Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lieutenant Alexander Gregorson, 78th Regiment

Lieutenant Alexander Gregorson, of Ardtornish [1730-1789] - s/o James Macgregor & Marjorie Campbell [dau. of Alexander Campbell of Airds] - a gentleman volunteer gazetted an ensign on June 10, 1758 after the death of Lieutenant John Cuthbert created a vacancy. 

Colonel Simon Fraser recommended him for the promotion before the regiment sailed for Halifax and Louisbourg in a letter, 23 April 1758, to Lord Loudoun, describing Mr. Gregorson as "very strongly recommended by Colonel Campbell & to whose friends I am so much indebted that I should take his being provided for as a very great favour." And while the real identity of Colonel Campbell is not known, the introduction of Gregorson as a civilian suggests no earlier military service. The recording of his commission in the British Army Lists advocates his assignment with Colonel Fraser as his first post.

Gregorson, a descendant from Clan Macgregor, and whose brother, John, also served in Quebec with the 2nd Battalion of the 60th Royal American Regiment, was listed among the officers who sailed for Louisbourg in 1758; fought at Plains of Abraham on September 13, 1759 where he, along with Ensign McKenzie and Lieutenant Alexander Fraser, was described in the journal kept by Malcolm Fraser as "slightly wounded." Additionally, he sustained injuries at the Battle of Sainte-Foy on April 28, 1760, where he was taken a prisoner and almost killed by Indians, but erroneously documented as "dead" in Governor Murray’s Return of Prisoners of War.

List of Officers Sent in Governor Murray’s Return not Included in the List of English Prisoners returned from Canada, June 14, 1760
Fraser’s: Ens. Alexr. Gregorson: Prisoner on Parole at Quebec. Dead.
                Ens. Malcolm Fraser: Prisoner on Parole at Quebec. Dead.
Otway’s: Capt. Ince: Dead
Lascelle’s: Capt. Archbold: Dead
Amherst’s: Ens. Montgomery: Dead
Lawrence’s: Lt. Forbes mentioned in Govr. Murray’s is Dead.
A contemporary newspaper account from the period captured the death of Captain Ince and the four other officers correctly.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1760
That Captain Ince, of Otway's, and four other Officers, wounded and taken Prisoners the 28th of April, died of their Wounds at Montreal.

The ensign was promoted to lieutenant on April 29, 1760 in room of Lt. Cosmo Gordon, killed.

Alexander's brother, John, having knowledge his regiment were to remain and provide the guard to Quebec after the war, joined the 78th in the summer of 1763 in order to return to Europe.  The Highlanders' sailed home in October and "broke" at Glasgow on December 14, 1763, where both men were exchanged to half-pay.

Gregorson returned to active service on January 23, 1788 as a then-58-year-old lieutenant in the Landguard Fort Invalid Company, and was discharged dead the following year.

The Edinburgh Evening Courant, October 16, 1789
INVALIDS. Lieut. Robert Thomas, from  Capt. James Malcolm's Independent Company at Sheerness, to be Lieutenant in Captain William Pemble's Independent Company at Landguard Fort, vice Alexander Gregorson, deceased.

Note: Since the publishing of this post, new evidence has surfaced suggesting Alexander's brother, John Gregorson, transferred from the 78th Regiment to the 2nd Battalion, 60th Royal Americans prior to September 1761.

Fraser, Malcolm. Extract from a Manuscript Journal Relating to the Siege of Quebec [Quebec, 1886].

Marie Fraser, “Officers of the 78th Regiment.” Clan Fraser Society, Canada, 2001.

Macgregor, Amelia Georgiana Murray. History of the Clan Gregor: from public records and private collections. Vol. 2 [William Brown, 1901].

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2017. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Soldiers of the 78th Regiment Remaining in North America After 1763

Once question more commonly asked of those researching the 78th Regiment is, how many soldiers remained in North America at the conclusion of the war? And while exact numbers are not known, by studying available published material for the regiment we can arrive at a fairly close approximation.

It can be stated with a certain degree of confidence that about 528 soldiers initially remained; 170 discharged soldiers, plus an additional 358 men who transferred to other military regiments in the area. How many soldiers of the latter group stayed after 1768 remains a mystery.

During the official demobilization at the conclusion of the war, the disposition of each soldier was dependent on one of the four following categories:

     - Returned home and discharged in Scotland.
     - Discharged in North America.
     - Joined the 2d Battalion, 60th R.A. Regiment.
     - Joined the 15th Regiment.
     - Recommended to Royal Chelsea Hospital in London.

Let's take look at how we calculated these numbers to get a better understanding of what transpired.

The Numbers
An analysis of the Subsistence Rolls in the summer 1763 indicates the regiment's strength as follows:

- 865 + 22 soldiers
- 28 women
Total: 915

Note: 22 soldiers do not appear on the rolls as having received their subsistence pay in 1763, but must be accounted for in the final totals.

From that, we need to make a few subtractions.

- 283 soldiers listed as returning home in October 1763.
- 76 invalid soldiers separately listed as returning home in October.
Total: 359

So, we have 887 – 359 = 528 [women have been removed from the equation.]

Additionally, 170 soldiers discharged in North America. These men appear on the Subsistence Rolls and need to be separated from the other soldiers.

528 – 170 = 358

Now, we have two separate groups that remained consisting of 170 and 358 men respectively. The group of 358 soldiers continued military service with one or more of two regiments that remained to guard the government through 1768. There is no evidence to support any of Colonel Fraser's men joining the 27th Foot.

In his 12 September 1763 letter to the Earl of Loudon, Major James Abercrombie affirms a transfer of soldier strength. The majority of the men of the 78th were only subsisted to the 13th of the month, one day later. 

"...The 47th & 78th have been drafted to compleat the 15th, 27th 2d Bn. Royal Americans, those three Regts. remain in this govt. & trois rivieres..."
The major's statement is further reinforced by this contemporary newspaper account:

St. James Chronicle or British Evening Post, London, 8 December 1763
Edinburgh, December 3. From Glasgow we have Advice that only the Officers and 200 private Men of Colonel Frazer's Regiment from Quebec had arrived at Greenock, and that 400 of them, before they left that Place, had been draughted into General Amherst's Regiment of Royal Americans.

It's unclear the exact disbursement of soldiers in support of the three remaining regiments, but the 15th Regiment, by 12 September, received 254 draughts, 18 recruits; General Amherst stated, "...the majority of the men from the 78th...." And a thorough review of their muster rolls confirms that about 164 soldiers of the 78th Regiment transferred to the 15th Regiment on 25 August 1763. The remaining soldiers most likely went to the Royal Americans as stated in the newspaper.

A letter from General Amherst to Governor Thomas Gage, dated 1 August 1763 at New York, provides an insight to the challenges the general faced in supplying troops to the three remaining regiments.

"...The Reduced States in which the several Corps at prest. are, The Difficulty in Recruiting them in this country, and the absolute Necessity there is to have them compleat, obliges me to Draft men from those Regiments that are ordered home, as well as take every man of the Disbanded Corps fit for service and who are not Entitled to their Discharge, to fill up the others..." He further continued, "Should there be any men belonging to the Corps in your Government, that are really Invalids, or are Intitled to their Discharges, and are Willing to accept thereof in this Country which I would much rather they should, as I think they can get their Livelyhood by working in America, Easier than at home, you will be pleased to Discharge them accordingly, but they should have a right to be sent to Europe, Agreably to the King's Intentions."
We also discovered evidence supporting 80 soldiers of the 78th Regiment applying for passage to Albany, in a letter from Governor James Murray to General Amherst dated 15 September 1763. And it only makes sense this group was part of the 170 discharged soldiers.

"...Major Abercrombie has apply'd to me for a march route & Provisions to Albany for Eighty of the Men of His Regt. who chuse to remain in America rather than go home. I this day allow'd them to march, and I flatter myself you will approve. At Albany every man will go to his respective Destination..." 
Amherst's approval arrived by letter from New York three weeks later on 6 October 1763.

"...I am glad to find that so many Men of the 78th have Chose to come to Albany, where I hope they will be able to fix on Places to settle in, to their liking, Nothing could be more reasonable than your allowing them provisions to that place."

In Conclusion
A conservative estimate is about 60 percent of the demobilized regiment initially remained in North America, at least for a few years after the war. And of the original 528 men thought to have stayed, we have currently identified 234 [plus or minus] applying for Crown land in Quebec, New York, and Vermont from 1765-1802. 

Author and librarian W.S. Wallace wrote, in a 1948 article, "It has been estimated that two or three hundred of the regiment remained in Canada." And while it has been suggested that as many as 400 men may have never returned to Scotland at all, the lack of available paperwork offered as confirmation further concretes this mystery. 

One thing is for certain, though: both family love and public interest solidifies the continued search for official records of these courageous men and women. And as more information becomes available perhaps one day we'll finally have the answers.

Do you have a Highlander ancestor you would like to share? We would love to hear your story! If you could please reach out and contact us with your information it would be greatly appreciated.

Treasury Board Papers, "Subsistence Rolls of Fraser's Highlanders (the 78th), 1763." LAC, T.1, vol. 422.

Ibid, "Subsistence Rolls of Fraser's Highlanders (the 78th), 1763." TNA, T.1, vol. 422.

Marie Fraser, "Subsistence Rolls of Fraser's Highlanders (the 78th), 1763." Clan Fraser Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001.

McIntosh, Walter H. 78th or Colonel Simon Fraser's Regiment [Topsfield, Massachusetts, n.d.]

General James Murray, "Letter addressing various campaign issues." War Office Records: Amherst Papers. Letters from the Governor of Quebec to the Commanders-in-Chief, New York, 1760-63. LAC, W.O. 34, vol. 2.

Earl John Chapman, "Soldiers of the 78th in North America." Email letter received 20 Nov. 2017. 

General James Murray, "Embarkation Return of Soldiers of the 78th Regiment [and others.]" October 1763. LAC, War Office Records: Amherst Papers. Miscellaneous Correspondence, Papers and returns, 1759-1763. W.O. 34, vol. 4. 

Royal Chelsea Hospital. Chelsea Pensioners: 78th Regiment of Foot, January-June 1764. TNA, Series W.O. 116/5. 

Wallace, W.S. The Footprints of Fraser's Highlanders on the Sands of Time [Quebec, 1948.]

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2017.