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Loyalist Muster Rolls
The muster presented here shows the battalion at its greatest strength for the year 1780.
There had been many recruits to the three battalions at New York that year, thanks primarily to a heavy desertion in the Continental Army.
A light infantry company was also raised in August, out of the existing companies, and the command was given to Captain James SHAW. This company would sail to South Carolina, via Virginia, in October.
The rolls for the 1st Battalion must be used with care in searching for a particular person, as they span several periods of change within the New Jersey Volunteers.
The earliest rolls cover the period when the unit was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Elisha LAWRENCE.
No rolls exist for the unit (one excepted) before December of 1777. There are call rolls though for November of that year, as part of the Sir Henry Clinton Papers at the University of Michigan, William L. Clements Library. Call rolls, unlike muster rolls, only show the men actually present with the company (or sick) on that day.
In April of 1778 the regiment was consolidated, and the 1st and 5th battalions were merged together to form a “new” 1st battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph BARTON. Officers and men suddenly appearing on the rolls at this period were most likely from the old 5th battalion, and those rolls should be consulted.
In September of the same year the West Jersey Volunteers were drafted, primarily into the 1st and 3rd New Jersey Volunteers. Men suddenly appearing at that time most likely came from that corps.
Things remained stable in the unit until 1781, when the 2nd battalion was drafted into the 1st & 4th battalions. This resulted in a new company being added to the 1st battalion, commanded by Major COLDEN.
At the same time the command of the battalion changed to Lieutenant Colonel Stephen DeLANCEY, formerly of the Prince of Wales American Volunteers, and before that the 2nd Battalion of DeLancey’s Brigade. This was due to the turmoil created by the court martial of Joseph BARTON.
In early 1782 a final company was added to the battalion, commanded by Captain Alexander McDONALD. This was not the same officer who was with the battalion in 1777, but rather a former officer of the Loyal Foresters, and before that, the Guides & Pioneers. This company was the sum total of the corps of Loyal Foresters, whose muster rolls for 1781 and early 1782 are still in existence.
The muster rolls for the 1st battalion are by and large in the National Archives of Canada, as part of the RG 8, “C” Series. They are in volumes 1851, 1852, 1853 & 1854.
There are a number of pay abstracts and bounty returns at the New Jersey State Archives. There are some individual rolls scattered about, notably at the New York State Library, Library of Congress and New Brunswick Museum. Some pay abstracts are also a part of the British Headquarters Papers, PRO 30/55 at the Public Record Office.
For additional information on this regiment please see the Regimental History of the New Jersey Volunteers.
Lieut. Colonel Barton's Company, September 1780
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