Military Subjects: Battles & Campaigns

The British Army Stationed in British North America 1812-1815

By Ron McGuigan

Introduction

The War of 1812 caught the British Army mostly unprepared to defend British North America [Canada today] against the potential might of the United States of America. Much of Great Britain’s disposable forces were engaged in fighting in Spain or in the Mediterranean and providing garrisons for its far flung empire. Until Napoleon’s abdication on April 1814, there were few battle hardened regiments available to be sent to the Canadas. Until then most of the reinforcements came from the garrisons in the West Indies or in Great Britain and Ireland. Few of the regiments had seen any fighting in years. It had been almost thirty years since Canada had last participated in a war of any kind. The war in British North America was looked upon as a secondary theatre only for the defence of the colonies and so never had first consideration for reinforcements. In fact, the British government may have faced severe censure if the fighting in the year 1812 had been disastrous for the British arms as they had sent urgent reinforcements to the Duke of Wellington’s army in Spain instead of to British North America even when it seemed that war might be a possibility. A point well-made by Lord Bathurst in a letter to the Duke. [Note: 1]

This is an examination of the British Regular Army Units stationed and serving in Canada during the War of 1812, which lasted from 18 June 1812 to 18 February 1815. British North America  at the time was divided into the colonies of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, and the Maritimes [New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland with Bermuda included with the Maritimes]. For the following lists, the location where stationed is given after the unit’s name. The dates are either arrival or raising in British North America and the last location indicates area of service before arriving in North America. Not included are the companies of the Corps of  Royal Sappers and Miners which were stationed in British North America or which served against the United States.

Regulars in British North America at War’s Declaration 1812.

The total of British Regulars stationed in the Canadas in June was 6,034 men and in the Maritimes (including Bermuda) for June, there were 3,743 British Regulars. In June 1812, Upper Canada had the 41st Foot; detachment 10th Royal Veteran Battalion; detachment Royal Newfoundland Fencibles [mostly serving as Marines with the Provincial Marine on the Lakes]; artillery gunners of Holcroft's Company for a total of about 1,500 men.  From this, they had to find garrisons for seven forts and protect a border that stretched from Sault Ste. Marie on Lake Huron to Lower Canada. In June 1812, in Lower Canada, there were the 1/8th Foot; 49th Foot; 100th Foot; detachments of the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion and the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles; the Canadian Fencibles and three companies of Royal Artillery. In June 1812 in the Maritimes, there were the 2/8th Foot; 98th Foot [part in Bermuda]; 99th Foot; 104th Foot with companies in Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton Island; Nova Scotia Fencibles in Newfoundland; and five companies of Royal Artillery.

1/8th Foot, Canada [April 1809], Martinique 1809

2/8th Foot, Maritimes [October 1810], Walcheren 1809

1/41st Foot, Canada [August 1799], Ireland

49th Foot, Canada [August 1802], Copenhagen 1801

98th Foot, Maritimes &  part in Bermuda [1805], 

99th Foot, Canada [1811?], Bermuda 1807

100th Foot, Canada [1805], Ireland

104th Foot, Maritimes [1803], (raised as New Brunswick Fencibles 1803)

Canadian Fencibles, Canada [1803]

Royal Newfoundland Fencibles, Canada [1803]

Royal Nova Scotia Fencibles, Newfoundland [1803]

10th Royal Veteran Battalion, Canada [1807]

W. Payne's Company, 2nd Battalion RA Newfoundland [before 1792]

B. Fenwick's Company,  2nd Battalion, RA Maritimes [before 1792]

P. Wallace's Company 4th Battalion, RA Canada [before 1792]

J. Caddy's Company, 4th Battalion, RA Canada [before 1792]

J. Sinclair's Company, 4th Battalion, RA Canada [before 1792]

W. Holcroft's Company, 4th Battalion, RA Canada [1790]

H. Phillott's Company, 5th Battalion RA Maritimes [June 1808]

G. Crawford's Company, 6th Battalion,  RA Maritimes [November 1811]

J. St. Clair's Company,  7th Battalion, RA Maritimes [May 1809]

Regulars Arrived or Raised in British North America 1812

By December, the total of regulars in the Canadas was 8,136 men and in the Maritimes it was 4,519 men.

1/1st Foot, Canada [August 1812], West Indies

2/89th Foot, Canada [October 1812], Gibraltar

103rd  Foot, Canada [July 1812], Ireland

Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles, Canada [ordered raised February 1812; recruiting in June 1812. Accepted on Canadian establishment August 1812 and on British establishment October 1812]

Regulars Arrived or Raised in British North America 1813 [Note: 2]

By December, the total of regulars in the Canadas was 14,623 men and in the Maritimes it was 4,854 men.

19th Light  Dragoons, Canada [3 squadrons 17 May 1813], India 1782-1807,

13th Foot, Canada [28 June 1813], West Indies

2/41st Foot Canada [May 1813]

64th Foot, Canada [June 1813],  Surinam

70th Foot, Canada [November 1813], Ireland

101st Foot, Canada [1813]

Regiment de Meuron, Canada [13 June 1813], Malta

Regiment de Watteville, Canada [13 May 1813], Cadiz 1811-1813

New Brunswick Fencibles, Maritimes [ordered raised March 1813]

Regulars Arrived in British North America 1814

A return for 8 November 1814 shows that there were approximately 38,000 all ranks, in the Canadas, in the Maritimes and in the District of Maine. This includes all British Regulars and the embodied volunteer militia units.

4/1st Foot Canada [26 June 1814], Netherlands 1814

3rd Foot, Canada [1 August 1814], Peninsula 1808-1814

5th Foot,  Canada [7 August 1814], Peninsula 1812-1814

6th Foot, Canada [July 1814], Peninsula 1812-1814

9th Foot, Canada [22 August 1814], Peninsula 1810-1814

16th Foot, Canada [29 May 1814], Ireland

1/27th Foot, Canada [August 1814], Gulf of Mexico 1815, Peninsula 1812-1814

3/27th Foot, Canada [August 1814], Peninsula 1808-1814

29th Foot, Maritimes [August 1814], capture of Maine,  Peninsula 1808-1811

1/37th Foot,  Canada [3 August 1814] , Gibraltar 1811-1813, South of France 1814-1814

1/39th Foot, Canada [August 1814], Peninsula 1811-1814

57th Foot, Canada [3 August 1814], Peninsula 1809-1814

1/58th Foot, Canada [July 1814], Peninsula 1812-1814

7/60th Foot, Maritimes [April 1814], capture of Maine

1/62nd Foot, Maritimes [August 1814], capture of Maine, Peninsula 1813-1814

76th Foot, Canada [August 1814], Peninsula 1813-1814

81st Foot, Canada [August 1814], Peninsula 1812-1814

82nd Foot, Canada [7 August or June 1814], Peninsula 1812-1814

88th Foot, Canada [3 August 1814], Peninsula 1809-1814

90th Foot,  Canada [20 June 1814], West Indies

2/93rd Foot, Newfoundland [1814]

97th Foot, Canada [1814], Peninsula 1808-1811

H. Farrington's  Company, 1st Battalion, RA Maritimes [June 1814] Ireland

S. Maxwell's Company,  4th Battalion, RA Canada [August 1814] Peninsula

H. Trelawney's Company,  5th Battalion, RA Canada [August 1814] Peninsula

G. Turner's Company,  9th Battalion, RA Canada [August 1814] Peninsula

J. Maclachan's Company,  10th Battalion, RA Canada [June 1814]

J. Addams' Company,  10th Battalion, RA Canada [June 1814]

Notes:

1. Earl Bathurst to General the Marquess of Wellington, Downing Street 6th Oct., 1812. Wellington’s Supplementary  Despatches Volume 7 page 442.

2. Also arrived for defence were:

1st Battalion, Royal Marines, Canada [9 October 1813 - disbanded August 1814], Lisbon

2nd Battalion, Royal Marines, Canada [24 September 1813 - disbanded May 1814], Lisbon

Royal Marine Artillery, 2 companies, rocket detachment [October 1813]

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2004; updated April 2013

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