“The music of the Army…” by John U. Rees ©1993, 2002 – An Abbreviated Study of the Ages of Musicians in the Continental Army
11th Pennsylvania Regiment *
Gleaned from the printed muster rolls of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment, containing personal information for each man. The ages are taken to be as of the date of enlistment. The date of this return is not known though there are some indications that it was made in 1780. For statistical purposes the 1780 date for the roll is used to determine the men’s age at their time of enlistment. Due to uncertainty as to the accuracy of these rolls this data has been evaluated separately. Additionally this information has not been included in the table of statistics for the overall group of musicians examined.11
11th Pennsylvania Statistics
Average age – 17 years
Average age – 13 years
Total average age – 16 years
John Brown, fife – 14 years old, enlisted in 1777 (11 years in 1777)
Thomas Cunningham, drum – 18 years old, enlisted in 1777 (15 years in 1777)
Benjamin Jeffries, drum – 15 years old, enlisted in 1777 (12 years in 1777)
Robert Hunter, drum – 40 years old, enlisted in 1777 (37 years in 1777)
Thomas Harrington, drum – 14 years old, enlisted in 1777 (11 years in 1777)
Samuel Nightlinger, drum – 16 years old, enlisted in 1777 (13 years in 1777)
James Raddock, fife – 16 years old, enlisted in 1777 (13 years in 1777)
George Shively, fife – 19 years old, enlisted in 1777 (16 years in 1777)
David Williams, drum – 17 years old, enlisted in 1777 (14 years in 1777)
33 musicians were examined. Muster rolls for Patton’s and Rawling’s Additional Regiments were examined in their entirety. The additional musicians were either taken from partial listings or merely stumbled upon during research. Rawling’s Regimental muster rolls were examined but no information was found in the pension files or elsewhere.
Miscellaneous Musician Statistics
14 musicians total
Average age of grand total – 16 years
Average age for fifers – 15 years not including fife major
15.5 years including fife major
Average age for drummers – 16 years
Thomas Burk, fife, 10th Pennsylvania – 60 years old in 1820 (18 years old in 1778) enlisted in 1778.”12
William Darby, drum, Patton’s Additional & 11th Pennsylvania – 60 years old in 1819 (18 years in 1777)
Laurence Frey [Fry], drum, Malcom’s Additional & 11th Pennsylvania – 60 years old in 1825 (12 years in 1777)13
James Holmes, drum, 11th Pennsylvania – 53 years old in 1818 (13 years in 1778) enlisted in 1778.14
“Deponent saith that he was not in Any engagements not being permitted by his Captain, on account of his Youth was generally ordered to the rear – was with Genl. Sullivan up the Susquehannah as far as Tioga…”
John Hutchison, drum, 4th Pennsylvania – 63 years old in 1818 (21 years in 1776)15
Barney Johnson, fife, 3rd Maryland – 57 years old in 1820 (13 years in 1776)
Matthew Jackson, fife, 4th Massachusetts – 57 years old in 1820 (14 years in 1777)
John McElroy, fife, 11th Pennsylvania -(60 years old in 1820, [16 years in 1776, fifer] [20 years in 1780, fife major]) 16
In 1776 “…he enlisted as a fifer in the sixth Penn. Battalion for the term of one year, in Capt. James Wilsons Company of foot, in Col. William Irvines Regiment… the said Declarant… marched to lower Canada, and was in the battle of the Three Rivers above Quebec on the 8th. day of June 1776, and also in several skirmishes with Indians and British. That the declarant in the latter part of… 1776 again enlisted as a fifer with Col. Hartly of the Penna. line to serve during the war, and served under Genl. Wayne in the years [1777 and 1778.]… [In 1779],.. served in Sullivans Campaign through the Indian Country as fifer of the 11th Regmt. Pa. line, and then returned to Genl. Waynes command in the state of New Jersey in … was then appointed Fife Major, and served as such in the 3rd Regiment of the Penna. line under Col. Craigs command – and also served in part of the years 1782 & 1783 in the second Regmt. commanded by Col. Humpton… was honorably discharged on the 2nd day of July AD. 1783…” In another deposition McElroy stated that “As to my ocupation I have none being nearly blind by reason of my eyes being nearly destroyed by the accidental bursting of cartriges in the year 1779 at Sunbury Pennsylvania… N.B. I have my old Fife and knapsack yet also”
Philip Reamer [Roemer], fife and drum, Malcom’s Additional & 11th Pennsylvania – 61 years old in 1824 (fife, 14 years in 1777) (drum, 17 years in 1780)17
George Reese, fife, Patton’s Additional – 56 years old in 1819 (14 years in 1777)
William Reddick, fife, Patton’s Additional – 58 years old in 1818 (17 years in 1777)
Jacob Wisner, fife, 4th Pennsylvania – 55 years old in 1819 (13 years in 1777)18
11. Montgomery, Thomas Lynch, ed., Pennsylvania Archives, series 5, vol. III (Harrisburg, 1906), 644-663.
12. Ibid., series II, vol. XV, 683-741, list of Pennsylvania Pensioners of the Revolution, 1820.
13. Ibid., series 5, vol. III, 644-662.
14. Ibid., series II, vol. XV, 683-741, list of Pennsylvania Pensioners of the Revolution, 1820. Ibid., series 5, vol. III, 644-662.
15. Ibid., series II, vol. XV, 683-741, list of Pennsylvania Pensioners of the Revolution, 1820.
16. Ibid., series 5, vol. III, 644-662.
17. Ibid., series 5, vol. III, 644-662.
18. Ibid., series II, vol. XV, 683-741, list of Pennsylvania Pensioners of the Revolution, 1820.
The quotation in the title of this article is taken from the General Orders of June 4, 1777: “The music of the army being in general very bad; it is expected, that the drum and fife Majors exert themselves to improve it, or they will be reduced, and their extraordinary pay taken from them…” John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 8 (Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 1933), 181-182.
Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives Microfilm Publications, Record Group 93, M246, Washington, 1980:
reel 55 to reel 62, muster rolls of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th New Jersey Regiments;
reels 128 and 129, Spencer’s Additional Regiment;
reels 125 and 126, Malcom’s Additional Regiment;
reel 126, Patton’s Additional Regiment;
reel 126, Rawling’s Additional Regiment;
reel 117 to Reel 120, Lamb’s 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment.
Index of Revolutionary War Pension Applications in the National Archives, Washington, D.C., 1976. The actual applications and related materials may be found in National Archives Microfilm Publication M804 (2,670 reels).
Raoul F. Camus, Military Music of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1976).
Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution – April 1775 to December 1783 (Baltimore, 1982).
The Life and Adventures of M’D. Campbell: The Money-Maker. No publisher, no date (held in the special collections of Rutgers University).