Frederick Mackenzie papers (1760-1783)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Shannon Wait, January 2011
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Frederick Mackenzie papers
Creator: Mackenzie, Frederick, d. 1824
Inclusive dates: 1760-1783
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
The Frederick Mackenzie papers contain military documents and several bound volumes relating to numerous aspects of British army administration in the American Revolutionary War. These include returns of casualties, provisions, vacancies, ordnance, and various regiments, as well as scattered orders and memoranda on army policies.
Language: The material is in English, French, and German
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1958. M-1066.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Alternate Format

The Guy Carleton orderly book (Volume F) and selected documents from the papers have been microfilmed.

Preferred Citation

Frederick Mackenzie Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The papers are arranged into two series: Documents and Letters and Bound Volumes.


Frederick Mackenzie was born around 1731, likely in Dublin, Ireland, the only son of Scottish merchant William Mackenzie and Mary Ann Boursiquot, who was of French Huguenot descent. Little is known of Mackenzie's life until, in 1745, he received his first commission in the 23rd Regiment of Foot, also known as the Royal Welch Fusiliers. During the War of the Austrian Succession, his regiment served at the battles of Dettingen, Fontenoy, and Lauffeld. They also fought at the battles of Minden, Warburg, and Wilhelmsthal in the European theater of the Seven Years' War. After traveling to North America in 1773 and to Boston with his regiment in August 1774, Mackenzie was promoted to captain and served as major of brigade under General William Howe in Halifax. He served as deputy adjutant-general for the army under Henry Clinton from 1778-1782 (obtaining majority in 1780) and Guy Carleton from 1782-1783. In 1787, he became lieutenant colonel of the 37th Regiment of Foot, and in 1794, he raised and led the 1st Exeter Volunteers, in the face of a potential Napleonic invasion. He later became assistant barrack master general at British headquarters and secretary of the Royal Military College. He died in 1824 in Teignmouth, Devon, England.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Frederick Mackenzie papers comprise 503 items: 492 documents, 4 letters, 6 record and orderly books, and a translated book. These are arranged into two series: Documents and Letters and Bound Volumes.

The Documents and Letters series contains a wide variety of materials relating to numerous aspects of British army administration, maintained by Mackenzie in his role as deputy adjutant general. This includes many types of returns, reports, warrants, orders and military instructions, memoranda on various army policies, and abstracts. Although the series spans 1760-1783, the bulk of material is concentrated around 1780-1782, the period during which Mackenzie served under Commander-in-Chief Sir Henry Clinton. The most frequent document type is the return; Mackenzie collected returns for a huge variety of military activities, and they provide ample quantitative information on the distribution and condition of troops, regiments, prisoners of war, stores and provisions, and ordnance. Of particular note are casualty returns, generally broken down by regiment and rank, for the battles of Saratoga (after October 7, 1777), Rhode Island (August 29, 1778), Stony Point (August 13, 1779), Paulus Hook (August 19, 1779), Camden (August 18, 1780), and Guilford Courthouse (March 15, 1781). Other types of returns record information on embarkations, garrisons, accoutrements lost in battle, the strength of regiments, Hessian officers and enlisted men, invalids, horses, wagons, foraging, vacancies, hospital staff, the women and children who traveled and were fed by the army, escaped prisoners, and transports.

The series also includes scattered orders and instructions, including embarkation orders for the Royal Highland Emigrants from Halifax, Nova Scotia (May 18, 1776), orders to officers commanding detachments on board transports (May 15, 1780), a proposed order concerning exchanges of prisoners (July 15, 1781), and a set of instructions for the Inspector of Refugees with information on who could draw rations and the consequences of abusing the army's generosity toward refugees ([n.d.], Box 2, Folder 27).

A few reports and affidavits provide qualitative information on the British during the Revolutionary War.

Several items are of particular interest:
  • An affidavit by Christopher Benson, which describes the destruction caused by anti-Tory mobs in New York City (June 16, 1776)
  • A report on the loss of the transport ship Martha , which sank after striking rocks near Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. The ship's master "believed every soul onboard to have perished…" after he left in a lifeboat (October 10, 1783)
  • A recommendation that "Thirty Negroes from the Pioneer Company [Black Pioneers], may be ordered to be drafted, and to join the three Brigades of Engineers, in order to assist the Carpenters in carrying Materials" (August 19, 1776)

The Bound Volumes series contains seven items, which are lettered A-G and cover the years 1775 to ca. 1812.

Bound volumes:
  • Volume A comprises 135 pages, spanning June 29, 1756-October 6, 1762. It contains copies of 27 sets of articles of capitulation negotiated during the Seven Years' War, including the surrender of forts William Henry, Niagara, and Royal Martinico, the Saxon and Hanoverian armies, and the inhabitants of Guadaloupe and Martinico.
  • Volume B contains approximately 95 pages of regulations and orders concerning the 23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welch Fusiliers. The volume covers the years 1755-1764, and conveys policies concerning military rank, provisions, prices of commissions, the compiling of returns, and other administrative matters. Also included are marching orders for the 23rd Regiment, information on their summer cantonment for the year 1768, and lists of necessary camp supplies.
  • Volume C contains 49 pages of military documents in two sections. On pages 1-13 are several returns of ordnance and provisions for October 1782, providing information on stores of wine, howitzers, mortars, and other items. The remainder of the volume contains scattered orders for troops stationed in Boston for May-August 1775 and troop returns for the same year.
  • Volume D contains 139 pages of copied proclamations and regulations issued by various high-ranking British military officers, including Thomas Gage, Richard Howe, William Phillips, Henry Clinton, Charles Cornwallis, James Robertson, Robert Pigot, Marriot Arbuthnot, and Valentine Jones. Though not chronologically ordered, the proclamations cover 1775-1780, and concern numerous British army policies. Gage gave the earliest proclamation, dated June 12, 1775 (pp. 1-7), declaring martial law in Massachusetts and promising pardon to all those who laid down their arms, with the notable exception of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. A proclamation by Clinton of June 1, 1780 (pp. 45-48) regards the pardoning of those who took an oath of allegiance to the Crown. A declaration by Major-General Robertson, dated January 27, 1777 (pp. 78-79) notes the pillaging of the Kings College Library and the Society Library in New York City and demands the return of stolen books. In the back of the book are several pen and ink drawings of the locations of British and Hessian regiments near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 4, August 28, and September 1, 1777.
  • Volume E contains 40 pages of extracts of general orders given by Sir Henry Clinton between May 11 and November 2, 1778. These concern a wide variety of topics, such as rations, appointments, embarkations, and consequences for deserters.
  • Volume F is an orderly book containing the orders of Sir Guy Carleton, commander-in-chief of the British forces. The book covers May 8, 1782, through December 2, 1783, and comprises 292 orders over 240 pages; it opens with Clinton's return to England and offer of congratulations to Carleton, the new commander-in-chief. Many of the orders concern new appointments, the departure of soldiers for England, and the exchange of prisoners of war. Others focus on reigning in army expenditures and preventing corruption. One such entry, dated July 30, 1782, states that, "No person who by his office shall become accountable for the expenditure of Public money is to sit as a Member of the Board for the Examination of Public Accounts." Another order specifies that officers must list the names of servants for whom they draw rations (August 23, 1782).
  • Volume G contains a manuscript entitled Elements of Field Fortification, which is Mackenzie's translated copy of one of General Gaspard Noizet-Saint-Paul's published work, Élémens de Fortifications. The work was translated sometime after its publication in 1812.

Subject Terms

  • Great Britain. Army. Adjutant General's Corps.
  • Seven Years' War, 1756-1763.
  • United States--History--French and Indian War, 1755-1763.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--British forces.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Participation, African American.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Participation, German.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Prisoners and prisons.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Registers.
  • Adye, Stephen.
  • Arbuthnot, Marriott, 1711?-1794.
  • Carleton, Guy.
  • Clinton, Henry, 1736?-1795.
  • Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805.
  • Crosbie, William.
  • De Lancey, Oliver, 1718-1785.
  • Dorchester, Guy Carleton, Baron, 1724-1808.
  • Gage, Thomas, 1721-1787.
  • Howe, Richard Howe, Earl, 1726-1799.
  • Howe, William Howe, Viscount, 1729-1814.
  • Jones, Valentine.
  • Leslie, Alexander, ca. 1740-1794.
  • Lossberg, Friedrich Wilhelm von.
  • Nooth, John Mervin.
Genre Terms:
  • Military records.
  • Orderly books.
  • Returns (military records)

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Documents and Letters [series]
Box   1  
 December 17, 1760-[1780]     partially housed in Oversize Manuscripts 
Box   2  
 January 1, 1781-[1783] and  undated     partially housed in Oversize Manuscripts 
Bound Volumes [series]
Box   3  
Volume A,  1756-1762
Volume B,  1755-1764
Volume C,  1773-1783
Volume D,  ca.1776-1783
Volume E,  1778
Box   4  
Volume F,  1782-1783
Volume G,  [after 1812]

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

The Thomas Gage papers and Henry Clinton papers contain materials related to Frederick Mackenzie.


Mackenzie, Frederick. Diary of Frederick Mackenzie. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1930.

Urban, Mark. Fusiliers: The Saga of a British Redcoat Regiment in the American Revolution. New York: Walker & Company, 2007.