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Collection

John Vaughan papers, 1779-1781, 1784, 1789, 1794

3 volumes and 3 loose items

The John Vaughan papers document British activities in the West Indies during the American Revolution. Covered are Vaughan's incoming letters, dispatches, bills, reports, and memoranda during his command of the Leeward Islands from November of 1779 to March 1781, as well as several postwar manuscripts pertinent to the British Colonial West Indies.

The John Vaughan papers (3 volumes and three loose items) document Vaughan's first two years as commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands, from November of 1779 to March 1781. The papers comprise approximately 470 items, almost all of which are incoming letters, dispatches, bills, reports, and memoranda from naval commanders and subordinates, officials in England and North America, and friends and relatives in England.

The papers primarily relate to the conduct of the Revolutionary War in the West Indies, and reveal a close coordination between the army and navy in the region. Topics documented include the capture of St. Eustatius, the capture of transports by the French, the treatment of prisoners of war, and the provisioning and paying of troops. Also covered are promotions, discipline, and reports on hardships, such as endemic sickness, supply shortages (food, candles, rum, and money), poor barracks, a lack of doctors and medicine, and bad weather. Of note are the letters from William Mathew Burt, governor of Antigua and St. Christopher's; Gabriel Christie, commander at Antigua; Lucius Ferdinand Cary, commander at Tobago; George Ferguson, governor of Tobago; Commodore William Hotham; Admiral Hyde Parker; Admiral Samuel Hood; George Brydges Rodney, commander of the Leeward Island Station; Anthony St. Leger, brigadier general at St. Lucia; Major Henry Fitzroy Stanhope; and Loftus Anthony Tottenham, brigadier general at Barbados.

In addition to the incoming material, this collection contains four items written by Vaughan:
  • Volume 1, item 23: After March 19, 1780: Memoranda for an answer to Christie's letter of March 18-19
  • Folder 1: May 11, 1784: Vaughan's deposition sent to Isaac Howell, for a property dispute involving Edward Foord, Samuel Delprat, Richard Clark, and Simon Nathan, over a lawsuit in Jamaica
  • Folder 1: September 29, 1789: Vaughan to an unknown property owner (partnered to a Mr. Alexander Ellis) concerning purchasing land on the Mohawk River
  • Folder 1: September 17, 1794: John Vaughan to William Wyndham, reporting on specifics of British troop strengths throughout the Caribbean. Mention of surrender of Belville Camp, Guadeloupe, by capitulation in October, and lost companies in that affair. Martinique is the most important island from a military perspective. St. Lucia. Enemy strength at Guadeloupe, specifying around 400-500 "whites" and 4,000 or 5,000 "Blacks" armed with muskets and bayonets. Guadeloupe would require a Garrison of troops, with the number of men needed to attack. Believes that they should raise the siege of Basse-Terre and keep the enemy in check. Royalists can't be relied on. Strength at Antigua, St. Christopher's, and Dominica. Sir Charles Grey, Admiral Jarvis, and islands of St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas. Current assessment of privateers. British and French reinforcements. Capt. Hare's 10th Light Dragoons: when they came from America, they had "hardly a sound horse amongst them"--consider discontinuing this expensive Corps.

Volume 1 contains 246 items; Volume 2 contains 276 pages; and Volume 3 contains 207 pages.