Home Search Our Site! Sign Our Guest Book!


List of Regiments Regimental Histories Muster Rolls Orderly Books Courts Martial Loyalists in the Regular Army/Navy Civil Branches Spies & Intelligence Black Loyalists Clothing and Supplies Claims and Memorials Other Facts and Records



&c, &c, &c...
The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
The history of the Prince Of Wales' American Regiment is presented in 7 parts. Click below to skip to:

Part 1 - Introduction & From Confinement to Commandant
Part 2 - Baptism at Danbury
Part 3 - Garrison Duty, Kingsbridge & Lloyd's Neck
Part 4 - Hanging Rock
Part 5 - On Command
Part 6 - Limbo
Part 7 - Final Days

A History of the Prince Of Wales' American Regiment - Part 1 of 7


In the annals of Loyalist history stands forth a regiment raised by an island governor while a prisoner of war, composed of Connecticut Yankees, and which spilled the blood of its young men in the unforgiving battlegrounds of South Carolina. Raised in 1776/1777, this corps went by several names, including the Prince of Wales' American Volunteers and Prince of Wales' Royal American Volunteers.

Commanded by the immodest Montfort BROWNE, Governor of the Island of New Providence, this regiment was to be the 1st battalion of a "brigade," often referred to as Governor BROWNE's Brigade. Even though this brigade never materialized as envisioned, the officers and men of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment wrote their history at such places as Danbury, Newport, Charlestown, Hanging Rock, George Town, Friday's Ferry and Cowpens.

When the smoke had cleared, the regiment ended its existence in what was left of British North America, a mere fraction of its original size and composition. This, then, is their story.

From Confinement to Commandant

The Summer of 1776. The British Army in America is gathering its force on Staten Island, New York. Lieutenant General William HOWE is preparing to attack Continental General George Washington in the campaign that would wrest New York City and its environs from Rebel control. Howe has also done one more thing: he has invited the Loyalists, those Americans still owing their allegiance to the British crown, to join his army.

The countryside in this area contains many Loyalists. New Jersey would provide the largest single Loyalist regiment of the war, the New Jersey Volunteers. New York would provide more Loyalist soldiers and militiamen than any other province. And then there was Connecticut...

Connecticut, in keeping with the other New England colonies, was firm in its opposition to the British and sent thousands of its citizens to assist George Washington and the Rebel cause. Like all the other colonies however, Connecticut also had a population that included many Loyalists, biding their time until the British Army should make its appearance. Thrown into this mix was Governor Montfort BROWNE of New Providence in the Bahamas.

BROWNE had been taken prisoner on New Providence by Commodore Esek Hopkins of the Continental Navy on 3 March 1776.1 The island had no garrison to defend the place, but it had a huge stash of military ordnance and stores, which were much wanted by the Rebels on the continent. BROWNE managed to secretly ship off 150 barrels of powder to the garrison at East Florida but ended up on a voyage to imprisonment in Connecticut for his trouble.

Given his civil station in life, BROWNE was kept under house arrest in Middletown, where he quickly became acquainted with several leading Loyalists. Amongst the first to visit BROWNE was an old officer of the French & Indian War, Major Timothy HIERLIHY.2

HIERLIHY was previously acquainted with BROWNE when both were involved in the province of West Florida, the former as a member of the "Company of Military Adventurers," and the latter as lieutenant governor there. Southern life not agreeing with HIERLIHY, he moved home to Middletown where his acquaintance with BROWNE was renewed in 1776.3

HIERLIHY, judging BROWNE unequal to the task of raising the Loyalists, himself "plan'd the raising of a Regiment of Loyalists, and engaged a number of Gentlemen he knew had the greatest influence with those that were so, and inclined to come off; for Governor BROWNE who was then a Prisoner and unacquainted with the Inhabitants of the Country…"4

Indeed, BROWNE boasted on 2 August 1776 that "through the assistance of a few Confidential friends…I have through their aid & assistance, meditated a plan for the forming a Brigade for his Majesty's Service to consist of four Thousand Men, which with indefatigable diligence & a good deal of Expence I have already nearly carried into execution."5

This information was sent off by BROWNE to General HOWE, conveyed by Timothy HIERLIHY, Junr. and Jesse HOYT, a Loyalist from Norwalk.6 These two Loyalists reached HOWE safely, and the contents of BROWNE's letter interested him to some degree. So much so that HOWE immediately proposed to George Washington to exchange BROWNE for Continental General William Alexander, known as Lord Stirling, who had been captured at the Battle of Brooklyn on 27 August 1776. This exchange was effected and BROWNE became a free man within the British lines.7

BROWNE immediately set about the arduous task of raising a complete brigade for the British service. Establishing his headquarters at Flushing, Long Island, he set about issuing warrants to officers to recruit throughout New England and other places. He fumed that November that General HOWE had not been forthcoming in sending shipping to bring off the Connecticut Loyalists, the result of which was that many of his recruits had been drafted into the Rebel militia.8

Undeterred, BROWNE wrote out warrants by the dozen and issued them to whomever stood a chance of raising men. A typical warrant read:

"Whereas His Majesty's Commissioners for Restoring Peace and Tranquility to the Deluded Subjects in America Have Impowered and Fully Authorized me to Grant Warrants and Inlisting Orders to all Officers Ingaged in a Brigade under my Command. This may Certify therefore that the Poseser Mr. Gershom FRENCH is appointed a Lieutenant and is hereby Authorized to Rase men for His Majesty's Service. Given under my Hand and Seal at Flushing on Long Island this Twenty Sixth day of October An. Do. 1776. [signed] Montfort BROWNE, Captain Genl. Of His Majesty's Bahama Islands."9

These warrant officers ranged very far and wide in the search for recruits. George WIGHTMAN, describing himself as a "Colonel in [BROWNE's] Brigade," established his headquarters at British occupied Newport, Rhode Island in the hopes of raising men there.10

Francis HOGLE led Gershom FRENCH as his captain up the Hudson to take part in the Burgoyne Campaign of 1777. He and FRENCH claimed to have raised 216 men for BROWNE, 94 of whom they brought into the Army at Saratoga but were "Chiefly Allured away with Frivelous Promises and have not since been Restored."11

Some gentlemen received warrants, enlisted men, but did not receive commissions to continue as officers in the regiment or army. Two Irishmen who were less than happy with Governor BROWNE were Cornelius RYAN and Dennis O'REILY.

RYAN settled in New York City in 1754 and established himself as a "Leather Dresser and Breeches Maker," not professions normally associated with a gentleman. Sent as a spy into New York City before the British attack, he was able to secure the colours of the New York City Militia, which had been presented to them by Royal Governor William TRYON.

For this triumph he was given a warrant as captain by BROWNE and succeeded in bringing in 27 recruits from the Ringwood Ironworks of New Jersey. These recruits, however, were distributed to other companies, leaving RYAN without a commission and £ 200. in debt.12

O'REILY was similarly circumstanced, recruiting 21 men after receiving a captain's warrant, but never receiving a promised commission. He would spend the war seeking recovery of his personal wealth expended in the service.13

Apparently Old Countrymen were not the only people BROWNE strung along. Samuel JARVIS, a native of Connecticut, was also one who received a captain's warrant with the promise that his recruiting expenses should be refunded.

JARVIS produced thirty men to BROWNE at Flushing but received no reimbursement, prompting him to take a minor position in the Commissary General's Department.14 At least three other members of this family continued to serve under BROWNE, including Munson JARVIS, who was a lieutenant until forced to resign in order to better support his family.15

One officer at least had military experience in the present conflict. Richard VANDERBURGH of Dutchess County, New York was an active Loyalist early on in the conflict. In October of 1775 he was able to get on board HMS Asia in New York Harbor and offer his services to Governor William TRYON.

VANDERBURGH was made a sergeant in Captain Alexander GRANT's New York Company and accompanied this officer to Boston, Halifax and back to New York. With his company he took part in the Battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776, displaying great gallantry in battle, evidenced by his receiving "seven severe and dangerous wounds."

For his valor he was made an ensign under BROWNE and shortly afterwards a lieutenant. He would go on to be captain of light infantry in Lt. Col. EMMERICK's Chasseurs in 1778, in which station he would once again be wounded in battle.16

Left to reign in all these recruits and would–be officers was Montfort BROWNE. He was significantly aided by the use of an armed sloop owned by Captain Stephen HOYT of Norwalk, which vessel cruised Long Island Sound, picking up parties of recruits as they became available.17 The sloop of course could not be in all places at once, frustrating BROWNE in January of 1777 in delaying picking up a company's worth of recruits.18

BROWNE at this time was serving as a colonel, but he had much higher aspirations.19 Having been informed by Sir William HOWE that he should be commissioned Brigadier General of Provincial Forces in the Spring of 1777, BROWNE fumed, quickly putting pen to paper, words to the ears of government at home.

"I flatter myself, my Sufferings, my Losses, my long Captivity, my zeal & Ardor for His Majesty's Service, the great Expence attending the bringing over my Brigade, and finally the Risque I have exposed my Person to in procuring my Men, in the Midst of an inveterate Enemy's Country, will induce your Lordship to procure for me from His Majesty the Rank of a Major General in America for it will be grating for to me, who have seen so much real Service, to be commanded by Brigadiers deLANCEY & SKINNER who have never seen a Shot fired; I must in such Case resign and knowing well my Influence over my Officers & Men, I will with unremitted Ardour engage as a Volunteer with them in the Ranks."20

The objects of Browne's anger were Brigadier General Cortland SKINNER of the New Jersey Volunteers and Brigadier General Oliver DeLANCEY, who commanded a brigade of his own. Both held commissions older than BROWNE, hence they would outrank him on the field.21

His letter reached England very quickly and was laid before the King. While there was no objection given to BROWNE holding rank as major general, it was decided to leave it to the discretion of Sir William HOWE.22

HOWE never bothered waiting for a reply, commissioning BROWNE a brigadier general on 30 May 1777 and announcing him in general orders the next day.23 Naturally, BROWNE did not follow through with his boast to GERMAIN to serve in the ranks, and he continued as a brigadier general for the remainder of the war. Despite this setback, he could be pleased about one thing: he was in command of a complete regiment, if not a brigade.

"Colonel INNIS will be so obliging as to acquaint Governor BROWNE that the Commander in Chief is extremely well pleased with the report made of his Corps, and the Active Spirit and ardour which animates both Officers and men, he has no doubt of their being of very great Service in the Course of this Campaign."

This would become reality more quickly than anyone may have foreseen.24

1 Jack Coggins, Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution, Stackpole Books (Harrisburg) 1969, 26–30.

2 Hierlihy started the previous war as an ensign in 1755 and ended it at the taking of Havana as a major in General Lyman's Regiment, his commission as such dated 20 September 1762. "The Memorial of Lieut. Colonel Timothy Hierlihy" 20 May 1783. Great Britain, Public Record Office (PRO), Headquarters Papers of the British Army in America, PRO 30/5/10106. "The Memorial of Timothy Hierlihy, Major Commandant of His Majesty's Independent Companies" 27 August 1779. PRO, Colonial Office, Class 226, Volume 7, folios 42–44.

3 Robin Fabel, The Economy of British West Florida, 1763–1783, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa) 1988, 12–14; 181; 194.

4 Hierlihy Memorial. PRO 30/55/10106.

5 Browne to Lt. Genl. William Howe, 2 August 1776. Staffordshire Record Office, Earl of Dartmouth Papers, Microfilm Edition, Reel 15, D (W) 1778/II/1695.

6 Jesse Hoyt would become a noted pilot of British shipping in Long Island Sound before being commissioned a captain in the Associated Loyalists on 7 June 1781. "The Memorial of Jesse Hoyt, late of Norwalk in the late Colony of Connecticut now in London" 28 March 1786. PRO, Foreign Office, Class 4, Volume 1, folios 302–303. Hierlihy Memorial. Colonial Office 226/7/42–44.

7 Howe to Washington, 21 September 1776. Library of Congress, George Washington Papers, Microfilm Series, Series 4, Reel 38.

8 Browne to the Earl of Dartmouth, 21 November 1776. Dartmouth Papers, D(w)1778/II/1714.

9 Great Britain, British Library, Additional Manuscripts, No. 21827, folio 1. French would end the war as a lieutenant in the Loyal Rangers.

10 Recruiting notice of George Wightman, 25 January 1777. Newport Gazette, January 30, 1777. Wightman gave up his efforts for Browne shortly thereafter and received a warrant to raise his own independent corps, the Loyal New Englanders.

11 "The Memorial of Francis Hogel & Gershom French" 9 December 1777. Add. Mss., No. 21827, folio 92. Hogel, French and the remainder of their men served as a company in the Queen's Loyal Rangers. By June of 1778, this company consisted of themselves a sergeant and nine rank & file, six of whom were prisoners "Monthly Return of the Queens Loyal Rangers Commanded by Lieut. Col. John Peters, Busherville 1st June 1778." New York State Library, John Peters Papers, CL 3585. Hogel's date of warrant was also 26 October 1776. "Muster Roll of His Majesty's Battalion of Queens Loyal Rangers Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel John Peters Raised by Order of Their Excellencys Sir Guy Carleton and Munfort Browne Esqr. on the 26th day of October 1776 and on the 24th day of June 1777 For His Majestys Service in America, La Chene 29th January 1778." Add. Mss., No. 21827, folio 142.

12 "The Petition of Cornelius Ryan" 2 January 1789. PRO, Audit Office, Class 13, Volume 26, folios 440–441.

13 "The humble Petition of Dennis O'Reily" no date, but pre October, 1780. PRO 30/55/9739.

14 "The Memorial of Samuel Jarvis, a native of North America" 3 November 1785. Audit Office 13/114/536–539. Jarvis would go on to become a lieutenant in the Loyal Commissariat Volunteers.

15 "The Memorial of Munson Jarvis" 23 March 1784. Audit Office 13/76/326–327.

16 "The Memorial of Richard Vanderburgh late Captain in the Corps of Chasseurs, formerly commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Emmerick" rec'd 12 April 1781. Audit Office 13/67/386-387. Certificate of Major General William Tryon, 16 December 1779. Audit Office 13/67/392.

17 Hoyt's sloop, of forty tons, was in service from 1 October 1776 to 1 May 1777 and cost government £ 189. for the use of. Hoyt Receipt. Audit Office 13/76/310.

18 Browne to Edward Winslow, 22 January 1777. University of New Brunswick, Edward Winslow Papers, Microfilm Edition, Reel 152, 1-61.

19 Browne claimed his date of rank was announced in Sir William Howe's General Orders "a few days previous to the 24th of Novemr. 1776." Browne to Maurice Morgann, 6 April 1783. PRO 30/55/7334.

20 Browne to Lord George Germain, 1 April 1777. PRO 30/55, Volume 5, No. 69 (NYPL photostat).

21 Skinner held rank from 1 July 1776 while DeLancey was commissioned 4 September 1776. 1782 North American Army List.

22 Germain to Howe, 20 May 1777. PRO 30/55/534.

23 Browne's previous military experience was that of a lieutenant in the 35th Regiment of Foot. "List of the officers belonging to His Majesty's British American forces in North America under the command of his Excellency Sir Guy Carleton, K.B. etc. 25 November 1783." Colonial Office 5/111/231. General Orders of 31 May 1777, New York. New York State Library, Orderly Book of Sir William Howe.

24 Adjutant General James Paterson to Colonel Alexander Innes, 20 March 1777. Earl of Dartmouth Papers, Reel 15, D(w)1778/II/1745.

Spacer Image

Click here for ---> Regimental History Main Page

                               More Prince Of Wales' American Regiment History

                               PWAR Regimental History:

                               Part 2 - Baptism at Danbury
                               Part 3 - Garrison Duty, Kingsbridge & Lloyd's Neck
                               Part 4 - Hanging Rock
                               Part 5 - On Command
                               Part 6 - Limbo
                               Part 7 - Final Days

                               Top of Page

Spacer Image

The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
For information please contact Todd Braisted

Updated 2/01/01

Copyright Restrictions    Document Formatting    Optimal Viewing