Erskine, William

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Erskine, William

ERSKINE, WILLIAM. (1728–1795). British general. Born in England 1728, William Erskine entered the Scots Greys in 1743, became a cornet at Fontenoy (1745) and, later, a major in the Fifteenth Light Dragoons in March 1759. He served with great credit in Germany. In 1762 he became a lieutenant colonel, and the next year, after presenting George III with 16 stands of colors captured by his regiment at Emsdorf, Germany, he was made a knight banneret. As a brigadier general he commanded a brigade in the battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776, and the next night surprised an American detachment at Jamaica. In April 1777 he was William Tryon's second in command during the Connecticut coast raid. Sir Henry Clinton made Erskine his quartermaster general, in which capacity he also led troops during the Monmouth campaign, and during the winter of 1778–1779, Erskine commanded the eastern district of Long Island. When Clinton moved up the Hudson River in November 1778 in an attempt to intercept the Convention Army, which was reported to be moving to Virginia, Erskine commanded five infantry battalions and a cavalry squadron, but the expedition returned to New York City after getting as far as Kings Ferry. In summer, 1779 he turned over his duties as quartermaster general to Major Duncan Drummond and sailed for London.

He had been made colonel of the Eightieth Regiment in 1777, was promoted to major general in 1779, lieutenant general in 1787, and became a baronet in June 1791. During the Flanders campaign of 1793 to 1795, he was second in command to the Duke of York. He died on 9 March 1795.

SEE ALSO Connecticut Coast Raid; Jamaica (Brookland), New York.


Ford, Paul Leicester. Orderly Book of the "Maryland Loyalists Regiment," June 18, 1778 to October 12, 1778. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Historical Print Club, 1891.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles