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French-Indian War

Battles of the 42nd, 77th and 78th Highland Regiments with Lists of the "Killed and Wounded"

Thanks goes to Deborah for this series of articles, which she generously donated to The Canadian Military Heritage Project and which is used here with consent.

After years of warlike activity with France, England officially declared war on May 18, 1756, beginning the Seven Year's War in Europe. But the focus of the war soon shifted away from the continent to the colonies. Echoeing the conflicts in Europe, the final struggle for the empire was to take place in North America and in the West Indies. British regulars and American militia joined forces against France and her Indian allies in a campaign commonly known as the French and Indian Wars. After suffering numerous defeats and disappointments, England and her colonies successfully reversed the course of events and conquered the Canadian and regular armies of France. Peace between Britain and France was proclaimed with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763; however, warfare against the Indians endured for sometime after.

The following accounts of the French-Indian Wars focus mainly on the involvement of the Highland Regiments in the battles and expeditions listed below. However, a list of other regiments involved, and the field officers in general command during these battles, have been noted in order to facilitate further research.

Ticonderoga, Crown Point & Niagara Campaigns, June-July, 1759

Source: "Sketches of the Character, Manners and Present State of the Highlanders of Scotland; with details of The Military Service of The Highland Regiments", by Major-General David Stewart, Vol I & II, (1825), Edinburgh.

  • Highland Regiment: Royal Highlanders (42nd) & Montgomery's Highlanders (77th)
  • Other Regiments: the Royals, 17th, 27th, 2 battalions of the 55th, and 9 battalions of Provincials; and Indian allies under command of Sir William Johnson.
  • Battle Under General Command of: Major-General Wolfe; Generals Amherst and Prideaux

Abridged text: Major-General Wolfe, who had given such promise of great military talents at Louisbourg, was to attack Quebec from Lower Canada, while General Amherst, now Commander-in-chief, and successor of General Abercromby, should endeavour to form a communication, and to co-operate with him through Upper Canada. General Prideaux was to proceed against Niagara, in order to prevent the enemy from giving any interruption to General Amherst's operation on that side, and endeavour to get possession of the strong and important post near the Falls.

When joined by the 2nd battalion of the Royal Highlanders from the West Indies, this army amounted to 14,500 men. At Fort Edward, the point of rendezvous, the whole were assembled, on the 19th of June; and the 1st battalion of the Royal Highlanders and light infantry of the army who, a few days before, had been detached in front under the command of Colonel Francis Grant of the 42nd regiment, were ordered to strike their tents and move forward next day. The main body followed on the 21st, and encamped on Lake George, on the spot where General Abercromby had encamped the preceding year, previously to the attack of Ticonderoga.

Considerable time was spent in making the necessary arrangements for attacking this formidable post, which the enemy seemed determined to defend, and which had already proved so disastrous to our troops. On seeing the English General ready to advance, however, the enemy, having set fire to the magazines and buildings, abandoned the fort, and retreated to Crown Point. The plan of the campaign, on the part of the enemy, seems to have been, in withdrawing from post to post, to make an appearance as if determined to defend each. By these means they hoped that the advance of the British would be so far retarded, that the season for action on the Lakes would pass away without any decisive advantage on the part of the invaders, whilst their own force would be gradually conscentrating, so as to be enabled to arrest General Amherst in his progress down the St. Lawrence to Montreal. With these views they abandoned Ticonderoga, which experience had shown to be so capable of making a good resistance.

But, although the General had reason to imagine that the enemy would relinquish Crown Point in the same manner as Ticonderoga, yet he took measures as if he expected an obstinate defence, or an attempt to surprise him in his march, recollecting, no doubt, how fatal precipitation and false security had recently proved in that part of the world. Intelligence having been received that the enemy had evacuated Crown Point, and had retired to the garrison of Isle aux Noix, on the northern extremity of Lake Champlain, General Amherst moved forward and took possession of the garrison which the French had abandoned; and to augment his disposable force, the 2nd battalion of the Royal Highlanders was ordered up; Captain James Stewart, with 150 men, being left at Oswego.

Before advancing towards Ticonderoga, General Amherst had detached General Prideaux to attack the fort of Niagra, a most important post, which secures a greater number of communications than any in America. The troops reached the place of their destination without opposition, and investing it in form, carried on the siege by regular approaches. In a few days after the commencement of the siege, Prideaux was killed by the accidental bursting of a mortar, and the conduct of the operation devolved on Sir William Johnson, who had, on several occasions, given satisfactory proofs of ability. To relieve a post of such consequence, great efforts were made by the French; however, Sir William Johnson made dispositions to intercept them on their march, and attacked with great impetuosity. The French Commander immediately surrendered, and the garrison, consisting of 607 men, marched out with their baggage on the 24th of July, and were perfectly protected from insult, plunder, or outrage, from our Indian allies; the conduct of the British thus exhibiting a remarkable contrast to the treatment which our garrison had, in similar circumstances, experienced, and refuting the vague pretence that the excesses and cruelties of the Indians could not be restrained.1

In this campaign General Amherst was successful in every enterprise which he undertook. But, however important the reduction and possession of these posts might be, from the extent of the country which they commanded, they were exploits of easy accomplishment in comparison of the conquest of Quebec, the object to which all these operations were subordinate.


1 Reference to Massacre at Fort William Henry: On August 9, 1757. the Fort, under the command of Colonel George Munro, surrendered to Montcalm. "By the terms of capitulation, it was agreed that the troops should be protected from plunder, and conducted safely as prisoners to Montreal. These terms were most scandously violated. The troops were robbed and insulted by the Indians; several were shot as they stood defenceless on the parade; and, to crown all, Montcalm gave up twenty of the men to the Indians, to be sacrificed by them to the manes of their countrymen, who had fallen in battle. Montcalm attempted to exonerate himself from the reproach of such inhuman conduct, by alleging that the British soldiers gave spirits to the Indians, and that, in their intoxication, these excesses were committed; though he did not explain how his prisoners came to have spirits at their disposal." ("Sketches..."). Other sources state that about 200 prisoners were butchered or scalped, and another 200 were carried off northward by the Indians. This shameful performance hardened the conviction that French papists and Indian savages were leagued in evil.

42nd Highland Officers Killed (only 3 soldiers):
  • Nil recorded
42nd Highland Officers Wounded (only 1 sergeant and 4 soldiers):
  • Nil recorded
77th Highland Officers Killed (0 soldiers ):
  • Nil recorded
77th Highland Officers Wounded (0 soldiers):
  • Nil recorded

Return to French-Indian Wars INDEX for more choices


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