Sunday, October 21, 2018

Transport Vessels for the Highland Battalions

Whitehall March 10, 1757.
Ldrs of the Admty. 

My Lords
I am commanded to signify to your Lordships His Majesty's Pleasure that you do forthwith cause a sufficient number of the Transport Vessels, (ordered by my Letters of the 22d past) to be fitted up, victualled, & provided with Bedding, for receiving on board, and conveying to North America, at the rate of two tons for each person, Two Highland Battalions of Foot, commanded by Lt. Col. Montgomery & Lt. Col. Fraser, Each Battalion consisting of 44 commission & Staff officers, 80 Non Commissioned officers, 20 Drummers, & 1000 private Men, together with the usual allowance of 6 Women, & 3 Servant to Each Company. And it's the Kings' further Pleasure that the said Transport Vessels so fitted up, be directed to repair to Cork in Ireland, under such convoy as your Lordships shall judge sufficient, where the Two Battalions above mentioned are to be embarked; and from whence such of the Transport Vessels, as shall have on board the Battalion, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Montgomery are to proceed to Charles Town in South Carolina, and the remainder, with the Battalion, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Fraser are to proceed to Halifax, in Nova Scotia, at which place they are to be respectively disembarked; And your Lordships will accordingly give the necessary Orders for this purpose to the Commanding Officer of the s Officer, commanding the said Convoy, & Transport Vessels.


Draft to the Ldrs of the Admty
March 10th, 1757.
2 Tents, Baggage &c
Transports for Highlanders &c.

After arriving at Glasgow, newspaper accounts depict the main body of Fraser's Highlanders, on or about 19 April 1757, proceeding west to Port Patrick en route to Donaghadee, Ireland, where they would continue their march some 400 miles south to Cork, Ireland and depart for North America in eight transport ships under cover of Enterprize, a 40-gun man of war.

Note: Originally commissioned Norwich in May 1718, she was later renamed Enterprize on 23 May 1744.

Colonel Simon Fraser
From aboard the Ann transport ship in Cove Harbour, Colonel Fraser wrote on June 28th, 1757:

My Dr Sir,
     Tho I have been long hurryd I am not less so than ever & have but just time to tell you that we marched safe and sound thro Ireland without the loss of a man since we landed they hardly gave us time to cool our bloods when they embarked us & here we are all alive and merry.

    I don’t know if I said anything in answer to yours about the meal but it must be sent for & distributed first to the widows, then to the wives & so on to the third and fourth generation of them that loved me well enough to follow me. As to the Deserters I woud have them be sent by the first troops to Glasgow & Mr Geo Buchanan Junr there will send them by some Capt transporting convicts to Halifax where we are destined to & this I would have done with the rest if any are taken. God bless you my Dr Sir, the Wyfie poor beoch, the bairns, Hopefull &c &c I shall find time to write you at sea.  

Yrs S. Fraser

Sergeant James Thompson
The regiment would ultimately depart Cork for Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 30, 1757. The following is an excerpt from Sergeant James Thompson's diary on the sailing to North America:

     Our Regiment rendezvou'd at Cork, there to embark for Service, somewhere or other in North America. We sail'd with seal'd orders, which were only to be open'd when we reach'd a certain latitude. The hir'd vessel I was embark'd in was call'd the Martello, a beautiful new ship, and it was her first voyage. The Captain did not know her trim, and the first few days after our sailing she would run away from the Commodore in no time, in spite of our short'ning sail, and for this high offense, which he couldn't help, the Captain had frequently a shot fired at him, to make him keep under the wing of the Commodore, the shot however, did no further injury than subject the Captain to a fine of six and eight pence for every shot. One day we had a fine stiff breeze and our ship actually outsailed the whole of the Fleet altho' only under bare poles. When the Commodore saw this he was satisfied it wasn't the Captain's fault, and he made him pay no more six-and-eight pence per shot. The ship was so tight that she didn't require pumping the whole of the voyage, which was a lucky circumstance indeed.

     At last, we discover'd the Commodore's Signal for the whole of the Fleet to heave-to, and when we had done this as cleverly as we could, the Signal was made for all Commanding Officers of Corps to go on board the Commodore's ship. This was to make known our Destination, and to receive their Orders accordingly. We soon after found out that our place of destination was Halifax. As good luck would have it, the Fleet was safe, and soon after we cast our Anchor, our Captain was anxious to try the tightness of his ship and gave his orders to have her pump'd. The men had difficulty in getting the pumps to draw, and when, at last, water came, it was as black as my Bonnet, and it produced such a stench, that it would soon have poison'd all the men on board. It turn'd out that instead of pumping out, 'afaith they were obliged to pump in, to prevent the Troops getting sick.

     When we landed at Halifax, we found our Commander-in-Chief General Wolfe there, drilling away the men, and making fight sham-battles at a place round the Town called Deptford, where the ground is level. We were not long at Halifax when we received Orders to set sail for the River Saint Lawrence, and in a few days we came to anchor opposite the harbour of Louisbourg which we knew it was our business to try and take.

Transport Ships at Halifax, 1757
Further research indicates the hired vessel Martello that Serjeant Thompson spoke of may have actually been named Myrtilla, as recorded on October 17, 1757 with the Second Highland Battalion in Halifax Harbour. Thompson describes her as "...a beautiful new ship," and early records confirm she was originally built in 1754. Because Thompson's diary was recorded some years later, it would not be uncommon, due to advanced age, to have erred in his recollections.

Return of Col. Fraser's transport ships in Halifax Harbour, October 1757
Return of Col. Fraser's transport ships in Halifax Harbour, October 1757
Note: The Matilla transport ship, as depicted in the above Return in Halifax Harbour, was most likely named Matilda, commanded by Captain Wing, and recorded as returning to England with five other transport ships, viz., Kent; Neptune; Brotherly Love; Myrtilla; Duchess of Hamilton. [Lloyd's List - "Ships arriving at Downs from North America," 12 Apr. 1757.]

Transport Vessels Depart Louisbourg, 1759
In the early summer of 1759, the British Fleet set sail from Louisbourg for Quebec, in all approximately 9,000 soldiers strong. The regiments were divided into three divisions/brigades [white - 1st brigade, red - 2nd brigade, blue - 3rd brigade], and to further distinguish between regiments the ships were dressed with color-coded vanes. Colonel Fraser's transport vessels for this voyage were as follows:

White Division - 1st Brigade
Colonel Fraser, 78th Foot
Vanes: white, and two blue balls

Ship: Ann & Elizabeth
Shipmaster: Wm. Robinson
Tons: 215
Troops: 113
Taken up: London
With one cutter boat

Ship: Argyle
Shipmaster: Alexr. Morrison
Tons: 300
Troops: 193
Taken up: Boston
With three whale boats

Ship: Jane
Shipmaster: Jno. Garnett
Tons: 273
Troops: 97
Taken up: London
With one cutter boat

Ship: James & Henrietta
Shipmaster: Jno. Meeke
Tons: 357
Troops: 196
Taken up: London
With one flat boat

Ship: Resolution
Shipmaster: Zachy Marshall
Tons: 238
Troops: 122
Taken up: London
With one cutter boat

Ship: Thornton
Shipmaster: Jno. Ekshaw
Tons: 331
Troops: 221
Taken up: New York

Ship: Venus [2]
Shipmaster: Wm. Duffield
Tons: 317
Troops: 208
Taken up: London
With two cutter boats

Total troops: 1150

Note: Venus [2] was the second of two vessels by the same name operating for the British Fleet at this time. The first Venus transport vessel operating in the area was commanded by Shipmaster Johnson.

“Transport Vessels for the Highland Battalions.” Letter received by Lords of Admiralty, 10 March 1757. America and West Indies, Original Correspondence, etc. Despatches to governors and others, 1756-1757, C.O. 5 ed., vol. 212, pp. 423-426. Public Archives Canada. Print.

"Transports in the White Division." Northcliffe Collection: Series 1: Robert Monckton Papers. LAC, Microfilm C-366.

Col. Simon Fraser, "Colonel Fraser in Cove Harbour, 28 June. 1757." Clan Fraser Society, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 2001.

Earl John Chapman, “Troop Transport Martello.” Received by, Rootsweb, 10 Apr. 2010, Accessed 2 July 2017.

"Halifax Harbour Transporte List." Elizabeth Rose Family papers. NAS, GD125-22-17, p. 18.

Lloyd's Register Group, “Lloyd's Register of Ships.” Lloyd's Register Group Limited, 2017,

Andrew Welsh, "Enterprize departs Cork, Ireland, 30 June 1757." The Magazine of magazines, compiled from original pieces, with extracts from the most celebrated books and periodical compositions published in Europe, vol. 13, p. 575. London. Printed for W. Owen, 1757.

British Fourth Rate Ships of the Line, "Norwich Renamed Enterprize, 1744." Three Decks, Warships in the Age of Sail, 2017. Accessed 2 July 2017. Web.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.  All rights reserved.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The Siege of Quebec: Week Eight

Journal written during the siege of Quebec
August 15th, 1759. Remained in camp all day ; the weather rainy. Nothing extraordinary.

16th. This forenoon a small party of the enemy shewed themselves to the left of our encampment, but were repulsed by a few of our advanced guard.

17th. This forenoon the General gave in orders that the two battalions and two companys of Light Infantry should prepare to embark on board their respective vessels, as the former distribution. At 10 o'clock we struck our tents and embarked, where we remained till the night following. The other company of Light Infantry with the 200 marines to remain on shore till further orders, under the command of Captn. Fraser.

18th. At 12 o'clock this day embarked Capt. Simon Fraser with Delaunne's co. of Lt. Infantry. At the same time the General called for commanding officers of companys in order to explain his order of battle at landing next, or at the attack intended on the village Chambeau, where according to intelligence formerly given (by prisoners taken), there are some magazines, and consequently men to endeavour their defence. After which explanation the General sent orders to the commanding officers of the marines to keep the tents of the two regts. standing, that as the enemy might discover the embarkation of Delaune's company in the daytime, seeing the camp as formerly excepting the tents of the Light Infantry, as also keeping the face of the encampment as formerly with a number of large fires, that from these circumstances the enemy will probably conjecture that the tents struck is only the Light Infantry, being detached, &c. Likewise oblige them to keep their quarters, not knowing the infantry's intention or destination.

At 11 o'clock we embarked in boats, and agreeable to orders rendevouzed at the War transport. At 12 o'clock we sett of accompany'd by two floating batterys, for the intended attack of Chambeau, which lies on the north shore, 7 leagues up the river Point au Tremble and 21 leagues ffrom Quebec.

19th. By daybreak we drew nigh the rendevouze formerly mentioned, at the same time discovered a large topsail schooner on her way from shore, and bearing down upon us, which would not be so convenient ; but in a little time they altered their course, by which we understood they meant to scheere off. About an hour after we landed, to our surprise without opposition, being two miles below the church of St. Joseph. We formed a column, Delaune's and Carden's company forming the van, and Fraser's company, with a detachmt of Royal Americans, the rear guard. As churches were generally the posts they occupied we marched in the aforesaid order without any molestation, excepting a few shott on our rear which did not disturb us much, when our van came in sight of the church of St. Joseph, a Capt. of De La Sare's regiment with about 60 regulars made a show of making a stand, which obliged the Brigadier to make a disposition of attacking, not knowing but they might be a part of a larger body. On their seeing the head of our column draw nigh, the Capt. and his men withdrew to the wood without firing a shott. Near this church found a store-house in which store was all the effects including equipage and apparel, of all the officers in Quebec, civil and military, besides arms and ammunition, the whole value as 90.000 pounds sterling money, which we consumed by fire. We remained at Chambeau till 1/2 past three o'clock in the evening ; being low water we embarked on board our boats, carrying off some sheep, leaving 100 cattle shott on the beach. Major Dalling's Light Infantry covered the retreat, which was done in pretty good order, and without the loss of one man. After we were embarked, and about 500 yards from shore, the General ordered one Capt. Mophak, a sea officer who had the command and direction of the flatt-bottomed boats when without the troops or at embarking or debarking, with two floating batterys and two flatt-bottomed boats with troops in them, to attack the schooner which lay dry on the sout shore. On the boars approaching the enemy fired two shott, abandon'd her, and sett her on fire. As we were coming down the river we was fired on by a party of Canadians from behind logs on the south shore ; none hurt. Arrived at 10 o'clock this night at our camp ; part of the troops did not disembark.

20th. The remaining part of the troops disembarked, and the marines in camp embarked. Rainy weather. At night disturbed by our sentry's firing at some straggling enemy coming to sculk by our camp ; the Light Infantry under arms till day, during which time it rained very hard.

21st. This morning the Brigadr (Genl Murray) sent to the camp desiring Capt. Fraser to come on board, signifying to him that he considered a diversion up the river to be of great consequence, and that every measure practicable should be taken to destroy the French shipping (which lay about 24 leagues above the town or city of Quebec) in order to clear the communication twixt us and Mr. Amherst, proposing to send Capt. Fraser with despatches to his Excellency General Wolfe, which afterwards was dropt. Forenoon of the day Admiral Holmes went on board a schooner in order to go reconoitre the French shipping and sound the channel.

Anon. Journal of the particular transactions during the siege of Quebec: at anchor opposite the Island of Orleans, July 26th, 1759. London, Quebec, 1901.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Companies of the 78th Regiment, 1763

As early as March 1759 Colonel Fraser's 78th Highlanders consisted of 14 companies and over 1500 men and women, each commanded by a commissioned officer. By 1763 the total number was reduced quite significantly to a regiment just under 900 in strength. Although thoroughly documented muster rolls [complete with soldier's names] are not available for the early years, it's towards the latter end of the war when we would finally discover the names of the men and women who graced their country in what will be forever recognized as one of the single most important military campaigns in North America's early history.

Muster rolls have remained an important document in military accountability for literally hundreds of years. In addition to identifying the names in a company, battalion, or regiment, they sometimes contained a 'record of events,' recording activities engaged in by the particular unit. The primary function of the many rolls maintained was to provide basic information about the identities, numbers, condition, equipage, and pay status of the men and women that comprised the British Army in order to facilitate administrative control. The rolls would have been created at the formation of a regiment, and continued monthly [bimonthly, and even semi-annually] as a way to track the status of each member, and finally ending when the unit was disbanded. It has been reported commanding officers' sometimes 'padded their rolls' [accounting for more men than they actually had] in order to receive extra rations at the end of the month. 

The earliest known surviving subsistence rolls [muster rolls created to document the official discharge dates, including funding victualed to each soldier] for the 78th Highlanders are dated 19 July 1763, with a subsequent set created one month later in August. Though errors have been discovered in the final reporting [we would expect to see incomplete or ambiguous reporting when dealing with about 900 names], these rolls serve as the Regiment's official discharge roster at the time of its disbandment.

Colonel Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 1763

“Revolutionary War Rolls, 1894-1913.” National Archives Catalog, War Department, National Archives, Washington, D.C., 1947,

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Siege of Quebec: Week Seven

August 8th, 1759. This morning by 10 o'clock were ordered to embark on board our boats (it being tide of flood) to attempt a landing on the north shore opposite to the church of Point au Tremble. The disposition of our landing was that Major Dalling's Light Infantry (being but 3 cos.) should lead and land first. The Marines to bring up the rear of the 15th regt. When the signal was made (which was a wave of the brigadier's hat) a reef of rocks ahead rendered it impossible to row directly in : Capt. Simon Fraser ordered two boats to row a little to the left, which was followed by the boat in which he was, containing the remaining part of the company belonging to him, who got clear of the rocks, pushed directly in, and landed. We drew up on the beach opposite to a body of the enemy posted in a copse in our front. Capt. Fraser discovering another body on our left, besides several smaller parties moving between the copse and the houses of the village Point au Tremble, he thought it imprudent to begin an attack before some more men were landed. He therefore cry'd to Brigadier Murray (whose boat was then near our shore) to order more men to land. On which the Brigadr. landed along with his Brigade Major (Maitland), Colonel Carleton, and Capt. Stobo, seemed dissatisfied with the slowness of the other two companys at landing, unfairly attributing the cause to shyness, when in reality it was owing to two boats running on the reef of rocks formerly mentioned. So soon as the boats floated, Capt. De Laune pushed in landing where Capt. Fraser's co. were drawn up, but as the different of time twixt Capt. Fraser's landing and Capt. Delaunne's were about 16 minutes, most of the former company were three feet deep in water, being tide of flood, which damaged part of their ammunition. Another great obstacle which disconcerted the Brigadr. that the boats in which the remaining part of the troops were embarked must row against tide in consideration of which the General thought proper to order a retreat to be beat ; the two companys drew off, reembarked in their respective boats without much confusion, but sustained part of the enemy's fire.

After drawing off from shore, the General ordered the killed and wounded on board a sloop who was exchanging some shot with one of the enemy's fleating batteries. As also the dry ammunition to be proportionally divided, and the whole to prepare for a second attack, in the same order as the former. We accordingly rowed in shore, but we found all the copse better lined than formerly, and from our boats could discover a considerable body on a road about 500 yards from thence, and those in the copse as formerly. The whole appeared formidable, as an officer on horseback went from one body to another, viz. that posted on the beach, the other on the road, and the one posted by the church aforesaid to deliver orders (as may be supposed). However, Major Dalling pursued the directions given him : when we came within gun-shot of the enemy, they gave us so heavy a fire of musketry that our landing was impracticable, besides, nor could our sailor's stand by their oars for some minutes. Upon seeing the boats wherein the regts. were embarked, pulled about, the soldiers seized the oars, backed water, and drew off from the fire. We learnt that upon the General's seeing these large bodys of the enemy in the village, he ordered the retreat to be beat, which we did not hear, being under the fire of the enemy. On this repulse, the whole of the troops re-embarked on board their respective ships. The following is an account of the killed and wounded of the three companys of Light Infantry : 10 officers wounded ; 36 privates wounded, and 26 killed.

N.B. Also 10 sailors killed and wounded belonging to the Sunderland man-of-war.

August 9th, 1759. Employed in the disposing and carrying for the wounded most of the day. At nine o'clock this night the Brigadr. ordered Lt. Crofton of the Rangers to land on the south shore in order to take a prisoner. He accordingly with 20 men landed, surprised a barn in which there were 9 Canadians, killed 4, and took 5 prisoners.

10th. This morning embarked on board our flat-bottomed boats, in order to land on the south shore, in the same order as the 8th inst. About half an hour after 7 o'clock rowed in and landed, after sustaining a small fire from the enemy, of whom we killed five, and took a captain of militia prisoner. Our loss consisting of one private killed, 6 wounded, and Lt. Sam Rutherford of Amherst's regt. wounded.

After we beat off the enemy, we took possession of an eminence where we encamped, strongly situated opposite to our ships, near village St. Nicholas, 21 miles from Point Levy camp.

11th. Remained in camp ; nothing done.

12th. Very rainy weather. This morning a schooner from below joined our fleet ; the m'r of reports that two catts with a regt. on board endeavoured to pass the town, but were obliged to put back by the brisk cannonading of the batterys.

13th. A detachment of 400 men under the command of Major Dalling marched to the eastward to reconoitre the country ; they were fired on by a small party of Canadians, who made the following execution, viz. Capt. Carden wounded, also 4 wounded of the Rangers. On which the General ordered all the houses east of our post (in the parish of St. Croix) to be sett on fire, and at the same time fixed a manifesto on the church door, declaring that if they should anoye any of our troops passing or repassing the communication, for the future, that no quarter will be given the inhabitants when taken, without exception or respect to person. The detachment took a great number of cattle ; no prisoners.

14th. This morning 7 marines straggled about 800 yards from the camp, who was taken by the enemy, part of whom they massacred and left on the beach in order to be discovered, in return of which cruelty the General marched with two battalions, viz. Amherst's and the 2nd Battln. Royal A., 3 miles east of our camp in the village of St. Nicholas, setting fire to all the houses belonging thereto. Neither prisoners or cattle brought in to camp.

Unknown. Journal of the particular transactions during the siege of Quebec: at anchor opposite the Island of Orleans, July 26th, 1759. London, Quebec, 1901.

Anon. Journal of the particular transactions during the siege of Quebec: at anchor opposite the Island of Orleans, July 26th, 1759. London, Quebec, 1901.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, Fraser's 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.