Friday, April 8, 2011

Patron's Perspective: Todd Braisted on Royal Provincial Establishments

Todd Braisted, the reigning authority on Britain's Loyalist Forces in America during the Revolution, contributes a clarification on the differences between Royal Provincial Troops with the British Army in Canada and those with the main British Army in the Thirteen Colonies. This entry is intended to provide some clarifications to accompany our catalogs for the WO28 records covering Loyalist troops in Canada, adding some additional context to their story. For those wanting to know more about the Canadian Royal Provincials, the Library's collection includes copies of the Carleton and Haldimand Papers.


Administering Provincial Forces

By Todd W. Braisted

The raising and administering of His Majesty’s Provincial Forces was not a uniform process throughout North America. While all Provincials fell under the auspices of the Treasury office in England, how they were mustered, organized and paid was a very different process between the Northern Army and the Army in America.

The Northern Army (those troops headquartered out of Quebec under the command of first Sir Guy Carleton and later Frederick Haldimand) never created a separate staff to handle its Provincials. Indeed, the army out of Canada only raised a few Provincial corps during the course of the war. The idea of creating a new bureaucracy to handle the needs of less than a half-dozen units must have seemed unnecessary. Only during the 1777 expedition of Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne, when companies and corps were being raised on an almost weekly basis, was a staff member, Loyalist John Macomb, appointed paymaster to the “Provincial” troops. These regiments, primarily those commanded by Peters, Jessup, Adams, Pfister, Mackay and McAlpin, as such never became Provincial units. Commonly referred to as “Royalists,” they existed in a state of administrative limbo from the time of their raising until eventually merging together in 1781 as a Provincial unit, the Loyal Rangers. The reason for their unhappy situation was a dispute between Burgoyne and Sir Guy Carleton concerning their raising, the massive losses they suffered during the campaign, and Frederick Haldimand’s promotion to command of Canada. Haldimand was a total stranger to the situation and was not inclined to act, given the other demands on his resources.

For those Provincial units in the Northern Army, their musters were handled the same as British Forces, while clothing and equipage came through the Quartermaster General’s Department, a civil branch of the army. At least two of the corps, the Royal Highland Emigrants and the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, hired agents in England to handle some of their affairs.

The Army in America, dealing with dozens of corps stretched from Nova Scotia to West Florida, created three new departments to handle its Provincials: a paymaster, a muster master and an inspector general. These organizations created large staffs, with numerous deputies who administered locally throughout the provinces and posts controlled by the British. Throughout the war, the Muster Master General of Provincial Forces was Colonel Edward Winslow, the Inspector General Lt. Col. Alexander Innes, while two men served as Paymaster General of Provincial Forces: Robert Mackenzie (1776-1778) and John Smith (1778-1782.) In 1783 Brook Watson of the Commissary General’s Department appears to have taken over the issuing of clothing and equipage.

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