44th regiment of foot 1742
55th regiment of foot (1742) renumbered the 44th in 1748.
Extracted from "The Essex Regiment (1st Battalion)" by J.W. Burrows.
The 1st Battalion The Essex Regiment, or 44th Regiment of Foot, was one of seven additional regiments of infantry ordered to be formed in 1740 to augment the Regular Army during the War of the Austrian Succession. The new unit then ranked as the 55th and was raised by Col. James Long, of the 1st Foot Guards (Grenadier Guards).
There is no definite knowledge of the place where Long assembled his regiment or of the districts from which the men were drawn. The royal warrant, which is dated January 3rd, 1741, gives authority for the men to be recruited from "any county or part of Great Britain," and Trimen, in his "British Army," mentions that "the regiment was raised in the southern counties of England." The names of the officers commissioned to the new regiment are, however, mainly of Border origin, and extracts from records suggest that the men mostly came from Northern England or the Border. On February 21st, 1741, 50 privates and two drummers were drafted from Barrell's Regiment (4th Foot) to Long's Regiment and were ordered "to be delivered at Manchester," whilst on March 26th the Secretary-at-War directed that drafts from four regiments in North Britain should be sent to Long's and other regiments then being raised. Further, the men were to assemble at Musselburgh by May 1st. It is worthy of note, looking to the intimate association of the Regiment with Essex in later years, that on August 1st Col. Long was ordered to collect a deserter held as a prisoner at Halstead, Essex. According to the Abstract of Returns of Strength (June, 1741), the Regiment then had 515 effectives and was wanting 185 to complete establishment. Two years later there were 751 effectives and only 29 privates were wanted.
The letter of authority issued by the War Office to Col. Long was dated January 17th, 1741, and the first paragraph ran: "His Majesty having thought fit to order a regiment of foot to be forthwith raised under your command, which is to consist of ten companies of three serjeants, two drummers and seventy effective private men in each company, besides commission officers, and to grant a warrant for allowing two pounds for each private man as levy-money, and to authorize the Commissary-General of the Musters to make out Muster Rolls compleat for two musters from the 25th December last, the commencement of your establishment, the better to enable your officers to raise good and able men, I am thereupon commanded by Mr. Secretary-at- War to acquaint you with this, and to tell you His Majesty expects you will take care to have your regiment compleat at the expiration of the said two months."
The Lieut.-Colonel was Sir Peter Halkett, Bart., of Pitfirrane, Scotland, and the names of the other officers first commissioned to the Regiment were: Major, William Shewen; Captains, Thomas Mason, David Braimer, Basil Cochrane, Russell Chapman, Charles Tatton, Matthew Aylmer, Charles Knipe (the three field officers also each commanded a company in those days); Captain-Lieutenant, Durand Therond; Lieutenants, David Kennedy, Leonard Hewetson, George Welbourne, James Sandilands, Jesse Shaftoe, Nicholas Dunbar, Samuel Rogers (Adjutant), John Biekerstaff, George Watson, John Dale; Ensigns, Michael Aleock, Thomas Faulkenor, - Dalzell, John Archer, George Davies, West Diggs, David Drummond, Sir John Elphinstone, William Cunningham; Quartermaster, Hugh Vane; Surgeon, William Trotter; Chaplain, Edmund Morris. Halkett came of a well-known Scots family. His grandfather, Sir Peter Wedderburn, Lord Gosford, was a prominent lawyer of the Seventeenth Century. The father, Sir Peter Wedderburn, married Janet, daughter of Sir Charles Halkett, of Pitfirrane, and it was upon the wife's succession to the paternal estate that Wedderburn changed his name to Halkett. He had served in the Earl of Dumbarton's regiment, and his son, the lieut.-colonel referred to above, also followed a military career. He was born at Gosford, in June, 1695, and married Lady Aemilia Stewart, daughter of the seventh Earl of Moray, whose uncle, Lord Balmerino, was executed for participation in the "45." At the age of 89 he was Member of Parliament for Dunfermline and in 1739 he was Member for Inverkeithing. His life's work, however, was mainly that of a soldier and his devotion to the service is exemplified in the fact that he was sixty years of age when he fell in Braddock's expedition in 1755, leading the 44th. Colonel Halkett entered the Army in early years and was a major in the Scots Fusiliers in 1739. Two years later he was promoted lieut.-colonel, first in Houghton's and then into Long's. A War Office letter, dated February 16th, 1741, granting certain commissions, affords information relating to other officers. Shewen, David Braimer and Thomas Mason were on half pay; Basil Cochrane was a lieutenant in General Whetham's Regiment; Russell Chapman held the same rank in Colonel Ponsonby's; Charles Tatton was an ensign in Major-General Howard's; Matthew Aylmer an ensign in the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, whilst Charles Knipe was simply described as captain and Durand Therond as an ensign on half pay, specially designated to be captain-lieutenant of the Colonel's own company. Mason must have been nearly sixty years of age when he was gazetted, for in 1745 he petitioned the Secretary-at-War that being then sixty-five years old and having served as an officer in the Army for nearly forty years, he was greatly troubled with rheumatism and asthma. Moreover, when upon a command in the Highlands in the previous year he had the misfortune to break two ribs and an arm, which, with other infirmities, rendered him incapable of doing his duty. As a result he was given leave to retire and Lieut. Samuel Rogers succeeded him as captain.
Colonel James Long was appointed to the 4th Marines and Lieut.-Colonel John Lee, from the 4th Foot, succeeded him as Colonel in 1748. Hence for a time the present 44th, then the 55th, was known as Lee's Regiment. After the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle the 43rd Regiment (American Provincial Corps) was disbanded and the ten Marine Regiments (44th to 53rd) ceasing to be counted with those of the Line, the 55th were re-numbered the 44th, taking the place of Wolfe's Regiment.
Uniform clothing for soldiers was well established at the time the Regiment was raised, and the subsequent modifications in costume were those usual according to the various regulations for the "marching regiments" of Foot. From its formation probably, at any rate from 1748 until 1881, the facings were of yellow. At first, the men had but little "lace" on their coats. In 1750 the regimental tape-lace was white, with a yellow stripe and black and blue waved lines, and remained so, except that the blue and black became straight stripes until coloured laces were abolished in 1886 and plain white substituted. During the long period (from about 1770 to 1855), when infantry regiments were distinguished by the shape and spacing of the "loops," or bars of lace, across the front of their coats, the 44th wore square-ended loops at equal distances. The officers had silver buttons placed at equal distances apart, like those of the men. (In some regiments officers and men differed in this respect). As late as 1773 they wore silver embroidery on the buttonholes. This was discontinued by the end of the Eighteenth Century and their facings were plain, except for a loop of narrow yellow silk twist to the buttons, until 1880. In the latter year officers of all regular infantry were ordered to wear gilt buttons and to have gold lace loops on the collar and sleeve flaps, which considerably altered the dress of the 44th officers. The men continued to wear pewter buttons until 1855, when brass ones were substituted. From 1855 nearly all regimental differences in the infantry, beyond the colour of the facings, were swept away. In 1881, on the amalgamation for the purpose of making double-battalion regiments, all English line regiments were given white facings. A method of differentiating corps arose, however, by variations in the helmet plates and small metal buttons on the collars.
SERVICE IN THE "45"
In 1745 the 44th, then numbered the 55th, formed part of Lieut.-General Sir John Cope's small force in Scotland, when the Young Pretender raised his standard at Glenfinnan. Cope marched to Stirling and formed a camp on August 8th of 2,300 men, of which five companies (350) of Lee's Regiment (44th) formed part. The remaining five companies were at Berwick. Leaving his cavalry at Leith and Stirling, Cope marched with his infantry by Crieff and Tay Bridge along the Highland road towards Fort Augustus. At Dalnacardoch word came that the enemy intended to intercept him at Corryarrak. When he arrived at Dalwhinnie on August 26th, the English general hastily summoned a council of war, which advised that it was more expedient to march to Inverness. Cope acquiesced. He moved as if towards Garvemore, but when the van had reached Blarigg Beg and the rear was at Catlaig, where the road to Inverness turns off from the Fort Augustus road, the column was ordered to halt, face about and proceed to Inverness, which was reached on the 29th. Prince Charlie made the most of the opening and marched south. He was very glad to reach Blair Castle, seat of the Duke of Atholl, on August 30th, "for here was the first time that the men could properly be said to have had bread from the time of their rendezvous at Glenfinnan, having eaten nothing but beef roasted on the heath, without even bread or salt, during their march thither." By September 17th the Prince was in occupation of the city of Edinburgh, though the Castle was still held by royal troops. The British general, alarmed at the Prince's progress, marched to Aberdeen and there embarked for Dunbar, 27 miles from Edinburgh, which was reached on September 16th, too late to save the city. Cope, according to Sandford Terry's narrative of "The Forty-Five," after landing, marched west upon Edinburgh, with his right flank on the sea coast. The appearance of the Prince's army on his left on the evening of the 20th caused the English general to re-form to the threatened flank facing Tranent, but the Highlanders again demonstrated against the left, with the result that Cope re-formed a third time, on this occasion facing east towards Seaton. He thus fought the battle on the 21st with Edinburgh in his rear, seven miles away. The engagement takes the name of Preston Pans, from the village of that name near by, the English force being about 2,300, all told, with guns, and the Highlanders, a little stronger, but without artillery. The line of battle consisted of five companies of the 44th (291 strong) on the right, with Murray's (46th) on the left, eight companies of Lascelles' (47th) and two of Guise's (6th) being in the centre. The artillery, which originally was on the left, with Cochrane's company of the 44th as its guard, was finally placed on the right following upon Cope's changes of front. The outposts of the infantry regiments were between the guns and the 44th, the men not having had time to rejoin the units to which they belonged. In consequence, there was not sufficient room for the two squadrons of Gardner's Dragoons (18th Hussars) to form on the right of the 44th, so that one squadron was placed behind the other, with the third squadron in reserve. On the left was General Hamilton's cavalry regiment (14th Hussars). "The ground between the two armies was an extensive cornfield, plain and level, without a bush or tree. Harvest was just got in, and the ground was covered with a thick stubble, which rustled under the feet of the Highlanders as they ran on, speaking and muttering in a manner that expressed and heightened their fierceness and rage. When they set out the mist was very thick, but before they had got half way the sun rose, dispelled the mist and showed the armies to each other." Firing as they advanced in an oblique direction, the Stuart supporters first came in contact with the artillery, which was not served by men accustomed to handling the pieces, and they accordingly fled, five of the six guns being fired by a cavalry officer with his own hand. This checked the enemy rush, but they quickly recovered and a squadron of cavalry essayed to charge them. Being fired upon and suffering some loss, the latter turned away, riding over the artillery guard. The second squadron was led against the Highlanders, but when fired at the men fell into confusion and also made off. This action uncovered the flank of the infantry, who fired at the rapidly advancing enemy right down the line, but this proved ineffective and the Highlanders ran in with their swords, having dropped their muskets. The cavalry on the left then fled and the infantry were left to their fate. In a few minutes all was over and the little army melted away without effective resistance. Individual companies were rallied by officers and one of them was Sir Peter Halkett's. He kept a few of his men in hand and, taking cover behind a ditch in Tranent Meadow, he maintained so spirited a fire that he was allowed to surrender on terms. Lord George Murray's Journal mentions that a lieut.-colonel, five officers and some fourteen rank and file continued to resist at the ditch and were forced to surrender to a hundred of the enemy, who were firing at them. The incident referred to is probably that associated with the colonel of the 44th. Taken with Sir Peter on that day were 12 other officers of the corps, and they, with 1,200 prisoners, were removed to Edinburgh and thence to the Highlands. Sir Peter Halkett was afterwards dismissed on parole not to bear arms against the Prince for eighteen months. When in the February following he and four other officers were summoned by the Duke of Cumberland to join their regiments on pain of being superseded, they refused to do so and their reply was later approved by the Government, viz., "that His Royal Highness was master of their commissions, but not of their honour." They were accordingly permitted to remain in their regiments. The Young Pretender advanced into England, but retired before the Duke of Cumberland, who finally ended the revolt at Culloden, in April, 1746. The Regiment was not present at that battle, though it was in "North Britain." Five companies were at Edinburgh and five at Berwick-on-Tweed. The former provided the guard when the Jacobite colours taken at Culloden were burnt at the Scottish capital in June, 1746. [Gentlemen's Magazine, 1746 - "Edinburgh, June 4. Fourteen colours taken from the rebels at the battle of Culloden were brought in procession under a detachment of Colonel Lee's regiment, the Pretender's own standard carry'd by the hangman and each of the others by chimney-sweepers, from the castle to the cross, where a large fire was lighted for the purpose. The Pretender's son's own colours were burnt first, with three flourishes of the trumpets, amidst loud huzzas; and then the rest of the colours separately, the heralds proclaiming the names of the traitors to whom they belonged, and the ceremony concluded by burning Ld. Lovat's camp colours."] The fact that Wolfe's Marines, then the 44th Regiment, were with the Duke of Cumberland has given rise to the misconception that the present 44th were there [at Culloden], but they were then known as the 55th and had no connection with the Marines.
EXPEDITION TO FLANDERS
The 44th, still the 55th, later saw service in Flanders against the French, under the Duke of Cumberland, in alliance with the Dutch and Austrians. They were transferred there during 1747, for whilst an official return showed that Colonel Lee's Regiment was in North Britain in April of that year, the unit was not entered as being in Great Britain in April, 1748. On December 25th, 1747, Captain-Lieutenant William Eyres, late of the Duke of Montagu's Regiment, and Lieut. Samuel Hobson, from Husk's Regiment of Fusiliers, were appointed captains of two additional companies which were to be formed, as was customary when a regiment went on active service, and on January 22nd, 1748, authority was granted for the companies "to be raised and added to Colonel Lee's Regiment of Foot, serving in Flanders." They were each to consist of three sergeants, two corporals, two drummers and 70 effective private men. It was whilst in Flanders that complaint was made by the civil authority of the conduct of the Regiment in respect of the payment for supplies and the report thereupon is so interesting that it is given in full below. It is dated December 19th (O.S.), 1748, and is signed by Captain Thomas Gage aboard the "Three Brothers" transport. The letter runs: "A Highlander of Lord Murray's Regiment came on board this transport this morning and delivered me the paper of complaints from the Magistrates of Dongen, Tetringen, etc., against the regiments under Maj.-General Fowkes' command. The particular complaint against Colonel Lee's Regiment is from Tetringen in the following words, vizt., Lee's Regiment, consisting of 80 officers and 500 men, quartered one night at Tetringen, gave receipts for 98 faggots and 100 bundles of straw; receipts wanted for the rest. Sir Peter Halkett constantly gave full receipts every day's march to the different magistrates where the Regiment quartered for the wood and straw delivered for its use, and if the receipt given at Tetringen specifies only 98 faggots and 100 bundles of wood, I conclude there was no more received. If the magistrates had delivered more, it is scarcely probable such a receipt would have contented them, for they seemed satisfied when 'twas given them and went away without making any objection. As for the general complaints of soldiers not paying for their meat and drink, tho' some officers had been made acquainted with such proceedings, likewise not paying for expresses and guides, you will be so good as to assure the General that from the time of our leaving Schyndel to our embarking at Williamstadt, I never heard one complaint of non-payment of quarters; that I have questioned every officer on board on this head, who one and all declare the same thing. I observe, indeed, that this is chiefly levelled at those regiments who quartered more than one night in the same place. You will, therefore, acquaint the General that Colonel Lee's Regiment never halted. In regard to expresses and guides, the first we had never any occasion for, consequently never used any, nor did the Magistrates ever furnish us with guides except at Cutshaven, from whence the sick were conducted about three miles and the guide then dismissed. I have answered as particularly as possible the above complaints. Sir Peter Halkett, who commanded the Regiment on the march, is gone for Scotland, and the Quarter Master to England. Were they present the answers might probably be more satisfactory. P.S.-I must observe to you that Colonel Lee's Regiment, called at Tetringen 500 men, did not then consist of 400, including serjeants, corporals and drums."
WITH BRADDOCK IN NORTH AMERICA
Service followed in Ireland, where, in 1751, Halkett became Colonel and Thomas Gage, lieut.-colonel. The 44th were ordered to America and embarked in January, 1755, at Cork. The Irish town was described by a passenger upon a medical store ship from Gravesend, which sailed with the transports, as "a disagreeable, dirty place." With the 48th Regiment, the 44th were despatched from Ireland ostensibly as protection to the colonists, but the real intention was to employ them in a movement to check French occupation of the Ohio Valley. After a rough voyage lasting more than a month the British transports cast anchor in Hampton Roads, Virginia. They later sailed up the Potomac to Alexandria, then a village, on the opposite side of the river to Washington. Early in March the 44th were at Winchester. "These two regiments were the first substantial force of British regulars that had ever landed on American soil, unless, indeed, we go back to that curious revolt against Governor Berkeley in 1676 and the brief civil war in Virginia, which was finally extinguished by the landing of a mixed battalion of Guards." General Braddock, who was in command of the expedition, was over sixty years of age, well trained in European warfare, but unversed in that type of fighting which was essential to success in the wooded, undulating country of America. "He was, in fact, the first British General to conduct a considerable campaign in a remote wilderness. He had neither the precedents nor experience of others to guide him." The two regiments were each 500 strong, having been recruited to that figure by drafts from other regiments serving in Ireland, and were ordered to be brought up to 700 effectives by provincial enlistment. The augmentation to ten companies was approved before embarkation and after landing in America Braddock forwarded to the War Office his recommendation of Ensigns James Allen, Andrew Simpson, Robert Lock, William Williams, Daniel Disnie [in 1776 he was appointed Major in the 71st Regiment], Quinton Kennedy, Robert Townsend, Robert Drummond and George Clark to be lieutenants.
The difficulties were increased by the choice of the Virginian route in preference to the easier course which could have been taken from Philadelphia. The base, Fort Cumberland, at the foot of Blue Ridge, was not readily accessible. Nevertheless, preparations were pushed forward and the troops were safely concentrated at the Fort in two columns. One had marched by way of Frederick in Maryland and the other in part along the Winchester road, south of the Potomac. A fortified camp was created at Little Meadows. In mid-June the little army, made up of two small brigades, started upon its tragic march miles over the Alleghany mountains and several lesser ridges, clad with primeval forest and swarming with hostile Indians, to Fort du Quesne, which the French had recently erected near the point where the Monongahela enters the Ohio, close by the present city of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Sir Peter Halkett led the way with the first brigade, consisting of the 44th (700 effectives), with 280 New York, Virginia and Maryland rangers and 50 carpenters, 980 in all. The second brigade was under Col. Dunbar and was made up of the 48th (650 strong), some 800 rangers from the Carolinas and Virginia and 85 carpenters, the personnel of the whole force being about 2,000. A road, l2ft. wide, had to be opened out and a graphic picture has been drawn [in Bradley's "Fight with France for North America"] of the discomforts of the march: "A strange enough sight in those wild woods must have been the long train of jolting waggons, dragged by ill-conditioned horses, growing daily weaker; the clumsy tumbrils and artillery and ammunition carts jolting and crashing over the rough-made track; the strings of heavily laden pack-horses, stung by deerflies and goaded by drivers' whips, sliding and slipping over limestone slabs, and floundering amid stumps and roots; the droves of stunted cattle shambling unwillingly along the unfenced track; the fresh-faced soldiery, in tight scarlet uniforms, pigtails and pipe clay, mitre hats and white-gaitered legs, sweltering in the fierce, unwonted heat of an American midsummer sun." The pace being too slow, for the General had been informed that the garrison of Fort du Quesne was to be heavily reinforced, the weaker men, to the number of 600, under Dunbar - the hardships of the march and constant use of salt provisions had caused a great deal of sickness - were ordered to proceed at a more leisurely pace. Then with 1,200 regulars and 200 provincials the march was pressed on. Discipline was strictly observed and officers and men learned to move carefully in enclosed country. Scouts ranged ahead and flanking parties went abreast of the column, which, by July 7th, had reached within a dozen miles of its objective. In the conference which preceded the final advance Sir Peter Halkett is said to have expressed strongly the view that the ground up to the fort should be thoroughly examined, but although his earnest advice had some effect, unfortunately it was not completely followed. On the morning of July 9th the second ford of the Monongahela was crossed with colours flying and drums and fifes playing. "In after life Washington (afterwards first President of the United States) was accustomed to observe that he had never seen elsewhere so beautiful a sight as was exhibited during the passage of the Monongahela. Every man was attired in his best uniform; burnished arms shone bright silver in the glistening rays of the noonday, as with colours waving proudly above their heads and inspiring bursts of martial music, the steady files, with disciplined precision and glistening in scarlet and gold, advanced to their position." [Winthrop Sargent's "History of Braddock's Expedition"]. The track was enclosed by thick forest and to prevent surprise several guides, with six Virginian light horsemen, led the way. The advance guard followed, consisting of 100 grenadiers of the 44th, under Lieut.Colonel the Hon. Thomas Gage, and then came a party of axemen, two field guns, with ammunition wagons and their guard. Next was the convoy, with light cavalry screen, a working party and three guns, with flanking parties moving on either side. The advance guard had just crossed a wooded ravine eight miles from the fort and the main body were entering it, when the scouts suddenly fell back. They had sighted a figure hurrying along the path, dressed as an Indian, but with an officer's gorget. It turned out to be the French commander, Beaujeu, who had just disposed his tiny force of 900 in semi-circular formation, with the French in the centre, hidden from view by the trees and inequalities of the ground. It comprised Regulars, Canadians and Indians, of whom the last-named numbered 650. Their opening fire caused severe loss to Gage's men, who, however, wheeled into line and commenced volley firing, which killed the French commander. They were quickly overwhelmed by the more accurate fire of the enemy. The French were temporarily checked by three rounds of grape and canister from the guns and by the spirited advance of the British main body, shouting "God save the King," but there was considerable confusion caused by crowding from behind, and several men in the front were afterwards found to have been killed by fire from their comrades in the rear. All the grenadiers had fallen by this time save eleven and the survivors utilized a prone tree as a breastwork, from which they maintained an effective fire. Held in front by the French regulars and galled from the forest by the invisible Indians, the column of British infantry, unable to move forward, stubbornly refused to withdraw. "In vain it was endeavoured, by planting the regimental standards on the ground, to disentangle the medley. It was in vain that officer after officer gathered together small groups of men and led them into the teeth of the storm." [Bradley]. A diversion was attempted by Colonel Burton with a party of the 48th Regiment, but it came to nought. Halkett had been left near the ford in charge of 400 of the weaker men and the baggage. The circumstances under which he was killed in the action are not clear. One account says that he was shot by the first fire when at the head of the 44th. It is possible, however, that when the fight began he hurried to the front and led the main body of his Regiment into action. His third son, Lieut. James Halkett, rushed to his assistance and died with his father. The end came when the survivors, having exhausted their ammunition and that of killed and wounded comrades, retreated to the river and then crossed it in disorder. Braddock had five horses shot under him and a bullet through his right arm and lungs, and was taken out of the fight by Lieut.-Colonel Gage, of the 44th, who had rallied a party of eighty at the ford. Many gallant deeds were performed that day. Captain Treby, of the 44th, was wounded and unable to move, when a volunteer serving with the Regiment, named Farrel, afterwards a captain in the 62nd Regiment, knowing the peril in which he stood of scalping from the Indians, placed him on his back and carried him to safety some distance from the field of battle. Whilst being carried in a litter Braddock did his utmost to reorganize the force and succour the wounded, for there was no pursuit. He passed away, however, before the wrecks of his army reached Fort Cumberland. Dunbar's column was not in action. This tragic failure has been portrayed by Thackeray in "The Virginians." Although the expedition ended in defeat the toll of casualties shows how stubbornly British infantry fight even under the most trying conditions. Of 89 officers, 88 were killed or wounded, and of 1,800 rank and file fewer than 500 returned unscathed. The killed included Colonel Halkett, Captains C. Tatton and H. Bromley, Captain-Lieutenant R. Gethin and Lieutenants J. Halkett, J. Allen and R. Townsend, of the 44th. The losses of the rank and file may be gauged by the return of Colonel Halkett's company, which had only 18 survivors out of a total of 69. Colonel Gage, mentioned above, was later a prominent figure in the early stages of the American Revolution. Whilst Governor of Massachusetts he issued the orders for the destruction of American cannon and ammunition at Concord, on April 18th, 1775, which led to the skirmish at Lexington and opened the hostilities. On June 12th he proclaimed martial law and proscribed Samuel Adams and John Hancock, offering pardon to all others, measures which enraged the Americans.
A British force entered Fort du Quesne without opposition in 1758 and the bodies of Halkett and his son, covered with leaves, were discovered by an Indian in the forest. The party was led by Major Francis Halkett, the second son, who had been gazetted to the 44th, but had been promoted later into the Black Watch. Several officers of the latter regiment were with him. A company of Pennsylvania Rifles, under Captain West, an elder brother of Benjamin West, the celebrated painter, was also present. The body of Sir Peter was recognized by the peculiarity of an artificial tooth. A grave was dug and the bones, covered with a Highland plaid, were interred together, a large stone being placed over them. West was so impressed with the scene that he intended to transfer it to canvas as a companion picture of "The Death of Wolfe," but unfortunately he was dissuaded from his purpose. In October, 1918, when the dedication of the Braddock Memorial took place, the 44th (1st Essex), then stationed at Quetta, sent a cablegram to the Secretary at Uniontown, Fayette Town, Pennsylvania: "The Forty-Fourth Regiment from Afghan frontier sends warmest greetings to compatriots of their comrades of the Monongahela." Captain T. W. Constable represented the Essex Regiment at the ceremony and a replica of the regimental colour carried by the 44th in the engagement was placed near the memorial.
STOUT FIGHTING ON THE CANADIAN FRONTIER
After reorganizing in Philadelphia, the 44th were part of the force under Colonel Webb which General Abercromby ordered to reinforce the garrison of Oswego in 1756. The march from Albany was delayed, however, by the States of New England and New York, which feared for their safety if an expedition to be sent against Crown Point were defeated. Lord Loudon, who had by this time succeeded to the command of the British forces, ultimately had his way, but the 44th did not leave for Oswego until August l4th. They were, with other units, at the crossing place between Mohawk River and Wood Creek when news came that the town had been besieged and taken. This caused Colonel Webb to retreat to Burnett's Field and thence to Schenectady, which had the effect of leaving a settled, fertile region, known as German Flats, open to the French force, under Montcalm. The 44th had better fortune in March, 1757, when a party of 274, with 72 rangers, under Major Eyre, valiantly resisted a determined attack upon Fort William Henry on the Canadian frontier, where boats and stores were being collected for the next season's campaign. St. Patrick's Day had just been celebrated when a force of French, Canadians and Indians, with scaling ladders, numbering, according to varying accounts, from 1,200 to 1,600, under Rigoud, crept across the ice from Ticonderoga. The noise made by the attackers roused the garrison and they were warmly repelled by grape and round shot when they appeared at the palisades. An enterprise to set fire to the sloop and boats belonging to the garrison also failed. A subsequent attempt was made to surround the fort, but this again was foiled. The next day, March 20th, another effort was made at storm, but this was frustrated, though before they retreated at dawn the French set fire to two sloops and several boats. About mid-day there were apparent signs that the assailants were withdrawing to Ticonderoga, when suddenly two men were sent with a red flag towards the fort. An officer and four men met them and they were admitted, blindfolded. One of them, an officer named Merciere, was the bearer of a letter from M. de Vandrieuil, who proposed that the fort should be delivered up. Then the garrison would be allowed to retire with the honours of war and carry away all their valuable effects, "leaving only something to gratify the Indians, from whom they had nothing to fear, as there were regulars enough to protect them from any violence that might be offered." If this offer were not accepted there would be a general assault and the garrison would have to take the consequences. Major Eyre replied shortly that it was his fixed resolution to defend His Majesty's fort to the last extremity. The attack was delivered, but so obstinate was the defence that the French retreated for the fourth time. In the night following there was another assault, but again without success, though the enemy fired several storehouses and huts of the rangers. They also burnt a sloop on the stocks and then disappeared in a blinding snowstorm on March 24th, 1757. One of their most active officers, Dumas, was commander of the fight with Braddock after the death of Beaujeu. A few days later the garrison, including numerous sick, marched out on relief by five companies of the 55th Regiment. Mante [in "History of the Late War in North America"] asserts that had not the garrison held out as it did it was possible the French would have penetrated to Albany, with results that might have been fatal to British ascendancy in North America.
The 44th were concerned in other frontier operations in this year, for Captain John Montresor mentions in his Journal that he effected the relief of a post at the Falls of Conejoxeri with a detachment of 60 men from the 44th and 48th Regiments, and that whilst Fort William Henry was being attacked in March, 1757, he secured Fort Edward, 14 miles from it, by a parapet composed of barrels of pork, beef and flour and of others filled with snow, which prevented the French taking it after they were beaten off from Fort William Henry.
The British troops were concentrated at New York and in June, 1757, were despatched to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the 44th formed part of the first brigade, commanded by Major-General Hopson. There the troops were employed in making a parade ground and in forming a garden to cultivate vegetables for the use of the sick and wounded in the forthcoming campaign.
The struggle for mastery in America between French and English went on with unabated tenacity, and 1758 was notable for three expeditions against great French strongholds - against Louisbourg, near to Halifax, Nova Scotia (the capture of which opened the way to the conquest of Canada); against Ticonderoga, at the head of Lake Champlain (the outcome of which was not so auspicious), and against Fort du Quesne, in the Valley of the Ohio, which was abandoned to the British on November 25th. The 44th were allotted to the attack on Ticonderoga with six other regular battalions (27th, 42nd, 46th, 55th and two of 60th) and provincial troops. They were then known as Abercromby's Regiment, because in 1756 Major-General James Abercromby, who commanded the troops in this enterprise, was appointed Colonel in succession to Colonel Robert Ellison, deceased. Serving with the force was Lord Howe (55th), a most skilful British officer, destined to be killed by the very first shot which was fired. He was renowned for the steps he took to adapt the foot soldier to the novel conditions of American warfare - " He snipped off the long coat-tails of the infantry, browned their shining gun barrels, cut their hair short and improved their leg gear, adding both comfort and speed to their progress through the dense woods." [Bradley - "Fight with France for North America"] The rendezvous was Albany, but the army was based on Fort Edward and Fort William Henry, then rebuilt - the latter had been taken by the French after the 44th left the garrison - and within the vicinity of these strongholds were collected 1,500 boats of various descriptions for the passage across Lake George. This journey presented a water pageant which caused much admiring contemporary comment. The 44th were in the centre column of boats. Arrived at the head of the lake, considerable time was lost by an endeavour to force a route along the west bank of the rapids, but progress was so slow in the dense woods that after a sharp skirmish with a French observation detachment - who were nearly all killed or captured - the army was brought back to the landing place. The direct route, or portage, was then tried and on the morning of July 7th Lieut.-Col. Bradstreet, Deputy Quartermaster General in America, with the 44th, six companies of the 60th (Royal Americans), and rangers and provincials, was sent forward to occupy the sawmill and bridge opposite the French position. The enemy were soon forced to retire and the bridge, which they had destroyed, was quickly repaired, so that by nightfall the British army were crossing the river. The next day they were drawn up in battle array on the western side of the French position, which, manned by a force 8,600 strong, lay on the ridge to the west of the fort. The troops comprised some of the best known regiments of the French army, viz., La Reine, La Sarre, Beam, Guienne, Berry, Languedoc and Royal Rousillon. The defences were well sited and formidable, consisting of a zigzagged breastwork of hewn logs, 8ft. thick, with chevaux de frise of felled trees. The left was upon a low bluff, but on the right there was open land. The British general was impatient to attack the position, being under the impression that French reinforcements were nigh, and his decision to do so was influenced by the report, after reconnaissance, that the stronghold could be taken by assault. Had he waited until his guns came up he could have battered the defences to pieces from Mount Defiance, or by an outflanking operation could have cut Montcalm's communication with Canada. The result was disastrous. "At length, about one in the afternoon, the regulars advanced with the greatest intrepidity to storm the breastwork, which they now, when it was too late to retreat, found well covered with felled trees extending 100 yards in front, with the branches pointing upwards and strengthened with logs, stumps of trees and every other kind of rubbish that could be collected. In spite of these obstacles, such was the ardour that many of the officers got to the breastwork itself and were killed in attempting to scale it." [Mante's "History of the Late War in America"] For five hours the army fought with the utmost gallantry and resolution. Well-plied artillery fire would have burst a way through the wooden barrier, but instead the British General sent regiment after regiment into the fight -"The scene was frightful. Masses of infuriated men who could not go forward and would not go back, straining for an enemy they could not reach and firing at an enemy they could not see." [Bradley's "Fight with France for North America"] "Men who had passed through the ordeal at Fontenoy declared that it was child's play compared with Ticonderoga." [Fortescue's "History of the Army" Vol. II] A fifth attack on the extreme right almost succeeded, but Montcalm countered it with his reserve. The confusion was increased by one body of troops, who had lost their line of march, firing on the others. Of the 6,000 regulars engaged nearly 2,000 were casualties in this unsuccessful assault. The 44th suffered severely, having 205 killed or wounded. One officer, Ensign William Fraser, was killed, Captain Bartmann died of wounds and eleven were wounded. Two sergeants and 40 rank and file were killed and six sergeants and 185 wounded, nine also being returned as missing. Thus Montcalm defeated Abercromby; in his turn to be beaten by Wolfe a year later upon the Plains of Abraham.
Among the officers of the 44th wounded at Ticonderoga was Charles Lee, who was captain of the grenadier company. He is best remembered to posterity as second-in-command of the United States troops during the Revolutionary War. Lee, who was of a quarrelsome and vainglorious temperament, came of a Cheshire family residing at Dernhall in that county, and his mother was a daughter of Sir Henry Bunbury. After the reduction of Montreal, Lee returned to England with his regiment and in 1762, as a colonel, he fought with General Burgoyne in Portugal and was commended for his exertions. He subsequently served as a major-general with the King of Poland. Whilst at Vienna the agitation against the Stamp Act brought him strongly on the side of the Colonists. He embarked for America and, resigning his commission in the British Army, subsequently became second-in-command of the United States Army, under Washington, with the rank of Major-General. He was given important commands in New York and the Southern States, in which he achieved some success, but when hurrying to join General Washington in December, 1776, he was captured by Colonel Harcourt and a party of British cavalry. Trevelyan ironically refers to this incident as "one of the mercies which befell the American Republic in the outward semblance of a startling and unforeseen calamity." Lee was held a prisoner until an exchange was made after Saratoga. He was in charge of the advance guard at Monmouth Court House in June, 1778, and for his conduct there was put under arrest and tried by court-martial for disobedience of orders, misbehaviour before the enemy by retreating and disrespectful conduct towards the Commander-in-Chief. He was found guilty, the sentence depriving him of his command was ratified by Congress, and he retired into private life in Virginia. In October, 1782, whilst paying a visit with a view to taking up residence there, he died suddenly at Philadelphia. His last words were "Stand by me, my brave grenadiers," recalling, it may be, memories of happier days.
CONQUEST OF CANADA.
The French were now on the defensive and in 1759 a great movement was planned whereby columns of troops operating from the south were to support the attempt upon Quebec by Wolfe. Lord Amherst attacked Ticonderoga and marched into its ruins on July 25th, the garrison having withdrawn. Almost simultaneously the fort at Niagara, built in the angle where the river joins Lake Ontario, was surrendered to Sir William Johnson, and then, on September 18th, Wolfe, by defeating the French on the Plains of Abraham, sealed the fate of the French Empire in Canada by the occupation of Quebec. The Niagara operation most concerns the reader, for among the troops employed were the 44th, who were accompanied by the 46th, the rest of the army of 8,000 being colonial troops. From Schenectady, by way of the River Mohawk and Oneida Lake, the force reached Oswego. At that point a six days' journey was made by water. The boats, propelled by oars, were only used by day, the troops landing each night to sleep. Brig.General Prideaux was in command and he invested the fort on July 6th. The latter was held by 600 men. The general was killed in the trenches by the explosion of a shell and Sir Wm. Johnson succeeded to the command. The defenders stoutly resisted artillery fire for a fortnight, and were in desperate straits, when the approach of a relief force, about 1,500 strong, created a diversion. It consisted of French militia from Illinois and the Ohio, under Aubrey and de Ligneris. The trench guard was commanded by Major John Beckwith, of the 44th, and in support were the 44th, under Lieut.-Col. Farquhar, so posted that should the besieged be tempted to sally and occupy the trenches they would be able to render immediate help. The remainder of the British force, under Lieut.-Colonel Eyre Massey, of the 46th, met the relieving column of backwoods irregulars below Lewiston Heights. The latter made a plucky advance, but the banks had been cleared of trees and the fighting was in the open. They were brought to a standstill by a well-directed fire along their front and then dispersed by flank attacks made by Iroquois auxiliaries, all the chief officers being taken. Meanwhile, the garrison, led by de Villars, the captor of Washington in his early fighting against Fort Necessity, endeavoured to take the besiegers' trenches, which appeared empty, but when success seemed assured, the 44th revealed themselves and there was an immediate withdrawal. Next day the fort surrendered. For some time thereafter the 44th provided the garrison on Presqu Isle, Lake Erie.
In 1760 came the end of the great conflict. The French having made desperate, but unavailing, efforts to retake Quebec, the British columns were concentrated for the occupation of Canada. Lieut.-General Amherst collected a large force at Oswego, of which the 44th formed part. The men wore green boughs to distinguish them from the enemy. The grenadiers of each regiment were embodied as a separate unit, as also were the light infantry companies. The troops embarked on the 10th and 11th August, the 44th being accommodated in thirty bateaux. An old officer of the corps was in command of the rearguard in the person of Brig.-General the Hon. Thomas Gage. Fort Levi, on l'Isle Royale, surrendered after sharp fighting and then, after a long voyage, during which many of the craft were battered to pieces in the rapids of the St. Lawrence, the Island of Montreal was reached on September 6th. That same day Brigadier-General Murray's army landed from Quebec, and Colonel Haviland's from Isle-aux-Noix the day after. On September 8th the French Governor-General (Marquis de Vandreuil) surrendered and Canada passed definitely into British hands.
During 1761 and part of 1762 the Regiment was on detachment duty at Trois Rivieres, Chambly, St. Francis, and elsewhere, but in October, 1762, the ten companies were in garrison at Montreal. When peace was concluded with France on the 10th February, 1763, the 44th, which had been reduced to nine companies, had four at Crown Point, four at Fort William Augustus and one at Ticonderoga. At the end of 1765, when at Quebec, the Regiment was ordered home and, upon arrival, was stationed in Ireland.
What a change five years of warfare had wrought in America! Landing in 1755, the 44th and 48th were the first regular battalions to take part in a colonial expedition. Their early efforts were doomed to apparent defeat, yet they were destined to see the end of French ascendancy in America, which at one time gravely threatened to bar the expansion of the British colonies to the west. The new methods of warfare were painfully learnt through bitter experience, but with resolute endurance came victory. Landing on the Potomac in 1755, the 44th ended the campaign on the St. Lawrence in 1760 and shared in the great glory won by that army of regulars and provincials, which, inspired by the burning zeal and genius of the elder Pitt, made North America an English-speaking continent.
The Regiment, under the command of Lieut.-Colonel James Agnew, was inspected at Phoenix Park, Dublin, on August 1st, 1771, by Lieut.-General Michael O'Brien Dukes, when 450 N.C.O.'s and men were on parade. The unit was very favourably reported upon, the men of fine size, young and well-made, steady and attentive, with well-fitted clothing, "their hats being cocked according to the King's Regulations." The final remark was, "This is a fine Regiment and fit for service." The nationalities were mixed, for 189 were English, 153 were Scotch and 61 Irish, with 12 "foreigners." Two men were 6ft. 2ins. in height and the majority were over 5ft. 6ins., though 101 were below that standard. Eight had seen over 30 years' service and several must have been with the Regiment since formation. Nearly half had only a year's service, though more than a hundred had over ten years with the colours. Eight were returned as being 50 years of age, but the bulk were young men, for over 250 were twenty years of age or thereabouts.
Article courtesy of Terry Crabb and the 44th regiment of foot
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