Independent Companies (Hierlihy's)
Island of St. John
I hope your Lordship will pardon my intruding so far on your time and patience to lay before you the disagreable situation of the Independent Companies, at present under my Command:
The many Hardships they have from time to time laboured under, from being stationed at the most remote parts, where Recruits were not to be got, joined to the frequent draughts from them at New York will I hope induce your Lordship, so far to take their case into consideration as not to allow the additional Greivance of draughting men from them to compleat Captain CALLBECKs Company, which there is more reason than Care conjecture to imagine such a plan is in agitation.
This Company he has obtained leave from the Commander in Chief in America to raise and Augment to One hundred Men, in consequence, as it is said, of an Order from your Lordship.
The present state of said Company as made to me I beg leave to inclose, from which it will appear that although it at present consists of Thirty two Rank and File only five or Six Old Men incapable of labor are furnished to do Military Duty; the rest being employed as laborers in every part of the Island
they are not under the least discipline, and as Governor PATTERSON calls himself “Commander in Chief of the Military as well as Civil” on this Island, I cannot interfere with the Company so far as to prevent them absenting themselves from the Garrison at the pleasure of the Officers, who are chiefly in Civil employments, and too much under the influence of the Governor, I fear, to regard Military Duty;
I will venture to assert that was Captain CALLBECK’s Company to consist of One Hundred, and the discipline so little attended to as at present, they would not be of equal consequence, as a Military Body, to Twenty good Soldiers.
Major HIERLIHY received an order from the Commander in Chief to dismiss this Company and had he executed the Order I am well convinced as he was afterwards the Service would be in no wise prejudiced thereby, tho’ his reasons for not doing it at the time were undoubtedly strong.
I shall omit mentioning to your Lordship the many Instances in which Govr. PATTERSON has interfered with Military Duty to the prejudice of the service and without paying the least regard to His Majesty’s Orders signified to the Commander in Chief in the Secretary of States Letter of the 9th Febry. 1765 respecting all Authority of the Civil Governors in America;
as also the shameful Charges made to Government for King’s works impossible to be worse plan’d and executed since the Independent Companies were sent here for the defence of the Island;
but Lieut. Govr. DESBRISAY of this Island has acquainted me that he intends doing it and I dare say it will be impartial as during the Time he had the Honor to be Commander in Chief in this Government his disinterested Conduct to the Corps I command entitled him to their Thanks; and his endeavors to prevent public monies from being needlesly lavished must be pleasing to those who have the good of their Country at Heart.
The line of Life so different from the One I was in at the beginning of the Rebellion I believe from my Lord FALMOUTH you will learn it was not necessity but Choice to be an active Servant of my King and to render what little Service was in my power for had I prefer’d an idle Life I might have thrown myself under the protection of Government as Collector of New Haven as others did under similar Circumstances:
The Officers of the Corps I belong to are chiefly Loyal Subjects from Connecticut who I regard on that account, I would wish to remain with ‘till such time as they could again be so happy to take possession of their property which they quitted purely out of attachment to His Majesty’s Government, could anything be more laudable?
for my own part I own I am the least deserving as I have been in such situations in His Majesty’s Service as has given me Bread for full fourteen years past.
In a Letter I had the honor to receive from Brigadier General CAMPBELL, commanding this district is this Extract of a Letter from the Adjutant General
“I am directed to inform you that the Commander in Chief has granted a Warrant to Captain CALLBECK to raise a Company for the defence of the Island of St. John’s, and as soon as Governor PATTERSON shall think that Company sufficiently strong to secure the safety of the Island the Five Indt. Companies now there under the Command of Major HIERLIHY are to be removed to Halifax and Incorporated with the Nova Scotia Volunteers according to a plan transmitted by the Inspector General of Provincials to his Deputy at Halifax of which I have the Honor to inclose a Copy as approved by the General.”
Your Lordship will readily conceive if the Men are employed as laborers and no Attention paid to Military discipline, or recruiting, and that is really the case with Captain CALLBECKs Company, it will never be sufficient for the defence of this Island
and of course the only step for the advantage of the Independent Companies will be frustrated as they are not to leave it till said Company is sufficient for this defence and the Incorporation cannot take place till we are removed to Halifax for that purpose, which when done will put them on a respectable footing to make some amends to the Officers for their property they have sacrificed to their Loyalty, as well as render them sufficiently strong being parts of America.
The earnest desire to distinguish ourselves in His Majesty’s Service will I hope hold me excused to your Lordship for the liberty I have taken and in requesting that we may be relieved in the Spring by some detachment from Halifax in order that Our junction with the Nova Scotia Volunteers may take place.
I am &c.
No. 1 Weekly State of Captn. CALLBECKs Company.
Great Britain, Public Record Office, Colonial Office, Class 227, Volume 2, folios 135-138.
Click here for ---> Regimental History Main Page
The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies