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mardi 4 avril 2017


1. The West Florida Royal Foresters (WFRF)
Richard Parvis was named captain in 1777 by Colonel Charles Stuart of the West Florida Loyal Foresters (WFLF), a military unit for the defense of West Florida. Colonel Stuart was the superintendent of the Indian affairs at Pensacola, Florida.

In November 1779, Major General John Campbell who was in charge of the province disbanded the two companies of the WFLR. But, in 1780, he enrolled a new corps, the West Florida Royal Foresters (WFRF), a cavalry troop that remained in service until August 15, 1782. Major Campbell was expecting attacks from the Spaniards as early as 1780.

Major Campbell was commanding others forces, also. They were the 3rd battalion of the Sixteenth Regiment of Foot (Lt Hugh McKay Gordon), the Sixteenth of Foot, the 3rd Waldeck Regiment in its entirety, the Pennsylvania Loyalist (Colonel William Allen, 183 men), the Maryland Loyalist (Colonel James Chalmers, 331 men) and a company of Military Batteaux men (artillery).

The WFRF only numbered 43 men on April 1, 1781.
After resisting the attacks of the Spanish forces for two months, a canon ball provoked the explosion of the powder magazine of Fort George, killing 48 soldiers, 27 sailors, one Negro and wounding 24 others.

The British capitulated on May 9, 1781. Over 300 hundred managed to escape, reducing the WFRF to a handful of men under the command of Adam Chrystie. The other soldiers became prisoners of war sent to Havana Cuba, while civilians and those too sick to travel were later shipped back to New York.

From an undated muster roll of the WFRF, we see that Philip Long was part of the WFRF in 1781 and one of the deserters following the explosion.

Bernardo de Galvez, the commander-in-chief of the Spanish forces, was in  charge of over 4 000 men outnumbering the British forces of Fort George.

2. The pivotal issue
Since Philipp Lange deserted the Waldeck at the end of August 1778, how could he have been part of the 10 000 soldiers who went to Florida during the winter of 1778-79?

(1)        The muster roll of the 3rd Waldeck, 2nd Company, dated December 1778, proves that Philipp Lange was not part of the regiment anymore.
(2)        The loyalist units were known to absorb deserters and to enlist ordinary citizens willing to fight for the British side. (Todd Braisted)
(3)        Even the regular British regiments took in their ranks hundreds of Hessian recruits. (Don Hagist)
(4)        The entire Waldeck regiment went to Florida in 1778-79.
(5)        The Loyal Americans, the Maryland Loyalists and the Pennsylvania Loyalists were part of the 10 000 troops and civilians who were shipped from New York to Florida.
(6)        It is my belief that Philipp Lange became Philip Long while enlisting in one of the loyalist companies that travel to Florida. He was not part of the Waldeck when he travel to Florida, but part of a Loyalist unit. The Hessian authorities did not want their soldiers to believe that they could desert without any consequences whatsoever. Henrich, the brother of Philipp, deserted in 1777 and was re-integrated in his regiment, but had to accept consequences when he went back to Germany in 1783. (Daniel Krebs)
(7)        He enlisted in the WFRF about 1780 when the company was formed. This company was a cavalry troop.
(8)        He deserted on May 9, 1781 with 300 others, including most of the WFRF rank-and-files.
(9)        The Spaniards went to quite an extent to catch the deserters. Those on foot who had been hiding in the Florida swamps were captured one month later.
(10)      If Philip Long was not captured, it is reasonable to believe that he deserted on a horse only to enlist in the King's American Regiment (KAR) soon after in Georgia. Desertion for a Patriot soldier meant to go back home. For a Hessian, it meant avoiding unbearable life conditions and integrating a community of German immigrants established mostly in Pennsylvania.
(11)     We know for a fact that Philip Long, my ancestor, was part of the KAR and that he arrived in North America in 1783 as a Loyalist refugee from the USA.
(12)      Philip Long is known to have stolen a mailbag and to have brought it to the British authorities. Obviously, you needed to be a courier yourself to steal a mailbag, a gesture that was generously rewarded. And, that’s not the only thing that was looted during that war. Soldiers would steal cattle, jewelry and anything of value in houses and farms. They also raped mothers and their daughters.
(13)      Cavalrymen were better paid than regular soldiers. They served as scouts and couriers between companies often dispersed on a vast territory. They also could fight on the battlefield. Washington was offering 200$ for a courier and his horse, a fortune during those days, especially for soldiers waiting months for their regular pay.

3. The Siege of Pensacola - A Brief Timeline

Part of this timeline is taken from the diary of Francisco de Miranda, a Spanish officer with Venezuelan roots, who arrived at Pensacola with the expedition that sailed from Havana.

March 9, 1781
The Siege of Pensacola Begins 
The first Spanish squadron arrives off Santa Rosa Island at the entrance to Pensacola Bay.

March 18, 1781 
Galvez lands at Pensacola.

April 9, 1781
Another Spanish reinforcement from Havana, led by Josef Solano and Manuel de Cagigal, arrives off Pensacola. Altogether the Spanish forces number now some 7,224 officers and men.

April 12, 1781
Galvez wounded

April 19, 1781
A French squadron arrives with 725 men.

May 5, 1781
A gale had blown the Spanish fleet away from the Gulf coast, but it recovered.
Starting today, and for six days straight during all hours of daylight, the Spanish will batter the fort with 8 twenty-four pounders and several large mortars.

May 8, 1781
The British Queen's Redoubt blows up
The fire of the British batteries had continued with the same degree of activity and accuracy as the preceding days. It caused sufficient damage in the Spanish trench on which the Spanish had at last succeeded in speeding up the work.
 9.30 AM: The Spanish heard from the camp a great explosion which alarmed them generally without them being able to ascertain the danger. The Spanish major-general went immediately to the section of the trench from which the noise was heard, and they saw a great column of smoke rising toward the clouds, and later the Spanish found out that the explosion had been inside the circular fort, which battery was all in flames, and was caused by a grenade from the Spanish howitzers.
 The Spanish general and chief's present (leaving the camp in charge of General Cagigal), went immediately with some troops to the trench and assured themselves of the effect by sight of the damage.
The Spanish troops advanced under command of Brigadier Giron through the left branch and under cover of the same battery that was burning.
Fort George surrenders
3 PM: The British in Fort George raised the white flag and some officers advanced to confer over capitulation. General Galvez attended personally and the conference lasted until 11 at night. The Spanish later found out that 108 of the British best troops and two marines were blown up in the redoubt.

May 9, 1781
7 AM: Sergeant Major Campo came to the Spanish camp with full authority to complete the capitulation. By 2 PM everything was finished, the Spanish conceding to the guard the honors of war.
3.30 PM: General Galvez, with two companies of grenadiers, went to take possession of the city and was very well received by the people of the vicinity.

May 10, 1781
On this day the Spanish generals and their aides-de-camp remained housed in the city.
3 PM: General Galvez and 6 companies came to take possession of the fort. The guards came out, and in forming at a distance of 150 meters from the fort, gave up their flags and arms to the Spanish troops which were formed in front of them. The guards were relieved consecutively of the surrendered forts, lowering the British flag and raising that of Spain.
The British troops left the fort and handed over their arms.
The Siege of Pensacola Ends.


4. The Loyalist military units
Todd Braisted of the Loyalist Institute explained thoroughly the nature of the Loyalist units during the American Revolution. Here is an excerpt of it:

The Loyalist equivalent of the Continental Army was referred to as the Provincial Corps. Raised under the auspices of the commander in chief of the British Army, in all theaters of the conflict, these troops were enlisted for the duration of the war and liable for service anywhere in North America. They received the same pay, provisions, quality of clothing, arms, equipage, and accoutrements as British soldiers, while serving under the same discipline. Some units were short-lived and some served for the whole war.
Numerous British officers and sergeants were sprinkled throughout these units to help bring them up to a state of tactical proficiency and professionalism. Provincial units were primarily used in limited roles early in the war, but as the number of British units dwindled in America, the value of the Provincial units increased, taking a leading part, particularly in the South. When units became significantly under-strength, with little prospect of recruiting anew, members of those units were generally drafted into other regiments.

5. Todd Braisted about the King's American Regiment
Here is what Todd Braisted wrote about the KAR:

One of the most distinguished and prominent Loyalist units, made up mostly of New Yorkers, was the King’s American Regiment, led by Colonel Edmund Fanning. The regiment served in six major campaigns across the length of the eastern seaboard. The officers and men fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the war, ending their service by being placed on the regular British Establishment, an honor bestowed on but a handful of Loyalist units.

6. Muster rolls of the West Florida Royal Foresters
(Philip Long is listed as a deserter on May 9, 1781)

7. Map of West & East Florida during the American Revolution

8. About Adam Chrystie, Captain of the WFRF
9. Enlistment post for the Pennsylvania Loyalists

Krebs, Daniel (1974). A Generous and Merciful Enemy: Life for German Prisoners of War during the American Revolution. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman

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