Loyal Refugee Volunteers
Copy of a Letter from Governor FRANKLIN to Major DELANCY D.A. General dated New York Novr. 19th 1780-
There being some Mistake in your supposing that the Refugee Post at Bergen Point was taken at my “Request”, makes it necessary that I should explain that Matter and set it in its true Light.
It was done at the Request of Mr. WARD’s Party of Refugees, with whom I had no kind of Connexion, nor even any Knowledge of, until you put their Petition to the Commander in Chief into my Hands, and informed me that His Excellency had directed you to submit the Matter to my Judgment.
After I had conversed with Mr. WARD, and some others of the Party, I found that, unless they were permitted to take that Post, or return to the one on Hudson’s River, from which they had been removed much against their Inclinations, this useful Body of Men, who had shewn such distinguished Bravery, would soon become seperated, and, as they alledged in their Petition, be “of no use either to Government or themselves.”
This, and some other Considerations, particularly as I was then in daily Expectation that a Board for Embodying and Employing the Refugees would be established, and that this Party would associated under its Direction, induced me to give it as my Opinion to the Commander in Chief, that it would be best to indulge them, for the present, with taking Post at Bergen, unless he preferred the Post on Hudson’s River, to which they were equally inclined.
Sir Henry gave the Preference to the former, as being more eligible at that Time, having, as he said, no Objection but that he thought there was some Danger of their being attacked when he probably would not be able to afford them any Assistance- a Circumstance that I had before intimated to them, but which did not seem to abate their Resolution.
I likewise represented to the Commander in Chief that Mr. WARD, who commanded the Party had informed me that he never had had a Commission, so that had the Rebels succeeded in their Attack on the Block-House, he and his Party would probably have been treated as mere Banditti, and hanged.
To prevent their running the like Risk at Bergen Point, a Captain’s Commission was ordered for Mr. WARD; but he is, I believe, the only one of the Party, tho’ it consists of near 300, who has any kind of Commission they being all, I understand, enrolled under him, for the present, as so many Volunteers.
The Reason why they have not yet formed themselves into Companies, and made Application for other Commissions, is the Expectation of the Establishment of a Board of Directors, by whom their Affairs were in future to be regulated.
I never considered myself as having the least Authority over these People, but acted merely as a Sollicitor for them, as I had often done for other Parties of Refugees, when they had any Requisition or Proposal to make at Head-Quarters which I thought for His Majesty’s Service.
Altho I am sincerely disposed to pay the utmost Regard to the Inclinations of the Commander in Chief, yet I must beg leave to submit to his Consideration, how far it will be proper for me alone to undertake the Direction of Matters respecting the Refugees, when His Majesty has so strongly recommended that they should for the future be put under the Direction of a Board;
and whether it may not give some Offence to the other Gentlemen who have been particularly approved by His Majesty for that Service; more especially as they, with me at His Excellency’s Request, prepared a Plan for the Purpose, which was laid before him about three Weeks ago, but has not yet received his Determination.
In Answer to mine I received the enclosed Letter, by which the Commander in Chief will see their Sentiments and Disposition;
and I have no Doubt but if they are encouraged and put under some proper Regulation, which they at present much want, they may be soon made very serviceable.
I have the Honor to be
Great Britain, Public Record Office, Colonial Office, Class 5, Volume 82, folios 64-65.
Click here for ---> Regimental History Main Page
The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies