John Carden was born in Ireland sometime between 1738 and 1742. In 1759 he joined the 17th Regiment of Foot an ensign, earning a promotion to the rank of lieutenant in 1762. In 1767 he transferred to the 15th Regiment of Foot. It seems that he married one Sarah Surman around 1768 in Gretna Green in Scotland. He resigned from the British Army in 1771 but with the outbreak of war in America he reentered the service of his country. In 1776 or 1777 he joined the Prince of Wales’s American Regiment, a unit of American loyalists. He was commissioned as a major on April 24, 1777. Major Carden commanded Tory forces at the Battle of Hanging Rock in 1780, after which he continued to serve in South Carolina for another two years. Carden’s family seemed to have believed that he died at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. In fact, Carden did not die, and was likely not even present at the battle, for on the day the battle occurred he married Judith Wragg in Charleston. Although documentation is scarce, some evidence indicates that he faked his own death and that he was still legally married to Sarah Surman when he married Wragg. Wragg died in September 1781 and on November 19 of that year, Carden was married again, this time to Kitty Hazard. Major Carden’s son, John Surman Carden, was captain of the British frigate HMS Macedonian when it was captured by Stephen Decatur and the USS United States in 1812. John Surman Carden later became an admiral and wrote a memoir which included considerable inaccuracies about his father. John Carden died in in South Carolina on October 31, 1782.
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