First Blood of American Revolution, 1769-70: New York 16th Regiment of Foot Ledger Signed Over 200 Times by Soldiers Who Took Part in Resisting America's Independence
[REVOLUTIONARY WAR.], Manuscript Volume, Paymaster's Accounts for the 16th Regiment of Foot in New York, 1769-1770. Approximately 176 pp., with writing on 101 pp., 8" x 12.5". Leather cover worn but interior pages very good.
This intriguing paymaster's account book records the amounts spent on pay, rations, and other expenses for the 16th Regiment of Foot, while it was posted in New York City from February 1769 to June 1770. Each company's pay record also included a cost for the regimental paymaster, surgeon, and drum and fife major. Although the account book covers the period of the Battle of Golden Hill, and likely includes soldiers that participated, it was the first significant clash between citizens and British troops as the colonies moved toward revolution. Some insist that the first blood of the American Revolutionary War was shed at Golden Hill in January 1770.
In June 1766, the New York City Sons of Liberty had erected a Liberty Pole in the Commons to commemorate the repeal of the Stamp Act. Over the next months and years, British soldiers several times destroyed it, and the Sons of Liberty restored it each time. On January 13, 1770, the soldiers again tried to destroy the Liberty Pole but were unsuccessful. The soldiers instead attacked a nearby tavern, breaking the windows, insulting customers, and beating the waiter. They were successful in destroying the Liberty Pole on January 16, using gunpowder. Competing handbills soon appeared. The Sons of Liberty called for a public meeting on January 17, while the soldiers of the 16th Regiment of Foot issued their own handbill attacking the Sons of Liberty as the "real enemies of society" who "thought their freedom depended on a piece of wood."
On January 16, 1770, Sons of Liberty leader Isaac Sears (1730-1786) and others tried to prevent soldiers from the 16th Regiment of Foot from posting handbills. Sears and others captured two of the soldiers and marched them toward the mayor's office to file a complaint. More soldiers and citizens arrived, but the rescuing soldiers were surrounded and outnumbered. Fellow soldiers tried to rescue them but were ordered back to their barracks, followed by angry citizens. As they reached Golden Hill, an officer told the soldiers to "draw your bayonets and cut your way through them." More soldiers arrived and a group of officers dispersed the soldiers before the situation grew worse. Several of the soldiers were bruised or wounded, as were some citizens, but no one was killed.
The Battle of Golden Hill occurred six weeks before the more infamous and deadly Boston Massacre. It also made merchant Alexander McDougall famous in the area and led to his becoming a general in the Continental Army, as he had authored an anonymous handbill "To the Betrayed Inhabitants of the City and Colony of New York." On February 6, 1770, the last Liberty Pole was raised in New York City.
Major Henry Pulleine served as the paymaster for the 16th Regiment of Foot in 1769 and 1770. He received promotion to major in June 1764. While in New York in 1769, Pulleine ordered a file of regulars to protect his friend Simeon Cooley, a New York merchant who had been accused of violating the nonimportation agreement. When General Thomas Gage heard of the order, he countermanded it.
16th Regiment of Foot (1751-1782) was formed in 1688 and named for its colonel, originally Archibald Douglas. In 1751, a royal warrant ended the practice of calling regiments by their colonels, and this regiment became the 16th Regiment of Foot. The regiment had been stationed in Ireland since 1749 and remained there until 1767, when it sailed to Florida and established a headquarters in Pensacola. As this paymaster's log makes clear, however, the 16th Regiment was posted in New York from 1767 to 1770 under the command of Colonel James Gisborne (d. 1778). While in New York, Irish members of the regiment celebrated St. Patrick's Day as part of "The Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick." When the Revolutionary War began, the regiment was again ordered to New York, where it took part in the Battle of White Plains in October 1776. Late in 1777, the regiment again went south, where it defended British Florida. Some portions of the regiment saw service in South Carolina and Louisiana. The regiment returned to England in 1782, when it was reorganized into the 16th (Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot, before returning to Ireland.
This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.
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