6: Staff Officers
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 6Staff Officers This chapter discusses the officers who held a staff commission in the Royal Irish during its North American service.These include the adjutant, the quartermaster, and the three professional positions of chaplain, surgeon, and surgeon’s mate; the latter held a warrant from the colonel and not actually a commission from the king. Since many staff officers held a line commission as a subaltern at the same time, most of these men could have been included in the chapter on lieutenants or ensigns as well. The adjutant was responsible for the day-to-day management of the regiment’s paperwork, duty rosters, orders, and the like. He was often, but not always, also a subaltern. All the adjutants of the Royal Irish during this period held a line commission as well.The quartermaster was the officer responsible for the logistics of the regiment. He too often held a line commission.George Buttricke was the only man to fill that role while the Royal Irish was in North America. He had previously served as a soldier and an NCO in the 60th (Royal American) Regiment and ultimately served as a subaltern in the Royal Irish as well. Adjutants and especially quartermasters were often former sergeants; this became more common after 1775.The Royal Irish followed that trend in replacing Buttricke with another former sergeant.According to historian Anthony Bruce, King George III did not consider it acceptable for captains to serve as quartermasters,so a captain lieutenant or a captain may have occasionally also served as an adjutant, but it was extremely rare for such an officer to serve as the quartermaster, too.1 The fact that regiments on the Irish Establishment were not authorized a quartermaster made it difficult for men holding only that rank when regiments were rotated back to Ireland from another station. On  Protecting the Empire’s Frontier 14 April 1767, when four regiments were to be rotated back to Ireland from America,Thomas Gage, the commander in chief in North America, was ordered by Lord Barrington to inform the four quartermasters of the regiments to be rotated to Ireland that it would be the king’s pleasure for them “to act in the same Station in the Regiments that go from Ireland.” Barrington wrote further that since the four officers “do not appear to hold any other Commissions in their present Regiments,it is apprehended that they will think this Plan very advantageous to them as otherwise they must be reduced to Half Pay.” If they did not wish to continue in North America, they were to be allowed to exchange with a quartermaster from the half-pay list.In fact,all four of the officers took advantage of the king’s offer: Joseph Johnson transferred from the 27th Foot to the 10th Foot on 6 August 1767, Duncan Campbell transferred from the 42nd Foot to the 26th Foot on 13 July 1767, Peter Graham transferred from the 28th Foot to the 16th Foot on 10 July 1767, and George Buttricke transferred from the 46th Foot to the Royal Irish on 11 July 1767.2 The regiment’s chaplain was an ordained minister in the Church of England. He was to minister to the spiritual needs of the men. Often chaplains performed their duties by hiring a younger cleric to do the actual work.These men were often referred to as deputy chaplains.It was uncommon for the chaplain of the regiment to serve with the regiment overseas. During the Saratoga campaign in 1777, the British forces had only one deputy chaplain actually present with the six British regiments on campaign. The surgeon was the other professional officer besides the chaplain. He was responsible for the phyiscal health of the regiment. Most surgeons were trained doctors, but the poor state of medical knowledge and the lack of understanding of biology did not allow them to be as helpful as many of them would have wished to be. The last officer, the surgeon’s mate, or mate, did not hold a commission from the king but acted under a warrant granted by the colonel. The Royal Irish was lucky that most, if not all, of the mates to serve the regiment had actual university medical training. Before being appointed, a mate received a certificate from the surgeon general stating that he was qualified “for the office of Surgeons’ Mate to one of his Majesty’s Regiments .”In part to obtain such a certificate,Edward Hand...


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Subject Headings

  • Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 18th (Royal Irish) -- History -- 18th century.
  • Great Britain. Army. Regiment of Foot, 18th (Royal Irish) -- Officers -- Biography.
  • Great Britain. Army -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- British forces.
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