“Voted, to raise as minute men 25 privates, two commissioned officers, two sergeants, twenty nine in all. Voted, 6 dollars a month to each officer and soldier after they are called to an expedition, till they have proper time to return after they are dismissed.”

From the minutes of the town of Wilton, New Hampshire, April 4, 1775

This was the contract. No language specifying when the militia would be paid or any limit of time beyond an “expedition”. By May 19, 1775, I imagine a few of the New Hampshire men besieging Boston might have begun to have concerns about being paid. The New Hampshire Provincial Congress was working to determine the ways and means to support three regiments, which implied they would be paying, rather than the towns that raised the militia. By the middle of July, three months had slipped past with none of the New Hampshire militiamen paid.

When I first had the idea of writing The War has BegunI had modern assumptions about the militia surrounding Boston being paid monthly, given the phrasing in the above quote. I had also presumed Isaac Frye, being from Wilton, had been a member of the Wilton militia. But once I started writing it nagged at me that as a quartermaster, he was a regimental staff officer, not a line officer. Given that Wilton furnished two other lieutenants, I knew some other arrangement must have existed. Once I learned about Paul Dudley Sargent organizing the militia from Hillsborough County from where he lived in neighboring Amherst, I followed that connection and learned how Isaac Frye likely garnered his initial position and commission, but no longer had a basis for him being paid by the town of Wilton.

A record from January of 1776 shows Isaac Frye’s rate of pay had been 3.0.0 per month (pounds.shillings.pence), which was about ten dollars, so better than the six that Wilton was paying. However, lack of monthly pay was a prominent issue. It was initially addressed by Washington in his General Orders of August 10, 1775, where paymasters were instructed to determine what each man was owed up through August 1, and that monthly pay would be instituted thereafter. There was a presumption that the provinces would be paying their militia.

It appears that no New Hampshire militiamen had been paid as of August 1, 1775. Over three months had passed for most of the men besieging Boston. In the feature image of this post, I initially and optimistically read that the men had been paid on August 1st. But, that was clearly not the case given the date at the bottom of the document. Though, I did opt to use the advance Isaac Frye had been given in chapters 7 and 8 of The War has Begun.

New Hampshire did not pay its troops in August, and by September 23, 1775 Brigadier General John Sullivan wrote to the New Hampshire Committee of Safety. He appraised them of the troops complaints, reminded them of Washington’s orders of August 10, and informed them that the other colonies had already complied.

The New Hampshire Committee of Safety’s response, dated September 28, was far worse than could have been expected. The committee was under the impression, based on a separate meeting of two of their delegates with Washington, that they would owe only one month of pay.

The committee recognized the seriousness of the situation and agreed to, in their next session in October, work out how to pay their troops up through August 4th. Clear communication about pay had been missing entirely, and it was not until late December that New Hampshire paid her troops up through August 4, 1775.

The New Hampshire Congress indicated that the Continental Congress would pay New Hampshire troops who also re-enlisted for 1776 or October through December.  Quite likely that was in the new paper Continental money. Thus, it appears the New Hampshire troops were not paid for August and September, and those who did not re-enlist were not paid past August 4, yet they served through the end of the year per what the New Hampshire Provincial Congress agreed to do.

I can imagine doing the same, given those circumstances, but I have have a difficult time imagining such circumstances coming to pass today.

-CEF

Sources

Bouton, Nathaniel D.D. 1878. “Provincial Papers. Documents and Records Relating to the Province of New-Hampshire, From 1764 to 1776; Including the whole Administration of Gov. John Wentworth; the Events immediately preceding the Revolutionary War; the Losses at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and the Record of all Proceedings till the end of our Provincial History.” Volume VII. Orren C. Moore, State Printer. Nashua, NH. pp. 612-3 (Sullivan’s letter) pp. 662-674, 678, 697-699 (Concerning pay)

Fitzpatrick, John C. 1970. “The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799” in “The George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, 1741-1799” 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1931-1944; reprint, Greenwood Press New York. Accessed online at: https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html. General Orders of Oct 31 and Nov 12, 1775.

Hammond, Isaac, W. 1885. “Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War 1775, to May, 1777 with an appendix, embracing diaries of Lieut. Jonathan Burton ” Volume I of War Rolls. Volume XIV of the Series. Parsons B. Cogswell, State Printer, Concord, NH. p. 80 (listing the Aug 1 pay).

Hedbor, Lars D.H. 2013. “From Pounds to Dollars”, https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/03/from-pounds-to-dollars-money-during-the-revolution/ (accessed June 2016).

Livermore, Abiel Abbot and Putnam, Sewall 1888. “History of the Town of Wilton, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire with a Genealogical Register” Marden & Rowell, Printers, Lowell, MA.  p. 85 (militia decision) and 88 (names of militia members).

 

 

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