Queen's American Rangers
I received your Letter born the last Post, directing me to acquaint you what Rank & military Commissions where [sic] held by the Officers of my Corps previous to their Appointment thereto.
The former Ranks they held is stated in the return I received from you as far as I am acquainted with them, my own excepted, I was appointed by BREVET to the rank of Lt. Colonel in December 81, a material Circumstance, as it renders me personally indifferent whether the Queens Rangers had or had not rank in the Army.
Perhaps some general Account of the Officers, may not be unacceptable, & if it be of the least Service, I have the most friendly Reason to know, you will employ it in their Behalf.
The Queens Rangers were originally raised by Colonel ROGERS, to do the Duties which their name implies, & his Commission expressed; Sir Wm. HOWE saw the necessity of such a Corps, & ROGERS & many of his Officers being accused of mal Practices, they were placed upon the half Pay list, & replaced by such Officers as had served a severe Campaign under Lord DUNMORE, & who were recommended by his Lordship as qualified for its Duties. They had many of them large Property, or professional Settlements in Virginia.
At the Battle of Brandywine it was distinguished for its gallantry & was almost cut to pieces. Soon after this Action I was appointed to it. I believe, I was the only officer who sollicited it in the whole Army; & this I had done the campaign before, being part of the supineness & inactivity of the Light Troops, during the preceeding Winter in the Jersies.
The Regiment was distinguishedly useful in Pennsylvania, & on Sir Wm. HOWE's return to Europe, He carried with him a Recommendation for it to be placed upon the British Establishment.
This, he told me "He did not believe that He should be enabled to Effect, but that He thought it a duty that He owed to the Regiment to try"- from this Ora, the Corps looked forward to British Rank; and they had a Right so to do. Every Gazette brought accounts of new Regiments having been raised at home, & they were recommended, for no earlier Rank from the best of Reasons, their merit, by the Commander in Chief.
Neither Lord RAWDON's Corps or the Legion were as yet raised; upon the Appointment of Lord RAWDON, I asked of Sir H CLINTON rank of Senior Lt. Colonel of Provincials that I might not be commanded by two junior Officers in the Army, who were Lt. Colonels of Provincials, I added that when a Senior Officer in the Line to myself should come in to the Provincial Service, I should be ready to Serve under him; this request, was referred to Sir Wm. ERSKINE & Genl. PATERSON, who thinking it proper, I was appointed to that rank.
Both Sir Wm. HOWE, & Sir H. CLINTON signified to the Volunteers of the Army, that the way to preferment was previously to be Ensigns in the Q. Rangers, & many good Officers have served in it who were removed to the line, but others preferred remaining in the Corps; so generally was its establishment Expected.
Sir H. CLINTON gave Lord CATHCART the Commission of Colonel, upon my remonstrating against it, Sir Henry offered the same rank to me, but junior to his Lordship. This I declined, telling the General that I did not wish for rank over any Officer of the Line, but only desired that I might not be commanded by so inferior an Officer.
Sir Henry CLINTON recommended the Regiment for Rank & Establishment, this was not complied with; but it was promised half Pay, & numbered the 1st American Regiment, Lord RAWDON's Corps as 2d. Lord RAWDON's Regiment was lately established, tho' not in Existence when for their good Behaviour the Queens Rangers were recommended for Rank.
These are the Reasons, why the Corps has uniformly Expected Rank; they felt they had deserved, & they knew that two Successive Commanders in Chief had recommended them for it, & lately I had the pleasure of informing them that the 3d (1st Charles Grey) was of the same opinion.
I challenge the Annals of Europe to produce an Instance of a Corps that during a Campaign of near Seven Years has neither offensively or defensively been beaten, lost a Patrole, or had a centinel Surprized, & yet it has scarce been a single day except when embarked, but in a situation where it was liable to Attack or Surprize.
I do not hesitate to affirm that if Vigilance, perpetual Fatigue, & Danger are the parts of military Education, the Officers of the Queens Rangers, has seen as much real service, as the consolidated years of the oldest Officer in the Army it has pretensions to.
The Loyalists of Maryland demanded me & my Regiment to assist them, & they specify my Character, as that of a Gentleman, remarked for my Aversion to plunder, & in this respect the Queens Rangers as well as in duties, would not exchange Character with any Regiment in the British Service.
The last fatal Campaign Exhibited a noble termination of the former Actions of the Corps. Its march, I must affirm, in conjunction with the 71st, was the most rapid I have heard of, & well conducted; the most rapid as Infantry marched ninety four miles in three Days; well conducted as the Enemy were never informed of it, & patroles were taken almost in their Camp destined to march forty miles in search of us, it was by Accident that their Army crossed a river two Hours before.
Attacked unawares, & uni[n]formed from the want of proper Intelligence from our Superiors, the Corps advanced upon & repulsed five times its numbers, & in a situation where if a single Officer had been ignorant of his Duty the whole must have been annihilated; this glorious & singular Action, which affords little Praise to me but that of having disciplined such Men, was faintly acknowledged, as it was faintly known, to our own Generals, but met with the highest Encomiums from the Enemies Commander.
It was ever of disadvantage to my Officers that they were detached; for as I aspire to, by an honest Ambition, the Command of Armies, I felt it beneath me to detail the operations of a Light Corps however meritorious, & I trust, that I would sooner part with my Existence than be guilty of Exaggerations, or deviate from the strictest Truth.
I am & ever was of opinion, that the Provincial Troops if properly managed would have finished the war; I aimed at their Command, & if I had possessed any interest besides that of Service, if I had not had that Jealousy & Envy to contend with, which is alarmed at names, more than at deeds, & would permit the substance of Command, sooner than the Shadow of Emolument, I should have obtained it- mine has not been a common Part this War, from my Employments I have been acquainted with many of its most secret transactions & from my principles I have cultivated the Friendship of the Loyalists, it is therefore with additional Regret that I have seen the necessity of abandoning them;
but I cannot describe my feelings, at seeing an attempt to frustrate the Intentions of Goverment in behalf of my own Corps, men who have been from the earliest moment of the War in Arms for this Country, who have not awaited but wanted for Danger, who have lost considerable Property, who have deserved not only from the extensive Utility & Brilliancy of their Services, the Rank they claim, but from the unemulous routine of Seniority, & who having been recommended by two Commanders in Chief to no purpose, have lately been pressingly pointed out by me of them.
Sir H: CLINTON to use his own Words, "not only for Rank, as due to their merits, but as the Army may not be deprived of the Services of the best Corps of Officers in it."
You will my dear Sir excuse what I have said & place it to my extreme Anxiety for the Companions of my Fortunes- could my presence in London conduce to any information you might want on the first notice I could go here. The Adml. desires his Compls. I am with the utmost esteem & regard.
Your obliged Sevt.
[received 4 April, 1783]
Great Britain, Public Record Office, Colonial Office, Class 42, Volume 15, folios 70-72.
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