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James Wemyss
(1748 - 1833)

James Wemyss is another of Lord Cornwallis's subordinates whose life story has been all but crushed beneath the weight of legend. Information on him is sparse and incomplete -- even Boatner provides only a few scraps, mostly commission dates. But he has not proved quite so elusive as Christian Huck.

Wemyss (pronounced "Weems" and sometimes erroneously spelled "Weymss") was born in Edinburgh, on November 7, 1748 (27 October, 1748, old style date).1

His military career began when he was commissioned an ensign in the 40th Regiment of Foot (April 16, 1766). Less than a year later (April 1, 1767) he purchased the rank of lieutenant. The Army Lists for those years indicate that the 40th Foot was stationed in Ireland, though it is possible that a company was on duty in Edinburgh.2

Wemyss married Rachel Wemyss, daughter of the late William Wemyss of Cuttlehill, Fife, on June 24, 1770. (Rachel may have been his cousin or second cousin.) Their wedding took place in Edinburgh, and their son, Alexander, was baptized on August 21, 1771 in Aberdour Parish, Fife. These events indicate that Wemyss remained in Scotland through at least a portion of this period. On March 14, 1771, he purchased a captaincy in the 40th, which placed him in command of the regiment's grenadier company. He still held that commission when he came to America.3

The 40th Foot arrived in Boston in June, 1775. (Writing many years later, Wemyss says he reached the city in July.) For the next couple of years, his service record was active but obscure, documented by brief notations in general orders or journals.4

On December 11, 1775, Sir William Howe assigned him to command "the 6 Companies Grenadiers till further Orders." According to Wemyss, his own grenadier company of the 40th had been combined with five other grenadier companies to form a special battalion shortly after their arrival in Boston. Originally this battalion was under the command of a major, but when the major returned to England, Sir William Howe appointed Wemyss to the command. He held the position until the evacuation of Boston the following spring, at which point the grenadier companies returned to their individual regiments. A short time before the evacuation, when the Americans were erecting works on Dorchester Heights, Wemyss's battalion had been readied to attack them, but bad weather made it impossible for their boats to cross the harbor. By the time the weather cleared, the works were considered too strong to be carried by direct assault, and the plan was abandoned.5

On May 14, 1776, while Howe's army was still wintering in Halifax, Wemyss was appointed aide-de-camp to Major-General Robertson. The appointment came after his grenadier company was again absorbed into a special battalion, placed under the command of more senior officers. He served with Robertson during the action on Long Island, and remained in the post until Robertson returned to England. The two men hit it off. A few years later, Robertson would describe Wemyss in a letter to Lord Amherst as "one of my best friends."6

By April, 1777, he was serving with the main army in or around New York. On April 20, Howe gave Governor Tryon the rank of Major General, Provincial forces, and named Wemyss as his aid-de-camp. On the 29th, Stephen Kemble's Journal contains a notation that, "Captain Wemys came this day from Governor Tryon, informs that the Rebels had collected in large Bodys near Ridgefield." Wemyss also served as adjutant for the expedition under Tryon's command to destroy the rebel stores at Danbury in Connecticut, and was slightly wounded.7

He spent only a short time as Tryon's aid before he was replaced so he could take command of the Queen's Rangers (May 5), with the provincial rank of major (backdated to July 1, 1776). He led them in the operation at Amboy in June. (The general orders for the march refer to them as "Wemys's Corps.") A month later Howe gave orders that "The Provincial Troops (except Wemys's Corps) are not to enlist Deserters from the Rebels."8

He led the unit at the battle of Brandywine (September 11), where they formed part of the British vanguard (along with Ferguson's Riflemen). They were involved in hard fighting throughout the battle, suffering heavy casualties but earning praise from senior officers such as General Knyphausen. Howe personally thanked the regiment for "their distinguished gallantry, and good conduct." Wemyss was again slightly wounded in the action. But on October 15, Howe turned the Queen's Rangers over to its final and most famous commander, John Graves Simcoe. According to his own memorial, Wemyss had "resigned the command of that Corps; dissatisfied at not having been promoted, to which he thought himself intitled, both from services, and what he considered assurances to that effect."9

His service with the Rangers is occluded by the career of his better-known successor, but Alexander Innes, Inspector-General of Provincial Forces, had warm praise for how Wemyss performed the duty. "The indefatigable pains and attention of [Major Wemyss]," he told Lord George Germain, "first established that character which Lieut.-Colonel Simcoe has so honourably supported."10

On August 10, 1778, Wemyss became major of the 63d Foot. (He may have changed regiments to avoid accompanying the 40th Foot to the West Indies.) This was the regular army rank and posting he would hold through the rest of the war. Years later, he stated that he always served as the regiment's Commandant -- a post normally held by a lieutenant-colonel -- because the regiment's official commander, Paterson, was a general officer.11

In the summer of 1779,Wemyss and the 63d formed part of an expedition sent to take possession of Stoney Point on the North River, where they remained until the garrison was judged sufficiently fortified to be held by a smaller number of troops. When this proved to be a bad decision, and the position was retaken by the rebels, they were again sent to reoccupy it. At the end of the expedition, Sir Henry Clinton gave the 63d "his thanks in a very gratifying manner, for their discipline and good conduct during the campaign."12

At the end of 1779, the 63d embarked for South Carolina, as part of Sir Henry Clinton's task force for the attack on Charleston. Little did Wemyss know that he was about to march into the realm of folklore.

Through the first stage of the Southern Campaign (January to June, 1780), the 63d saw routine action around Charleston. They were stationed in the city immediately after its capture.13

Wemyss seems to have drawn no special mention for his military activities during this period, but while Charleston was under siege, he brought a subordinate officer, Captain Hayes St. Leger, up for courtmartial on charges of "Mutinous & disrespectfull behaviour." A couple of days before Charleston surrendered, St. Leger was acquitted of the first and found guilty of the second charge (for which he was publicly reprimanded.) The incident may be an indication that Wemyss was of a prickly temperament. A Grenadier officer who was present at the time remarked that the mutiny charge was ridiculous, and later in the year, Cornwallis transferred another officer out of the 63d because he and Wemyss were "not on very good terms."14

In July, 1780, Lord Cornwallis began to distribute his troops for the upcoming campaign. He sent Wemyss with the 63d Regiment to Georgetown, where his duties were to include restoring peace in the region and recruiting Loyal militia.15

Initially, it seemed that he would succeed. A few days after his arrival, he forwarded to Cornwallis a declaration signed by the leading citizens of Georgetown, in which they stated that "We are...desirous of becoming British Subjects in which capacity we promise to behave ourselves with all becoming fidelity and loyalty."16

Wemyss, however, had little faith that the oaths would be honored. He had already warned Cornwallis that many of the town's principle inhabitants were "most violent and persecuting rebells," and had signed the document merely to save their estates from confiscation. He suggested that the worst offenders should be sent to the sea islands so that "the Friends of Government, who are much inferior to the other party both in numbers and in consequence will be pleased and will be roused to take every method of carrying on the purpose of Government." The recommendation was carried through, with those who "are looked upon in a less degree criminal" being paroled to their plantations.17

In a modern history of Georgetown County, George Rogers admits that the "policy of both Cornwallis and Wemyss was tempered with mercy," citing the case of Robert Heriot as an example. Heriot had taken parole from Cornwallis in Camden and agreed to go to the sea islands, but the Earl granted him permission to spend time in Georgetown first, to be with his sick family. "Before Wemyss left Georgetown on August 8," Rogers adds, "he voluntarily extended Heriot's leave because his daughter had died the day before and his son and wife were both seriously ill."18

Soon after his arrival in Georgetown, Wemyss had also complained to Cornwallis about the excessive zeal of a Loyalist minister, whom he characterized as "a good man, but violent and disposed to persecute."19

Meanwhile, Wemyss' efforts to recruit local militia were meeting with only limited success. He chose two local Loyalists, Colonels Mills and Cassells, as leaders for new militia regiments, but the advance of Gates' army near the end of July prompted many of the newly recruited troops to break their paroles and desert to the rebels. Mills barely escaped being captured by his own men, and Cassells was taken prisoner.20

As July drew to a close, Wemyss' situation began to rapidly deteriorate. Rebels were constantly harassing his garrison, and the summer heat caused his troops to sicken and die.21

On July 30, Cornwallis ordered the 63d out of Georgetown. "Nor can you in the present situation of things do any good toward forming a militia in Georgetown," he wrote. "I can't permit therefore of your making any longer stay there."22

The departure of the 63d was delayed for several days while Wemyss arranged for prominent Loyalists to seek safety in Camden and sent his sick by water to Charleston. The remains of his detachment marched out of Georgetown on August 9 and made their way back towards Camden. They did not, however, rejoin the main army in time to participate in the battle of Camden. Two days after it was fought, they were still some twenty-five miles from their destination.23

Immediately after his victory at Camden, Cornwallis ordered Wemyss with about a hundred men of the 63d into the High Hills of Santee, as part of a distribution of troops meant to "awe the lower Country."24

The effort had little effect, and on August 28, Wemyss received orders for what he described as "a very disagreeable, but necessary duty." The 63d was to sweep "the Country from Kingstree Bridge to the Pedee, and return by the Cheraws." By now, Cornwallis was discovering that oaths of loyalty and paroles meant nothing to many of the rebels. His instructions continued, "I would have you disarm in the most rigid manner all persons that you cannot depend on, and punish the concealment of Arms and ammunition with the total demolition of their plantations. All those who had voluntarily enrolled themselves in Col. Mills or Col. Gaillards Corps and afterwards joined the rebells must be immediately hanged up, unless you should seize a great number, in which case you will please select the properest objects for mercy. All those who either submitted themselves or lived quietly on their plantations, in an apparent acquiescence to the Kings Government, and have joined in this second revolt, must have their property entirely taken from them, or destroyed; and themselves taken prisoners of war."25

In a status report to London written a few days later, Cornwallis expressed the hope that Wemyss would be able to "form a militia in the district of Cheraws on whose fidelity we may place some dependence, and to punish those traitors who after voluntarily engaging in our militia deserted to the enemy."26

Needless to say, Wemyss's patrol failed to achieve that objective, but over the next hundred or more years, it did spawn a host of legends. As with the stories that have become attached to Tarleton or Huck, it is difficult to disentangle pure mythology from reasonably plausible information. In fact, some of the tales told about Wemyss are the same ones told about Huck, so even if they hold some grain of truth, we will never know exactly where, when, or to whom, they actually happened. [Huck, the captain of a troop of British Legion cavalry, was killed in a skirmish at Williamson's Plantation in July, 1780. In the month prior to his death, he led patrols into rebellious areas which spawned a rich oral history, none of it flattering. See his bio note.]

Like Huck, Wemyss is supposed to have gathered people together (Whig planters, in this case) and harangued them on the topic of loyalty while his men stole their horses. (For the purpose of turning his men into mounted infantry for the upcoming patrol.) In this case the germ of truth may lie in a report by Loyalist Colonel John Hamilton, who had orders to send Wemyss 100 of his best men. Hamilton told Cornwallis that he was gathering horses from the countryside for Wemyss's use -- the "haranguing the citizens" part is presumably pure embroidery.27

On September 5, Wemyss set out towards Kingstree.28

Roughly a week later, enemy intelligence reported that his detachment had passed through Indiantown and crossed the Peedee at Britton's Ferry, but returned across the river the same night. The same report claimed Wemyss had 400 men in his party. This is probably an exaggeration, but Cornwallis had assigned Loyal militia to reinforce the 63d, so his force may have numbered somewhere between 2-300.29

Like Huck, Wemyss is accused of burning churches by the dozen, but the single incident which is cited with a name or location is the Presbyterian Church at Indiantown. He is supposed to have called it a "sedition shop," which is quite possible, but he is often accused of having a particular hatred for Presbyterians. This seems extremely improbable, since -- like most Scots of his day -- he was Presbyterian himself. This tale, along with an addendum that has the British officer taking a particular delight in burning Presbyterian hymn books or bibles, seems to be told against Wemyss or Huck about equally. There is certainly evidence that Wemyss was in Indiantown -- although there is no mention of church-burning in the above-referenced intelligence report -- but the rest of the story seems to be anecdotal. To further muddy the waters, at least one modern writer attributes the burning of the church to Ban Tarleton rather than Wemyss.30

On Sept. 20, Wemyss wrote to Cornwallis that he had been trailing Francis Marion. He hadn't had any luck at catching him -- Marion retreated as soon as he approached -- and the rest of the report was less than encouraging. "Every inhabitant has been or is concerned in Rebellion & most of them very deeply," Wemyss said. "Wherever I have gone the houses were deserted by the Men, even their Negroes & Effects were in general carry'd away." He also reported that the local loyalists were discouraged and apathetic, and that he had "burnt and laid waste about 50 houses and Plantations, mostly belonging to People who have either broke their Paroles or Oaths of Allegiance, and are now in Arms against us."31

Nineteenth century sources turn this retributional houseburning into an orgy of indiscriminate destruction, but the fact that Wemyss took care about discerning friend from foe is hinted at in a terse remark by Marion: "On the 8th I had Intelligence that they Majr. Whimes had Crossed Lynches Creek, Come on my front, & those In Georgetown had crossed Black river & Whaney to fall on my rear. The Toreys which I had Lately Disperst was collecting on my right, which woud Compleatly surround me & cut off my retreat, which Oblige me to retreat to this place with 60 men the rest Left me to see after their family, which had their houses burnt[.]" Much of the destruction, it seems, was striking precisely at its intended targets.32

And, as always, there were two sides to the story. On Sept 30, Wemyss -- a bureaucrat to the core, if the sheer quantity of his field reports is any indication -- sent another letter to Cornwallis, and it shows he wasn't the only one turning the Cheraws area into a wasteland. Marion and other rebels, he said, were "burning houses, and distressing the well affected in a most severe manner. Several people from that Country have been with me to represent their distressed Situation. The highlanders in particular who are very numerous here, have been treated with such Cruelty & Oppression as almost exceeds belief."33

Ironically, Marion confirms the truth of Wemyss's statement in a letter to Horatio Gates, while denying his own involvement: "I am sorry to Acquaint you that Capt. Murphy's Party have burnt a Great Number of houses on Little Peedee, & intend to go on in that abominable work -- which I am Apprehensive May be Laid to me[.]" The civil war raging along the Peedee that summer left no one untouched, no matter what their politics.34

In his Sept. 20 report, Wemyss also informed the Earl that he had taken twenty prisoners, "one of whom, a notorious villain I mean to hang tomorrow." Although he didn't name the man explicitly, this "villain" was presumably Adam Cusack (or Cusac or Cusick or Cusan or Cusag), whose execution sparked the defining tale which is still repeated about Wemyss.35

The only contemporary mention I have found of Cusack's death is in the same letter from Marion to Gates. In his usual laconic fashion, Marion merely states that "the British imprison all those who are our friends & have hanged one Cusag for breaking his Parole."36

(There may be another passing mention of the incident that can be traced back to contemporary sources, but it only muddies the situation by claiming that "Cusick" was hanged by "Colonel Mills.")37

As far as I can discover, the primary evidence stops there, but after the war, the tale was vastly expanded. Cusack, it was said, had done nothing worse than refusing to transport some British officers over a ferry and/or had shot at them across the river. (Shooting at people with presumed intent to kill is a crime where I come from, but most 19th century writers seem to consider the fact that he was a lousy shot and missed his target to be sufficient grounds for acquitting him.) Wemyss took Cusack to Cheraws, where he was tried by military court and sentenced to hang. (It is interesting that nearly every account acknowledges that Cusack was given a formal trial.)38

The Wickwires offer the reasonable opinion that, "Such incidents in a bloody civil war naturally gave rise to rumors and tales of atrocity which the patriots spread, one imagines, almost gleefully."39

"Gleeful" is an excellent word for it. Forty years after the hanging, the story had passed through enough generations of oral history for William Dobein James to spin this lurid version:

"Adam Cusan had shot at the black servant of a tory officer, John Brockington, whom he knew, across Black creek. He was taken prisoner soon after, and for this offence, tried by a court martial, and, on the evidence of the negro, hanged. His wife and children prostrated themselves before Wemyss, on horseback, for a pardon; and he would have rode over them, had not one of his own officers prevented the foul deed; from this scene he proceeded on to superintend the execution." (The format suspiciously echoes the "reaping-hook" story told about Huck.)40

A few years after James's book was printed, James Wemyss made his own statement about the event in a private letter:

"Altho much property was destroyed in the execution of the above orders [i.e. his August 28 orders from Cornwallis], it ever affords Col. Wemyss the greatest satisfaction on reflecting that one man only suffered death. He was a native of England, and formerly a boatswains mate in a British Man of War, from which he had deserted, and was particularly distinguished for cruelty and persecution of every Loyalist in that part of the Country. The day before he was taken, he attempted to kill an officer of the Loyal Militia on his way to join Col. Wemyss's detachment, and took from him a valuable horse."41

One can only wonder if the comment was prompted by an awareness of the stories that were growing up around his name.

There is another common tale about the 63d's patrol along the Santee/Peedee corridor, but I haven't been able to track down any contemporary evidence to measure it by. Like Huck, Ferguson, Tarleton, and Watson Wemyss has attached to him a variant on the famous "encounter with the formidable Patriot woman on her doorstep" archetype. In Wemyss's case, the woman was Jean James, and (as usual) she stood on her porch, looked him straight in the eye, and refused to provide any information on her rebel husband. After this, the story goes, he locked her and her children in their home, then lay unsuccessfully in wait for her rebel husband to come trotting home to be arrested. When he recounts this anecdote, Bass adds the amusing observation that, "somehow Wemyss, demon though he was, seemed blind when Captain David Campbell of Edisto pushed food and water to the prisoners through a back window." (In this case, turning a studiously blind eye may have been a simple way to get his prisoners fed for free?) Later, Wemyss is supposed to have captured one of James's sons, an active rebel, who was tried by military court but acquitted. In the absence of any evidence, my guess would be that the arrests were real, and the doorstep encounter with the formidable Jean is pure tall tale.42

By the end of September, the situation along the Peedee was becoming increasingly dangerous for Wemyss's detachment. The countryside was too deep in rebellion to be secured by militia, rebel forays were increasing, and while Wemyss had offered pardons to rebels who surrendered themselves, the measure had had no effect. His command was also decimated by illness. Wemyss reported all this to his general, then began the long march back to Camden.43

He was there by Oct. 4, but Cornwallis had already advanced to Charlotte. A week or two earlier the Earl had laid out his future plans for Wemyss and the 63d in a report to the Commander in Chief in New York: "If nothing material happens to obstruct my plan of operations, I mean... to proceed with the 23d, 33d, volunteers of Ireland, and legion, to Charlotte town...I then mean to make some redoubts, and establish a fixed post at that place, and give the command of it to Major Wemyss, whose regiment is so totally demolished by sickness, that it will not be fit for actual service for some months."44

The disaster at King's Mountain would soon render this plan obsolete, and cause Cornwallis to rethink his intentions for the upcoming winter. From Wemyss's perspective, this resulted in a welter of rapidly changing orders. Over the next couple of weeks, he must have felt as though his fever-ridden command was being driven in circles.

On Oct 6, Cornwallis sent orders from Charlotte that Wemyss was to equip and ready the 63d to move out. The following day, another courier headed towards Camden, this time indicating that "The State of the lower Country, & the absolute Necessity of preventing the Enemy from being in quiet possession of the East Bank of Santee, obliges me to change the Destination of the 63d Regiment." He gave Wemyss permission to add Harrison's Corps and "what Militia you please" to his own force.45

By the 12th, Cornwallis had received word of King's Mountain. He wrote to Turnbull with orders that Wemyss was to stay in Camden, if he hadn't already marched, or be recalled if he had.46

A few days later, another set of orders came through, this time from Lord Rawdon, who had taken temporary command of the army due to Cornwallis having fallen ill. Rawdon sent Wemyss to reinforce John Harris Cruger at Ninety-Six.47

This time, the orders actually remained in force long enough for the 63d to complete their march, but by the time they arrived at Ninety-Six, it was apparent their presence wasn't necessary. Wemyss wrote to Cornwallis, detailing Cruger's defense measures and forces. There was no news of rebels in the area, so he requested to be allowed to rejoin the main army or resume his original assignment. (At this point, he must have been as confused as I am over exactly what that was.)48

Rawdon gave him general directions to keep to the field and protect the British supply lines from the enemy. Cornwallis, now recovered enough to resume command, followed up a day later with specific orders on the route the 63d was to patrol.49

This assignment -- "to come down to Broad River, to keep constantly moving on either side of the river he might think proper for the protection of the mills from which the army subsisted and for the preservation of the country" -- was to be the last phase of Wemyss's career as a field officer.

Cornwallis provided a succinct description of both the mission and its unfortunate termination:

Sumpter then lay with about 300 men, partly of militia and partly of the banditti who have followed him ever since the reduction of this province, near Hill's Ironworks between the Catawba and Broad River about forty miles in our front; Branan, Clarke and others had different corps plundering the houses and putting to death the well-affected inhabitants between Tyger River and Pacolet. Major Wemyss, who had just passed Broad River at Brierley's Ferry, came to me on the 7th of last month and told me that he had information that Sumpter had moved to Moore's Mill within five miles of Fishdam Ford and about twenty-five miles from the place where the 63rd then lay, that he had accurate accounts of his position and good guides, and that he made no doubt of being able to surprise and rout him. As the defeating so daring and troublesome a man as Sumpter and dispersing such a banditti was a great object, I consented to his making the trial on the 9th at daybreak and gave him forty of the dragoons which Tarleton had left with me, desiring him however neither to put them in the front nor to make any use of them during the night. Major Wemyss marched so early and so fast on the night of the 8th that he arrived at Moore's Mill soon after midnight. He then had information that Sumpter had marched that evening to Fishdam Ford where he lay with his rear close to Broad River on a low piece of ground. The major immediately proceeded to attack him in his new position and succeeded so well as to get into his camp whilst the men were all sleeping round the fires; but as Major Wemyss rode into the camp at the head of the dragoons and the 63rd followed them on horseback, the enemy's arms were not secured and some of them, recovering from the first alarm, got their rifles and with the first fire wounded Major Wemyss in several places and put the cavalry into disorder. The 63rd then dismounted and killed and wounded about seventy of the rebels, drove several over the river, and dispersed the rest. The command, however, devolving on a very young officer who neither knew the ground nor Major Wemyss's plan nor the strength of the enemy, some few of which kept firing from the wood on our people who remained in the enemy's camp and who were probably discovered by their fires, our troops came away before daybreak leaving Major Wemyss and 22 sergeants and rank and file at a house close to the field of action. In the morning those who were left with a flag of truce with the wounded found that the enemy were all gone; but on some of their scouting parties discovering that our people had likewise retired, Sumpter returned and took Major Wemyss's parole for himself and the wounded soldiers.50

In rebel lore, another story holds prominent place in accounts of the skirmish at Fishdam Ford. Once again, William Dobein James provides an early version of it:

"Major Wemyss was severely wounded and taken. He had in his pocket a list of the houses he had burnt at Williamsburgh and Pedee; with great trepidation he showed it to Sumter, and begged he would protect him from the militia. -- Notwithstanding his atrocities he was treated with indulgence; but became a cripple for life."51

Wemyss almost certainly was lame for the rest of his life. He may also have lost the use of one arm. When he told Tarleton about the skirmish, Cornwallis reported that "out of five shots which were fired from the picket, one broke Wemyss' arm, and another his knee."52

As for the rest of James' story, I have to wonder why Wemyss would have still been carrying around such a list some six weeks and two missions after his patrol along the Pee Dee -- presumably, he had long since filed his report and forwarded any relevant documents to headquarters -- and even more why, if he had such a document in his possession, he didn't destroy it before Sumter took it off him. When he sent in his own reports on Fishdam Ford, Sumter made no mention of it. He said only that he had taken Wemyss's parole, exchanged a few of his men for captive rebels, and sent the rest on to Gates.

Since I initially posted this write-up, Michael Scoggins has turned up a couple of contemporary mentions of the document, but not from men who had seen it. Wemyss certainly had no reservations about reporting the burning of Whig property -- as both a punishment for traitors and a method of reducing their ability to continue the war, it was part of his job -- and it is possible that this was a list of more recent activities than what is indicated by James. Yet the level of fuss made by the rebels over a document, whether real or imagined, whose hypothetical contents could have easily been constructed from intelligence reports remains puzzling. Were they perhaps planning to turn it into a propaganda coup, similar to the incident where a set of Cornwallis's orders were captured then altered and published in an inaccurate and misleading form? If so, the plan must have fizzled, for beyond a few second-hand mentions, it vanishes.53

Near the end of his life (c1829), Wemyss told his own version of the events of Fishdam Ford in a memorial on his military career. One comment he made in it suggests that, again, he was aware of the mythology which was growing up around him:

"Major Wemyss faint with the loss of blood from four wounds, and unable to give further orders, was carried to a house at a small distance, and made a prisoner in the morning, by some straglers of the Enemy, who treated him with civility, not having searched, or taken any thing from him[.]"54

Wemyss goes on to recount his own version of his encounter with Sumter later that morning:

General Sumpter came to see Major Wemyss in the course of this morning, and behaved with civility, having permitted him and his party to return to the Army on parole, as soon as they were able; and after a few minutes conversation on the occurrences of the proceeding night, Major Wemyss observing that his sword which lay by his side on the floor, had attracted the Generals notice, immediatly suspected his intention of taking it; and the General soon after, in an awkward and hesitating manner said that understanding Major Wemyss had once got a sword of his, now thought he might take his in return; M.W. replied, that he was welcome to the sword... but that he must well know, he never would have got a sword of the Generals, as untill last night, they never had met, or had the smallest interference whatever. He was however mean enough to take the sword of a wounded Officer, that had fallen into his hands in the above manner; with a view no doubt, not only to gratify his own vanity, but also to confirm a very false report, he afterwards made to General Greene on this subject.55

By December 3, Cornwallis wrote that "Major Wemyss is gone to Charleston and is in a fair way of recovery." He stayed there until the beginning of the following year. On January 4, 1781, he reported that he was still a prisoner (i.e., that he was still on parole and had not yet been exchanged) but was almost well.56

Even after he was exchanged, his wounds left him unfit for field service. When he could travel, he was sent to New York carrying dispatches to Sir Henry Clinton. According to a Hessian officer, it was "Major Wemyss of the 63rd Regiment, who has come here to recover from his wounds" who first brought Sir Henry the news of the disaster at Cowpens.57

Wemyss remained in New York until May, when Clinton wrote a recommendation for him to Lord George Germain and sent him home on leave to finish convalescing.58

Unknown to Sir Henry, Wemyss was also carrying private letters from General Robertson. Throughout the later part of the war, Robertson was highly critical of Clinton's command decisions in a series of letters to his friend, Lord Amherst. Apparently he expected Wemyss to deliver in person accusations he chose not to put on paper, for he commented:

This is rather a letter of hints than information -- but the bearer Major Wemyss who was my Aid de Camp and I consider as one of my best friends -- is able to supply all my defects. He served with Lord Cornwallis, and wounds he received prevented his improving an advantage he had gained over a body of the enemy -- they disqualify him from serving this Campaign, which if I am trusted with any charge I should greatly lament -- No man knows better what has been done or what may be expected to be done -- his reports may safely be relyed on--59

Wemyss got to England some time near the end of June. Assuming he did not tarry too long in London, he should have arrived home in Scotland in time for a brief reunion with his wife before tragedy struck. The dispatches he carried to Whitehall were received on June 28. Rachel Wemyss died on August 1, according to a death notice in Scots Magazine: "At Bucclyvie-house, Fifeshire, Mrs Wemyss, spouse to Major Wemyss of the 63d regiment." Her death may have prompted him to return to the army as soon as he had regained some measure of health.60

General Robertson was certainly anxious to have him back. On December 27, 1781, he wrote to Lord Amherst, saying " If I am to serve here I would wish for Major Wemyss's assistance, if I am to come home, it will be of moment to me that You let him know my destination, this would enable him to make arrangements that are of consequence to him and to [me.]61

Wemyss returned to New York in April, 1782, carrying dispatches that contained Sir Henry Clinton's recall to England, and the appointment of Robertson as temporary Commander in Chief. Wemyss says that "having been formerly aid de Camp to General Robertson and possessing his confidence, [I] was to have been appointed Adjutant General to the Army on his assuming the command," but he missed out on the promotion because Clinton detested Robertson and refused to surrender command to him. Instead, he clung stubbornly to his position until his permanent replacement, Sir Guy Carleton, reached the city in May. On the basis of Robertson's recommendation, Carleton gave Wemyss an appointment as Deputy Adjutant General then sent him to Charleston to head up the A.G.'s department in the Southern provinces.62

Wemyss continued to serve on Robertson's staff at least until July 3. He departed New York on July 17, aboard the Duc de Chartres, carrying with him orders to General Alexander Leslie, then in command of Charleston, to prepare for the city's final evacuation.63

He was in Charleston by August 2. On that date Leslie wrote to Carleton, acknowledging the receipt of dispatches via Wemyss and adding that it "will be a satisfaction to have an officer so well instructed in His Excellency's sentiments with regard to future operations." Rather puzzlingly, three months earlier than this, on April 17, Leslie had written to Clinton, recommending Wemyss for promotion -- possibly because his regiment was under Leslie's command, and he held considerable seniority.64

By August 21, Wemyss was settled in and functioning in his new position as D.A.G. On that date, he wrote a letter to Nathanael Greene with information on how flags of truce would be handled to "prevent the Irregularities that frequently happen." A variety of other routine documents from this period carry his signature.65

By mid-September, Generals Leslie and Greene were preparing to wrap up the war in South Carolina. On September 17, Leslie informed Greene that Wemyss would meet Col. Carrington to begin negotiations for a general prisoner exchange. Greene objected to Leslie sending him an "officer of inferior rank" so after some negotiation, Carrington was replaced as the Continental representative by one of Greene's aids-de-camp, Major Ichabod Burnet.66

Wemyss and Burnet met for the first time on September 26th, but bad health continued to plague Wemyss. Later negotiations had to be postponed until he recovered from malaria.67

By the 14th of October, he was back on light duty, at least, for he wrote to James Johnstone -- one of the Commissioners working out an agreement for the evacuation of the city -- to discuss General Leslie's reservations of some of the stated terms.68

On October 22, 1782, Wemyss and Burnet met again to discuss the prisoner exchange, and reached an agreement by the following day. The two men were also charged with settling the outstanding accounting disputes between the Commissaries of Prisoners of the two armies, with regard to provisions, clothing etc. which had been supplied to prisoners of war on both sides. This proved to be a more thorny problem. On November 5th, Wemyss wrote to Burnet that "I am equaly dissposed with you to give up a good deal to bring this matter to a final Conclusion, and thereby ascertain an exact state of the Prisoners in the Southern District[,]" but despite such good intentions, the negotiations dragged on, and investigating the accounts proved "very tedious and troublesome." Eventually, though, Wemyss and Burnet came up with an agreement which won the approval of both Leslie and Greene. Years later, Wemyss would proudly assert his belief that his efforts had saved his country from the "considerable expense and trouble" which would have resulted if the matter had been left to the end of the war.69

Wemyss left Charleston as part of the general evacuation in December, 1782. Rather than accompanying the troops to Jamaica he was directed to return to New York, whence on January 12, 1783, he wrote a memorial to Carleton, asking again for the promotion he still hadn't received. He remained in the city until it was evacuated. Carleton (now Lord Dorchester) offered him a posting to Halifax, as head of the adjutant general's department in Nova Scotia, but Wemyss declined and returned to England instead.70

He continued to serve with the 63d regiment after the war, though the final days of his service were less than tranquil. Upon arriving in England, he discovered that the Commander-in-Chief, General Conway, had promoted a junior major over his head to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Wemyss considered this a disgrace which made it impossible for him to continue in the service. He filed several protests, eventually seeking a personal interview with Conway, in which he threatened to cause a scandal within the army by publishing the facts of his case and, if that didn't work, promised to call out Conway as soon as he returned to civilian life and was no longer bound by military law. (As noted above, he seems to have been of a somewhat prickly temperament.) He and Conway eventually reached a kind of agreement, and on August 22, 1783, Wemyss was named lieutenant-colonel in the army.71

He was less than satisfied by the arrangement, but he remained in the army until Major General Paterson was given his own regiment. Wemyss succeeded him, on September 20, 1787, as lieutenant colonel of the 63d, finally attaining the rank which went with the roll he had filled for nearly a decade.72

He didn't hold it for long. The 40th was then on inactive service in Ireland, and only a couple of years after obtaining command of it (July 31, 1789) he sold out his commission because of poor health and, probably, disgust with army politics. A civilian for the first time in more than twenty years, he retired to Scotland, with the intention of "passing the rest of my life in... my native Country." Unfortunately, his run of ill-fortune continued, and unspecified financial difficulties soon cost him the greater part of his small property. No longer having the means to "live at home as a Gentleman," Wemyss made an unexpected decision to return to America, where the cost of living was lower.73

He and his second wife emigrated some time around 1795-99. They purchased a farm in a quiet backwater of Long Island and lived there for the remainder of Wemyss's life. Wemyss states that it had been his hope to remain anonymous, but he soon encountered several people with whom he had been acquainted during the war. This led to an interesting incident at the outbreak of the War of 1812, when "a proposal was made him by several Gentlemen of influence, to enter into the service of America; in which, from the great want at that time, of Officers of any knowledge or experience, he had every reason to believe, he might have got a very considerable appointment. But attachments to his King and Country; and to that Army in which he had served so long; led him to give a decided refusal."74

In June, 1825, he applied to London for a pension ("His Majesty's Bounty") to help him out in his old age. In his letter, he said that through "unforeseen misfortunes" he had been "reduced to extreme indigence in his old age; rendered more severe from the effects of six wounds, and the infirmities incident to his time of life." His wife, much advanced in years, was also in poor health.75

This letter, which was addressed to Stratford Canning at the Secretary of State's Office, Whitehall, begins with the cryptic comment, "Encouraged by your friendly behaviour to me when in this Country," and I am curious if it ties in with a document in the Foreign Office archives, described as "Mission to the United States: From Lt. Col. Wemyss, late of the 63rd Regiment, retired, 1824 Jan.-Aug." (A topic for future investigation!)76

The pension must have been granted, for at the end of 1829, Wemyss requested that it be renewed. On January 13th, 1830, he was rewarded £100 in Royal Bounty in recognition of his services to the Crown.77

On November 25, 1832, he wrote again, this time to Earl Grey, requesting that the pension be renewed a second time. Shortly after his previous application, he had suffered a stroke. He now described himself as "rendered completely helpless by a sudden Attack of the Palsy." It had deprived him of the use of his left side and greatly injured his speech. The letter ends with a sad but dignified plea:

"I...flatter myself with a belief that a great and generous nation will not allow an Old and faithfull Servant to perish in misery and want in a foreign Country and request that whatever relief y. L [your Lordship] may think necessary to grant, I may be authorised at the same time to draw for the amount, being in great want of Clothing, and [every] necessary of life to protect and support a...helpless Old Man from the rigor of an american Winter."78

A few days before he wrote this affecting letter, Wemyss had set down on paper a statement of his religious beliefs. While he retained a formal connection to the Presbyterian Church until his death, in old age he turned to Unitarianism as a private philosophy. This document, which runs to considerable length, seems to be the product of a mind which is preparing itself for death.

His pension renewal was granted on January 16, 1833 (ironically, the day Banastre Tarleton died), and it seems that he lived to receive it. He died on the 16th of December, 1833. On December 20, someone compiled a record of the debts against his estate, paying them out of a sum of money Wemyss had set aside for the purpose.79

He was buried in what is now called the Old Huntington Cemetery. John Robertson is researching the exact location of Wemyss' grave, but the hunt is complicated by the subsequent history of the adjoining Old Presbyterian Church, which for a time became Fort Golgotha. The information he has turned up can be found on his site.

Before he died, Wemyss set down what he wanted for the inscription on his "plain marble" headstone:

To the Memory of Lieut. Col James Wemyss a native of Edinburgh.
Formerly a distinguished Officer in the service of his Country
Died at Huntington Long island the ______ day of ____ 183- in the 85th Year of his Age.80

(See also Biographical Sketches of the Infantry Officers of the Queen's Rangers.)

[This note is growing into a group project. Thanks to Don Gara for a heads-up on the Wemyss letters in the Massachusetts Historical Society collection and some tidbits of information on the Queen's Rangers; to Marianne Gilchrist for the genealogical information and invaluable assistance with deciphering Wemyss's handwriting, which became near-illegible in his old age; to Irene Sniffin of the Huntington Historical Society, Long Island, NY for locating letters in their collection, to Nicola Palumbo for doing the legwork on Long Island, to Michael Scoggins for copies from the Draper Manuscripts, and to John Robertson for additional information on his death and burial.]


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Notes:

1 In an unpublished document, Wemyss states that Nov. 7, 1832 was his eighty-fourth birthday. James Wemyss, statement of his religious beliefs, Nov. 7, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, Massachusetts Historical Society.) His birthplace is given in a set of burial instructions he wrote shortly before his death. (Huntington Historical Society, Long Island, NY.; courtesy of Ms. Irene Sniffin.) [ back ]

2 All commission dates throughout the article are taken from A List of All the Officers of the Army: Viz. the General and Field Officers; the Officers of the Several Troops, Regiments, Independent Companies and Garrisons... in Great Britain; (War Office, published annually), editions for 1766 through 1790. Wemyss states that he purchased all his commissions except his lieutenant-colonelcy. James Wemyss, letter to Earl Grey, Nov 25, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) On July 8, 1768, "James Wemyss" received a posting as Adjutant to the 58th Foot, but Doc M has suggested the possibility that this is a second officer of the same name so I've removed the references from the main bio note pending further clarification. [ back ]

3 Personal information from the Scots Magazine's monthly Births, Marriages and Deaths columns. Wemyss says he gained command of the 40th's grenadier company in a memorial of his military service. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

4 Robin May & Embleton, Gerry, British Army in North America, 1775-1783 (Oxford: Osprey Military #39; 1997), p22. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

5 Stephen Kemble, "Journals of Lieut.-Col. Stephen Kemble (with General Orders of Generals Howe and Clinton," Collections of the New-York Historical Society for the Year 1883, 2 vols. (New York: Printed for the Society, 1884), 1:272, 1:312. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) General Sir William Howe's Orderly Book at Charleston, Boston and Halifax, June 17, 1775 to 1776, 26 May to which is added the official abridgement of General Howe's correspondence with the English government during the seige of Boston, and some military returns and now first printed from the original manuscripts with an historical introduction by Edward Everett Hale, ed. Benjamin Franklin Stevens, (London: B.F. Stevens, 1890), p164. [ back ]

6 Kemble, 1:353. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) Howe's Orderley Book, p273. James Robertson to Lord Amherst, 8 May 1781, in James Robertson, The Twilight of British Rule in Revolutionary America: The New York Letter Book of General James Robertson, 1780-1783, eds. Milton M. Klein and Ronald W. Howard (Cooperstown, NY: The New York State Historical Association, 1983), p191. [ back ]

7 Kemble, 1:116. Howe's General Orders for April 20, 1777 (New York Historical Society collection). James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

8 Kemble, 1:443, 1:460. Howe's General Orders for May 5, 1777 (New York Historical Society collection). [ back ]

9 Kemble, 1:519. Carl Leopold Baurmeister, The Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals, 1776-1784, of Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces, ed. and trans. B.A. Uhlendorf (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1957), p106-112. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

10 Alexander Innes to Lord George Germain, dated New York, Sept. 22, 1779. C.O.5/98, fo. 314, in K.G. Davies, ed.; Documents of the American Revolution, 1770-1783, 21 vols (Dublin: Irish University Press, c1977-1982), 17:218-219. [ back ]

11 Army List, 1779. May & Embleton, p22. James Wemyss, letter to Earl Grey, Nov 25, 1832 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. MHS.) James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

12 James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

13 Banastre Tarleton, A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America (London: Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1787), p45 and p87. [ back ]

14 John Peebles, The Diary of a Scottish Grenadier, 1776-1782, ed. Ira D. Gruber (Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998), p369-371. Cornwallis to Clinton, dated Charlestown, Aug. 6, 1780, in Walter Clark, ed., The State Records of North Carolina, 26 vols. (Goldsboro, North Carolina: Nash Brothers, 1886-1907), 15:258-262. [ back ]

15 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated July 11 and 25, 1780, PRO 30/11/2, in George C. Rogers, Jr., The History of Georgetown County, South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press), p122. Wemyss says he arrived in Georgetown prior to July 11. [ back ]

16 Cornwallis papers, PRO 30/11/2, in Rogers, p123. [ back ]

17 Wemyss to Cornwallis, several letters dated between July 11 and 22, 1780, PRO 30/11/2, in Rogers, p124. [ back ]

18 Rogers, p124, referencing Wemyss to Cornwallis, 8 Aug 1780, PRO 30/11/2. [ back ]

19 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Georgetown, July 14, 1780, PRO 30/11/2/290-291, in Rogers, p127. [ back ]

20 Rogers, p125-6, referencing several letters from Wemyss to Cornwallis, in PRO 30/11/2. [ back ]

21 Rogers, p126-7, referencing several letters from Wemyss to Cornwallis, in PRO 30/11/2. [ back ]

22 Cornwallis to Wemyss, July 30, 1780, PRO 30/11/78/61-64, in Robert D. Bass, Swamp Fox, The Live and Campaigns of General Francis Marion (Orangeburg, South Carolina: Sandlapper Publishing Company; 1974), p35. [ back ]

23 Rogers, p127. Wemyss to Cornwallis, Aug. 8, 1780, PRO 30/11/63/23-24. He says he will leave Georgetown the following day. Cornwallis to Germain, dated Aug. 21, 1780, in Tarleton, p128-135. Also, the general army return for Aug. 15, Tarleton, p136-137, does not list the 63d. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

24 Cornwallis to Germain, dated Sept. 19, 1780, in Davies, 18:169-171. Cornwallis to Clinton, dated Camden, Aug. 29, 1780, in Clark, 15:276. [ back ]

25 Cornwallis to Wemyss, dated Camden, Aug. 28, 1780, PRO 30/11/79/43-44(?). A copy of the order, made by Wemyss, is in the Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS. James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

26 Cornwallis to Germain, dated Waxhaws, Sept. 19, 1780, in Davies, 18:169-171. [ back ]

27 Bass, Swamp Fox, p53, quoting David Ramsay, A History of South Carolina in the Revolution. Cornwallis to Wemyss, Aug. 28, 1780. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) Hamilton to Cornwallis, dated Aug. 28, 1780, PRO 30/11/63/72-73. [ back ]

28 Bass, Swamp Fox, p53-54. [ back ]

29 Harrington to Gates, dated Sept. 17, 1780, in Clark, 16:624-5. [ back ]

30 I haven't been able to track the church story to anything earlier than 1821, when it appears in William Dobein James, Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, and A History of his Brigade, From its Rise in June, 1780, until Disbanded in December, 1782; (online version, no page numbers given). Wemyss's wedding record and the baptism of his son indicate that he belonged to the Church of Scotland (i.e. Presbyterian). The record of his debts compiled after his death (Huntington Historical Society) includes a payment to the "Corporation Presby.n Church" (of Huntington?), so even though his private beliefs seem to have drifted far from established doctrine (see below), it appears that he did keep a connection with it through the whole course of his life. Jerome J. Nadelhaft, The Disorders of War; (University of Maine at Orono Press; Orono, Maine; 1981), p57, blames Tarleton for burning the church at Indiantown, but provides no documentation for this idea, so it is perhaps another example of generically blaming Tarleton for stealing, burning, or raping anything that wasn't nailed down, fireproof or four-legged. [ back ]

31 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Sept. 20, 1780, PRO 30/11/64/91-92 and PRO 30/11/3/80-81 [ back ]

32 Francis Marion to Horatio Gates, dated White Marsh, Bladen County Sept. 15, 1780, in Clark, 14:616-18. Bass, Swamp Fox, p60-61 quotes the same letter but -- assuming he was working from the same original -- he seems to have skipped over a phrase. His version reads, "On the 8th I had Intelligence that...Maj. Whimes had crossed Black river & Uhaney to fall on my rear... [ back ]

33 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Cheraw Hill, Sept. 30, 1780, PRO 30/11/64/134-135. [ back ]

34 Francis Marion to Horatio Gates, dated Drowning Creek S.C. Oct. 4, 1780, in Bass, The Swamp Fox, p69-70. [ back ]

35 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Sept. 20, 1780, PRO 30/11/64/91-92 and PRO 30/11/3/80-81. [ back ]

36 Francis Marion to Horatio Gates, dated Drowning Creek S.C. Oct. 4, 1780, in Bass, The Swamp Fox, p69-70. [ back ]

37 Lyman Draper, King's Mountain and its Heroes (Johnson City, TN: The Overmountain Press, 1996), p373n. Perhaps this is Draper's interpretation of a paper which accuses Mills of hanging an "Andrew Cussack", or some similar (but illegible) name. (Papers of the Continental Congress M247 roll 175 vol 1 pg 527, National Archives and Records Administration.) [ back ]

38 Franklin and Mary Wickwire, Cornwallis; The American Adventure (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970), p178, referencing Ramsay, Rev. in S.C., 2:156. Can't you just see a modern lawyer trying to defend Cusick on these lines? "Well, your honor, it's true that my client did try to shoot Major Wemyss, but his aim was off and he missed entirely. So why don't you dismiss the charges, so he can go home and get in some shooting practice. Next time, he'll get it right, and we can have a proper murder trial." [ back ]

39 Wickwire & Wickwire, p178. [ back ]

40 James, online version. McCrady, Draper, and most of the other 19th century chroniclers recount some variant or other on the tale. [ back ]

41 Wemyss's transcription of Cornwallis's orders of Aug. 28, 1780, with his P.S. added. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

42 Bass, Swamp Fox, p56-7. James, online version. [ back ]

43 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Cheraw Hill, Sept. 30, 1780, PRO 30/11/64/134-135. [ back ]

44 Cornwallis to Clinton, dated camp at Wacsaw, Sept. 22, 1780, in Tarleton, p191. Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Camden, Oct. 4, 1780, PRO 30/11/3/184-185. [ back ]

45 Cornwallis to Wemyss, dated Charlottetown, Oct. 6, 1780, PRO 30/11/81/24. Cornwallis to Wemyss, dated Charlottetown, Oct. 7, 1780, PRO 30/11/81/26A-27, [ back ]

46 Cornwallis to Turnbull, dated Charlottetown, Oct. 12, 1780, PRO 30/11/81/39. [ back ]

47 Lord Rawdon to Lt. Col. Hamilton, dated Old Nation Ford, Oct. 15, 1780, PRO 30/11/3/230-231. [ back ]

48 Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Ninety-Six, Oct. 29, 1780, PRO 30/11/3/307-308. [ back ]

49 Rawdon to Wemyss, dated Wynnesborough, Oct. 31, 1780, PRO 30/11/3/337, and Cornwallis to Wemyss, dated Wynnesborough, Nov. 1, 1780, PRO 30/11/82/3. [ back ]

50 Cornwallis to Clinton, dated Wynnesborough, Dec. 3, 1780, in Davies, 18:244-246. [ back ]

51 James, online version. A variation on the anecdote also appears in William Hill, Col. William Hill's Memoirs of the Revolution, ed. A.S. Salley, Jr. (Columbia, S.C.: Printed for the Historical Commission of South Carolina by the State Company, 1921), p14. [ back ]

52 Cornwallis to Tarleton, November 10, 1780, in Tarleton, p201. [ back ]

53 Neither Sumter to Gates, Dec. 1, 1780 (in Clark, 14:765) nor Sumter to Smallwood, Nov. 9, 1780 (in the Draper Manuscripts, 5VV136-7) mention any captured papers. In a letter to Congress, Nov. 14 1780 (Maryland Journal, Dec. 12, 1780), Gates mentioned the item as hearsay as did Governor John Rutledge on Nov. 22 (Draper Mss, 7VV126-7). [ back ]

54 James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) Emphasis mine. [ back ]

55 James Wemyss, a short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

56 Cornwallis to Clinton, dated Wynnesborough, Dec. 3, 1780, in Davies, 18:244. Wemyss to Cornwallis, dated Charlestown, Jan. 4, 1781, PRO 30/11/5/29-30. [ back ]

57 Baurmeister, p415. [ back ]

58 Clinton to Germain, dated New York, May 14, 1781, (C.O.5, 102, fos. 107-108d), catalogued in Davies, 19:107, item 597. James Wemyss, letter to Earl Grey, Nov 25, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. MHS.) [ back ]

59 James Robertson to Lord Amherst, 8 May 1781, in Robertson, p191. [ back ]

60 Clinton's recommendation for Wemyss (see previous note) was received at the Colonial Office on June 28. The Scots Magazine's monthly Births, Marriages and Deaths column (Vol. xliii, 1781, August issue, p446) lists Rachel's death. [ back ]

61 James Robertson to Lord Amherst, 27 December 1781, in Robertson, p254-5. A few weeks earlier, Robertson had sent a similar request to Amherst, wondering if he was to be recalled or to remain in America. See Robertson to Amherst, 9 December 1781, ibid, p231. [ back ]

62 James Wemyss, Letter to Earl Grey, Nov 25, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts. MHS.) William B. Willcox, Portrait of a General: Sir Henry Clinton in the War of Independence (New York: Knopf, 1964), p462. Robertson complained about Clinton's reluctance to relinquish command in a letter to Lord Amherst, 12 May 1781, in Robertson, p250. [ back ]

63 In a letter to Sir Guy Carleton, dated 03 Jul 1782, Robertson mentions that the document will be delivered by Wemyss. In Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institute of Great Britain, 4 vols. (London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1901-9), 3:4. Sir Guy Carleton to Alexander Leslie, 15 Aug 1782, Ibid., 3:71. [ back ]

64 Alexander Leslie to Sir Henry Clinton, 17 Apr 1782,Report on Amer. MS., 2:456. Alexander Leslie to Sir Guy Carleton, 02 Aug 1782, Ibid., 3:51. [ back ]

65 Wemyss to Greene, Aug. 21, 1782, in Nathanael Greene, The Papers of General Nathanael Greene, ed. Dennis M. Conrad et al., 11 vols. to date (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, c1976-), 11:567. [ back ]

66 Greene, 11:672, 11:678, 11:688, 11:690, 11:691. [ back ]

67 Greene, 11:697n. [ back ]

68 James Wemyss, letter to James Johnstone, dated Head Quarters, Oct. 14, 1782 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS). [ back ]

69 James Wemyss, letter to Earl Grey, Nov 25, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) Wemyss erroneously gives Oct. 22 as the date of his initial appointment as a commissioner. Wemyss sent a copy of his warrant from Leslie to Stratford Canning when he applied for a pension in June, 1825. The articles for exchange of prisoners were signed on Oct. 23, and are printed in Clark, 16:661. A number of existing letters chart the progress of the negotiations, including a letter from I. Burnet to Wemyss, Nov. 8, 1782, (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) and various entries in Greene, Volume 11. Note that I[chabod] Burnet's name is often rendered in document collections as J. Burnet. A glance at the man's signature makes obvious the reason for this common error. James Wemyss, letter to Major Burnet, Nov. 5, 1782, (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

70 James Wemyss, A short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) James Wemyss to Sir Guy Carleton, 12 Jan 1783, in Report on Amer. MS., 3:328. [ back ]

71 Army Lists. James Wemyss, A short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

72 Army Lists. James Wemyss, A short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

73 Worthington C. Ford, British Officers Serving in the American Revolution, 1774-1783 (Brooklyn, 1897.) James Wemyss, letter to Earl Grey, Nov. 25, 1832 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) James Wemyss, A short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

74 James Wemyss, A short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) Wemyss states that he moved to America "about thirty years ago," and a mention of his current age in the document allows it to be dated as c1829. (A date, added by a different hand, places the date as 1825, but this doesn't mesh with his comment that he was eighty-one at the time of writing.) [ back ]

75 James Wemyss, letter to Stratford Canning, June 1, 1825 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS). From the wording of the letter, this does not seem to have been his first attempt to get a pension. James Wemyss, A short statement of the services of Lieut. Col. Wemyss during the revolutionary war in America, c1829. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

76 James Wemyss, letter to Stratford Canning, June 1, 1825 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS). FO 352/9A in the PRO archives, Kew. [ back ]

77 Edward Walpole, letter to Lt. Col. Wemyss of New York, dated Jan. 13, 1830 (James Wemyss, letter to Stratford Canning, June 1, 1825 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS). [ back ]

78 James Wemyss, letter to Earl Grey, Nov 25, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) [ back ]

79 Wemyss' statement of faith ends, "The above after much serious consideration is signed by me at Huntington Long Island and State of N. York the seventh day of November one thousand eight hundred and thirty two (my Birth day) being then eighty four years of age." James Wemyss, Statement of his religious beliefs, Nov. 7, 1832. (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) J. Stewart, letter to James Wemyss, dated Treasury Chambers, 16 Jan 1833 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts, MHS.) The record of his debts is in the collection of the Huntington Historical Society, Long Island, NY. The exact date of his death comes from John Roberton's information. [ back ]

80 Lieut. Col. James Wemyss' Burial Instructions (in his own handwriting), 1833 (Huntington Historical Society.) [ back ]

 
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