Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BOYD, John Parker, soldier, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and 21 December 1764; died in Boston, 4 October, 1830. He is best described as a free-lance or soldier of fortune. Too young to take part in the war for independence, he entered the service as ensign soon after he was of age (1786); but the period of military inanition immediately succeeding the revolution proved too dull for his adventurous taste, and he set out in search of a career. In 1789 he was at the head of a small army of mercenaries in Hindustan. He had sufficient capital to equip three battalions of about 500 men each, and to engage some English officers. This command he held ready for the service of any native prince that had a war on his hands. Strifes between principalities were then of frequent occurrence, and he was at different times in the service of ttolkar, rajah of Indore, of the Peishwa chief of the Nahrattas, and of Nizam Ali Khan. Under this last-named prince he was given an important command in Madras, having at one time an army of 10,000 men at his disposal. About 1806 it became evident that British conquest must put an end to independent soldiering as a remunerative profession, so he sold his entire outfit to Col. Felose, a Neapolitan, and went to Paris. Returning to the United States, he was made colonel of the 4th United States infantry, 7 July, 1808, and in the autumn of 1811 was ordered to join General Harrison in his expedition up the Wabash River against Tecumseh, the Indian chief, and was present with his regiment in the severe fight at Tippecanoe (7 November, 1811). He was commissioned brigadier-general, 26 August, 1812, and participated in the capture of Fort George, near the mouth of Niagara river, 27 May, 1813. In the autumn of that year he commanded a brigade in General Wilkinson's expedition down the St. Lawrence, and at the battle of Chrysler's Field, near Montreal (11 November), his brigade bore the brunt of the fighting, forcing the British back as long as the ammunition lasted, and holding its ground until re-enforced. After nightfall the United States forces were withdrawn, and the British claimed the victory, although their antagonists claimed to have had the best of the actual fighting. After the war Boyd was appointed naval officer for the port of Boston, which office he held until his death.
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