George Taylor

 

Nationality: unknown
Born: unknown
Regimental commission dates:
Ensign, 2 March 1776 (additional company)
Killed: Battle of Freeman's Farm, 19 September 1777

 

In March 1776, British regiments which were serving in America and Canada formed two additional companies which remained in Britain or Ireland and worked to recruit new men for their respective regiments. When completed (or otherwise called for), the core of an additional company was sent to join with its parent regiment in order to provide the new recruits necessary to maintain the regiment's strength. Upon joining, the additional company was usually dissolved and the men drafted into the various eight battalion companies. Generally, the officer(s) who delivered the recruits stayed with the regiment while officers of the same rank took their place, returning home to join the additional company and begin the process over again.

Upon joining the army in March 1776, newly-minted 62nd Regiment of Foot Ensign George Taylor was assigned to Captain John Nash's additional company. Ordered to join the 62nd Regiment serving overseas in the spring of 1777, Taylor embarked for Canada aboard the 244-ton transport vessel Isabella and Dorothy, along with fellow 62nd Regiment additional company officer Lieutenant Archibald Stuart. It was aboard this vessel that these “two young English officers” became embroiled in one of the few crown forces mutinies of the war.

For reasons unknown, both Stuart and Taylor were placed aboard the Isabella and Dorothy transport with a 108-man contingent of unarmed German recruits destined for the Braunschweig light infantry battalion von Bärner, a unit which was also serving in General Burgoyne's army. This large batch of recruits, shepherded by a serjeant, was otherwise without an officer. Before departing Portsmouth, England, a detachment of 19 armed German Hessen-Hanau jägers—commanded by a corporal—were put aboard in order to police the “discontented” unarmed Braunschweig recruits. This combined Braunschweig and Hessen body was under the command of both Stuart and Taylor who, as perhaps expected, “did not understand one word of German.” Three days after setting sail, the Isabella and Dorothy was separated from the rest of her transport convoy and later during the journey was attacked by a rebel vessel near Newfoundland, which was successfully repulsed. The skirmish nevertheless struck fear throughout the ranks of the German soldiers on board, who were terrified of being unable to defend themselves and being captured by the enemy. According to a report later filed to Erbprinz Wilhelm, Landgraf of Hessen-Hanau, by Hessen-Hanau jäger corps commander Lieutenant-Colonel Carl von Creutzbourg, in a letter dated near Québec City, 11 July 1777:

Following the [action against the rebel vessel], the Braunschweig recruits united and, by intimidating the two officers [Stuart and Taylor], forced them to steer the ship towards the coast in order pick up a man of war as a convoy. They sailed to the Bay of St. Placentia off Newfoundland. After a few days they departed without a convoy. Unfortunately, the [Hessen-Hanau] jägers also came forward during this conspiracy, but Corporal Mayer remained aloof.

While nothing otherwise came of this mutiny, and the Isabella and Dorothy joined another convoy in the St. Lawrence River likewise destined for Québec on 7 July, that was not the end of it. Although von Creutzbourg opined that “the English officers may not complain,” they did just that. One of them, probably Stuart (being senior), reported the incident to Commander-in-Chief Sir Guy Carleton, who ordered severe punishments for all the German conspirators. Despite the fact that Corporal Mayer was initially exonerated by Stuart and Taylor for any role in the plot, both later testified that all 19 of the Hessen jägers joined the Braunschweig recruit conspiracy. Mayer was “chained in a double-up position for 24 hours,” while the other Germans each “received forty blows with a stick.”

After settling affairs in Canada and taking charge of the 62nd Regiment's recruits there, Stuart and Taylor began their march into New York (along with additional companies belonging to the other British regiments, which were similarly officered) and joined Burgoyne's army on 3 September 1777, little more than two weeks before the Battle of Freeman's Farm. According to extracts from the general orders of Burgoyne's army:


2 September:
The Additional Companies are expected in Camp tomorrow.

3 September:
The Additional Companies to be divided among the eight Battalion Companies of each Regiment…. The officers of the Additional Companies are to be posted until further Orders to the weakest Companies, and where there is a captain he is to have the Command of a Company whose Captain is absent and cannot be supposed to join this Campaign….

5 September:
Such Regiments as have Supernumeraries are immediately to complete their Grenadier and Light Infantry companies. The additional men…are to be exercised from seven to nine every morning, and from three to five every afternoon. In their exercisings they will fire ball occasionally.


No officers were ordered to return home for recruiting duty due to the general deficiency of officers in the army at the time and the expected coming of battle. Only weeks later, Taylor found himself fighting in the Battle of Freeman's Farm on 19 September 1777, in which battle he lost his life.

Volunteer Lancelot Weir received George Taylor's ensigncy the day after his death.

 

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