Francis Payne

Lt. Francis Payne, Col. Seth Warner’s Additional Regiment

Beginning in 1749, the New Hampshire governor Benning Wentworth issued numerous patents to land in the Green Mountains, counting on a vague border with New York to at least temporarily make the claims profitable. Settlers, moving in orderly, family-centered groups, took advantage of the new patents and moved into the area, establishing towns that were, although varied in religion and ethnic background, far from a wild frontier. In 1770, New Yorkers attempted to use a 1764 royal decision that the land belonged to them to move in Dutch settlers on new patents. Reacting to this incursion, Ethan Allen, a recent immigrant, formed the Green Mountain Boys, a group of men determined to protect their families’ lands, who used intimidation, violence, and harassment to drive off the hated “Yorkers.” Allen and his men successfully evaded the authorities, even posting a mock reward for their enemies in retaliation for bounties posted on their heads.

In early June 1775, Ethan Allen and his then subordinate, Seth Warner, induced the Continental Congress at Philadelphia to create a Continental Army ranger regiment from the then New Hampshire Grants. Having no treasury, Continental Congress directed the New York Provincial Congress to pay for the newly authorized regiment. In July 1775, the unit was granted support from the New York Provincial Congress. As such, on July 27, 1775, New York established the Regiment with Seth Warner in command with a Lieutenant Colonel’s commission.

Using their knowledge of the area and Fort Ticonderoga’s weaknesses, Allen and Henry Knox seized the fort and its cannon, which eventually forced the British out of Boston. Later, the Regiment participated in the Invasion of Quebec (Canada) that captured Montreal and laid siege to Quebec City. Ultimately the invasion was a failure due to a harsh winter, disease in camp, and the arrival of British reinforcements.

On January 1, 1777, Francis Payne was appointed as Sergeant Major of Warner’s Additional Continental Regiment. Sometime during 1778 he was captured, possibly during the incident at Mile Island on Lake George, as he was “exchanged for James Lewis 1 Apr 1778.” He was commissioned as an Ensign on August 18, 1778. He was promoted to Lieutenant on May 2, 1779. Lieutenant Payne was again captured as he is listed on a “Return of prisoners sent from the province of Quebec for Exchange since November 1, 1779.” His return is dated as November 8, 1782. He was sent by sea to Boston.

Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, (Baltimore, 1914), 431; John E. Goodrich, The State of Vermont: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783, (Rutland, 1904); Gavin K. Watt, The Burning of the Valleys, Dundurn Press (1997), 103–05; Selected Wartime Service Records of Lieutenant Francis Payne.