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Protecting the Empire's Frontier

Protecting the Empire's Frontier: Officers of the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot during Its North American Service, 1767–1776

Steven M. Baule
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Ohio University Press
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    Protecting the Empire's Frontier
    Book Description:

    Protecting the Empire's Frontiertells stories of the roughly eighty officers who served in the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot, which served British interests in America during the crucial period from 1767 through 1776. The Royal Irish was one of the most wide-ranging regiments in America, with companies serving on the Illinois frontier, at Fort Pitt, and in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, with some companies taken as far afield as Florida, Spanish Louisiana, and present-day Maine. When the regiment was returned to England in 1776, some of the officers remained in America on staff assignments. Others joined provincial regiments, and a few joined the American revolutionary army, taking up arms against their king and former colleagues.Using a wide range of archival resources previously untapped by scholars, the text goes beyond just these officers' service in the regiment and tells the story of the men who included governors, a college president, land speculators, physicians, and officers in many other British regular and provincial regiments. Included in these ranks were an Irishman who would serve in the U.S. Congress and as an American general at Yorktown; a landed aristocrat who represented Bath as a member of Parliament; and a naval surgeon on the ship transporting Benjamin Franklin to France. This is the history of the American Revolutionary period from a most gripping and everyday perspective.An epilogue covers the Royal Irish's history after returning to England and its part in defending against both the Franco-Spanish invasion attempt and the Gordon Rioters. With an essay on sources and a complete bibliography, this is a treat for professional and amateur historians alike.

    eISBN: 978-0-8214-4464-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. 1-26)

    Britain’s redcoated soldier is often portrayed as one of the greatest villains in American history. However, just as the years have worn away the edges of the few buildings and monuments that the British left in America, time has ravaged the memory of the individuals who served with King George III’s army. A few examples remain notable, such as Earl Cornwallis, who is remembered for surrendering at Yorktown (Virginia) but not for his later successes in India; one of the Howe brothers, Admiral Richard or General William; or even Banastre Tarleton, the dashing but ruthless cavalry commander.

    However, unlike soldiers...

  6. 1 The Officer Corps of the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment
    (pp. 27-76)

    The officer corps of the Royal Irish was neither distinctive nor unique in 1767, when the regiment arrived in Philadelphia. Before arriving in America, the regiment had been on garrison duty in Ireland for the previous decade and had not seen large-scale combat in that time. This chapter will give an overview of the officers, and the subsequent chapters will present the individual biographies of those who served with the regiment from 1767 through 1776.

    The establishment of the officer corps of each of the British marching regiments of foot was similar in 1767. Military historian John Houlding notes in...

  7. 2 Field Officers
    (pp. 77-101)

    The officers in this chapter reached field rank in the Royal Irish during its North American service. The termfield officerderived from the fact that these men were designated to command the regiment “ in the field.” They were titled colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major, in descending order. One might question why Major Charles Edmonstone is not included in this chapter. His rank of major was only an army rank; within the regiment, he in fact ranked as a captain. Officers, particularly at field grade, often held two ranks, a regimental rank and an army-wide rank. If the officer...

  8. 3 Captains and Captain Lieutenants
    (pp. 102-143)

    From 1767 through 1770, the Royal Irish had six captains commanding companies in addition to the three field officers; one of the six commanded the grenadier company, and the other five commanded battalion companies. A seventh captain was added in 1770 when a tenth company was authorized.

    Captain was the rank at which officers started to be able to live on their pay in a manner considered suitable for a gentleman. They received additional income as company commanders and often received even more compensation when commanding a garrison without a field officer.

    Because of the limited number of field officers...

  9. 4 Lieutenants
    (pp. 144-181)

    This chapter examines the officers who reached the rank of lieutenant during their service in North America. Many of these officers continued to a higher rank. A few retired as lieutenants, and others died in the service. Lieutenant was the most common rank in the regiment: there were nine lieutenancies before the regiment’s expansion in 1770 and eleven lieutenancies after that. The role of the lieutenant was to assist the captain and command the company in his stead, should he be absent. Lieutenants regularly took on that role in the Royal Irish for both short and lengthy periods. Absentee Captain...

  10. 5 Ensigns and Volunteers
    (pp. 182-198)

    Ensign was the junior commissioned rank among line officers. Its title came from the fact that two of the ensigns were responsible for carrying the regiment’s colours, or ensigns, in battle and on parade. The ensigns who purchased their commissions spent £400 if they purchased at the regulated price. Most ensigns were able to purchase a lieutenancy within a couple of years of service.

    Volunteers were young gentlemen unable to come up with the price of a commission, so they shouldered a firelock and hoped to earn recognition on active service and thus a commission without purchase. The only volunteers...

  11. 6 Staff Officers
    (pp. 199-223)

    This chapter discusses the officers who held a staff commission in the Royal Irish during its North American service. These include the adjutant, the quartermaster, and the three professional positions of chaplain, surgeon, and surgeon’s mate; the latter held a warrant from the colonel and not actually a commission from the king. Since many staff officers held a line commission as a subaltern at the same time, most of these men could have been included in the chapter on lieutenants or ensigns as well.

    The adjutant was responsible for the day-to-day management of the regiment’s paperwork, duty rosters, orders, and...

  12. 7 Absentee Officers
    (pp. 224-236)

    Although the absentee rate among officers of the Royal Irish was the lowest of any regiment found for the period, there were still a number of officers for whom the labelabsenteeis appropriate. Excluded from this group are the colonels (who are included with field officers) and the chaplains (who are included with the staff officers), since their stations in the army made absence normal in their roles.

    Some of these men were young officers who appear to have been eager to purchase a commission to begin accruing seniority and were unwilling to wait to purchase directly into the...

  13. 8 Other Officers Associated with the Royal Irish in America
    (pp. 237-251)

    Included in this chapter are those officers who, though not commissioned in the Royal Irish Regiment, spent a significant period in close association with it. The artillery officer, Robert Douglas, who was assigned to Fort Chartres in Illinois is included, along with James Rumsey, a former highland officer who served as a military secretary for the Royal Irish but was denied a commission in the regiment. Most of these officers are from the 65th Regiment of Foot who served in an ad hoc battalion with a detachment of the Royal Irish in Boston during the winter and spring of 1774–1775....

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 252-262)

    The Royal Irish arrived at Maidstone, England, at the end of February 1776. The Royal Irish had left Cork Harbor, Ireland, in 1767 approximately 450 strong, but only 94 officers and men returned to England. Many of them would be discharged shortly, having been worn out in America.

    The remains of the Royal Irish were ordered from Portsmouth, England, on 20 January 1776 and were marched about 45 miles to Basingstoke. The 59th Regiment of Foot, which had arrived with the Royal Irish from America, was ordered to nearby Petersfield at the same time. The officers and remaining core of...

  15. Notes on Sources
    (pp. 263-270)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 271-310)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-324)
  18. Index
    (pp. 325-332)