Monday, October 13, 2014

Loyalists in My Tree?

I believe the Riggin family of Somerset County, Maryland, was one of many families that were fractured by the Revolutionary War. Stephen Riggin (before 1747-after 1800) served as a private in St. Asaph's Company, Somerset County Militia, and has been approved by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as a patriot.

Stephen Riggin's pedigree chart

Yet his son, Isaac (1765-1828), or his first cousin once removed, also named Isaac (1760-?) very  likely served as a loyalist with the Queen's Rangers.

Six different Riggin/Riggen men are included in Murtie June Clark's book entitled Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Volume II -- Canaan, Cannon, Darby, Isaac, Jacob and Randolph. I do not have any Canaan, Cannon, Jacob or Randolph Riggins in my tree...yet. But I do have two people named Isaac Riggin of the correct age to serve in the war and one Darby Riggin.

I knew nothing about loyalists; they certainly didn't tell us in our history classes that there were loyalists in Virginia and Maryland. The teacher's reaction would have been, "Perish the thought!" But they existed and are likely in my family tree; I just don't know enough about them yet to know who did what to whom.

When I learned that the 1st battalion of Maryland Loyalists was raised primarily from men who were from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, I began to suspect that those Riggin loyalists belong somewhere in my tree.

From "Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Vol. II" by Murtie June Clark:

"Both the Maryland and Pennsylvania Loyalists were raised in Philadelphia in the fall of 1777, their numbers made up wholly from refugees. Lieutenant Colonel James Chalmers, commanded the Maryland Regiment and Lieutenant Colonel William Allen commanded the Pennsylvania Regiment. These regiments served with the British Army and went to New York with them in 1778. Later, after embarking with the army for the invasion of Georgia, they were stationed at Pensacola, at which they arrived in January 1779 after a stopover in Jamaica. When Pensacola fell to the Spanish, in May 1781, they were imprisoned in Havana, and a month later they were paroled to New York.


Spanish grenadiers and militia pour into Fort George at Pensacoloa;
image courtesy of the U.S. Army Center for Military History

The Virginia Loyalists were raised in November 1775 by Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Ellegood and served at the battle of Great Bridge. Lieutenant Colonel Ellegood was captured early in the campaign and spent most of the war as a prisoner. This regiment went to New York in 1776 and was later merged with the Queen's Rangers, serving throughout the war in that regiment. Musters or pay rolls for their service as Queen's Loyal Virginia Regiment have not been located. 

The Queen's Rangers were raised in New York and Connecticut and combined with the Queen's Own Loyal Virginia Regiment in 1776. They were in the 1777 campaigns at Philadelphia, Brandywine*, and Germantown, and later fought at New York and Monmouth. In 1781 they were sent to Virginia and surrendered at Yorktown.

The Philadelphia Light Dragoons were raised in Philadelphia by their commander, Captain Richard Hovenden. They served with the Queen's Rangers and the British Legion and in 1782 were merged with the King's American Dragoons.

The British Legion was raised in New York in July 1778 from other companies. Their field commander was Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, who was much admired by his soldiers. They were sent to Savannah in December 1779 and served in the siege of Charleston in 1780. They were in many battles in the Carolinas and Virginia and were feared by the Americans. In the battle called Buford's Massacre, Tarleton's horse was shot from under him, and his men, thinking he had been killed, took vengeance on the soldiers they thought had killed their leader. The expression 'Tarleton's Quarter' was coined to describe the lack of mercy shown to American's trying to surrender. The regiment was also captured at Yorktown."


New additions to my genealogy library

James Chalmers, commandant of the Maryland Loyalists, authored a political pamphlet in 1776 entitled Plain Truth, which was a rebuttal of Thomas Paine's Common Sense. He was from Chestertown, Maryland, which was called Newtown at the time. The first battalion was comprised of troops mostly from the Eastern Shore. After the war many members of the regiment were transported to Nova Scotia by the British. One such ship was shipwrecked in 1783; its survivors were some of the earliest settlers of New Brunswick.

Loyalists who remained in Maryland had to pay triple taxes and sign a loyalty oath. Many had their lands and property confiscated, which probably explains why so many of my Riggin ancestors began migrating west in the very early 1800s.

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My 4 times great grandfather, Samuel Beard, fought at Brandywine with the Continental Army's 5th Virginia Regiment.

George Washington Spoke to Him
Tarleton's Southside Virginia Raid

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