Help support TMP

"About British and German Deserters, Dischargees..." Topic

4 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the American Revolution Message Board

437 hits since 21 Jun 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2017 3:33 p.m. PST

…, and POW's Who May Have Remained in Canada and the USA, 1774-1783.

"According to 18th-century immigration authority Clifford Neal Smith, the vast majority of German and English soldiers who, for one reason or another, became separated from their Revolutionary War units, ended up settling within a few miles of their discharge, desertion, or capture (POWs). Mr. Smith drew his conclusion from a careful examination of muster rolls from 1774 to 1783, as found in the Public Record Office in London. This consolidated work, which is based on those records, identifies several thousand soldiers who fall into this category. The records are arranged by regiment and thereunder alphabetically by surname. For each soldier, the author has transcribed his full name, status (deserter, dischargee, or prisoner of war), a date, and the source of the information. For the overwhelming majority of these individuals, these records may be the sole clue that links them from America to their European homeland…."
Main page


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2017 8:52 a.m. PST

Thank you for the link, Tango, and it may prove useful. But I don't believe the potted summary, or at least not altogether. Discharge, sure. A lot of loyalist units were dissolved right next to their land grants. But capture and desertion involve different protocols. The Germans captured at Saratoga, for instance, will not have settled in upstate New York, but in the Shenandoah Valley, where they were held. And unless the unit was actually in the process of pulling out, I'd expect most deserters to leave a little distance between themselves and their former superiors.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2017 10:43 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami!. (smile)

Thanks for the data!.


Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2017 9:52 a.m. PST

I'd certainly dispute "the vast majority"; for a start, the vast majority of the British Saratoga prisoners either died in captivity or escaped back to their own lines. And the vast majority of Yorktown captives were returned to their units in 1782, albeit most regiments completed their 1781-1782 muster rolls retrospectively after the men had returned.

A lot of discharged men either returned home, or else were re-enlisted in veteran/garrison units in NYC and elsewhere, and utilised as a quasi-police force for those cities.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.