“Loyalist Trails” 2014-13: March 30, 2014

In this issue:
In Service To Lord Rawdon, by Stephen Davidson
Book: The Men Who Lost America
Little-known fact: Bicentennial Branch Recognized by SAR
Normandy: John Brecken, UE, and Gordon Aitken, UE
Where in the World can Jean Rae Baxter and Ruth Nicholson be?
From the Twittersphere and Beyond
Additions to the Loyalist Directory
Last Post: Margaret Rose (Goodfellow) Baker, UE


In Service To Lord Rawdon, by Stephen Davidson

Hundreds of loyal colonists owed their lives to an Irish nobleman named Francis Edward Rawdon, the commander of the 2nd American Regiment. Lord Rawdon rescued them from the rebel army that had been laying siege to Fort Ninety-Six for over a month in the backcountry of South Carolina. 23 families from that district settled in the central part of Nova Scotia, naming their settlement in honour of their saviour.

But there were others who had served alongside Rawdon, and their stories can be discovered in the transcripts of the Royal Commission on the Losses and Services of American Loyalists (RCLSAL). Here are the accounts of loyalists who were served under Rawdon in the dying days of the American Revolution.

Peter Blewer was a South Carolina farmer who, after being “molested by rebels and fined for not serving in the militia”, joined Lord Rawdon in 1781. He was captured at the Battle of Congaree Fort, but, fortunately, was later exchanged. Blewer found refuge in Charleston with other loyalists, staying there until the fall evacuation in 1782. He had wanted to bring furniture and “goods” with him, but since he had to travel by night, Blewer could not manage to transport a great deal. Two of his most valuable possessions were a pair of African slaves; they were taken by a major in Charleston because the loyalist did not have the necessary passes. After reaching the safety of Nova Scotia, Blewer settled in Shelburne, rather than in the Rawdon township.

Colonel James Carey also joined Lord Rawdon when the latter was in Camden, South Carolina. He, too, was “continually harassed” by rebels and had to pay “many heavy fines” for not taking up arms on their behalf. Rebels captured Carey after his loyalist militia fought General Greene’s rebel army. During his incarceration, rebels plundered Carey’s house and took 26 of his horses and 14 of his slaves. (His hemp, rice and indigo crops once required as many as 42 slaves to work the plantation).

It is interesting what Carey did not share about his wartime experience when he later sought compensation for his losses. On orders from Lord Rawdon, he built a fort that guarded the main ferry crossing about a mile from Camden. He built this stockade on his own plantation, and was manned with 37 local Loyalists. A patriot colonel surprised the fort and found it’s entire garrison asleep. The Patriots quickly rushed in and captured all of the occupants, along with 36 wagons with supplies, including a load of rum. I guess everyone has a bad day.

After Rawdon led his soldiers and loyalists in his tactical retreat to Charleston in June of 1781, Carey stayed in the city until its evacuation. He could take nothing with him from his plantation because “they went away with precipitation”, but during his time in Charleston he held out hope that Britain would be victorious, allowing him to return to his estate that was “a very elegant place and valuable.” But Carey would never see his plantation again. At the evacuation of Charleston, he sailed for Jamaica where he met Alured Clark, an officer who would one day become the lieutenant-governor of Lower Canada. Besides his wife and step-son, the most valuable thing that Carey had managed to salvage was a certificate testifying that he “had taken a most active and zealous part in favour of {the} British cause, and been employed by him confidentially and that he was a Loyalist of greatest mind.” Four years after arriving in Jamaica, Carey brought his certificate to Halifax to seek compensation when the RCLSAL convened in that city in the summer of 1786.

Another South Carolina loyalist who eventually made his home in Nova Scotia was James Wright. Born in England, he went to South Carolina with his family when just an infant. His loyal parents had settled in Ninety-Six, which would become one of the most divided communities of the American Revolution. In 1775, rebels took him prisoner, tried him, and found him guilty of treason. Unable to honour his oath to “remain quiet”, Wright fled to East Florida with 336 other loyalists. Later, Lord Rawdon sent him on espionage missions. For his efforts, he received three musket balls that in 1786 were “now in his body”. Despite the fact that Wright had lived in Shelburne for three years, his wife was still in South Carolina. Did she hope to reclaim their 200-acre farm? The RCLSAL commissioner did not seem to be concerned that Wright might leave Nova Scotia and awarded him £240 for being “a meritorious Loyalist {who} Bore arms.”

John Blewer, who settled near his brother Peter in Shelburne, had “done everything to avoid serving with the Americans” in North Carolina. When he was drafted into the rebel militia, he fled to Camden, South Carolina and joined a loyalist militia. He, too, finally found temporary refuge in Charleston before sailing for the safety of Nova Scotia.

Daniel Migler was a loyalist of German birth who joined Lord Rawdon on his retreat to Charleston in 1781. Rather than “taking an oath to the Americans in 1776”, he fled the Ninety-Six district, and joined the British at their outpost in St. Augustine, Florida. Later, rebels captured him in Savannah, Georgia. Upon his release, he returned to his plantation, only to re-enlist with the British army in 1780. Rebels consequently seized his property and sent his family after him. Upon arriving in Nova Scotia, Migler and his family settled in Shelburne.

Hannah Lumb was the only widow from South Carolina to appear before the RCLSAL to seek compensation for her late husband’s losses. Arthur Graham had served with Lord Rawdon, but he had died before the loyalists evacuated Charleston. She married Joseph Lumb and settled with other loyalists in Ship Harbour, a community to the east of Halifax.

Such are the stories and adventures of the loyalists of South Carolina who served under Lord Rawdon, the man who gave his name to –not one but– three communities in central Nova Scotia. When gold was later discovered in the Rawdon Hills in the 19th century, new settlers flocked to the area. This became the inspiration for a 1977 song recorded by Stan Rogers. Hopefully, the South Carolina loyalists who first made the Rawdon Hills their home will one day inspire a songwriter to celebrate their epic wartime adventures. But alas, a bard such as Stan Rogers is no longer with us.

To secure permission to reprint this article, email Stephen Davidson.

Book: The Men Who Lost America

By Andrew O’Shaughnessy; Yale University Press, $37.50, 466 pages; illustrated.

On Oct. 17, 1781, on a road outside Yorktown, Va., the forces of the United Colonies and France awaited the formalities that accompanied any 18th-century military surrender. Early that afternoon, Lord Cornwallis’ vanquished British army belatedly appeared, marching with solemn step and with colors cased. As they approached the surrender field, the royal troops, unable to conceal their chagrin, displayed “unsoldierly conduct.” Some appeared to be drunk.

The shock among British soldiers and their German allies was understandable. The American Revolution was a war that the British had appeared to be winning. A succession of victories on land had been interrupted only occasionally by setbacks at the hand of Gen. George Washington and his Continentals. Then came Yorktown. According to English economist Adam Smith, the “expectation of a rupture with the colonies has struck the people of Great Britain with more terror than they ever felt for a Spanish armada.”

How the British managed to lose the Revolution is now the subject of an extensively researched, gracefully written study by University of Virginia historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy. As the title indicates, the author takes a biographical approach, but after examining the factors that led to Britain’s defeat, he comes up with no single scapegoat. Britain’s defeat was a team effort.

For Britain, the American Revolution was a “perfect storm” — everything that could go wrong did. The author concludes that British strategies failed “not as a result of incompetence and blundering, but because of insufficient resources, the unanticipated lack of loyalist support, and the popularity of the Revolution.” A British officer reached a similar conclusion at the war’s end, writing that “no invading army, in the present enlightened period, can be successful in a country where the people are tolerably united.”

Read the full review by John M. Taylor in the Washington Times (Aug 20, 2013)

Little-known fact: Bicentennial Branch Recognized by SAR

While researching branch history for the upcoming 2014 commemorative book Loyally Yours we came across this Certificate of Appreciation (photo), dated September 15, 2001.

Awarded by The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, it reads “Bicentennial Branch UEL has been awarded the Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of outstanding support given to the Sons of the American Revolution”.

The certificate was presented by Detroit Metropolitan Chapter Michigan Society President Richard A. Steele, to then Branch President Margie Luffman, UE (photo).

Bicentennial Branch is very proud of its outreach efforts and the bonds it has forged with various community groups. A cross-border friendship flourished with the Michigan Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (MISSAR) with our branch hosting MISSAR members at our annual luncheon meeting (photo). In turn, Bicentennial Branch members were welcomed at SAR functions.

Loyalists and the Invasion of Normandy

Submissions for “Loyalists and the Invasion of Normandy” are welcomed and will be published as they become available.

An entry for John Brecken, UE, and Gordon Aitken, UE kicks things off thanks to Henry Gordon Aitken Jr., Heritage Branch.

If you have a family ancestry which qualifies (see the heading of the page with entries), please submit to loyalist.trails@uelac.org. Help us all connect our early Canadian history with more recent events.

Where in the World?

Where are Hamilton Branch members Jean Rae Baxter and Ruth Nicholson?

To participate, submit a photo of yourself in UELAC promotional gear at a place of some note and tell us where it is. If you are a member of a branch, please indicate that as well – send to Jennifer Childs.

From the Twittersphere and Beyond

  • “The inhabitants of Montreal have done worthily.” A comment in a letter from Joseph Warren, Boston to Messrs. James Price and Alexander Hay, at Montreal. The letter is dated March 15, 1775, and sends thanks for a generous donation.
  • What’s the one unanswered question about the American Revolution you’d most like answered? Put another way, what’s one remaining mystery of the Revolution that you’d most like solved? See the list of questions (Our HVP Gavin Watt posed the third question). The comments below are very good too!
  • Mar 23 1752: Canada’s first daily paper, the Halifax Gazette, starts publishing; is today’s Chronicle Herald
  • War of 1812: A short video clip from the Battle of Longwoods Re-enactment which took place on March 8 this year
  • (For a chuckle) Ten Inventions: Not all inventions have been successful. Here are some bizarre inventions that will make you wonder what their inventors were thinking! Number ten would have been good this winter.

Additions to the Loyalist Directory

As time permits, we add information to the Loyalist Directory. The latest additions and updates are as follows:
– Ball Sr, Jacob – from Ken Atkinson
– Casselman, Thomas – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)
– Denike, Andrew – (volunteer Sandra McNamara)
– Secord, David (Sr.) – (volunteer Sandy McNamara)

Please help us build the directory by contributing more information for it. Contact loyalist.trails@uelac.org for instructions and guidance.

Last Post: Margaret Rose (Goodfellow) Baker, UE

Margaret passed away at Soldiers Memorial Hospital, Orillia on March 21, 2014. Brian Baker, Margaret’s husband of 42 years, son James (Meredith) and grandchildren Brenna and Alexander, will sorely miss her, as will her friends and colleagues. Margaret, who was at school in Edenvale, and then at Barrie Central Collegiate School, trained as a teacher in Toronto. After teaching at Warnica P.S. she furthered her training at the Sheila Morrison School, in Essa. Margaret then become Coordinator of the Simcoe Learning Place, a charity-based tutoring establishment connected with the United Way, that reached youth and children who were experiencing difficulties in basic academic studies. She was a long-time member of Burton United Church, Barrie.

Margaret was Member of Hamilton Branch UELAC, and although latterly housebound, attended meetings and outings when she was able. She developed a keen interest in her family history and regarded her membership as a Loyalist with honour and pride. Margaret shared her expertize in researching with friends and family alike, discovering for them “lost gems” of their family history, as well as her own. She was descended from Loyalist Anthony Hollinshead (Hollingshead) of Chester Township, New Jersey. Anthony fought with the New Jersey Volunteers, as a Lieutenant, moving to New York with his wife and family of seven children, before leaving for Nova Scotia in 1783, where he settled near Digby. The family moved to Upper Canada and were awarded a land grant on the east side of Yonge St., at Thornhill, U.C. c. 1785, where Anthony died in 1818.

Margaret Baker will be sorely missed by all!

…Judy Nuttall, UE, Hamilton Branch.