will and my ability to locate one of the witnesses to the will.” Both of these trees cite the U.S., Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 1889-1970 database, which is notoriously unreliable, having no source for their information put reprints, some pages from his  pension:

Through Ancestry’s Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files database, I  was able to find the whole pension, which I have uploaded as a PDF onto this website (I eliminated the pages with little or no content, as they are irrelevant).

But, saying he lived in Washington, D.C., as my old bio said, was not totally wrong, as it says now: “By 1808, the family had settled in Prince William County, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC.” [3] This connects to the fact that 6 months before he died (in November 1808), ” he apprenticed his sons Nathaniel and John to business people in DC.” The records are shown below:

In her third point, she writes that “John Plant had a sister Sarah Ann Plant Stewart Jones” with her obituary she was “able to determine that she attended St. Ignatius Parish prior to moving to DC in 1795. It states that she was born in Charles County.” That record, from page 3 of the National Journal on September 26, 1829, is shown below:

On her fourth point, she says that “Mary Ann Davis, [as] 2nd wife to John Plant,” living out “the rest of her life in DC with her youngest daughter Sarah Ann Plant Hay and son in law.” She adds that Mary Ann died in 1841 with a “burial location is the now- abandoned St. Patricks Church cemetery in DC” (as also evidenced by the Find A Grave she put up) with “notes written up by Agnes Plant who was the great-granddaughter of John Plant of Revolutionary War.” Mary’s obit is shown below, and after it is from the notes written by Agnes Plant.

Courtesy of Newspapers.com

Interestingly, we find (abstracted from John’s pension) that “William Stewart, age about 62, deposes that when he was about 12 years old, he recollects hearing of the marriage of the said Mary Ann and John Plant in Charles County, Maryland that the said John Plant was his mother’s brother and this deponent lived near them.” This being the case, it means that William is a grandson of John, with William’s mother being a sibling of John. William’s mother is Sarah, who was talked about earlier in this post.


Notes

[1] In 2017, she had emailed me in saying that she believed that “Horatio Plant d. 1840 (son of Ann Shepard) was also the son of John Plant. I believe that Ann was his first wife and may have died in childbirth,” going onto say that “Ann is the sister of the famous Francis Shepard, their family has been written about at Port Tobacco and the property there that was handed down from their father John Shepard”  and that she has “a copy of John Plant’s Will, however, he only names his two daughters Grace and Sarah.” She was, at the time, looking for anything that named “Horatio Plant, or have some advice to give on finding it.” Later that year, she appreciated my transfer of John Plant’s virtual grave to her, and said that connecting to Owen Lourie helped, adding that “both Horatio, and John Plants other known son Nathaniel were in the same regiment for the war of 1812. Nathaniel is the one who took/picked up the pension paperwork for May Ann Davis.”

[3] The last paragraphs of the bio now read: “Plant settled in Charles County after his military service, at least for a few years. He was a modest farmer, who probably did not own any land, although he did have one slave. On June 5, 1788, he married Mary Ann Davis (b. ca. 1770) in Charles County. They had four children together: Grace (sometimes called Grayson), Sarah, John, and Nathaniel. [5] By 1808, the family had settled in Prince William County, Virginia, not far from Washington, DC. Plant apprenticed his sons to masters in the city that spring. John was indentured to William Worthington, a cabinetmaker, and Nathaniel to a cordwainer, or shoemaker, in Georgetown. Only six months later, in November or December, John Plant died. In 1835, Mary Ann applied for a Federal veteran’s pension as the widow of a Revolutionary War soldier, and she eventually was awarded $95 per year. She died in 1841. [6]” I posted  the older version on academia.edu.

Advertisements

Writing for the Maryland State Archives

From May to November 2016, I worked at the Maryland State Archives as a researcher on the Finding the Maryland 400 Project. While there I wrote a number of blogposts, which are as follows:

    1. Col. Gaither: Seven years on Georgia’s frontier (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu). I expanded upon that blogpost in my post on this blog titled “From the Revolutionary War to the 1790s: the Creek Nation in the Southern Gulf Region
    2. Col. Barton Lucas: more than a military man (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    3. Sickened Marylanders and the Philadelphia Bettering House (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    4. Persecuted in Revolutionary Baltimore: The Sufferings of Quakers (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    5. A “little groggy”: the deputy sheriff of Baltimore and his “bowl of toddy” (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    6. The political climate of Baltimore in 1776 (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    7. A “dull place” on the Patapsco: Baltimore and the Marr Brothers (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    8. “Flecking the hedges with red”: Palmer’s Ballad on the Maryland 400 (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    9. “The misfortune which ensued”: The defeat at Germantown (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    10. A Short Fight on Hobkirk’s Hill: Surprise, Blame, and Defeat (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)
    11. British “masters of the field” : The disaster at Brandywine (re-posted on this blog and on academia.edu)

Many of these posts were noted in a SAR report

I also wrote 91 biographies of Revolutionary Marylanders. They were on the following individuals:

  1. Hezekiah Foard (bio re-posted on this blog and academia.edu)
  2. Barton Lucas (bio re-posted on this blog and academia.edu)
  3. John Mitchell (bio re-posted on this blog and academia.edu)
  4. John Sears (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  5. Henry Mitchel (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  6. William Dawson (bio re-posted on academia.edu and Find A Grave)
  7. John Lowry (full text of bio re-posted on academia.edu since previous bio was not archived) [since been been changed by current researcher Natalie Miller, current changed version here]
  8. John Neal (bio re-posted on academia.edu and Find A Grave), and his wife Margaret, adapted from that.
  9. John Hardman (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  10. John Plant (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  11. George Lashley (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  12. Andrew Meloan (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  13. Robert Ratliff (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  14. William Marr (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  15. Solomon Slocum (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  16. Henry Chew Gaither (bio re-posted on academia.edu)
  17. Samuel Goslin (bio re-posted on Find A Grave)
  18. Josias Miller (bio re-posted on Find A Grave)
  19. Matthew Murry (bio re-posted on Find A Grave)
  20. Michael Nowland (bio re-posted on Find A Grave)
  21. Ezekiel Pearce (bio re-posted on Find A Grave)
  22. Benjamin Ford
  23. Charles Smith
  24. John McGlaughlin
  25. Neal Dearmond
  26. Thomas Donolan
  27. Richard Doyle
  28. John Gorden
  29. William Grimes
  30. Thomas Hamilton
  31. John Haney
  32. Thomas Holland
  33. William Martin
  34. James Matthews
  35. William McGlaughlin
  36. Thomas McGuire
  37. Edward McKinzie
  38. Joseph Mongomery
  39. Charles Pritchard
  40. James Reed
  41. Patrick Reed
  42. Samuel Thomas
  43. Joseph Dixon
  44. Edward Ford
  45. Alexander McConaughey
  46. James Murphey
  47. John Harris
  48. Isaac Buttrim
  49. John Callenan
  50. Christian Castler
  51. Richard Cheaney
  52. Samuel Elliott
  53. James Garner
  54. Godfrey Gash
  55. William Hammond
  56. Philip Harley
  57. James Hogg
  58. George Horner
  59. Thomas Hunter
  60. Nicholas Marr
  61. James Marr
  62. John McCoy
  63. Alexander McMunn
  64. James Mutton
  65. Mathew Neeley
  66. William Nevitt
  67. John Reed
  68. Thomas Reed
  69. William Rogers
  70. Charles Turner
  71. Thomas McLanhlan
  72. Thomas Stern
  73. John Read
  74. John Redman
  75. Richard Goldin
  76. Edward Marr
  77. Thomas Certain
  78. Patrick McCann
  79. James McHendricks
  80. John Marr
  81. John Porter
  82. Richard Pursel
  83. Benjamin Quimby
  84. William Stibbings
  85. William Thompson
  86. Barnet Turner
  87. Stephen Videto
  88. William Wright
  89. William Holmes (since been revised/fixed up by current researcher Natalie Miller)
  90. Samuel Jones
  91. Robert Harvey

The Society of John Gaither Descendants praised my work on the Henry Chew Gaither biography, writing

“It is timely during our celebration of our nation’s independence, that SJGD member Sue Gaither Vanzant alerted us to an updated and expanded biography of Revolutionary War Captain, Colonel Henry Chew Gaither. The biography and an excellent account of Colonel Gaither’s life written by Burkely Herman[n] is located on the Maryland State Archives site dedicated to the Maryland 400. Mr. Herman[n] is a 2016 Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow. The blog and biography provide valuable insight into the times in which Colonel Gaither lived and his service to our country…Society member, Sue Vanzant, through her own research, played an important role in expanding the biography of Colonel Gaither [which I wrote].

I used the information of varied Marylanders to write two following blogposts:

My series on the Extra Regiment, which are listed below, also sprung from my work at the Maryland State Archives:

I also wrote “From Alexander McMunn to Hezekiah Foard: Maryland soldiers in Cecil County after the revolutionary war” which I put up on academia.edu, which was based on the bios of Alexander McMunn and Hezekiah Foard.

My other posts on this blog were somewhat inspired by the work I did at the Maryland State Archives but not directly connected to the work I did there:

Then the most recent two posts are basically about genealogy, inspired by what I wrote on Packed With Packards:

That’s all of what I have wrote and put together.


I also re-posted bios of the Archives’ project on Find A Grave, which I didn’t write, but posted in hopes of ancestors finding them:

  1. Peter Brown
  2. Edward Blacklock
  3. William Chaplin
  4. Thomas Connor
  5. Elisha Everit
  6. Jacob Holland
  7. Philip Jenkins
  8. Henry Leek
  9. Elizabeth Cox
  10. Margaret McCane
  11. Monica Kennedy
  12. John McClain
  13. John McClain (other)
  14. Mark McPherson
  15. James Mitchell
  16. James Murphy
  17. David Plunket
  18. Patrick Nowland
  19. Francis Osborn
  20. Nathan Peak
  21. Daniel Rankins
  22. Basil Ridgely
  23. Robert Sapp

From one Tilghman to the next: Tench and his descendants

As noted by the Maryland State Archives, this painting by Charles Wilson Peale for the Maryland State Archives, “Peale added two figures to the foreground of his composition. The first, to Washington’s immediate left…The second figure Peale added is Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman (1744-1786), a Marylander who served as Washington’s military secretary and aide-de-camp, who is shown in profile. Tilghman’s portrait was painted from life.”

As we wrote about about last week on this blog, the pension for Anna Maria Tilghman, the widow of Tench Tilghman, is stock-filled with information. This post aims to dig into that information even more. Tench’s military career is evident without a doubt, and was part of the focus of my poster board in 2007 for the History Day competition titled “Tench Tilghman Pays a Price for Being a Patriot,” for which I only got to the state level with their theme of “Triumph & Tragedy in History.” That is part of the reason I’m writing these posts to be honest, to rekindle my interest in the subject I explored all those years ago, even though I did go to the Maryland State Archives, Maryland Historical Society (MHS), Historical Society of Talbot County, and the Library of Congress. [1] Back then I wrote about how I took notes from copies of original letters and documents at the MHS, a photograph of Tench Tilghman’s uniform, and that Tench came from a privileged family with sympathies toward the British crown, eventually making “sacrifices for Patriotism, facing estrangement from his family and disease contracted in battle,” leading to his early death at the age of 41.

Tench during the Revolutionary War and after

As far back as May 1769, George Washington was on good terms with the Tilghman family. He wrote James Tilghman, Tench’s father (who was once written about by the Maryland State Archives), that year, asking for advice in getting “Entrys of Land for me, near the Settlement of Redstone, in the Provence of Pensylvania” since he was, at the time, “anxious of obtaining some little possession in a Country that I have experienced many toils and hardships in.” Then in September 1774, Washington “dined at Mr. [James] Tilghman’s” house in Talbot County, Maryland. By 1776, Tench was translating letters in French for Washington as indicated here and here. By August, he had brought a deserter to George Washington himself! In all, within Founders Online, are 78 letters from Tilghman to other individuals, sometimes Washington. As the National Park Service puts it, “at Valley Forge, almost 30% of the correspondence that came out of Washington’s headquarters was written by Tilghman.” That’s an amazing feat!

On March 19, 1784, Tench wrote from Baltimore,  saying that there are not any bricklayers but only carpenters, to Washington’s Mt. Vernon as noted in other letters. So, he is basically a caretaker of Mt. Vernon? In a letter a few months later he added that Irish servants arrived, saying the following:

I shall attend to your direction of substituting a Stone Mason in the room of a Bricklayer, should circumstances require it—I will also make enquiry for a Stucco Worker…he must be perfect, otherwise, like a bad Painter, he will deface what he ought to decorate. I beg leave to take this opportunity of acknowledging the rect of your Excellency’s letter of the 19th of May from Philada accompanied by a Badge of the Order of the Cincinnati, of which Society I have the honor of being a Member…I therefore take pleasure in informing you that Mrs Tilghman presented me with a Daughter [Margaret] a fortnight ago [May 25], and that she and her little Charge are both perfectly well

The next letter, the following month, is in the same vein, adding that in Baltimore there is a “demand for Carpenters and Masons, that the Master Builders in those Branches who are settled here, in order to intice the new comers to give them a preference,” notes about Irish coming to Baltimore to work, whom would take not take “less than the high daily Wages given to such Tradesmen here.” Again, these are about those who are coming to work at Mr. Vernon, with Tench meeting with the workers themselves. He adds in another letter about Mt. Vernon’s specifications: “The Door of the House to be as large as you can conveniently make it—otherwise when the Trees come to any size, the limbs are broken and the Fruit torn off in moving in and out.”

By March 1785, Tench is clearly not the caretaker of Mt. Vernon anymore. Instead he writes about the daughter of “the late Capt. William Anderson of London” who is in a bad way, worries about the “the health of Mrs Washington and yourself” and adds that “Mrs Tilghman is upon a visit to her Friends upon the Eastern shore” whom he will soon join. By May, he gives even more of a story, adding that he is currently tied down by business in Baltimore:

How much you flatter me, my dear General (for by that name I must ever be allowd to call you) by your kind invitation to visit you [in Mt. Vernon]. My circumstances require a close attention to Business, and I am, on that account, cheifly confined to the limits of this Town. I often wish for a good pretence to go as far as Alexandria or George Town. Once there I should not fail to pay my Respects at Mount Vernon. If I ever find time to make a jaunt of pleasure—Mrs Tilghman will assuredly be of the party. She joins in sincerest Compliments to Mrs Washington and yourself

By August, he is talking about those on a ship called the Pallas, owned by a Mr. John O’Donnell, an Irish-born man, with the crew on the ship mostly “from the Coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, and are much of the Countenance and Complexion of your old Groom Wormely.” As always, he (and his wife) wishes George and his wife Martha well. Later he recommends a man named John Rawlins to work at Mt. Vernon, describing him as a “masterly Workman” while also saying that he only has one regret, that he cannot make a visit, saying that “my Business ties me down to the Circle of Baltimore.”

By October, he describes his sickness as getting to him, even as he claims he is getting better:

You will wonder at my long silence; but you will excuse me when I inform you, that your letter of the 14th of Sept. found me confined to my Bed by a most Severe nervous Fever, which kept me there near four Weeks. I am now far from being recovered, but as I can mount my Horse, I take daily Exercise, and find my Health and Strength returning by slow degrees.

His next letter is a couple months later in December, in which he writes about meeting a man named “Count Castiglioni…who, in pursuit of Botanical Knowledge, has thought it worth his while to visit this, hitherto, almost unexplored Continent” whom he recommends Washington meet. The same month he writes Washington again talking about gentlemen he has recommended to Washington, and seems to be a sort of caretaker of Mt. Vernon again, writing that “the Work to be began at Mount Vernon by the 1st or middle of April next—at farthest.” In other letters he writes about sickness of some of these workers, and about his “Brother James [who] lives at Talbot Court House, the Central spot of the Eastern Shore Counties, and convenient to the State of Delaware also.”

In 1786, there are four letters written by Tench to Washington. The first is on January 16, for which he talks about setting Rawlins to work on fixing up Mt. Vernon, again writing about this in March. On March 16 he again writes about his sickness:

I have been confined upwards of a Fortnight in great measure, to my bed, by the return of a Complaint in my side with which I was troubled some time ago. I recover but very slowly, but I hope that as soon as I am able to enjoy the favorable Season which is approaching I shall soon get recruited.

On March 23 he writes his last letter to Washington, in which he says that

I am still unable to leave my Chamber, tho I think I am rather better than when I wrote to you last.

On April 22, Thomas Ringgold Tilghman, Tench’s brother, tells Washington about Tench’s death only a few days before:

I have the most melancholy Task to perform, that was ever yet imposed upon me; that of making you acquainted with the Death of my poor Brother Tench. Painful however as it is, I thought a duty not to be dispensed with towards one for whom he had so high a Reverence & so warm an Attachment as for yourself. Not above three days before his death every symptom bade fair for a speedy Recovery, when an unexpected Change took place, which in a short time destroyed every hope. He retained his senses perfectly till within a few hours of the time that he expired, which was in the Evening of the 18th, when he went off without the least pain & even without a struggle: As it is our Wish to settle his Affairs as speedily as possible, I enclose your account, the Bale of which £54.10.4 you will be pleased to pay into the hands of Messrs Josiah Watson & Co. of Alexanda which mode of settling it, is agreable to his Intentions.

To this, Washington replies the following month with almost a eulogy:

As there were few men for whom I had a warmer friendship, or greater regard than for your Brother—Colonel Tilghman—when living; so, with much truth I can assure you, that, there a⟨re⟩ none whose death I could more sincerely have regretted. and I pray you, & his numerous friends to permit me to mingle my sorrows with theirs on this unexpected & melancholy occasion—and that they would accept my compliments of condolence on it.

That is all that can be said about Tench in Baltimore. There are letters regarding his efforts at delivering surrender papers from Yorktown to Annapolis and then the Continental Congress in 1781. [2] Apparently one his descendants, years later, would be named Oswald. The Maryland State Archives gives a quick overview of Tench’s later life:

…[his children were] Anna Margaretta, born May 24, 1784 [who married]…her cousin Tench Tilghman, son of Peregrine Tilghman of “Hope”…[and] Elizabeth Tench, born October 11, 1786 [who married] Col. Nicholas Goldsborough…In 1784 formed a partnership with Robert Morris in Baltimore called Tench Tilghman & Co. Lived on Lombard Street…[died] April 18, 1786 in Baltimore [and was] buried [in] St. Paul’s Church.

Within their sources is a chancery court case in which Samuel Stringer Cole sued James Carey, Margaret Tilghman, and Elizabeth Tilghman, a Baltimore Sun article, Papenfuse’s “Remarks to Board of Public Works, February 4, 1998,” other remarks, and a program. Most interesting is the 18-pages of a scanned inventory, showing that he had the many possessions when noted in May 1786. Instead of reprinting each (as that stretches for 7 pages), I picked the ones I thought were representative:

1 small sword

1 gold watch

10 coats with gold epaulets for a coat

13 shirts

14 socks

17 handkerchiefs

1 saddle cloth

1 pair of pistols

1 riding stick and 1 pair of spurs

2 military books

1 sword belt

22 silver table spoons

24 silver desert spoons

24 silver desert spoons and sugar tongs

12 Mahogany chairs

12 pewter dishes

100 lb good brown sugar

This showed his class position in society without a doubt, especially that he rode on a horse but did not own a plantation with enslaved blacks like his contemporaries (i.e. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington). The letter by Thomas to George Washington is not a surprise because he was the administrator of Tench’s estate. Today, the MHS has papers specifically on the Tilghman family, as does the Library of Australia. Some even wrote a poem about him, with Washington placing “Tilghman among the prominent of the Revolution” as one writer put it.

Tench’s wife, Anna Maria TilghmanBefore getting to Tench and Anna Maria’s children, it is worth talking about Anna Maria. Buried on Talbot County MD, her former home was Plimhimmon, with her parents as Matthew Tilghman, an important figure in Maryland politics during the Revolutionary War, and Anna Lloyd, from the Lloyd family which was deeply rooted in Talbot County and also involved in local politics in the state (then a colony) of Maryland. Matthew’s brother was James, who was the father of Tench, who had three other siblings (Richard, Anna Maria, and William). Anna Maria was, as the story goes, born at the “Hermitage,” the family’s plantation not to be confused with Andrew Jackson’s home of the same name.Later, the “Hope House,” established in 1800 would be the “Home of Tench Tilghman and his wife, Margaret Tilghman” with this Margaret Tilghman the “niece of Margaret Tilghman Carroll of Mount Clare – the daughter of Margaret’s sister Anna Maria and her husband, Colonel Tench Tilghman.” Apparently in the Talbot County Historical Society hangs a copy of a “167-year-old portrait of Anna Maria…where she looks down through her old-fashioned glasses at the goings-on of the 21st century world,” with the original in ” the Shreve home.”

Tench and Anna Maria’s first daughter, Ann Margaretta

Ann Margaretta, or called Margaret for short, was born in 1755 as I noted in the previous post.As the letters above note, Margaret was born sometime in March 1784. Before her untimely death on March 18, 1812, she married a man named Tench Tilghman, the son of Peregrine Tilghman (whose father was Richard Tilghman who was the brother of Tench’s father, James) and Deborah Lloyd. With this Tench she had three children. One of them, with the same name as his father, Tench, was mentioned in the pension documents in the previous article, while the other two children, an infant and William Ward, were not since they did not live very long (the infant died at less than a year old and William at age 4). Family history sites don’t say much about her, except that her son Tench would be the future founder of the Maryland & Delaware railroad.

Nothing else can be currently determined.

Tench and Anna Maria’s second daughter, Elizabeth

From our previous post it was clear that Elizabeth was born after Tench’s death. Her gravestone only says she was 65 years old when she died on May 5, 1852, meaning she she can be the child of Tench and Anna Maria even though simple subtraction pegs her birth date in 1787 (when it was likely late 1786 but her birth date had not come up when she died). We also know that she married a man named C.T. Goldsborough and seemingly had a child named M. Tilghman Goldsborough and that she lived until at least 1843. Her gravestone shows that her husband was not “C.T. Goldsborough” but a man named Nicholas Goldsborough, and that she had six children with him:

Matthew Tilghman Goldsborough (18121861) [undoubtedly the same as “M. Tilghman Goldsborough”]

James Nicholas Goldsborough (18141871)

A Margaretta Goldsborough Hollyday (18161878)

Sally Goldsborough (18271870)

Nicholas Goldsborough (18291891)

Mary Henrietta Goldsborough (18341907)

Due to the fact that she died in 1852, this is great for discovering more of her history, since she has to be in the 1850 census, the first that names all of those in the household, not just the head of the household.

Looking up Nicholas’s name we find a record of his birth, but also the 1850 census for “Talbot county, part of, Talbot, Maryland, United States.”  Rather than just linking the census it is worth reprint the image of the census itself, showing a household of 12 individuals!

Nicholas is called a Colonel, from what I can see, and is a farmer, with the Symthe family also living with them.

Before this, the 1820 census shows a Nicholas Goldsborough in “Trappe, Talbot, Maryland, United States,” the 1830 census show a man of the same name in “Talbot, Maryland, United States” while the 1840 census shows a man by the same name in “District 3, Talbot, Maryland, United States.” One can say these men are the same and that they are undoubtedly Elizabeth’s husband of the same name. Additionally, it is likely that Elizabeth was living with him. Other records, within the 1850 “slave schedulesshow that her husband is clearly a slaveowner, of at least three individuals. Hence, the Tilghman family could not escape slavery and was part of it without a doubt.

It is hard to say when Elizabeth married Nicholas. I say that because the 1800, 18101820, and 1840, censuses show a woman named “Elizabeth Tilghman” in Talbot County, alone. Likely the “Mariah E Tilghman” in the 1840 census is Tench (the 1st)’s wife.

The story of Henrietta Maria Francis

As I noted in my post last week, a woman named Henrietta Maria Francis was first “acquainted” with Tench (in 1780), when she was age 25, and married the uncle of Tench, in 1783, with Tench visiting them after their marriage. She said in her deposition in the pension that:

…she intermarried with Philip Francis, the uncle of the said Tench Tilghman in the year seventeen hundred and eighty and was in the year seventeen hundred and eighty three was living near Eden Park, near the town of Wilmington, in Delaware, and that the said Col Tench Tilghman, before his marriage, and in the month of March of March seventeen hundred and eighty three made a visit to the despondents husband, at [Eden Park]

One history of Tench seems to mention this Philip fellow, saying that he is the brother of Anna Francis, the wife of James Tilghman, Tench’s father, while another individual, “Tench Francis” is mentioned as Tench’s uncle. Find A Grave is no help in this regard, only finding three individuals with the name of “Tench Francis.” Other searches note a man named “Sir Philip Francis” but it not known of this is the same as Henrietta Maria’s husband. The Wikipedia page for Tench Francis Sr gives the biggest clue:

Tench Francis (born probably in Ireland; died 16 August 1758) was a prominent lawyer and jurist in colonial Maryland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…In 1724 he married Elizabeth Turbutt. Together, they had [a number of children including] Philip Francis, who married Henrietta Maria Goldsborough, who were the grandparents of Philip Francis Thomas…[and] Ann Francis, who married James Tilghman, who were the parents of Tench Tilghman…Tench Francis died in Philadelphia in 1758.

So, Henrietta Maria’s maiden name was Goldsborough and her husband, Philip Francis, had the same father as Tench’s mother, Ann Francis. Searching for “Henrietta Maria Goldsborough” turns up varied results on Find A Grave so it is not known which, if any, are the same as Philip’s wife. The same can be said for the results on Family Search. Tech does seem to call him “Phil Francis” in 1776 so perhaps Henrietta did know Tench well.

Conclusion

The Tilghman family is a gift that keeps giving for research, one that can continue to be mined for research. For now there won’t be a follow-up article, but if anything else comes up in the future, an article adding to previous documents may be released. As always, I look forward to your comments.

Notes

[1] Looking back at a binder titled “Tench Tilghman,” it is clear that I looked at newspaper articles, a letter to George Washington by Tench on August 14, 1784, Tench’s Yorktown Journal at the MHS, a few random websites online, mainly to provide visuals, photocopies of Tench’s journals, Samuel Alexander Harrison’s book titled Memorial of Lieutenant Colonel Tench Tilghman: Secretary and Aid to Washington, Ray Raphael’s Founding Myths: Stories that Hide out Patriotic Past, L.G. Shreve’s Tench Tilghman: The Life and Tomes of Washington’s Aide-de-Camp, and Oswald Tilghman’s History of Talbot County, MD, 1681-1861. I also had correspondence with a man named Richard Tilghman who lives in the Wye House (where Tench lived), who is “related to Colonel Tench Tilghman, but not directly.”

[2] Specifically letters on pages 485, 486, 487, and 547 relate to Tench.

51 years later: Anna Marie Tilghman’s widows pension

Tench Tilghman’s gravestone, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Fifty-one years after Tench Tilghman’s death, his wife (who was a cousin), Anna Marie Tilghman, got a widows pension. Tilghman was, as the Maryland State Archives argues, “one of Maryland’s great patriots” due to his public service as part of a “commission established to form treaties with the Six Nations of Indian tribes,” a captain in “the Pennsylvania Battalion of the Flying Camp.,” and serving as an unpaid aide-de-camp to George Washington from August 1776 to May 1781 when Washington got him “a regular commission in the Continental Army.” His final task was “he honor of carrying the Articles of Capitulation to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia.” Other than that, the Maryland State Archives writes that Tench was

born on December 25, 1744 in Talbot County on his father’s plantation. He was educated privately until the age of 14, when he went to Philadelphia to live with his grandfather, Tench Francis. In 1761, he graduated from the College and Academy of Philadelphia, which later became the University of Pennsylvania, and then went into business with his uncle Tench Francis, Jr. until just before the Revolutionary War. After the War, Tilghman returned to Maryland where he resumed his career in business in Baltimore and married his cousin, Anna Marie Tilghman. They had two daughters, Anna Margaretta and Elizabeth Tench. Tilghman died on April 18, 1786 at the age of 41.

His gravestone was placed in Talbot County’s Oxford Cemetery long after his death. That’s because he died at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore, with the remains brought from there to Talbot County in 1971 but the original gravestone, without the plaque, does tell something about him.

The widows pension by Anna Maria  Tilghman tells an interesting story. [1] The first page shows that not only is it a penson for Anna Maria but that Tench also received a land grant, with “B.L.W.T.” noting an “application for a warrant for bounty land” promised to him since he “served to the end of the war”:

The next page notes that Tench died on April 18, 1786 in Talbot County, MD and was a Lieutenant Colonel serving in the army commanded by General George Washington, specifically in the Pennsylvania line, for two years. This is despite the fact he served for longer than two years as noted earlier in this article. For all of this, she would receive almost $4,000.00 a year, a sizable sum at the time when she was filing (May 1843):

The next page doesn’t say much else other than that her claim would be processed in Maryland under the 1836 Pension Act covering veterans of the war with Britain from 1812-1815 and the Revolutionary War

The page following is a personal appeal by her on February 24, 1837 in which she, before the Talbot County Orphans Court  notes that she is the widow of Tench who serves as an Aide to Camp to George Washington and Lt. Colonel in the PA line, serving in total from January 1, 1777 to November 3, 1783. She also notes that she married Tench on June 9, 1783, and that he died on April 18, 1786:

The next page is a judge on the Orphans Court in Talbot County, James Price, certifying her declaration is correct, nothing more, nothing less:

Then on March 11, 1837 a 82-year-old woman named Henrietta Maria Francis appeared before the Talbot County Orphans Court. She said she was “well acquainted with Col Tench Tilghman of Baltimore City,” noting that she first met him in 1780, noting that through the years it was recounts how he was an aide-de-camp of George Washington. She was also, of course, familiar with Anna Maria Tilghman, saying that she was the daughter of one Matthew Tilghman, noting also that they were both married in June 1783. Clearly she was related on a familial level to Tench: her husband, Philip Francis, was Tench’s uncle, whom Tench visited in March 1783 after their marriage.

She adds that Tench died three years after she married Philip Francis, with Anna Maria (called she after this section) having one daughter before Tench’s death, and another after Tench died (she must have been in labor when Tench died), and has since stayed as a widow. Others writing below her attest to the veracity of this statement:

By October 1858 it is asserted that Anna Maria died in 1843, with another Tilghman (M. Tilghman Goldborough) filing a continuing claim as they inherited her estate interestingly:

From there, Elizabeth Goldborough, likely the mother of the above listed M. Tilghman Goldsborough, turns out to be the daughter of Anna Maria and Tench! It is also noted that her sister is named Margaret who died, leaving her the only heir. This document, issued by a Talbot County Justice of the Peace in December 1825, shows that Margaret and Elizabeth were children of Anna Maria and Tench Tilghman without a doubt:

The pension goes on to say that Elizabeth is an heir of Tench Tilghman, and quickly notes Tench’s military service:

The next page makes it clear that all of those previous pages specifically related to a bounty land warrant claim, which is wrapped up within the pages of Tench’s pension papers, making it possible for Tench’s wife Anna Maria to apply for a widows pension in 1837 and Elizabeth to apply for the bounty land warrant in 1825, for her son to come back in the 1850s saying that now want to apply for the pension.  This page makes it clear that Elizabeth’s request was granted in January of 1826:

In May 1929, the War Department tried to sort all of this out. As they summarized, it was clear that Tench served from January 1, 1777 to November 3, 1783 as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Continental Army and an aide-de-camp to General Washington, dying on April 18, 1783. They also summarized how Tench married Anna Maria on June 8, 1783, allowed a pension on February 13, 1837but died on January 18, 1843. They also wrote that they had two children, Elizabeth and Margaret with the former child marrying a man named Goldsborough of Talbot County, Maryland, while the latter had a son named Tench Tilghman, marrying a man whose name is not yet known.

The final page says that a “grandson” named M. Tilghman Goldsborough is referred to in 1858 but no other family data is known.

The next page just notes Anna Maria’s widows pension claim:

In May 1843, a man named Tench Tilghman said that he obtained a pension claim for a Mrs. Anna Maria Tilghman, widow of Tench in 1837, noting that Anna Maria died January 13, 1843 at age 88, if I read that right. He further notes that the youngest daughter of Anna Maria and Tench, Elizabeth (“Mrs. C.T. Goldsborough”), who was noted earlier, is an heir, while he is the son of the the older daughter, Margaret. As such, he asks the pension commissioner to whom the pension now belongs:

Then there is an earlier letter from J.L. Edwards, the pension commissioner in March 1837, saying that the papers in the case of the pension are returned as the evidence is “not being sufficient to establish the claim” because of new regulations on pensions. Perhaps this is what prompted the second Tench’s letter in 1843, for which a response is not known:

A further letter from J.L. Edwards, in March 1837, confirms that Tench did serve from January 1, 1777 to November 3, 1783:

Then there is a letter from a later descendant in 1894 to the pension office about Tench’s pension papers:

After that there is a 1928 letter by another descendant, Grace Cottingham Tilghman Bowen (who married a man named Charles Hay Bowen), leading to the response from the War Department as noted earlier in this post:

Second page of the pension specifically focuses on Tench:

There is much to be learned from this pension. For one, that Tench served as a Lt. Colonel and Aide-De-Camp from 1777 to 1783, and that he married Anna Maria Tilghman, his cousin, in June 1783 when she was 28 years old (born in 1755). Furthermore, it is also clear that he had two children with her, Margaret (older) and Elizabeth (younger), with the latter child born after the “demise of her husband” Tench. From there, Margaret later had a child named Tench Tilghman, meaning that she married a person with the surname of Tilghman, while Elizabeth married a man named C.T. Goldsborough and seemingly had a child named M. Tilghman Goldsborough. It is not known when Margaret or Elizabeth died, but only that Margaret was dead sometime before 1825 (when Elizabeth filed her claim for the bounty land), while Elizabeth lived until at least 1843. Furthermore, it is also noted that Tench lived in Baltimore where he met a woman named Henrietta Maria Francis, who was 25 when she was first “acquainted” with Tench, and she married a man named Philip Francis,the uncle of Tench, whom Tench visited in March 1783 after the marriage of Henrietta and Philip. All of this calls for another post to dig into this more, which will be coming to you from this wonderful blog next week!

Notes

[1] Pension of Tench Tilghman, 1837, B.L.Wt 1158-450, Widow’s Pension Application File, W.9522, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15. Courtesy of
Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest.

“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.

Update:

Searching about the Maryland “Loyalist” Regiment once again, I found another individual who has switched from a continental regiment to this regiment: John Jasper, a Marylander. He was said, as noted by research fellow Natalie Rose Miller, that he deserted from the First Maryland Regiment in early 1778 and enlisted in this regiment in May 1778, meaning that he undoubtedly fought with the regiment at Monmouth ad later at Pensacola. Apart from this, I also found one site noting the general history of the regiment:

Garrisoned Philadelphia and New York; 26 August 1776, Battle of Valley Grove Long Island; 1779-1781, Garrisoned Pensacola; 9 March-8 May 1781, Besieged at Pensacola Defeated and Surrendered to Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez

Finally, I found a blog which chronicles the “Genealogy of United Empire Loyalists in New Brunswick, Canada” which has pages on the following members of this regiment:


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 Raymond, The 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 Raymond, The 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 Raymond, The 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.

“Just a rifleman”: Fusiliers and “fusees” in the Continental Army

Courtesy of page 20 of Bill Guthman’s article on arms and armaments during the Revolutionary War period. The bottom musket is a fusil.

Recently at my job as a genealogist, I found a Revolutionary War soldier who listed himself as a “fusilier” in his pension. One of the former military men at the place I work said something like (and I’m paraphrasing), “oh, that’s just a rifleman” and as a result, I didn’t add it to the description of the service performed by this soldier, who had served in the Continental Army. But it is more than something to be dismissed just like that. From looking at this site and that (dictionary sites mostly), I came up with a rough definition of a fusilier:

A soldier or infantryman with a light flintlock musket (fusil). European in origin, especially British, something just a private or British soldier of low rank. Can also refer to a rifleman or light infantry.

Still, this, and of itself does not tell about the story of fusiliers in the Continental Army, a story which is different from what I’ve previously written. Those who served in the British line, French Line (also see here and here) or “Hessian” line (also see here) are more extensively documented.

Information on fusiliers scarce but rewarding

Some have written that for the 30,000 “Hessian” soldiers fighting on the side of the British crown, “infantry troops and elite fusilier units participated in almost every campaign of the war.” But what about the continental line? The Historical Dictionary of the U.S. Army only notes that in the 1700s, a “basic infantryman replaced the four varieties of infantrymen that existed previously: pikeman, musketeer, fusilier, and grenadier” but says nothing about the Continental Army. Letters on Founders Online seem to only mention the term “fusilier” in reference to the British line (also see here) or Hessian line. Only one reported letter, other than a passing reference to a “Fusilier” company in 1775, from French Colonel Armand, called Charles Armand Tuffin, marquis de la Rouërie, to George Washington, which had a plan for “…two fusilier companies” among others as part of an organizational plan for a military corps. One website seems to hint at more involvement of fusiliers in the war against the British, saying that “German colonists in Charleston, South Carolina formed a fusilier company in 1775.” No other details are provided. Another website, reviewing a book about British fusiliers, interestingly notes that fusiliers were used by the British as shock troops, almost, against the rebelling colonists during the Revolutionary War:

Many Fusiliers — a unit name derived from fusil, a type of early flintlock musket — were trained to perfect these shock tactics that combined quick movement with a volley followed by a bayonet charge overwhelming the enemy before they could reload their muskets…the Fusiliers and other Redcoats could outfight the Rebels…Romances with American women helped take away more Fusiliers from the ranks than battles with the Continental Army…It took the influence of a former Fusilier officer, Henry Calvert, an aging Cornwallis and other British officers to reintroduce light infantry tactics.

Two pensions of soldiers who fought within the continental line name the participants as “fusiliers.” Sometimes it was even spelled “Fuzileers.”

The first is a man names James Starr living in Baltimore County, Maryland, noting that he would a fusilier in the French line. His pension says that he was a corporal “in the fusiliers in the First Partisan Legion, under my [C armand M’qis dela Rouerie] Command” and later a witness testified that he was a “Corporal in the Company Called Fusiliers stationd at York during the winter previous to the disbandment of the Revolutionary Army” commanded by a French officer. The second is for a man named John Matthews, saying he was also a part of the “company of fusiliers.”

Other records, even for the word “fusil” don’t seem to turn up relevant results, just sales of “fusils,” here, there, and everywhere. There is also other mentions of it as well. The term fusil became fusel or fuzee in English, coming from the French word of fusil as one site reports.The reality actually seems that “fusil, fuzil, and fusee are corruptions of the Italian word fucile, meaning flint.” Using the alternative spellings, it is clear that a fusil was carried by Captain John Mott when crossing the Delaware River in 1776:

Courtesy of Stryker’s The Continental Army at the Crossing of the Delaware River

It seems that at least within the Continental line those who were officers carried fusils, meaning that to call oneself a “fusilier” seemed to indicate a level of rank, specifically those who were non-commissioned officers or “noncom,” as some abbreviate it for short. Even major general John Sullivan was quoted as saying that “fusees for the Officers would be proper” but none were available at the time. They were prized enough that there is even a time when supporters of the British crown stole the “fusee” of a Continental Army general, Gold Sellick Sillman. George Washington even ordered, reportedly, the seizure of counterfeit “fusees” from France as some Continentals (and even militia) seemed to use those of Spanish manufacture.

While some describe fusils as something that was captured, the Society of Cincinnati succinctly describes them as a “smoothbore shoulder arm that was lighter and shot a smaller caliber ball than muskets in use by many British and American troops during the Revolutionary War” with officers buying fusils from France specifically.

Without going any further, it seems clear that within the Continental line there was no unit of “fusileers”/”fuzileers” but officers carried fusils (fusels, fusees and fuzees). That is what the next section is about.

Fusees in the Continental Army

Fusees were mentioned in varying revolutionary-era documents, apart from their mentions in lines other than among the continentals. David Hackett Fischer even mentions fusees, writing in Washington’s Crossing that “American troops were not properly intimidated by this weapon [Lochaber axe], and it was replaced by carbines or fusees in the New World,” with the Maryland State Archives noting that Scottish-born Maryland soldier William McMillian may have fought against his kinsmen in such regiments.

In November 1775, a Committee Report on Petition from Nova Scotia declared that fusees were among the weapons to arm two battalions:

That Said Battalions, shall be armed in the following Manner, vizt. a light Fusee, fitted for Slinging, a large Hatchet with a long Handle, and a Spear, with thirty two Rounds per Man of Ammunition.

The following year, in 1776, fusees would be among the ordinances wanted for the Continental Army. In the same document, it would declare that “if the above port-fires, tubes, and fusees can be procured ready fitted, then the articles of saltpetre, antimony, and brimstone, mentioned above, might be omitted.”An orderly book the same year would talk about the “proper Quantity of fusees.” Also, in an account of Alexander Graydon, who observed the building of Fort Washington, in 1776, said that when opposing the attack of a ruffian, that he, “clubbing his fusee, and drawing it back as if to give the blow, I fully expected it, but he contented himself with the threat.” In evacuating Fort Washington, Continental officers even dropped their fusees and cartridge boxes as they fled.

By 1777, an orderly book for the Pennsylvania State Regiment described how “the Captains and subalterns [would be] standing with their Fusees over their left arms, are to bring them to an order and take off their hats.” The same year, the new Pennsylvania government looked to disarm supporters of the British crown, with weapons including “Musquetts, Carbines, fusees, rifles, & other fire arms, & for swords & Bayonetts.”

Alexander Dow, a soldier in the Continental line, recalled his use of a fusee while fighting alongside Colonel Aaron Burr in 1777:

Our whine the moon was down, and by full consent of Officers maid seekret and sudant atack / Emagining them to be one hundred strong Coll Burr proportenad our difrent atacks in platuns, he pitched [mine?] to Enter first without aney alarm and Chalange the whole to serender which I dide that moment finding them both Brave and Obestinat, as they flew to ther arms I droped three of them with my Baynet on the musel of my fusee by this time one stout felow atackted me in the same manor But I parried him off and in his Indevering to disarm me he Bit sevral holes in the Baral of my fusee, whilst my worthey [Serjt.?] Williams Cam[e] to my releff and stabed him Dead, I then turned on another full armed who beged for mercy I bid him serender his arms to me which he did into my hand, by this time the rest of our partey had dun ther part and taken one moar prisner, with which we finding no moar Live men we Cam[e] of[f] living sixten on the Ground which had a still moar Grand Efect for by ten Oclock in the morning the whole of the Enemy were Gon [?] in Great fright / thiss was on the 13th Day of Septr 1777

Ethen Allen of the Green Mountain Boys also recalled encountering a person with a fusee, writing that “I found a sentry posted, who instantly snapped his fusee [trigger] at me; I ran immediately toward him, and he retreated through the covered way.” Israel Putnam also reportedly used a fusee as well. One account of New Jersey regiments notes that “two other officers rushed in with fusees” and another talks about Continental soldiers facing up against British who had fusees in 1775. Apparently some of Benedict Arnold’s men were also armed with fusees. George Washington even mentioned mentions “fusees” in a letter from Middlebrook, New Jersey in May 1779. Two years later, officers, who were prisoners, had to give up their “fuzees.”

Recounting the travels of Dr. Paleg Longfellow, reportedly grandfather of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Thacher wrote about the use of fusees:

The party rushed suddenly on the sentinel, who gave the alarm, and one of his comrades instantly opened the door of the kitchen, and the enemy were so near as to enter with the sentinel…General Wadsworth was provided with a pair of pistols, a blunderbuss and a fusee, which he employed with great dexterity, being determined to defend himself to the last moment. With his pistols, which he discharged several times, he defended the windows of his room, and a door which opened into the kitchen. His blunderbuss he snapped several times, but unfortunately it miss-fired. He then seized his fusee, which he discharged on some who were breaking through one of the windows, and obliged them to flee. He next defended himself with his bayonet, till he received a ball through his left arm, when he surrendered, which terminated the contest.

One magazine, Postscripts, gives a broad overview of the use of armaments by the Continentals during the Revolutionary War. It is noted that

..the Continental soldier had a motley assortment of weapons: muskets, musketoons, rifles, carbines, fusils, pistols, wall guns and artillery, with a wide variety in each type…During the 17th century a light flintlock musket or fusil had been developed for artillery guards and for the light infantry (called “fusiliers”). These were similar to their bigger counterparts in every respect except size. Infantry officers–more often in the British Army–sometimes carried such guns, however. George Washington thought that guns diverted an officer’s attention and made him less able to capitalize on the swiftly changing fluid situations that developed during a battle…In the years before the American Revolution infantry officers of every army carried the spontoon until it was supplanted by the fusil

Conclusion

Apparently a number of those within the Continental line, specifically among Washington’s officers, carried espontoons rather than fusils. They were even mentioned in article 27 of a proposed treaty with France in 1778 as “fuzees.”

Fusees would later be used in the war with Britain between 1812 and 1815, weirdly called the “war of 1812,” as one soldier, John Roads, recounted.

In the end, the story of the fusil and fusilier says something about the Continental Army and the Revolutionary War. It is an evolving story.

The story of “Black Confederates”

A Black cook tends to large kettles set over a fire. In parts of the picture cropped out, White Confederate soldiers enjoy leisure time. This again supports the assertion that Blacks served as laborers of varying kinds, not as soldiers for the Confederates.

The story of Black Confederates is one that needs to be told accurately and correctly. I first heard of it when I visited Richard Stewart’s Pocahontas Island Black History Museum some years ago. I come back to it again after writing about Blacks who supported the British Crown in last week’s post.

Images like this one of Marlboro Jones would be twisted by the distorters of history to support the claim that Blacks fought as soldiers in the Confederate lines, although he was a “manservant of Confederate captain Randal F. Jones of the 7th Georgia Cavalry,” only dressed in a Confederate uniform for that role. Hence, he was not free in any sense of the word.

The Civil War Trust makes it abundantly clear: there were no Black Confederate soldiers, considering that “Vast columns of escaped slaves followed almost every major Union army at one point or another” while Confederate armies captured and enslaved “free black people during their brief occupations of Northern territories.” They add that while “black soldiers made up 10% of the Union Army and had suffered more than 10,000 combat casualties” some Blacks aided the Confederacy, many who were “forced to accompany their masters or were forced to toil behind the lines” since they were prohibited from serving “combat soldiers in the Confederate Army.” Hence, they were “cooks, teamsters, and manual laborers” with no documentation for Black Confederate units of any type during the Civil War. While some black men may have fired at Union soldiers, such soldiers never encountered “an all-black line of battle or anything close to it.” In contrast, the Union Army had the United States Colored Troops, among other units, which fought as part of the said army.

The Civil War Trust adds that not only did no Confederate ever reference “black soldiers under his command or in his unit,” but did reference Black laborers, with the rejection of black combat units until March 13, 1865 when the Confederate Congress allowed Black men to serve in combat roles. However, this came with a caveat: “black soldiers would still be slaves.” With the end of the war three weeks after this law was passed, no evidence seems to indicate that “any black units were accepted into the Confederate Army as a result of the law.” No other primary source of Confederates “mentions serving with black soldiers.” [1] The Civil War Trust ends by saying that the “notion of widespread black combat service has only arisen within the past 25 years or so,” with the baseless claims that as many as ” 80,000 black soldiers” fought for the Confederacy.

The Civil War Trust is not the only one that has said this. When one author made a shotty claim that “thousands” of Blacks fought for the Confederacy they were derided when the sources for their book were web links all tied back to the pro-Confederate Sons of Confederate Veterans, and it was shown they didn’t know what they were talking about. Later they removed the badly sourced material. This is part of the general distortion of the topic. Claims by respected historians, whether their words or associated photographs with their work, are twisted to claim that Blacks fought for the Confederacy in large numbers. [2]

Separating myth from reality

The Root is a good place to continue this discussion. They note that most Civil War historians repudiate “the idea of thousands of blacks fighting for the South.” Adding to this, it seems evident that a “few blacks, slave and free, supported the Confederacy” and while The Root author estimates that “between 3,000 and 6,000 served as Confederate soldiers,” nothing seems to support that estimation if you use the sources cited by the Civil War Trust, as noted earlier. [3] However, it seems more evident, and more supported by evidence, that “another 100,000 or so blacks, mostly slaves, supported the Confederacy as laborers, servants and teamsters…[doing] the Confederacy’s dirty work.” Adding to this, the article notes how Frederick Douglass said that at the Battle of Manassas “among rebels were black troops, no doubt pressed into service by their tyrant masters,” although this account is highly disputed with Douglass’s sources on this subject likely faulty. It claims there are sources “proving” that Blacks fought for the confederacy at the battle, however, this seems to be suspect since no existing sources prove such claims as real. After all, it seems evident that “Confederates impressed slaves as laborers and at times forced them to fight,” putting guns in their hands, forcing them to fire on Union soldiers.

There was the Louisiana Native Guards. They were a black unit “accepted as part of the Louisiana militia in May 1862” but they “never saw combat while in Confederate service,” and were just for “public display” with the unit surrendering to Union troops in April 1862, later serving in the Union Army. So, that again, cannot be used to support a claim of Blacks fighting for the Confederacy. For those who were part of the Native Guards, they said that “By serving the Confederates, [they hoped] to advance a little nearer to equality with whites,” seeing that they would gain more rights. While later in the war, in 1863,  “masters increasingly refused to allow slaves to be impressed by the Confederacy” and Northern papers continued to print rumors of Blacks serving as soldiers.

There was another factor to keep in mind. There were “some partial companies of slaves training as soldiers discovered by Union forces after the fall of Richmond” but they never fought in a combat capacity since, until the end of the war, “the Confederate Congress expressly forbade arming enslaved African Americans,” for fears of a slave uprising. Still, it is accounts like this that are used to support the claim of Black soldiers on the side of the Confederacy by people such as John J. Dwyer. This is despite the fact that it was not “until March 1865—after a contentious debate that took place throughout the Confederacy—that the Confederate Congress passed legislation authorizing the enlistment of slaves who were first freed by their masters,” with such individuals re-enslaved after their service ended.

There are a number of other articles on this subject. A Civil War Era blog, Dead Confederates confronts this issue head on. In one post they write about how claims that Stonewall Jackson had a “regiment of negroes” to be faulty, a letter by a White Southerner saying that Blacks may “may be made an efficient body in this war of self-defence” while led by White officers, and claims that cannot be corroborated anywhere else. Then there are the false claims that Robert Small was a “Black Confederate,” a mess-up by the engravers that called a Black Union soldier a member of the Confederate Army, and disproving the claim that Crock Davis was a “Black Confederate.” This is only a small sampling of the posts he has written on the subject, which accompany those assembled in a post by historian Kevin Levin on Civil War Memory. [4]

Even some more sympathetic to the Black Confederate Soldiers idea note that “first-hand evidence abundantly demonstrates that black men were present in great numbers with Confederate armies at all times.” It is added that “a great deal of the cook­ing, wagon driving, tending wounded, and camp work was done by these men.” While they push the idea of Black Confederate Soldiers, which is dubious, they have to admit that the Blacks within Confederate ranks were basically laborers, with others noted earlier in this post. As Hari Jones, assistant director/curator of the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC., argued “calling slaves soldiers is propaganda, not history. The labor force of the Confederacy was a majority of African American enslaved persons. In order for [the Confederates] to fight the war, they had to use enslaved labor. The Confederate Army could not have moved one-tenth of its equipment without enslaved labor.”

There is more to the story. The National Archives points out that “on July 17, 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act, freeing slaves who had masters in the Confederate Army” and only “two days later, slavery was abolished in the territories of the United States.”Adding to this is that

Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass…encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship…Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts…Because of prejudice against them, black units were not used in combat as extensively as they might have been. Nevertheless, the soldiers served with distinction in a number of battles. Black infantrymen fought gallantly at Milliken’s Bend, LA; Port Hudson, LA; Petersburg, VA; and Nashville, TN…. In June 1864 Congress granted equal pay to the U.S. Colored Troops and made the action retroactive. Black soldiers received the same rations and supplies. In addition, they received comparable medical care…Although the threat generally restrained the Confederates, black captives were typically treated more harshly than white captives. In perhaps the most heinous known example of abuse, Confederate soldiers shot to death black Union soldiers captured at the Fort Pillow, TN, engagement of 1864.

The fact that Confederates treated Blacks within the Union Army as people to be abused, killed, or tortured, further punctures the idea of the Confederacy as “progressive” for letting (actually forcing) Blacks to serve in their ranks.

The present

To this day, debate continues on this issue, between those historians who want to revive the racist, pro-slavery Confederacy as “glorious” and the majority of Civil War historians who indicate that the Confederacy and slavery were wrong, telling the reality of the war. Even some, who are in the second group, seem to accept the idea of Black Confederate soldiers, saying historians like Levin are using “21st century standards” to determine what happened in the 19th century (if he is even doing this, which is debatable). It is silly to say this because historians in the present should not be required to use the standards of that time to make their historical interpretations, as that would limit them, and new standards allow them to avoid mistakes which were made in the past.

Such debates obscure the fact that Neo-Confederates today use the Black Confederate narrative to their advantage. While the black Confederate narrative may threaten assertions by such individuals “that the “southern nation” consists solely of “anglo-celtic” Christians,” it also seems to apologize for action by the Confederacy. While Blacks provided “physical and material support to the CSA throughout its existence by performing tasks normally associated with chattel slavery in that period, and in scattered instances toward the close of the war” they took up arms, the core truth is that “black Confederates were operating in a system of coercion and oppression where the penalty for non-compliance was corporal punishment or death.” So, to hold this up as an example is to mean that one has become an apologist for slavery. Hence, the idea of Black Confederates fighting as soldiers is clearly a myth. Adding to this is the fact stated by the Mariner’s Museum in a post on the subject:

There were of course no integrated units in the South…there may have actually been a few units of black troops that organized for the Confederates. Professor John Stauffer of Harvard has recently done research on just this subject, and estimates that there may have been a bit over 3,000 black soldiers formed on the Confederate side…many of these black soldiers were not accepted by the Confederate government and were not issued firearms: still more of these soldiers were coerced into joining the military, and others joined to escape miserable poverty….The greatest single example of black Confederate soldiers – the Louisiana Native Guards, composed of black and mixed-race men from the New Orleans area – was not accepted by the Confederate military despite their wish to fight for the south when the war broke out…As a result, when the Union took New Orleans in spring of 1862, the Louisiana Native Guards joined the Union when General Butler called for reinforcements. On a side note, over 4,000 black and mixed-race men joined the Union army in New Orleans that spring, which outnumbers those that may have joined the Confederacy over the course of the entire war.

Again, let us restate that Black men were not legally allowed to serve as combat soldiers in the Confederate Army, “they were cooks, teamsters, and manual laborers. There were no black Confederate combat units in service during the war.” Other sources confirm this reality.

For now, it seems this case is closed. It is better to focus on those Blacks who fought for the British Crown during the Revolutionary War, those who fought for the Union during the Civil War, or those who fought for the British during the War of 1812.

Notes

[1] The Civil War Trust says “whatever black combat service might have occurred during the war, it was not sanctioned by the Confederate government.” But, based on their own article, this sentence has no basis in reality.

[2] Ta-Nehisi Coates covers this briefly, linking to varying resources in his two articles on the subject in The Atlantic.

[3] The Root author seems to accept the idea of Black Confederate soldiers (why), saying that “the total number of black Confederate soldiers is statistically insignificant: They made up less than 1 percent of the 800,000 black men of military age (17-50) living in the Confederate states, based on 1860 U.S. census figures, and less than 1 percent of at least 750,000 Confederate soldiers.” But again, this is not supported by evidence.

[4] The Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV)even has a whole page on their website titled “Black Confederates,” claiming that “over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederate ranks,” citing books such as Charles Kelly Barrow’s Forgotten Confederates: An Anthology About Black Southerners, Ervin L. Jordan, Jr.’s Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia, Richard Rollins’s Black Southerners in Gray, accounts of Frederick Douglass, and Dr. Lewis Steiner, Chief Inspector of the United States Sanitary Commission, although the latter two cannot be independently verified, along with an “excellent educational video.” They claim that there were varying Black units (“Richmond Howitzers” (partially), a “non-commissioned officer” named James Washington, “skilled black workers”, “Black and white militiamen…at the Battle of Griswoldsville”, “Jackson Battalion” (partially), “Confederate States Colored Troops” (unknown number), “confederate supply train was exclusively manned and guarded by black Infantry”, “black seamen served in the Confederate Navy”, “180,000 Black Southerners, from Virginia alone, provided logistical support for the Confederate military”). Of these claims, these claims are undoubtedly. distortions of history but are using the numbers of those Blacks who served as laborers and claiming they are soldiers, which is not the case. They also seem to assume that when someone talks about Blacks joining the “ranks” of the Confederates it was down willingly and that they were soldiers rather than laborers. Similar claims are made by Walter E. Williams in “Black Confederates” (Jan. 21, 2000).