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The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies
The links on this page are arranged in alphabetical order by department name. Click below to skip directly to:

Barrack Master General's Department,
Commissary General's Department,
Engineer's Department,
Quarter Master General's Department,
Royal Artillery Regiment,
Waggon Master General's Department

Civil Branches

The support activities of the British Army in America were furnished by an entity known as the Civil Branches. Both the Regular Army and Royal Artillery (under the Board of Ordnance) maintained their own branches, tailored to their specific needs.

The Civil Branches were recruited mostly from local Loyalists but were expected to accompany the army wherever and whenever needed. The terms of enlistment were looser and the pay better than that of a soldier, making service here more attractive to refugees with families to support.

The Civil Branches provided all the logistical work that is today performed by many National Guard or Reserve units. They transported by land and water food, fuel and baggage; provided forage for the horses; repaired roads and bridges; built and maintained fortifications and barracks; issued and stored provisions; maintained and issued arms and ammunition; established supply magazines, etc.

The size of the various branches depended upon the local and seasonal need. The numbers at New York swelled dramatically as the war progressed and the city filled with unemployed, homeless refugees from the countryside.

During the winter of 1779-1780 in New York, each Civil Branch raised one or more armed companies to help defend the city in case of attack. This was necessitated by the absence of the main army (off to attack Charlestown) and the freezing over of the Hudson River, Long Island Sound and New York Harbor, essentially making the islands of New York a part of the mainland and open to attack from Washington’s Army. An attack did not materialize, but these companies did duty nonetheless.

Below you will find a sampling of some of the documents detailing the service and membership of these units. The Civil Branches did not prepare regular muster rolls like those of the regiments; therefore, knowing exactly who was in them at any given time is nearly impossible. Where lists are available, we have included them.

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Barrack Master General's Department

   Bullet  Memorial of William Nisbett, 1780

   Bullet  Return of the Barrack Master General's Department, 1782

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Commissary General's Department

   Bullet  Receipt for Provisions, 1776

   Bullet  Receipt for Provisions, 1776

   Bullet  Authorization to Seize Provisions, 1776

   Bullet  List of Waggons & Horses Delivered to Trenton, 1776

   Bullet  Provisions Issued from Marstons Wharf, 1777

   Bullet  Account of Payments for Provisions, 1777

   Bullet  Receipt for Pay, Forage Magazine Labourers, 1778

   Bullet  Various Receipts for Pay, Forage Department Labourers, 1778

   Bullet  Return of Persons Victualled and Provisions, 1778   

   Bullet  Provisions Shipped on Board the Ranger, 1779

   Bullet  Return of British, Hessian, New Levies & Civil Dept. Victualled at New York, 1779

   Bullet  Parker to Norton, Seizing of Provisions Vessel, 1779

   Bullet  Receipt for a Sorrel Mare, 1780

   Bullet  Return of Refugees Receiving Provisions, 1780

   Bullet  Persons Employed in Provisions, Forage & Fuel Branch, Aug. 1782

   Bullet  Persons Employed in Provisions, Forage & Fuel Branch, Sept. 1782

   Bullet  Watson to DeLancey, Victualling Request, 1783

   Bullet  Receipt for Provisions, Nova Scotia, 1784   

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Engineer's Department

   Bullet  Capture & Retaking of the Alert, 1778

   Bullet  Mercer to DeLancey, Where Employed, 1781

   Bullet  Twiss to Stapleton, Orders for Niagara, 1781

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Quarter Master General's Department

   Bullet  Account of Vanderlinda Cattle Taken, 1777

   Bullet  Account of Stephens Cattle Taken, 1777

   Bullet  General Return of Stores at Québec, 1778   

   Bullet  Return of Camp Equipage in Canada, 1779   

   Bullet  Disbursements for Gardiners & Labourers, 1779

   Bullet  Clothing Wanted for Negroes, 1780

   Bullet  Clothing Wanted for Negroes, 1780?

   Bullet  Return of Drivers, Horses & Waggons, 1780

   Bullet  Return of Clerks, Storekeepers, Waggon Masters, Conductors, &c., 1780

   Bullet  Return of Barrack Bedding and Furniture at Niagara, 1782   

   Bullet  Abstract of Pay, 1783

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Royal Artillery Regiment

   Bullet  Recruiting Notice, 1777

   Bullet  Desertion Notice, Virginia Company of Blacks, 1779

   Bullet  Desertion Notice, Armourers' Shop, 1779

   Bullet  Desertion Notice, Virginia Company of Blacks, 1779

   Bullet  Muster Roll, Civil Branch of Ordnance, 1779

   Bullet  Negroes Employed, 1780

   Bullet  Muster Roll, Civil Branch of Ordnance, 1780

   Bullet  Clothing & Supplies for Negroes, 1780

   Bullet  Desertion Notice, Samuel Van Horne, 1781

   Bullet  Negroes Employed, 1781

   Bullet  Schaw to Molleson, 1783

   Bullet  Memorial for Lands, n.d.

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Waggon Master General's Department

   Bullet  List of Persons Not Paid, 1783

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