OLD EIGHTY-FOURTH. 1775—1783.
Battalion—Quebec—-Second Battalion—Settle in Canada and Nova Scotia.
This battalion was to be raised from
the Highland emigrants in Canada, and the discharged men of the 42nd, of
Fraser’s and Montgomery’s Highlanders, who had settled in North America
after the peace of 1763. Lieutenant-Colonel Alan Maclean (son of Torloisk),
of the late 104th Highland Regiment, was appointed lieutenant-colonel
commandant of the first battalion. Captain John Small, formerly of the
42nd, and then of the 21st Regiment, was appointed major-commandant of the
second battalion, which was to be raised from emigrants and discharged
Highland soldiers who had settled in Nova Scotia. Each battalion was to
consist of 750 men, with officers in proportion. The commissions were
dated the 14th of June 1775.
Great difficulty was experienced in
conveying the recruits who had been raised in the back settlements to
their respective destinations. A detachment from Carolina was obliged to
relinquish an attempt to cross a bridge defended by cannon, in which
Captain Macleod, its commander, and a number of the men were killed. Those
who escaped reached their destination by different routes.
When assembled, the first battalion,
consisting of 350 men, was detached up the River St Lawrence, but hearing
that the American General Arnold intended to enter Canada with 3000 men,
Colonel Maclean returned with his battalion by forced marches, and entered
Quebec on the 13th of November 1776. The garrison of Quebec, previous to
the arrival of Colonel Maclean, consisted of only 50 men of the Fusiliers
and 700 militia and seamen. General Arnold, who had previously crossed the
river, made a spirited attempt on the night of the 14th to get possession
of the outworks of the city, but was repulsed with loss, and forced to
retire to Point au Tremble.
Having obtained a reinforcement of
troops under General Montgomery, Arnold resolved upon an assault.
Accordingly, on the 31st of December he advanced towards the city, and
attacked it in two places, but was completely repulsed at both points. In
this affair General Montgomery, who led one of the points of attack, was
killed, and Arnold wounded.
Foiled in this attempt, General
Arnold took up a position on the heights of Abraham, and by intercepting
all supplies, reduced the garrison to great straits. He next turned the
blockade into a siege, and having erected batteries, made several attempts
to get possession of the lower town; but Colonel Maclean, to whom the
defence of the place had been entrusted by General Guy Canton, the
commander-in-chief, defeated him at every point. [Colonel Maclean, when a
subaltern in the Scotch brigade in Holland, was particularly noticed by
Count Lowendahl, for his bravery at Bergen-op-Zoom in 1774. See the
notice of Loudon’s Highlanders.] After these failures General Arnold
raised the siege and evacuated Canada.
The battalion after this service was
employed in various small enterprises during the war, in which they were
generally successful. They remained so
faithful to their trust, that notwithstanding
that every inducement was held out to them to join the revolutionary
standard, not one native Highlander deserted. Only one man was brought to
the halberts during the time the regiment was embodied.
Major Small, being extremely popular
with the Highlanders, was very successful in Nova Scotia, and his corps
contained a greater proportion of them than the first battalion. Of ten
companies which composed the second battalion, five remained in Nova
Scotia and the neighbouring settlements during the war, and the other
five, including the flank companies, joined the armies of General Clinton
and Lord Cornwallis. The grenadier company was in the battalion, which at
Eataw Springs "drove all before them," as stated in his despatches by
Colonel Alexander Stuart of the 3d Regiment.