Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ambrose Fox, 24th and 23rd Regiments, puts in 28 years

When we think of escaping prisoners of war, we most often think of World War II. During the American Revolution, British prisoners of war were just as wily and troublesome for their captors as their descendants two centuries later. Many hundreds escaped from American captivity, often returning to British lines and falling back into their army's ranks. The most famous of these is Roger Lamb, first of the 9th Regiment and then of the 23rd, who twice made his way through hostile territory to rejoin the British army. Lamb's fame is due not to his being unique, but to his having penned a detailed account of his flights to freedom.

Lamb absconded from his captors in late 1778 when the prisoners from General Burgoyne's army were marching from Rutland, Massachusetts to Albemarle, Virginia. Some 600 prisoners made their break during this march, particularly when they were relatively close to British-held New York City. Among them was Ambrose Fox of the 24th Regiment of Foot. 

Fox, from the city of Lancaster in England, was a seasoned campaigner. A tailor by trade, he had joined the 24th Regiment in 1759 when he was 21 years old; during the Seven Years War, he fought in Europe, and was wounded in the left leg on 16 August 1762 during a river crossing in Germany. This didn't put him out of service; he continued with his regiment through the peace of 1763 and then during the interwar years while the regiment was in Great Britain.

In early 1776 the 24th was ordered abroad again, this time to Canada. With several other regiments they landed in Quebec in May, relieving that city from an American siege. The reinforced British army quickly retook the possessions they had lost in 1775 along the waterway from Quebec to Lake Champlain.

1777 brought the campaign under General Burgoyne that sought to secure the entire route from Quebec to Albany, but which ran afoul of concerted resistance along the Hudson River at Saratoga, New York. In October, Ambrose Fox became a prisoner of war along with the rest of his regiment and his fellow soldiers in Burgoyne's army. By the terms of the surrender treaty they were to return to Great Britain, and marched to the environs of Boston where they spent a miserable winter in hastily-built barracks. In the meantime, negotiations for their release broke down. In April 1778 they were sent inland to Rutland where they were held in a stockade.

The coming of another winter brought another change of location. This time the beleaguered prisoners were marched over land to Albemarle, Virginia. The route brought them closer to British-held New York than they'd ever been. Many of the prisoners took the opportunity to slip away, making their way through the lines at great hazards to their lives, as the region was filled with American military posts protecting the Hudson river and New Jersey interior from British incursions.

In spite of the hazards, Ambrose Fox succeeded in reaching the British garrison. To protect himself against charges of desertion, he first obtained permission from his company commander to escape. In mid-December, after a 19-day trek, he came into the British post at Paulus Hook in New Jersey. Soon after, he was drafted into the 23rd Regiment of Foot where he met up with Roger Lamb and a few other escapees from Burgoyne's army.

The beginning of 1780 brought a new campaign: The 23rd Regiment was part of a substantial force that besieged and captured Charleston, South Carolina. This initiated a series of campaigns that began successfully but culminated in the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781. Ambrose Fox was taken prisoner once again.

It appears that Fox waited out his captivity this time. When hostilities ended in the first half of 1783, he and other prisoners were repatriated; he returned to New York where he met up with men from his regiment who had escaped and others who had not been on the southern campaign. He appeared before an examining board to claim back pay still due to him from the 24th Regiment, and gave the following brief deposition:

Ambrose Fox private soldier in the 24th Regt. says that he made his escape with the approbation of Captain Jamison, to whose Company he belonged, who gave him a sixty Dollar bill to carry him forward - that he surrendered himself upwards of four years ago to Major McLeroth of the 64th at Paulus Hook, and was immediately drafted into the 23d Regt. with which Regt. he has served ever since; he claims three years Cloathing from the 24th Regt. but no pay & intermediate pay for 19 days.

The claim for clothing refers to the annual entitlement to each soldier of a new coat, waistcoat and breeches, none of which he'd received for the years 1776, 1777 and 1778 (the annual clothing usually arrived in America near the end of the year; the 1776 clothing for the 24th Regiment was captured at sea). With his regiment, he left America late in 1783 and continued to serve in Great Britain for another four years. He finally took his discharge in March 1787; after 28 years and two wars, "being old and worn out in the service," the army's pension board determined that "he is rendered unfit for further service" and granted him a pension.

A new book, coming in March 2015!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

John Gilroy, 10th Regiment, leaves Newburyport

                John Gilroy, a corporal in the 10th Regiment of Foot, was captured by the enemy shortly before the British evacuated Boston in March 1776. The date and circumstances of his capture haven't come to light yet, but the 30-year-old soldier from Fermanagh was held in the region north of Boston.

                Initially there weren't many other British prisoners in the towns north of Boston, but that soon changed. Not long after the British army left Boston, three transports carrying soldiers of the 42nd and 71st Regiments, both highlanders, sailed into Cape Cod Bay. They had come from Great Britain and hadn't gotten word that the port was no longer in British hands. American ships engaged them and took over 200 soldiers prisoner. These men, too, were sent to towns in Massachusetts.

                British prisoners in America made it their business to try to escape. Gilroy may have tried at least once, for by June 1777 he was being held in the Newburyport jail rather than barracks or other accommodations more typical for prisoners of war. Among his fellow inmates was a 19-year-old officer of the 71st Regiment, Collin Mackenzie. The young officer must have gotten along well with the seasoned corporal who had nine years in the army, mostly in Canada prior to the war. On 26 June 1777, they escaped together.

                Their captors searched for them, and published a newspaper ad describing them and offering a reward:

In the Evening of the 26th Day of June, 1777, the following Persons made their Escape from the Goal in Newbury-Port, in the County of Essex. Collin Mackenzie, a Lieutenant in the 71st (British) Regiment of Foot, 19 Years of Age, short thick-sett, 5 Feet 5 Inches high, fair Complexion. Had on when he went away, a short Linnen Coat, Trowsers, and a Highland Bonnet. Also, John Gilroy, a Corporal in the 10th Regiment, 25 Years of Age, sandy hair, 5 Feet 8 Inches high, strong, well made, thin Visage, fair Complexion. Had on when he went away a Regimental Coat of the 10th Regiment, faced with Yellow, Buttons No. 10. Both Prisoners of War. Whoever shall take and secure either of the above Prisoners in any Goal in the State of the Massachusetts Bay, shall have Twenty Dollars Reward for the Lieutenant, and Ten Dollars Reward for the Corporal, and all necessary Charges Paid. Michael Farley, Sheriff.
[Boston Gazette, 30 June 1777]

                The ad understated Gilroy's age considerably. It was also to no avail. The pair managed to make their way to the British garrison in Rhode Island, and then to their respective regiments in New York.

                Gilroy's time in prison did not have a detrimental impact on his career. He soon was appointed serjeant in the 10th Regiment's light infantry company. In this capacity he fought with the 1st battalion of light infantry on the Philadelphia campaign, taking an active role in famous battles like Brandywine, Germantown and Whitemarsh, and numerous lesser actions. The following year brought the march from across New Jersey and the battle of Monmouth, as well as a vigorous raid on New Bedford, Massachusetts.

                Back in New York in the late summer of 1778, the army prepared for a new expedition against the French in the valuable islands of the West Indies. The 10th Regiment had been on service in Canada and America since 1767; it was time for them to go home. The regiment's able-bodied soldiers were drafted into other British regiments bound for the West Indies expedition, but the officers and non-commissioned officers, including Gilroy, went back to Great Britain to recruit and train new soldiers.

                John Gilroy continued to serve. Even after being discharged from the 10th Regiment long after the American War, he was not done being a soldier. He joined the Mayo Militia in his native Ireland, where he continued as a soldier until 1807. At the age of 62, he finally too his discharge after 39 years in the army, and received a pension. The fifteen or sixteen months he spent as a prisoner of war in Massachusetts were just a small facet of a long and varied career.

A new book, coming in March 2015!

Monday, December 1, 2014

John Clancey, 47th Regiment, dupes a tempter

By March 1775, tensions in Boston between soldiers and civilians were running high. The people of the Massachusetts Bay colony sorely resented having British soldiers in Boston, troops they saw as instruments of a Parliament they no longer trusted. The soldiers believed in their mission to maintain peace among people they perceived as unwilling to follow the laws of Great Britain. That's a simplification, but makes the point that the populace and the army were at odds and members of both groups went out of their way to aggravate the other. It was in this setting that a man named Thomas Ditson traveled from his farm in Billerica to the city of Boston to make some purchases.

Whether Ditson was naive or deliberately attempting to bait British soldiers is not clear. Inhabitants of outlying towns had been using various means to tempt British soldiers to desert, and Ditson's actions made him appear to be doing just that. He approached a private soldier of the 47th Regiment named John Clancey and asked, “Soldier, have you an old Soldier’s Coat to sell?”

Whether Clancey was naive or deliberately attempting to bait Ditson is also not clear. British soldiers owned their uniforms, paid for by stoppages from their pay; Clancey, having joined the regiment four years before, had received several annual issues of clothing by this time. But that doesn't mean he had leave to sell them. Regardless, he responded that he did, and took Ditson to a building that was being used as a barracks. There, Clancey asked his wife to fetch some old clothes while confirming with his serjeant that it was ok to sell them. After some haggling, they struck a deal for a regimental coat and waistcoat for which Ditson paid two Pistareens.

One of these two, Ditson or Clancey, had gained the confidence of his mark. Ditson asked if there was any liquor to be had, and when someone said there was spruce beer available, Ditson ordered a bowl to share with Clancey. As they imbibed, Ditson leaned into Clancey and asked if he had a firelock - a musket - to sell. Soldiers did not own their weapons, but Clancey brought forth an old, rusty piece. Finding that it did not spark well - that is, the flint didn't create satisfactory sparks when it struck the steel on the weapon's lock - Ditson asked for a better one. Clancey then produced a nicer firelock, for which they agreed on a price of four dollars. In the course of the bargaining Ditson decided to purchase both weapons, as well as a set of acoutrements - bayonet, scabbard and cartridge box - using a mix of dollars, shillings, and pistareens that was typical of the coinage circulating in colonial America.

The next challenge was to get these military weapons out of the city. As a resident of Billerica, northwest of the city, Ditson wanted to take the ferry from Boston to Charlestown, but knew that he couldn't simply walk past the sentry carrying a couple of five-foot-long muskets. Clancey said that he knew the sentries and agreed to go along, carrying one of the weapons himself. Somewhere along the way, Ditson drew out a knife with which to cut the slings off the muskets, to make them look a little less military; Clancey stopped him and carefully removed and pocketed the slings. Was this a sign that Clancey was setting Ditson up, or Clancey simply showing habitual respect for equipment?

Feeling very familiar with Clancey now, Ditson explained that he was part of a colonial battalion, and in fact was their flugel man - the man who demonstrated the manual of arms to other men - but if Clancey would come along with him into the country, his military training would be very valuable. He'd get whatever money he wanted, and become an officer and a gentleman. Ditson was attempting to entice Clancey to desert, as several British soldiers had done during the previous year. Clancey, however, may have suspected this all along: while they were drinking at the barracks, he'd managed to slip out and alert the officer of the guard of the proceedings.

On the way to the ferry, Ditson was arrested and put into confinement by officers of the 47th Regiment. The next morning, he was stripped down to his breeches, covered with tar and feathers, tied into a chair on a cart, and paraded around Boston as "A villain who attempted to entice one of the

Soldiers of His Majesty’s Forty Seventh Regiment to desert, and take up Arms with Rebels against his King and Country.” A crowd gathered and grew, and began to press in, but there were some fifty soldiers escorting Ditson with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets. Before things got out of hand, Ditson was released and sent on his way.

Thomas Ditson wrote a deposition telling his side of the story - that he'd gone into Boston explicitly to purchase a gun, and had been directed to Clancey after asking around as to where he could purchase one. That Clancey's wife had questioned whether it was allowed to sell the weapons, after which Ditson had tried to back out of the deal but Clancey would not allow it. The thrust of the complaint, though - sent to the British colonial governor who was also the commander in chief of the army, General Thomas Gage - was that the soldiers and officers had acted lawlessly and abusively by tarring and feathering Ditson and parading him around town. The general mood of the colonists towards the military is reflected in the fact that Ditson's deposition was published in several newspapers around the colonies, but John Clancey's deposition telling his side of the story appeared only in a Boston paper.

This incident in March 1775 was soon overshadowed by the outbreak of war the following month. Ditson served in several campaigns during the war. John Clancey's career as a soldier, however, soon came to an end. Somehow the twenty-five-year-old soldier broke his thigh while serving in Boston; this may have been a wound from the Battle of Bunker Hill, or an accident incurred during other duty. By the end of 1776 he was discharged, no longer fit for service due to his injury. He returned to Great Britain where he received an out pension, and there is no evidence that he served again in the army.

A new book, coming in March 2015!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thomas Pickworth, 23rd Regiment, repeats his behavior

I sometimes get inquiries from descendants of men who deserted from the British army. Usually the family story involves their ancestor being pressed or conscripted into service, and then deserting in America because he had no desire to fight the Yankees. While it is often possible to find the man on regimental muster rolls, determine the exact day that he deserted, and get some insight about when he enlisted, some facets of the family lore can usually be discounted. With the exception of a brief period in 1778, 1779 and 1780, it was not legal for the British army to conscript or press men; even during the period that it was legal, few such men were sent to America. Almost every British soldier who served in the American Revolution had joined the army voluntarily, something that gets lost for obvious reasons when these men settled in the new nation and told their stories to later generations.

Reasons for desertion are not so easy to categorize. It is true that the war was not universally popular in Great Britain. Soldiers who deserted, though, were far more likely to be motivated by an overall distaste for military service (or, more specifically, wartime service) than for any specific concerns about who they were fighting. Some deserters prove this to us by their exploits subsequent to deserting from British ranks.

A fine example is that of Thomas Pickworth (or Peckworth). He joined the 23rd Regiment of Foot, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, in April of 1777. The circumstances of his enlistment are not known; the Englishman probably arrived in America with a body of recruits for the regiment, having enlisted in Great Britain during the previous year, but there's a chance that he was already in America when he enlisted - the muster rolls do not make it clear.

He was not a typical recruit in that he was in his early thirties when he joined the regiment. This was rare but not unknown; most men enlisted in their early twenties, but regiments could take on any man who they deemed physically capable. It's possible that he had prior military service. He was by trade a shoemaker, a fairly common profession among soldiers.

The 23rd Regiment went with General Sir William Howe's army on the campaign to Philadelphia in the autumn of 1777. Perhaps it was the hard campaigning and fighting that turned Pickworth away from the army. Or perhaps he had a roving disposition and was inclined to disciplinary trouble. Muster rolls prepared in February 1778 show that he was "sick," a catchall term that covered every malady from battle wounds to injuries incurred from lashings as well as the usually diseases. Regardless of his malady in February, by the beginning of May he was well enough to abscond from the British army; he deserted on 1 May. Many men deserted at this time when the army was preparing to leave Philadelphia. We can only guess which ones had formed local attachments and which ones simply saw the opportunity afforded by the army marching away.

Opportunity seems to have been on Pickworth's mind. Just days after deserting, he enlisted again - this time in the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment in the Continental Army. Such an act could be interpreted as sympathetic to the American cause, but it clearly was not. Within days of enlisting - which itself was within days of having deserted from the British - Pickworth absconded yet again. In early June the commander of his company placed an advertisement for him:

Twenty Dollars Reward.
Deserted from Captain Jacob Mauser’s company, of the sixth Pennsylvania regiment, on Monday the 11th instant, (May) a recruit named Thomas Pickworth, says he was born in England, about five feet eight inches high, dark complexion, middling thick, about thirty-five years of age, says he is a shoemaker by trade and lived in Philadelphia: It is thought he made towards Virginia with some people moving that way, and perhaps may change his name: Had on when he went away, a brown coat, long blue breeches, and a little hat. Whoever takes up said deserter and secures him in any gaol so that he may be had again, shall have the above reward, paid by the subscriber in Maxatawny Township, Berks County.
Jacob Mauser, Capt. 6th P. R.
[Pennsylvania Packet, 3 June 1778]

He doesn't seem to have rejoined the 6th Pennsylvania. He doesn't even seem to have changed his name, or gone to Virginia. Instead, he enlisted yet again, this time into a company of Marines in Pennsylvania, some time in August or early September 1779. By the end of September, though, he had deserted yet again:

Deserted from Captain Robert Mullan's Company of Marines, in Philadelphia, the following men, viz. Thomas Peckworth, about 37 years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high, dark complexion; had on when he went off a light coloured cloth coat, his other clothing not remembered, a shoemaker by trade.
[Pennsylvania Gazette, 6 October 1779]

This ad, dated Philadelphia, Sept. 29 1779, also listed a number of other men who'd deserted from the Marines.

Why would a man repeatedly enlist and desert? Without explicit testimony from Pickworth himself, we can only guess. It was common for recruiters to offer a cash enlistment bounty, and Pickworth may have deemed it worth the risk to take the money and run even though desertion was a capital offense. If he did tell his descendants about his service in the American Revolution, he probably left out some details, changed some others, and hoped no one in his family took a liking to reading old newspapers.

A new book, coming in March 2015!

Monday, October 27, 2014

James Lodge, 52nd and 26th Regiments, finally goes home

Perhaps James Lodge wanted to get away from his home town. The shoemaker from Almondsbury, Yorkshire enlisted in the 52nd Regiment of Foot in 1762, when he was 22 years old - a fairly typical enlistment age for a man who had completed a trade apprenticeship and perhaps worked long enough to decide he needed a career change. After a few years in Great Britain, the 52nd Regiment was sent to North American in 1765, arriving in Quebec in August.

We don't know whether Lodge had any remarkable experiences in Quebec, although the foreign land with a cold climate must have been novel enough for at least the first year or so. After almost ten years in Canada the 52nd was due to be sent home in 1774, and perhaps Lodge was looking forward to returning to his native country. But it was not to be - trouble brewing in Boston caused a change of plans. The regiment sailed to the city on the Massachusetts coast, arriving late in the year. Things got tense quickly. During the early months of 1775, the 52nd and other regiments made occasional marches in to the country, training exercises designed to maintain the fitness of the soldiers which nonetheless aroused great suspicion among local inhabitants.

As a member of a battalion company, Lodge did not participate in the expedition to Concord on 19 April that resulted in open hostilities between colonists and the British military. In June, however, he marched into battle with his regiment at Bunker Hill. The 52nd sustained many casualties that day, including James Lodge who received a wound in his left knee. It was not, however, disabling; instead of being discharged and returned to England as an invalid, he recovered and was campaigning again when his regiment was part of the fast-paced campaigns in New York and New Jersey.

We don't know when it occurred, but misfortune again befell Lodge. He was taken prisoner by the enemy. By April 1777 he was interned in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a location far from the front lines. Later that year British forces took Philadelphia, and British prisoners were moved to Virginia to discourage escape and decrease the likelihood of a British attempt to liberate them.

Toward the end of 1778, he was able to return to New York and rejoin his army; probably he was exchanged, but he may have made his way by escaping. Regardless, he arrived too late to join his regiment - the 52nd had been sent back to Great Britain in September. The regiment's able-bodied men had been transferred into regiments bound for the West Indies, and the remainder went home be discharged or recruit new soldiers. Rather than being sent home to join his regiment, Lodge joined another corps, the 26th Regiment of Foot. He may have known men in this regiment from the years before the war when they served Canada.

He spent a year in the 26th before they, too, were sent back to Great Britain. He did not go with them, though; he took his discharge in America and then chose to remain in the army. He joined the Royal Garrison Battalion, a regiment composed of soldiers who were no longer fit for campaigning but who were capable of manning fortifications and other posts. This corps was formed in New York but soon went to another place that needed garrison troops: Bermuda.

Lodge spent the remainder of the war in Bermuda with the Royal Garrison Battalion. At the close of hostilities the battalion was disbanded, and James Lodge finally took the opportunity to go home. For reasons unknown, he did not appear before the Pension Board in Chelsea until 1789. Here he was granted a pension on account of his long service, the wounds he'd received, and because he was "worn out" - not surprising, given the many years of hardship he'd endured as a soldier.

A new book, coming in March 2015!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

John Kerr, 82nd Regiment, speaks out

The 82nd Regiment of Foot was one of several authorized soon after France declared war on Great Britain in 1778. The British army needed to expand rapidly; it accomplished this by raising new regiments, but those regiments were not composed entirely of new men. Their officers included experienced men brought onto active service from half-pay (a sort of retirement that allowed officers to return to service if needed), officers in existing regiments aspiring to higher ranks, and newly-commissioned young officers. Similarly, the soldiery consisted of a mix of men with prior experience who reenlisted, and new recruits.

We don't know which of these categories included John Kerr. We do know that when the regiment was ready for service it sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia early in 1779 with Kerr in its ranks. From Halifax, part of the regiment went to the British post at Penobscott, Maine, and the remainder sailed for New York in April. Kerr did not make it to either place. The transport he was on board, the Mermaid, ran aground and sank off of Egg Harbor, New Jersey. Many perished. Those who made it to shore were taken prisoner, John Kerr among them. They were sent to Philadelphia jail.

Whether he was a new soldier or not, Kerr had spirit. He escaped, as many British soldiers did, and made his way to his regiment in New York. By September 1780 he was in the ranks again with his comrades.

But there came a day when he had too much to drink, and then his company was ordered to form for a march from one garrison location to another. Kerr formed up with the rest of his fellows, and listened as a young officer gave them orders. They were told not to break ranks during the march without permission - nothing unusual about that. But a soldier protested that he must go out of ranks for water on the march. The officer told the soldier that he would be punished for speaking out, but the soldier insisted that he could not live without water. The exasperated officer used a switch to strike the soldier a few times.

The company was then ordered to "pile" their arms, that is, to interlock the ramrods of their muskets so that the weapons stood in teepee-like fashion. Having done so, the soldier approached the officer again and informed him that being beaten with a switch was not the way that a soldier should be punished - which was correct, according to the articles of war. Nonetheless, the young officer struck the soldier several times more, this time breaking the switch.

After this, John Kerr and three other soldiers approached the officer; Kerr asserted that soldiers should not be beaten in such a manner, and that the officer might as well confine them all. The officer went to a superior, who ordered that the soldiers immediately be tried by a court martial.

We have no details on that regimental trial, but after it was over John Kerr was led away under guard. As he passed by the young officer, he said that if he was punished on the officer's account, he would shoot him before long. He also mentioned that the officer ought to be run through with a bayonet as a bougre. The young officer reported this remark to his superior, who ordered Kerr pinioned.

John Kerr was charged with mutiny and tried by a general court martial. The officer stated his case for the prosecution, relating the events and the remarks Kerr had made. Two serjeants corroborated the information, down to the expressions Kerr had used.

But they also pointed out that Kerr was "worse for liquor" when he was acting out, and that he had always behaved as a good and obedient soldier before this. The officer also mentioned that Kerr had escaped from imprisonment, apparently so that the court would be sympathetic.

The court was not sympathetic. They found John Kerr guilty and sentenced him to receive 800 lashes. Considering the gravity of the charges, this was not a particularly harsh punishment; mutiny could result in a death sentence.

We don't know the extent to which the punishment was carried out. It was not unusual for part or all of a sentence like this to be commuted, and given the generally favorable impression of Kerr he may well have been pardoned.

As a soldier who'd enlisted after the war began, John Kerr would be allowed to take his discharge after hostilities ended. He'd have the choice of remaining in America, taking a land grant in Nova Scotia, or returning to Great Britain. But it didn't matter. Shortly before he could make that choice, he died, on 18 November 1783, just days before the last British troops left the newly-established United States.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nathaniel Lock, 64th Regiment, runs off with a hautboy

The 64th Regiment arrived in Boston in January of 1769 when open warfare with the colonists was still years away. In addition to the usual complement of officers and soldiers, the regiment had a band of music. Not to be confused with the regiment's drummers and fifers, the band consisted of several (probably about ten) instruments of various types and provided entertainment at concerts and social functions. Members of the band were often carried on the muster rolls as soldiers, but not all of them did duty in the ranks. Almost immediately after disembarking in Boston, a member of the regiment's band went missing. A newspaper ad was placed for the errant performer:

Whereas Nathaniel Lock, musician in the 64th regiment has absconded from the regiment, and taken with him a hautboy, watch, and other articles which do not belong to him. This is to caution all people from concealing him, as they will be prosecuted for harboring a thief.
Any person who will bring said Lock to the regiment, now quartered in Boston, shall have five guineas reward. He is a middle sized person, about five feet seven inches high, swarthy complexion, dark hair, round shouldered, plays on the bassoon, hautboy and flute. He had better surrender himself. He has with him a woman low in stature, marked with the small-pox, and has the Irish brogue.
[Boston Chronicle, 9 February 1769]

Lock’s instrument, the hautboy, was popular in military bands. This instrument is unfamiliar to most modern readers, but it’s basic form can be discerned by using the French spelling of the name, hautbois, and the French pronuciation, ho-BWA. This is the derivation of the English word oboe.

Unlike many wayward soldiers, Lock soon returned to the regiment albeit in unknown circumstances. A month after the ad for him was placed, another notice appeared in the same paper:

The Reward of Five Guineas for apprehending Nathaniel Lock, a Deserter from the 64th Regiment is hereby withdrawn.
[Boston Chronicle, 13 March 1769]

Whatever the reason for his absence, Lock stayed put after this. He appears on the regiment's muster rolls consistently from 1773 onward. He probably played in the concert that was advertised a year before war broke out:

Messi'rs. Morgan and Stieglitz, Request Permission to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of Boston, that, having received assurance of the Patronage and Assistance of the Musical Gentlemen, they purpose having at Concert Hall, on Wednesday the 20th of April, a GRAND CONCERT of Vocal and Instrumental MUSIC assisted by the Band of the 64th Regiment.

ACT 1st.

Overture   Stamitz 1st.
Concert   German Flute,
Song    'My Dear Mistress,' &c
Harpsic. Concerto by Mr. Selby
Simphony   Artaxerexes,

ACT 2d.

Overture   Stamitz 4th.
Hunting Song.
Solo, German Flute.
Song, Oh! My Delia, &c.
Solo Violin.

   To conclude with a grand Military Simphony accompanied by Kettle Drums, &c. compos'd by Mr. Morgan.
   TICKETS at Half a Dollar each, to be had at the British Coffee House, at Miss Cumming's in Cornhill, at Messi'rs Cox and Berry in King Street, and of Messi'rs Stieglitz and Morgan.
   N.B.   Copies of the Songs to be delivered out (gratis) with the Tickets. 
  To begin at 7 o' Clock precisely.
[Boston Gazette, 11 April 1774]

The 64th Regiment remained in America for the entirety of the American Revolution, one of only a few that were in the colonies before the war and did not depart until after hostilities ended. Nathaniel Lock was carried on the rolls the whole time, initially as a drummer or a private soldier, and from 1778 as a serjeant. Why he was put in a post of such responsibility is debatable: probably he was the leader of the band by this time and was maintained as a serjeant in order to pay him at an appropriate rate; but it is possible that he did the normal duties of a non-commissioned officer.
At the end of the war Lock returned to Great Britain and was discharged. On a list prepared in August 1783 of men, women and children of the regiment who would sail home, Lock is listed as having one child but no woman with him. Whether the woman mentioned in the 1769 ad was his wife or not, she clearly didn't stay with the army as long as he did.