A Record of Service of the Fifty-Fifth
or Westmorland Regiment of Foot
A set of photocopies of the original Record of Service for the Fifty-Fifth Regiment of Foot was sent to me by Stuart Eastwood (curator of the Border Regiment Museum in Carlisle, England) on January 19, 1994. The original is handwritten in excellent penmanship on lightly ruled, approximately 8-1/4"x 13" pages. Spelling and punctuation is as close to the original as possible.
This document may be copyrighted by the Border Regiment, King's Own Royal Border Regiment and/or Her Majesty the Queen. It is published here strictly as a research tool and should not be reproduced without permission.
The Regiment was raised in this year at Stirling, [Scotland] on the breaking out of the seven years war and numbered the 57th. George Perry Esqr. was appointed Colonel his commission being dated 25 December, .
By the removal of two corps from the line to the Marines the Regiment became the 55th.1
In the summer of this year the Regiment arrived at Halifax, America and formed part of the force under Lord Loudon2 intended for an attack on Louisberg [Louisbourg] but which did not take place in consequence of the arrival of the Brest fleet in that harbour. George Augustus Viscount Howe3 appointed Colonel date of commission 28th September.
The 55th Regiment Commanded by Lord Howe formed part of a force amounting to upwards of 15,000 Men under General Abercromby sent against Ticonderoga. This Fort situated on a point of land between Lakes Champlain, and George is surrounded on three sides with water and on half of the fourth by a morass. The remaining part was strongly fortified with high entrenchments supported and flanked by three batteries, and the whole front of that part which was accessible intersected by deep traverses and blocked up with felled trees, with their branches turned outwards, their points first sharpened, and then hardened by fire forming altogether a most formidable defence.
On the 5th July the Troops were embarked in boats on Lake George and landing without opposition on the 6th at the place agreed on were formed into four parallel columns in which order they commenced their march towards Ticonderoga the enemy abandoning their advanced posts and retiring before them as they advanced.
The country through which their march lay being difficult and woody, and not having been previously recconnoitred, the guides also extremely ignorant the different columns came in contact and were thrown into confusion.
While advancing in this alarming disorder the advanced Guard of the enemy while retiring before them got also bewildered in the wood, and in the same state of disorder fell in with the advance of one of the columns led by the 55th Regiment, a smart skirmish ensued in which the enemy were quickly defeated and drawn back with the loss of near 300 killed and 148 prisoners: This advantage however was dearly purchased by the death of Colonel Lord Howe, who was killed at the beginning of the skirmish.
The annual Register for this year in narrating the event, passes the [Page 2] following high and just encomiums on his Lordships character and habits as a soldier, giving a most favorable impression of the discipline which must have prevailed in the Regiment while under his command.
Extract from the annual Register for 1758: "This gallant officer from the moment he landed in America had wisely conformed, and his regiment conform to the kind of service which the country required. He did not suffer any under him to encumber themselves with unnecessary baggage, he himself set the example and fared like a common soldier; the first to encounter danger, to endure hunger, to support fatigue; rigid in his discipline, but easy in his manners, his officers and soldiers, readily obeyed the Commander because they loved the man, and now at the moment when such abilities and such an example were most wanted, was fatally lost a life which was long enough for his honor, but not for his country." The Troops being fatigued were ordered back to the landing place from which they next morning, again advanced to the attack their operations being hastened by information obtained from the prisoners that a reinforcement of 3,000 men was advancing to succour the fort already garrisoned by 5,000 men of whom according to their own account 2,800 were French troops of the line.
The necessary dispositions for the attack having been quickly made, the Picquets were ordered to commence the assault to be followed by the Grenadiers, supported by the battalions and the reserve, the latter being composed of the 42nd Highlanders and the 55th Regiment.
When the Troops marched up to the entrenchments they were surprised to find a regularly fortified breastwork which with its formidable Cheveaux-de-freize and defended by so strong a force in its rear could not be approached without the greatest exertion particularly as the Artillery had not yet been brought up. Unexpected and disheartening as these obstructions were the Troops displayed the greatest resolution though exposed to a most destructive fire from an enemy well covered and enabled to take deliberate aim with little danger to themselves. Much time was lost in forcing their way through the trees (in which operation the broad swords of the Highlanders were found particularly useful) and many men had fallen from the fire of the strong body of the enemy who manned the trenches in rear of the trees and who gradually retreated into the fort as the assailants penetrated the exterior defences. A destructive fire was now continued from the fort with great effect and no ladders having been provided for scaling the breastwork the Troops were obliged to climb up on each others shoulders fixing their feet in the holes made with their bayonets and swords in the face of the work while the defenders were so well prepared that the instant a man reached the top he was thrown down. After persevering for four hours under such disadvantageous and disheartening circumstances, the General dispairing of success gave orders for a retreat, but the Soldiers had become so exasperated by the unexpected check which they had received and the loss of so many of their comrades that they could with difficulty be recalled, the retreat was afterwards conducted in good order the [Page 3] enemy keeping within their lines and making no attempt to pursue or annoy the wounded who were all carried off.
The loss sustained by the troops employed in this attack was 23 officers and 564 Rank & File killed, 65 Officers and 1148 Non commissioned officers and Soldiers wounded. No Returns of the killed and wounded of the Regiment4
John Prideaux appointed Colonel, Commission dated 28th October5
The Regiment formed part of the Army in North America under General Amherst and were engaged in the operations carried on during this year against Ticonderoga, Crown Point and other Posts of the enemy on Lake Champlain on which the troops embarked in boats in the month of October but a succession of Storms coming on soon after rendered it necessary to abandon the further prosecution of active movements for the remainder of that season and the Regiment with the other Troops composing this army returned to Crown Point where they were put into winter quarters.
James Adolphus Oughton appointed Colonel Commission dated 20th July.6
In North America with General Amherst's army which recommenced active operations in May by taking Isle-aux-Noix situated at the northern extremity of Lake Champlain
After some well concerted arrangements for effecting a junction with the army of General Murray at Montreal which proved eminently successful in the result the whole of the Troops embarked on the 10th of August and proceeded on the Lake towards the mouth of the St. Lawrence and after difficult navigation down the river, in which several boats were upset and about 80 men lost landed on the 6th September six miles above Montreal which surrendered the following day.
From this year to 1775 inclusive the Regiment possesses no record as to where it was stationed or of any active operations in which it may have been employed. The Corps it is supposed must have returned to England during the intermediate period.7
William Gosnel [Gansell] appointed Colonel Commission dated 20th August.8
Richard, Earl of Cavan appointed Colonel Commission dated 3rd August. 9
Robert Pigott [Pigot]10 appointed Colonel Commission dated 7 September and James Grant appointed Colonel Commission dated 11 December11
Commanded by Captain Luke13and with the 17th, 40th and 46th Regiments composed Major General Grants or the 4th Brigade of General William Howe's army in Staten Island, North America which including 13,000 Hessians and Waldeckers amounted to 30,000 men.
On the 22nd August landed on Long Island and on the 24th were engaged in the attack on the enemyps position near Flat Bush. General Grant's Brigade was directed to march from the left along the coast of the narrows and attack the enemy's right in that quarter whilst two other simultaneous attacks were to be made on the left and centre; each of these proved successful. After a smart cannonade kept up on both [Page 4] sides and a short resistance on the part of the enemy they retreated from all points in the greatest confusion and took shelter behind their position closely followed by the British troops. Their lines had been strengthened with considerable labour, but as afterwards proved could offer no effectual resistance to troops as ardent and eager to close with their Antagonists. Sir W[illiam] Howe however had formed a different opinion and would not permit the troops to attack the position:ã Unfortunately the same caution and want of confidence influenced General Grant who after his successful attack from the left in which the Regiment was engaged instead of moving rapidly forward in pursuit of the enemy who had to retreat through a deep morass intersected by a narrow path and must have surrendered had they been closely pursued halted and thus lost the opportunity of capturing a numerous body of the enemy. In this affair the enemy lost 2000 men, Killed drowned in the morass and taken prisoners.- British loss 5 Officers and 56 Non Commissioned Officers and Rank and File Killed, 12 Officers and 245 Non Commissioned Officers and Rank and File wounded (no Regimental Return of Killed and wounded)14
That evening the Army encamped in front of the enemy's lines and on the 28th broke ground opposite their left redoubt, but General Washington who had crossed over from New York during the action resolved on a retreat which was conducted in the course of the night in a most skillful manner and with such secresy and silence that our Army were perfectly unconscious of what had taken place until next morning when the last of the enemy's rear guard were seen in their boats and out of danger.
The Army resumed active operations on the 15 September when a part of it crossed over to the New York side about three miles above the town and after some opposition took post on the heights: Here they were attacked on the following day by a greatly superior force of the enemy and after a warm contest succeeded in repelling them with considerable loss. No further operation of any importance occurred till the 12th October when the Army embarked in flat bottomed boats and passing through Hell-gate passage landed on the 13th and on the 14th reached White Plains where the enemy had concentrated their whole force:- General Howe wishing to bring them to action directed an attack to be made on a rising ground where they had 4,000 men posted. This post was carried with great spirit by the troops employed but the position was found too distant to allow any impression to be made from it on the enemy's camp; so that after a few ineffectual movements the attempt to bring them to action was given up and the army proceeded against Forts Washington and Kingsbridge the former of which although very strong both [Page 5] from its situation and defences was carried by assault on the 16 November. 2700 of the enemy being made prisoners15
The next attempt was against Fort Lee which Lord Cornwallis with 4 Regiments was ordered to assault on the 18th the enemy however appraised of his approach evacuated the Fort and retreated in great confusion, leaving guns, ammunition, and stores behind them:- They continued their retreat closely followed by our troops who reached Prince Town on the 17 December and there the winter having set in they went into quarters.
Hostilities recommenced on the 2nd January by the enemy surprising and completely defeating a body of Hessians stationed at Trenton;16 from this however they were afterwards driven off by a force under Lord Cornwallis which advanced from Prince Town for that purpose.- after much skirmishing in the advance they found General Washington posted on some high ground: a heavy cannonade commenced on both sides which continued till night with occasional skirmishing between the advanced guards:- It was determined to renew the attack next morning but the enemy had decamped during the night leaving immense fires burning to deceive their adversaries and effected their retreat to Prince Town in safety and good order:- The object of General Washington by this movement it would appear by the result was not only to avoid a general engagement but at the same time to surprise that part of our army left at Prince Town, consisting of the 17th 40th and 55th Regiments, with a detachment of Artillery the whole under the command of Colonel Mawhood:- That Officer having been ordered to follow Lord Cornwallis with these corps to Trenton was preparing to execute this order when the enemy suddenly appeared on his flank and rear; such was the secresy with which they had marched that the report of a small discharge of musquetry from the rear, gave the first notice of their approach:- By cutting away a bridge over a brook which separated the two positions the detachment might have avoided an engagement and made good their retreat to Maidenhead; conceiving however that some good might result from delaying the progress of the enemy, Colonel Mawhood resolved to hazard an action:- Forming up his regiments accordingly as the enemy were advancing he poured in a heavy discharge of Artillery which as they were not yet formed did great execution:- The advanced body of the enemy being observed in some disorder the 17th Regiment charged and drove them across a ravine in their rear:- Having got separated by this movement from the rest of the detachment they charged again another body of the enemy on their right and cutting their way through them marched unmolested to Maidenhead.- Meanwhile the 40th and 55th being themselves vigorously attacked were unable to support the 17th:- These attacks were so sudden and unexpected, that without any concerted plan or opportunity of giving orders, each corps fought and defended themselves separately, and while the 17th made good their retreat to Maidenhead, the 40th and 55th retired on Brunswick with a great loss in killed and wounded the greater part of the later being taken prisoners (No Return of the killed and wounded of the Regiment)17
The two following General Orders were issued relative to the action
Head Quarters New York 8 January 1777 "General Howe desires Lieut Col Mawhood will accept his thanks for [Page 6] his gallantry and good conduct in the attack he made on the enemy on the 3rd instant:- He desires his thanks may also be given to the Officers and soldiers of the 17th foot, part of the 55th Regiment, and other detachments on their march who on that occasion supported the 17th Regiment and charged the enemy with bayonets in the most spirited manner."
His Majesty's approbation of their conduct was subsequently made known to the troops in the following General Order by the Commander in Chief, 11 May 1777 "The Commander-in-Chief has the pleasure to make known to the Army, as signified by Lord George Germaine one of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State that His Majesty has been pleased to express his Royal approbation of the ability and conduct displayed by Lord Cornwallis in his march to Jersey last December and of the exemplary order that was manifested by the >troops under his lordships command. His Majesty has also been pleased to take particular notice of the bravery and conduct of Lieut Col Mawhood on the 3rd January near Prince Town and approves of the behavior of the regiments under his Command especially the 17th so highly commended by Lord Cornwallis.
The Head Quarters of the Army were afterwards established at Brunswick where they passed the remainder of the winter.
In consequence of waiting for camp equipage and other supplies from England the Army were not prepared to take to the field till the middle of June when Sir William Howe having resumed the command, the following Regiments were ordered to compose the 2nd Brigade under Major General Grant viz/: 5th, 10th, 24th, 40th, and 55th.
Finding General Washington could not be induced to quit the strong position he had taken up at Middlebrook, detachments were pushed forward and movements made for the purpose of reconnoitering: Whilst employed on this duty the Regiment was engaged with and succeeded in repulsing a detachment of the enemy on the 28 June but eventually finding their position too strong to be prudently attacked and that they could not be drawn from it, General Howe determined to change the seat of war and accordingly embarked his Army and sailed for the Chesapeake; after a tedious voyage they landed at Elk-ferry on the 24th August and on the 3rd September commenced their march to Philadelphia leaving their tents and baggage behind: On the 10th they reached within two miles of Newport where the American Army under General Washington was posted: He quickly changed position on their approach and took post on some high ground commanding Chadds Ford, on the Brandy-wine river or Creek, the passage over which he seemed determined to dispute.
Battle of Brandy-Wine
On the following morning (the 11th) at day-break the Army advanced to attack the enemy in two columns.- The first under Lieut General Kniphausen [Knyphausen] in which was General Grant's Brigade took the direct road to Chadd's Ford with the apparent intention of forcing the passage in front of the main body of the enemy; while the second column under Lord Cornwallis moved up on the west side of the creek, and after ascending it for some miles crossed at Jeffrey's Ford at about 2 O'clock in the afternoon and turned short down for the purpose of attacking the enemy on the right flank:- General Washington [Page 7] perceiving the movement detached a division to oppose it: Having formed up Lord Cornwallis's Column rushed on the enemy and drove them from all their posts through the woods towards their main body:- Meanwhile General Kniphausen's Division having continued making demonstrations of passing the river at Chadd's Ford kept the enemy in suspense till Lord Cornwallisps movement was ascertained; so soon as the firing in that quarter announced that he had commenced his attack General Kniphausen's column instantly advanced and crossing the river carried the batteries and intrenchments in the most gallant manner and following up this advantage while the other column was pushing forward on the right a general rout ensued and the enemy retreated at all points.
The number of killed and wounded in this action was under 500 while that of the enemy was upwards of double that number (no return of the Killed and wounded of the regiment)18
The enemy fled with their cannon and baggage to Chester from whence he next morning
proceeded to Philadelphia but our troops made no forward movement.
A night attack on the 20th of this month under the command of Major General [Charles] Gray [Grey] on a body of the enemy consisting of 1500 who had concealed themselves in the woods with the intention of annoying the rear of our detached parties proved eminently successful. Three Corps were detached for this service who marched with such secresy and dispatch that coming on the enemy at midnight and finding them asleep with the exception of the picquets and out-guards who were in an instant overpowered without causing any alarm they rushed on the remainder and before they had time to seize their arms bayonetted more than 300 and took prisoners with a loss on our part of only 8 men.19
The 25th the Army moved forward to German-town and on the following morning the Grenadiers took possession of Philadelphia from which the enemy had previously retired.
On the 3rd October General Washington having received a reinforcement of 2,500 men and being informed that a considerable portion of our Army was detached in reducing the Forts on the Delaware determined to make a sudden attack on our post at German Town which having marched from his ground on the previous evening he reached about 3 in the morning. The 40th and a battalion of light infantry instantly flew to their arms and forming hastily made such a vigorous resistance that although ultimately obliged to give way before the overwhelming number of their assailants they effectually stopped their further progress until the Brigades of General's Gray and Agnew had time to come up to their assistance who becoming the assailants in their turn soon forced the enemy to retreat in the greatest confusion nor could they again be rallied. The loss in this sharp though short contest was greater on both sides than in the action of Brandy-wine20
Extract of a letter from General Howe Eagle, Elk river 28 October 1777 "Soon after the break of day the enemy began their attack upon the 2nd Light infantry [including the 55th's light company] which they sustained for a considerable time supported by the 40th Regiment but at length being overpowered by increasing numbers [Page 8] the light infantry and part of the 40th Regiment retired into the village when Lt Colonel Musgrave with six companies of the latter corps threw himself into a large stone house in front of the enemy which though surrounded by a Brigade and attacked by 4 pieces of cannon he most gallantly defended until Major General Gray at the head of three battalions of the 3rd Brigade turning his front to the village and Brigadier General Agnew who covered Major General Gray's left with the 4th Brigade by a vigorous attack repulsed the enemy that had penetrated into the upper part of the village which was done with great slaughter. The 5th and 55th Regiments from the right engaging them at the same time from the other side of the village completed the defeat of the enemy in that quarter.
An unsuccessful attempt was afterwards made to bring the enemy to a general action and a considerable time having elapsed in the reduction of their forts on the Delaware which they defended with much skill and obstinacy but from which it was necessary they should be driven in order to open the communication between the army and the shipping the season had got so far advanced before all their operations were concluded that it became necessary to finish the campaign and place the troops in winter quarters.
General Washington having been appointed to the command of the army21 commenced the campaign by crossing the Delaware and marching to Monmouth which he reached on the 28th June and where he found the American Army posted in considerable force. The movements of the troops being much retarded by the extreme heat of the weather and in protecting an immense convoy of provisions, afforded favorable opportunity to the enemy to make repeated attacks on the rear of the column. These though uniformly repulsed proved extremely harassing to the troops and caused considerable delay. General Clinton therefore resolved at once to attack their main body which was drawn up in line.
The ground proving favorable the attack commenced by several charges of Cavalry these were followed by a rapid advance of the infantry who drove the enemy after a vigorous resistance from their first line A reinforcement being ordered up the infantry again advanced and attacked the enemy in a second position which they had taken up. This also was resisted for some time but at last unable to maintain their ground they again retreated forming in a third position but in such good order and on such strong ground that General Clinton not thinking it advisable to push the attack further withdrew the troops much exhausted from the heat (numbers dropping down in the ranks and expiring in a few moments afterwards) to their original position. Here they halted till 10 O'clock at night when they resumed their march and passed over to Staten and Long Islands and from thence to New York. The Army lost in these attacks, 3 Officers and 56 Soldiers Killed and 16 Officers, 7 Serjeants 137 Rank and file wounded.22
In consequence of a threatened attack by the enemy on Rhode Island where General Pigott commanded with a force of 10,000 men a reinforcement of 5 battalions was sent from New York to his assistance. [Page 9]
On the arrival of a second reinforcement under Sir H. Clinton the enemy finding themselves much weakened by numerous desertions and disappointed in the co-operation of a French fleet under Admiral Count D'Estaing who after having come to anchor off Newport had put to sea to avoid an engagement with the English fleet under Lord Howe found it necessary to make a precipitate retreat and crossing over to the main land at Holly Land's [Howland's] ferry thereby avoided an attack intended to be made upon them by the force under Sir H. Clinton. The next enterprise was under the command of Major General C. Grey for the purpose of proceeding to the Acusnet [Acushnet] river [Massachusetts] to attempt to destroy a great assemblage of privateers which with their prizes lay at New Plymouth [New Bedford]. This expedition was completely successful The Troops landed on the banks of the river on the 5 September and by noon the following day the whole were re embarked having destroyed 70 vessels and all the stores, warfs, &c. along the whole extent of the river. After this exploit they returned to New York. Another expedition of the same nature was soon afterwards undertaken against Egg Harbour and some parts of the Jersey's which was also successful and another in which a corps of the enemy's Cavalry was surprised and nearly annihilated. In this manner the war was carried on by a succession of petty expeditions which though successful in their results proved most harassing and fatiguing to the troops employed, until the winter put a period to the campaign.23
The Regiment must soon after have been withdrawn from this army and sent to the West Indies as we find it in . . . . . . . . . . .
In January stationed at St. Lucia [West Indies].24
In July at St. Kitts and St. Christopher [West Indies].
In April at Antigua. [handwritten in margin] appointed Aug. 1782-Westmorland H.G. letter to be entered
At Antigua [West Indies].
In February at St. Kitts [West Indies].
Ordered home and in October at Shrewsbury [England].
In October at Portsmouth [England] and neighborhood.
From January to November at Tynemouth barracks Newcastle [England], and Berwick [England].
From November to June at Glasgow [Scotland]
From June 1789 to March 1790 at Fort George [Scotland], from April to September at Edinburgh Castle and Perth [England]; in December at Southhampton [England].
From January to May at Kilkenny [Ireland] and Clommel [Ireland].
On the 9th November Loftus Anthony Tottenham was appointed Colonel.
From June until May at Dublin [Ireland]:- At Belfast [Ireland].
In the beginning of this year the Regiment was quartered at in Londonderry and Coleraine,
[towns on the north coast of the Province of Ulster, Ireland] and on the [blank] joined the Army in Holland where it distinguished itself in the campaign of this and the two following years under His Royal Highness the Duke of York. For details of the campaigns of this and the following years see United Service Journal for April 1834.
2) John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudoun (1705-1782). Named Commander-in-chief of British Forces in America in 1756 (Knox, i, p 29).(Hit your BACK button to return to document)
3) George Augustus Viscount Howe, an Irish Lord, had been Colonel of the 60th Foot until appointed Colonel of the 55th on September 28, 1757 (Knox, p 185). Lord Howe studied the tactics of forest warfare and rangering under Robert Rogers, and turned the entire 55th into a battalion of light infantry: "He induced the army to cut their hair short, leaving it not more than two fingers' breadth long, and all the officers and soldiers were supplied with the kind of gaiters like those worn by the Indians and Canadians and called Mituzzes. Their haversacks were rolled up in a blanket, which they carried as did the Indians and Canadians. They had each thirty pounds of meal, a pound of powder, and four pounds of balls, besides their cartridge boxes full, so that an army thus equipped would need no magazine for a month. Their canteens were filled with rum. Both officers and men mixed their own meal with a little water, and baked it in cakes, by putting it on a flat stone under the ashes, an arrangement which did very well for a light expedition. The soldier thus found everything necessary for his use, and was no more loaded than ordinarily. The officers and men had only one shirt a piece, which was doubtless of cotton, and well made. Lord H. set the example, by himself washing his own dirty shirt, and drying it in the sun, while he in the meantime wore nothing but his coat". (Knox, p 185-186)(Hit your BACK button to return to document)
4) The 55th's Major, Thomas Proby, was also killed at Carillon. Amherst reported three men from the 55th wounded in the attack (Knox, p 510). The 55th's Lieutenant-Colonel, John Donaldson, took Howe's place as Colonel of the 55th on July 14, 1758. The new Lieutenant-Colonel, William Eyre, was appointed on July 17, 1758. Eyre was later appointed chief Engineer of the Army in July of 1759. Eyre had advanced in rank "solely on his merit", and was apparently an excellent engineer, overseeing the reconstruction of Fort Ticonderoga and other important works. Eyre accidentally drowned on his way back to Ireland at the end of the war (Knox, pp i 491, 500, ii 182, 543).(Hit your BACK button to return to document)
5) John Prideaux (1718-1759) was appointed Colonel of the 55th on October 28, 1758. He had begun his career as an ensign in the 3rd of Foot in 1739, and was promoted Adjutant of that regiment in 1743. He eventually obtained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel on February 24, 1748. Prideaux was appointed Brigadier-General and given command of the expedition to Fort Niagra in March of 1759 (the 55th stayed at Fort Edward). He was accidentally killed in the trenches at Niagra by British mortar shell that exploded prematurely, and was buried in the fort chapel on July 28th, 1759 (Knox, pp i, 494, 51; ii, 185).(Hit your BACK button to return to document)
6) Colonel Oughton later became Deputy-Commander-in-Chief of the troops istationed n Scotland in 1773. He was apparently a highly educated and respected man (Boswell, pp 26, 91; 486). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
7) At the close of the French and Indian War, the 55th regiment was sent to Florida and drafted to bring the regiments stationed there up to strength. The Officers and non-commissioned Officers were sent back to Ireland where they re-raised the regiment (Sutherland, p 42). The 55th remained a popular choice for Scottish recruits, and in May of 1775 were reported as having 203 Scottish, 133 English, and only 64 Irish rank and file (WO 27/35). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
8) William Gansell had been given a set of colours by the King and gazetted ensign in the Coldstream Guards on 11th February, 1734. He was promoted to Lieutenant and Captain on 17th November, 1739, and served as Junior Adjutant from February of 1742 through April 1743. Gansell acted as a Major to the Brigade of Guards in 1758 and saw action at Cherbourg and St. Malo. He was promoted Colonel in the Army on 4th May, 1761, and given command of the 55th Regiment on August 20, 1762, while the regiment was still in America. Gansell became Major-General in 1765, and Lieutenant-General in 1772. Colonel Gansell had a long history of financial troubles and died of an apoplectic fit in the Fleet Prison for Debtors on 28th July, 1774.( JSAHR, #21, p 186). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
9) Lieutenant-General Richard Lambart, Earl of Cavan (Leslie, p ??) (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
10) Brigadier-General Sir Robert Pigot was the brother of Admiral Hugh Pigot. He was General Thomas Gage's second in command at Bunker Hill, and later was given command of the British forces in Rhode Island (1777-1778). Pigot was already in America when his commission as Colonel of the 55th was granted, and the regiment was at sea when Grant's commission was sealed, so Pigot never saw the 55th Regiment as itps Colonel (Serle, p 339; Ward, p 84, 88-94, 588). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
11) James Grant of Ballindalloch (1720-1806) had studied law before being commissioned Captain of the First Battalion of Royal Scots on October 24, 1744. He was a veteran of the battles of Fontenoy and Culloden and was in America in 1757 during the Seven Yearsp War as Major of the 77th or Montgomeryps Highlanders. He led an 800 man detachment of Forbe's expedition that was badly defeated at Fort Duquesne (Philadelphia) on September 21, 1758. Grant was a close friend of General Howe and one of his most trusted military advisors. Grant did not learn of his appointment as Colonel of the 55th until April of 1776, when he arrived at Halifax and found his commission waiting there for him (Nelson, pp 17 -159). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
12) Ten companies of the 55th were ordered to America on 29 July, 1775, and six of them arrived in Boston on December 30 of that year (Kemble, p 62). In a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth dated 16 January, General Howe wrote "the six missing companies of the 17th and six companies of the 55th regiments arrived the 30th December in The Grosvenor and Grand Duke of Russia Indiamen, but have not had any account of the other 4 companies of the 55th regiment ..." (C.O. 5/5, p 61, p 265). The other four companies of the 55th left Cork in September, 1775, on board the Enterprize, George Shelby Master. The ship lost all her masts in a gale while at sea and drifted to Antigua, finally arriving at English Harbor on 13th January, 1776 ã four months after she left Cork. On 13th September, 1775, the King ordered that, effective 25th August, 1775, the 55th was to be augmented by the addition of one serjeant, one drummer and 18 men to each of the 10 existing companies. Two additional companies were also to be raised, each consisting of three Serjeants, three Corporals, two Drummers and 56 private men, plus the usual commissioned Officers (WO 7/27, 13th Sept). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
13) Captain John Luke (b 1736) was the senior Captain of the 55th, receiving his commission on January 4, 1756 (WO 27/35, 55th Regiment Returns). He was left in charge of the regiment as all of the higher-ranking officers were absent on other duties -- Grant was a Major-General and commanded the fourth brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel William Meadows commanded the first battalion of grenadiers (though the 55th's grenadier company was assigned to the 2nd battalion of grenadiers), and Major Cornelius Cuyler was General Howe's aid-de-camp (Howe, p 352; Serle, p 158). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
14) The 55th had one private killed and three rank and file wounded at the Battle of Long Island (Memoirs, p 421). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
15) On August 31, 1776, the 55th was at Bedford, New York, and were part of the force that landed at Kipp's bay on September 15 (MacKenzie, p 40-47). On October 10th, the 55th was left behind to defend the British redoubts on Long Island while the rest of the British Army pursued Washington north through New York (Kemble, p 76-78). On October 12th they were on Long Island under the command of Lord Percy (MacKenzie, p 78) and on October 30th, 1776, the 55th was ordered to join the main army under General Howe for the New Jersey Campaign (MacKenzie, p 92). On November 30th the Fourth Brigade was in Newark (Robertson, p 114) and on December 6th, the fourth brigade marched down from New York to Brunswick with General Howe, and settled in to winter quarters there (Stryker, p 16). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
16) The battle of Trenton was on December 25th, 1776. Major-General Grant, commander of the British forces in New Jersey, immediately sent word of Trenton to General Howe in New York. On December 31st, 1776, Grant marched from Brunswick to Princeton with the fourth brigade, including the 55th, and was met there by a large force under Cornwallis on January 2nd, 1777 (Robertson, p 117-118). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
17) General Howe's return of the engagement shows the 55th with one serjeant, and four rank and file killed; one Ensign, one Serjeant, and two rank and file wounded; one Captain, one Lieutenant, one Ensign, one Serjeant, two drummers and 66 rank and file were missing or captured (CO 5/5 p 67). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
18) During the Pennsylvania campaign of 1777, the Fifty-fifth Regiment was part of the Second Brigade, commanded by Major-general Grant (Howe, p 446). They were part of Knyphausen's column at Brandywine on September 11, and suffered one rank and file wounded (Kemble, p 135). Captain Henry Downing, commanding the 55th's light company in the second battalion of Light Infantry, was wounded at Brandywine, as was Lieutenant Colonel William Meadows, who was leading the second battalion of grenadiers (Robertson, p 146; CO 5/94, 05268). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
19) The light company of the 55th was in the second battalion of Light Infantry and with Major General Grey. The 40th and 55th Regiments' battalion companies were under the command of Colonel Thomas Musgrave of the 40th, and were posted on the Philadelphia road. They were intended to attack the rebel outposts to create a diversion, but the enemy was routed by Greyps command and retreated by another route. Subsequently, Musgraveps detachment saw no action at Paoli (AndrÈ, p 49 - 51; Robertson, p 149). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
20) The 55th had three rank and file killed; two officers (Captain Garrett Fisher and Ensign Thomas Shuldham) and 13 rank and file wounded at Germantown (Kemble, p 137; CO 5/94, 05248). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
21) Washington had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Continental forces on June 20, 1776 (Ward, p 101). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
22) During the Pennsylvania campaign of 1777, the Fifty-fifth Regiment was part of the Second Brigade, commanded by Major-general Grant (Howe, p 446). They were in General Knyphausen's column at Monmouth and probably saw little or no action (AndrÈ, pp 78-81). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
23) The Fifty-Fifth was in New jersey and not involved in the Rhode Island campaign,. They were at "the watering place" on Staten Island in June of 1778 (AndrÈ, p 81). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
24) When the French entered the American War for Independence in June of 1778, General Howe returned to England and operations in America were handed over to General Sir Henry Clinton (Marshall/Peckham, p 66; Fortescue, p 250; Rogers, p 170-171). In the fall of 1778, Clinton was ordered to leave the north and concentrate the war effort on the southern colonies (Fortescue, p 250). At this time some of the battalions stationed in America where detached to deal with the French in the West Indies. General Clinton sent Major General James Grant as commander of an expeditionary force of 5,000 troops, including the 55th, to St. Lucia (Lindsay p 332). This force embarked from Sandy Hook, Staten Island, on November 3rd, 1778 (Kemble, p 165). They arrived in Barbados on December 10th, then pushed on and landed at Cul-de-Sac bay, St. Lucia, at noon on December 12 -- just ahead of the French fleet commanded by d'Estaing (Lindsay, p 332). The 55th participated in the battle of La Vigie as part of Prescott's brigade, which also included the 4th, 15th, 28th, and 46th regiments. The British ultimately captured the island of St. Lucia from the French. It remains in British possession to this day (Fortescue, p 263-264; Lindsay, pp 332-356). On July 29, 1779 the 55th was on St. Kitts and went to St. Christopher later that year (Fortescue, p 268). (Hit your BACK button to return to document)
Transcribed and annotated by Mark Tully
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