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Sketches Illustrating the Early Settlement and History of Glengarry in Canada
Chapter 25


Departure of Lord Durham.—Renewal of Insurrection in Lower Canada.—Bishop Macdonell's Loyal Address.— Seizure of the "Henry Brougham" at Beauharnois.— Glengarry Regiments Called out a Third Time.—March on Beauharnois.—Its Easy Capture.—Appreciation of Sir John Colborne.—Congratulations of Lieutenant-Governor Upper Canada.—Ordered to Upper Canada to Repel Invasion of Brigands.—Battle of the Windmill.

Lord Durham arrived at Quebec on 27th May to assume charge of the Government and the reinforcements which had been sent from England rendered the probabilities of successful revolt more slender than ever The Special Council summoned by Lord Durham had banished Wolfred Nelson and other leading insurgents to Bermuda, and had threatened the penalty of death on Papineau and others should they return to Canada. While the Home Government approved of this course the Imperial Parliament censured him, and Lord Durham accordingly resigned and returned to England on the 3rd November, 1838, leaving Sir John Colborne, the Commander of the Forces, again in charge of the Government, and who was shortly thereafter appointed Governor-General.

The departure of Lord Durham would appear to have been the signal for another outbreak. Mackenzie and other refugees in the United States had been at their dastardly work of agitation, and countenanced by the unprincipled portions of the American border population^ 1) secret associations had been formed along the frontier of both Canadas and a combined system of invasion and insurrection organized. It would appear, therefore, that the country was again to be plunged into turmoil, and steps were taken to place the militia regiments in readiness for the emergency. It was under these circumstances that Bishop Macdonell issued the following address to the people of Glengarry:

My Dear Countrymen,

I am far from thinking it necessary, in the present critical situation of your country, to address you on the score of loyalty to your Sovereign, and uncompromising attachment to Britain and the British Constitution.

Forty years' intercourse and intimate connexion with you, in various parts of the British Empire, where your active services have been of so much importance in restoring peace and tranquility to Ireland, in repelling the invasion of the Americans on these Provinces, and. in checking the progress of Canadian rebellion last winter, leave no doubt on my mind that you will turn out to a man on the present occasion, and join with your loyal fellow subjects in defence of your wives and children and valuable properties against the attacks of a he artless gang of pirates and rebels.

When a Prie Minister of England in 1802 expressed to me his reluctance to permit Scottish Highlanders to emigrate to the Canadas, from his apprehension that the hold the Parent State had of the Canadas was too slender to be permanent, I took the liberty of assuring him that the most effectual way to render that hold strong and permanent was to encourage and facilitate the emigration of Scots Highlanders and Irish Catholics into these Colonies.

Your brave and loyal conduct during the last war with the United States of America verified my prediction, and so highly appreciated were your services as to obtain the approbation and thanks of his late Majesty George IV.

On review of my long intercourse with you, it is to me a most consoling reflection that I have been so fortunate as to possess the confidence of you all, Protestants as well as Catholics, because on all occasions when my humble exertions could forward your inter-rests, I never made any distinction between Protestants and Catholics, and 1 have no hesitation to declare that among my warmest, my most sincere and most attached friends, are persons of different persuasion from my own.

To the credit and honour of Scots Highlanders be it said, that the difference of religion was never known to weaken the bonds of friendship, and Catholics and Protestants have always stood shoulder to shoulder, nobly supporting one another during the fiercest tug of battle.

It is not a little to your credit, Glengarry men, Protestants and Catholics, that you have hitherto carefully abstained from entering into the existing overheated (and certainly in the present critical state of the Province), unseasonable discussion of your claims upon Government, reposing with a generous confidence on the impartial justice of a noble-minded and magnanimous Sovereign, whose pleasure and true happiness is to see all her loyal subjects satisfied and contented, and the faithful services rewarded as they deserve.

Fear not, my friends, that you whose fathers have been so much distinguished in the conquest of the Canadas, and who have yourselves contributed so powerfully to the defence of them from foreign and domestic enemies, shall be forgotten by a grateful and generous Sovereign in the distribution of rewards.

The loyal and martial character of Highlanders is proverbial. The splendid achievements of your ancestors under a Montrose and a Dundee in support of a fallen family proved their unshaken adherence to honour and principle, acquired for them the admiration of their opponents, and secured for you, their posterity, the confidence of a liberal and discerning Government.

You have indeed reason to be proud of such ancestors, and your friends have reason to be proud of your conduct since the first of you crossed the Atlantic.

When the American Colonies broke their allegiance and rebelled against Britain, your fathers and such of you as are yet alive of those Royal Emigrants, rallied around the standard of your Sovereign, fought your way through the wilderness to the banks of the St. Lawrence, and gallantly supported the British authorities in Canada. How gratifying it is to think that the martial character transmitted to you by your forefathers has not been tarnished nor disgraced. Queenston Heights, Lundy's Lane, Chrysler's Farm and Ogdensburgh will be standing monuments of your bravery and loyalty, while the history of the Canadas shall continue to be read.

The renowned veteran, Sir John Colborne, Commander of the Forces, acknowledged and admired the promptitude and alacrity with which you flew to arms last winter, and volunteered your services to Lower Canada, where your presence effectually checked the spirit of revolt for the time, and would in all probability have extinguished it in that part of the country, had your corps been kept on foot.

Your countryman and friend, General Macdonell, whose brows are encircled with unfading laurels of many a hard-fought battle, travelled hundreds of miles last summer to Glengarry, for the pleasure of inspecting your Militia Regiments on their respective parades. Think with what satisfaction he will view them on the field of honour this winter, and by your valor and bravery see you contribute so much to the preservation of the Canadas.

That nothing may be wanting to cheer and encourage you in the glorious contest in which you are now engaged, the brave and gallant Colonel Carmichael, whose confidence in your loyalty and courage can only be equalled by his regard and attachment to you all, will direct your operations against the enemy, and will, I feel confident, have the honour and satisfaction of making the most favourable report of your gallantry in the field.

That the God of Battles may be your protector, and grarn success to the righteousness of your cause, is the ardent prayer and sincere wish of your obedient servant,

Alexander Macdonell.

Kingston, 1st December, 1838.

On the 1st November Sir John Colborne wrote to Lieutenant-Colonel Turner, Particular Service, at Cornwall as follows:

Quebec, November 1, 1838.

Sir,—I request that you will explain to the officers of the militia in the district in which you are stationed that Canada being threatened with an attack from the American frontier by a horde of rapacious brigands, every man that can bear arms, I am persuaded, will not hesitate to join his regiment, and prepare to repel the wicked and unprovoked invasion with which the Provinces are threatened, and which, no doubt, will be immediately attempted. The loyal inhabitants may be assured that the Mother Country will no longer suffer these Provinces to be kept in a state of suspense and alarm to which they have been recently exposed; but that the strength of the Empire will be exerted fully to put an end to the disgraceful proceedings on the frontier. I have, Sir,

J. Colborne.

On the 3rd November the habitants between the Yamaska and Richelieu Rivers had assembled under arms at St. Ours, St. Charles and St. Michaels, while about four thousand had congregated at Napierville under the command of Dr. Nelson between the 5th and 6th. On the 4th Sir John Colborne by proclamation declared martial law again in force in the District of Montreal and on the previous day the Special Council had been summoned to meet on the 9th. Large numbers of people were from day to day placed under arrest and the gaol at Montreal was filled to overflowing. The troops under Sir James Macdonell at once proceeded to Napierville, where they arrived on the morning of the 10th, to find that the insurgents had decamped the night previous, and a portion of them having been attacked by the militia near Rouse's Point, were overpowered and driven across the border, three hundred stand of arms and one field piece being taken. An engagement took place between the volunteers and the insurgents at Odell Town, where the latter suffered heavily.

On the 2nd November the insurgents seized the steamer "Henry Brougham" at Beauharnois, and took the crew and passengers prisoners, among whom, Judge Pringle states, was D. E. Mclntyre, then Surgeon in Colonel Fraser's (Charlottenburg) Regiment (the present Sheriff of these Counties), Donald McNicol, of Williamstown, John S McDougal, Duncan McDonald (Lachlan) and others. They next surrounded the house of the Seigneur, Mr. Ellis, and made prisoners of its inmates. The Glengarry Regiments was immediately ordered to Beauham Is.

Assistant Quarter-Master General's Office,

Montreal, 5th November, 1838.

Sir,—I am directed by the Commander of the Forces to acquaint you that Colonel Phillpotts has proceeded to Lancaster for the purpose of conveying His Excellency's instructions to Major Carmichael to assemble as many Battalions of the Glengarry as he can collect, and pass over with them from Point au Baudet to Cartier, in Hungry Bay.

The company of the Seventy-First and four companies of the Ninety-Third Highlanders, which are supposed to be on their return to Montreal from the Upper Province, have been ordered to join in this movement and to pass over with the Glengarry Regiments.

The object of this movement is to disperse the rebels assembled at Beauharnois.

A large force of regulars are about to march against the rebels at I.'Acade and Chateauguay, which will probably have the effect of drawing the rebels from your front, and the Commander of the Forces is so anxious that your movement should not be delayed that he thinks it possible you may undertake it with safety without either the company of Seventy-First or those of the Ninety-Third should they not have arrived.

I have, etc.,

G. D. Hall, Major,
Assistant Quarter-Master General,
Colonel Macdonell, Commanding Glengarrys.

Colonel Phillpotts wrote to Colonel Fraser, commanding First (Charlottenburg Regiment) Glengarry Militia, from Coteau du Lac. on the same day (5th November), requesting him to assemble as many men of his Regiment as could conveniently leave their homes, and march them to that place, stating that there was every reason to believe that it was the intention of the rebels to cross over from Beauharnois to Coteau and cut off the communication between the Upper and Lower Provinces. The letter then proceeds:

The Commander of the Forces has, herefore, directed me to inform the brave and loyal Militia of Glengarry that he depends upon them to prevent this, and if circumstances should render it necessary to march to Vaudreuil, St. Annes and Point Claire in order to keep that communication completely open, while he, by crossing over to Laprairie, Caughnawaga and Chateauguay, disperses the rebels on that side of the St. Lawrence and restores tranquility to the Province.

A postscript added that in order to secure the County of Glengarry from aggression during the absence of those who left in pursuance of the above directions, it was necessary that Colonel Fraser himself should remain at Lancaster in command of all those who could not conveniently leave their homes, but who were well able to defend that part of the Province from invasion, and stated that  in confiding this very important duty to you, His Excellency is aware, from your well known vigilance and zeal, that it could not be entrusted to abler hands." Major McMartin was directed to march the Regiment to Coteau du Lac.

On the 29th October previous, Colonel Fraser had receded instructions from Colonel Turner, K.H., commanding the Eastern District (acting under the orders of the Government of Upper Canada) to call out immediately six hundred men of his Battalion, detaching two companies of one hundred each to Lancaster, two to Coteau du Lac and two in reserve at Williamstown, the field-piece to be taken to Lancaster, and in case of alarm or landing of bandits, three rounds to be fired as a signal for all to turn out, and all suspicious persons who might land to be detained. This was a temporary arrangement until a draft from all the regiments in Glengarry should take place to complete 1200 men. How this third call to arms was responded to in Glengarry is stated by Mr. McMulIen in his history:

On the report of the rebellion reaching Glengarry the County rose en masse, the loyal Highlanders burning with but one desire, to get an opportunity to crush it. They came to Colonel Carmichael's headquarters in hundreds, beseeching him to give them the privilege of striking a blow for their Queen and British connection. As fast as he got them enrolled and supplied them with arms he sent them by steamers to Coteau, where he meant to start from.

The Glengarry Regiments were landed at Hungry Bay on the 10th November, and marched immediately upon Beauhamois. The rebels, after a brief resistance, abandoned the position and fled. Colonel Carmichael, who was in command, stated in the following report what took place:

Beauiiarnois, 10 November, 10 p.m.

Sir,— I have the honour to acquaint you, for the information of His Excellency the Commander of the Forces, that in conjunction with Colonel Phillpotts a detachment of an officer of the Engineers, twenty-two sappers and miners, one capitain, three subalterns, four sergeants, two buglers and 121 rank and file 71st Regiment, with upwards of 1000 Glengarry men were landed at Hungry Bay this morning, marched and took Beauharnois, rescued all the prisoners with the exception of Messrs. Ellice, Brown, Neman, Ross, Norval, Bryson, Honaslow and Surveyor, supposed to be at Chateauguay, with the loss of one man killed and three wounded of the 71st Regiment. The men are much fatigued, and we wait here for orders. I have, &c.,

L. Carmichael. Colonel T.S.

The Glengarry Regiments had been but a few days at Beauharnois when they were ordered to return to Upper Canada, the frontier of the lower part of the Province being invaded by American sympathizers. Their services at Beauharnois were recognized in the following general order :

Headquarters, Montreal, November 17, 1838.

* * * The prompt assembly and movements of the brave Glengarry Regiments under Colonels Macdonell and Fraser, and of the Stormont Militia under Col. Donald Ĉineas Macdonell, and their march to Beauharnois, has had the effect of dispersing the rebels in that quarter. The great activity and judgment which has been evinced by Lieutenant-Colonel Taylor in his defence of the post of Odelltown and by Colonels Carmichael, Campbell and Phillpotes at Beauharnois reflect the highest credit on these officers. * * *

John Eder, D A.G.

Sir John Colborne, in his despatch to Lord Glenelg, Novembei 11, 1838, mentioned Colonels Macdonell and Fraser and the promptitude with which they, in conjunction with the other officers, earned out the movement on Beauharnois, while Lord Glenelg, in acknowledging the despatch, stated that while Her Majesty sincerely deplored the events which had recently occurred in that part of her dominions, she has contemplated with the greatest satisfaction the zeal, promptitude and gallantry with which her loyal subjects in both Provinces had come forward for the suppression of the insurrection and the defence of their country. That the steadiness and valour displayed by the militia and volunteers both in Upper and Lower Canada was deserving of the highest praise, and that he (Lord Glenelg) was commanded to convey to them through Sir John Colborne Her Majesty's sense of their valuable services, which was accordingly done by Sir John Colborne on the 12ill January, 1839.

His Excellency Major-General Sir George Arthar, Lieutenant-Govemoi of Uppei Canada, bore testimony to the conduct of the Glengarry Regiments as follows:

district general orders.

Toronto, November 19, 1838.

His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor has much pleasure in congratulating Colonel Carmichael, Particular Service, and the loyal and gallant Glengarry Militia Regiments under Colonels Macdonell, Fraser, Chisholm and Macdonell, whose ready aid in moving into the Lower Province mainly contributed to the recapture of the "Henry Brougham," and has earned for them the high approbation of the Commander of the Forces.

After having, as stated, only about time to recover from the fatigue of their march to Beaumarnor's, orders were issued to the Glengarry Regiments to return to the Upper Province. The following letter was addressed to Colonels Macdonell and Fraser :

Beavharnois, November 14, 1838.

Sir,—Despatches having been received from Colonel Turner, commanding at Cornwall, reporting that Upper Canada has been invaded by a lawless band of brigands from the United States, who have landed near Johnstown between five and eight hundred men, with eight pieces of cannon, His Excellency the Commander of the Forces has therefore directed that your Regiment of brave Glengarry Highlanders shall be immediately relieved from duty in this Province, and proceed forthwith to Lancaster, where they will receive further orders from Colonel Turner.

In communicating to you the above orders, I am directed to convey to the Regiment under your command the warmest thanks of the Commander of the Forces for their zeal and alacrity in turning out from their homes at such short notice at this inclement season of the year, and for the patience and perseverance with which they have performed the very important duty required of them, and I am further directed to request that you will be pleased to impress both upon the officers and men the absolute necessity of their keeping together on their return to Upper Canada, and to desire most positively that no man will think of leaving his regiment under any pretence whatever until you receive authority from His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor ot Upper Canada to dismiss them. I have, &c.,

George Phillpotts, A.Q.M.G.

Early in the same month (November) unusual numbers of strangers were congregated about Syracuse, Oswego, Sackett's Harbor and Watertown, and large quantities of arms and warlike stores were concealed about these towns. Great activity was displayed among the Hunter's Lodges, which counted among their office holders members of the American Congress, generals in their army, Governors of States and Other leading citizens, the "Brother Jonathan" newspapers alleging that sixty thousand members were sworn to relieve the continent from "the absurdities of monarchy," and towards which philanthropic scheme large sums of money had been collected. Floating rumours had been in circulation for several days that an attack might be expected in the vicinity of Prescott, and on the night of Sunday, the 11th November, information was received that a large number of armed men had embarked on the steamer "United States," and two schooners were rapidly approaching the town. Their plan of landing them miscarried and the vessels parted company. One of them crossed over to Ogdensburg and grounded on the flat at the mouth of the harbour, the others dropping down the river anchored about midstream, opposite the Windmill. This: building stood upon a bluff rocky point a mile and a half below Prescott. It was of circular form, massively constructed of stone, its walls three and a half feet in thickness and eighty feet high, its interior divided into several storeys, the small windows of which admirably served the purpose of loop holes. It still stands, an object of much interest to passengers on the steamers down the St. Lawrence, and is now used as a lighthouse. Around it stood a number of stone houses, and nearly all the fences in the neighborhood were of the same material. The banditti, concealed under the hatchets of the schooner, effected a lodgment here on Monday evening, and were soon joined by numbers who crossed from Ogdensburg in small boats. The night was spent in fortifying the Wind-mill and adjacent premises, under the direction of Von Schoultz, a Polish refugee, who was, I believe, an engineer by profession. This misguided man, totally ignorant of the situation of affairs in Canada, and believing that its people were afflicted with a tyranny and mis-government similar to that which prevailed in his native Poland, was the only one of these rapscallions for whose ultimate fate one can fee! the slightest sympathy.

The attack naturally evoked great excitement in the vicinity. Early on Monday morning a little steamer, the "Experiment," under command of Lieutenent Powell. R.N., was despatched from Brockville to the assistance of their neighbours. She was armed with two small cannon, and continued during the day to make it warm for the sympathizers as they crossed and re-crossed from Ogdensburg. The steamer "United States" was seized by a gang of ruffians at her dock in Ogdensburg, and utilized during the day in carrying arms, ammunition and men to the Wind-mill. As she was returning from her last trip a shot from the "Experiment" knocked the head off her pilot. Late at night the British steamers "Queen" and "Cobourg" arrived, having on board a party of marines and regulars, amounting in all to seventy men. The same night a detachment of the Glengarry militia, under Captain George Macdonell (Greenfield), also arrived, and lay on the ground during a heavy rain, every moment expecting an attack from the brigands.

Lieutenant-Colonel Gowan with a detachment of the 9th Provincial Battalion, numbering 140 men, also arrived at Prescott. On Tuesday morning early, a battalion of Dundas militia, consisting of 300 men, commanded by Colonel John Crysler, made their appearance, and were soon after joined by a part of the 1st Grenville militia, when the following disposition was made: The left wing, consisting of 30 marines under Lieut. Parker, part of Captain Macdonell's Glengarry volunteers, and a portion of the Grenville and Dundas militia under Colonel R. D. Fraser, took up a portion along the edge of the woods, where the enemy had posted their piquets, and drove them in in gallant style. The right wing, consisting of forty men of the Eighty-Thirty Regiment of the line, part of Colonel Gowan's battalion, sixty men under Edmonston, and part of the Dundas Militia, the whole under the command of Colonel Young, proceeded along the bank of the river and, having advanced to within a few rods of the Wind-mill, encountered a sharp fire from the enemy. The action on the left commenced by a galling fire from the brigands posted behind the stone walls in rear of the mill. The British being upon the rising ground, were placed at great disadvantage from their exposed situation, nevertheless they advanced steadily, in double quick time, loading and firing with great precision. The enemy were driven from their shelter in great confusion, and, retreating some distance, took up a position behind another stone wall. From this they were dislodged in like manner, and finally were driven into their citadel the Wind-mill and the adjacent stone buildings, from which they maintained a vigorous fire upon their assailants, who suffered severely from the sharp shooters that were posted in the upper storeys of the mill. About 3 o'clock in the afternoon, a barn which had afforded shelter to the British was burned by the patriots.

During the remainder of the day, both parties kept up an irregular discharge of musketry without coming to close quarters. The dead and wounded lay on the field till next morning, when the British sent a flag of truce to bury their dead, and both parties were engaged for a short time in performing this duty.

Wednesday and Thursday were passed at the Wind-mill, in comparative inaction, the British waiting for reinforcement and for guns of sufficient caliber to reduce the place; the brigands remained locked up in their prison, and kept up a desultory fire from the windows of the buildings. On Friday, at half-past twelve, the Canadians were relieved from their anxiety; three steamers hove in sight, which proved to be the "William IV.," the "Brockville," and the "Cobourg," having on hoard the Eighty-Third Regiment of the line, and a detachment of the Royal Artillery, with three twenty-four-pounders. The Eighty Third, with the heavy cannon, took up a position in rear of the Wind-mill, and immediately opened up a heavy fire upon the rebels, which dislodged them from the stone houses, and drove them all in the mill. At the same time the three steamers assailed them from the river side.

Within half an hour after the cannonade commenced, a white flag was seen to wave from the top of the tower, but it waved in Vain, and was at last nailed to the outside of it. The exasperated British continued to pour in deadly volleys upon them, and every building in the vicinity of the mill was set fire to, in order to concentrate their attack upon the enemy's main fortress. "The flames raging in the gloom of the night, showed at a great distance the posit on of the combatants, and, shedding a lurid light upon all around, had an effect at once awful and sublime." At length the firing ceased, when the severely chastised rebels marched out, and surrendered at discretion. Von Schoultz, and many others, were found concealed among the bushes, and dragged from their hiding places. The number of prisoners who surrendered was one hundred and ten, besides those who had been taken during the siege. In the mill were found several hundred kegs of powder, a large quantity of cartridges, pistols and swords, and two hundred stand of arms, most of which were of costly and very superior workmanship; many of the swords and dirks were silver mounted, and their handles ornamented with elaborate carving. A flag, composed of the finest texture, valued at $100, was also taken, on which was exhibited a full spread eagle, beautifully executed, surmounted by one star, and beneath were the words wrought in silk, "Liberated by the Onondaga Hunters." The total loss of the rebels in killed and wounded was never accurately ascertained, as numbers of them were taken across the river; not less than forty, however, are known to have been killed, among these was a young officer, a son of General Brown, and two other officers, in the pocket of one of them was found a list of proscubed persons in Prescott, who were to have suffered death. The official return of the British loss was two officers, eleven rank and file killed, of whom four were of the loyal Glengarry Highlanders, four officers and sixty-three men wounded. The officers killed were.

W. S. Johnston, Lieutenant Eighty-Third Regiment; and ---- Dulmage, Lieutenant Second Grenville Militia. The officers wounded were, Ogle R. Gowan, Lieutenant-Colonel, Ninth Provincial Battalion, slightly; Lieutenant Parker, Royal Marines, slightly; John Parlow, Lieutenant Second Dundas Militia, severely, and Angus Macdonell, Ensign Loyal Glengarry Highlanders, slightly. Of the Dundas Militia four were killed and seven wounded.

The Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, in District General Orders of 19th November, 1838, thus recognised the services of those who delivered the Province of these desperadoes. After mentioning Colonel Plomer Young, Particular Service, he stated: The Major-General also offers his warmest thanks to Colonel the Honourable Henry Dundas, R.A., for the able disposition of his force and his indefatigable exertions; to Colonel McBean, R.A.; to Colonel R. Duncan Fraser; to Lieutenant Colonel Gowan and Captain George Greenfield Macdonell, and to all the officers of the militia and volunteers whose names he is alone prevented from particularizing by the casual absence of the despatch from Colonel Young, which enumerated them, and His Excellency is confident that the gallant example now shown will be followed with equal loyalty and spirit by all the militia of the Province, should their services be called for."


 


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