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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.

Battle of Quebec, April 28 to May 10, 1760

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: Fraser's Highlanders (78th)
  • Other Regiments: the 15th, 35th, 43rd, 47th 48th, 58th, 2nd & 3rd battalions of the 60th, the Welsh Fusileers.
  • Battle Under General Command of: General James Murray

Abridged text: The Honourable General James Murray, with 5000 men, was left to defend the town of Quebec and the conquered country, which were then threatened by Monsieur Vandreuil, the Governor-General of Canada, with a force of nearly 14,000 men, stationed in Montreal and the neighbouring territory. General Murray was indefatigable in repairing the fortifications, and putting the town in the best possible state of defence; but, through the severity of the season, and a long subsistence on salt provisions, the troops had been so reduced by disease and scurvy, that in the month of April he had only 3000 effective men. In this state of things, intelligence was received that General de Levi, who succeeded Montcalm, had arrived at Point au Tremble, with 10,000 French and Canadians, and 500 Indians, and that his first object was to cut off the posts which the English had established in the neighbourhood.

Upon this information, General Murray ordered the bridges to be broken down, and the landing-places to be secured and strengthened. He then marched out with a strong detachment, and took possession of an advanced position, which he retained till all the outposts were withdrawn, and returned to the town with little loss, although his rear was smartly pressed by the enemy. Sensible of the dangerous posture of his affairs, with a sickly and reduced garrison, amidst an unfriendly people, unprotected by works calculated for defence against an enemy so superior in numbers, and impatient of a protracted siege, the General took a resolution suited to his high spirit and ardent mind, and determined to try the event of a battle.

Accordingly, he marched out on the 28th of April, with his little army, and formed them on those heights which had witnessed their former success. The right wing was commanded by Colonel Burton; the left, under Colonel Simon Fraser; Major Dalling, with a corps of Light infantry, covered the right, and Captain Donald McDonald of Fraser's the left. This order had scarce been completed, when the enemy was seen in full march. The General, wishing to engage before they formed lines from their columns, advanced to meet them, and sent forward the Light infantry, who immediately drove their advance back on their main body; but, having pursued too far, they were fiercely attacked and repulsed in their turn, and fell back with such confusion on the line, as to impede their fire. They suffered much by several vollies from the enemy who were attempting to turn the right flank. At the same moment a body having advanced on the line in front, made two bold attempts to charge, and although repulsed, produced such an impression that it became necessary to call up the reserve. In the meantime, the enemy made several desperate attacks on the left wing, their superior numbers enabling them to attempt turning that flank in the same manner as the right.

In this they so far succeeded, that they penetrated into two redoubts, but were driven out from both by the Highlanders sword in hand.

The enemy, pushing forward fresh numbers, at last succeeded in forcing the flanks to retire. Neglecting, or being unable to follow up this advantage, they allowed the English to retire quietly, and to carry away the wounded. General Levi, although he did not attempt an immediate pursuit, moved forward the same evening, and took up a position close to the town, upon which he opened fire at five o'clock. A regular siege was now formed, and continued till the 10th of May, when it was suddenly raised, the enemy decamping and taking the route towards Montreal, and leaving all their guns and stores in the trenches. This event was hastened by two causes: the expected advance of General Amherst on Montreal, and especially, the sudden appearance of Commodore Lord Colville with a squadron from Halifax, who instantly attacked and destroyed the enemy's ships above Quebec. The enemy now began to see themselves in danger of being soon between two fires, certain accounts having been received of General Amherst's preparations to descend the St. Lawrence from the Lakes.

Lieutenant Charles Stewart of Fraser's Highlanders, as he lay wounded in his quarters some days afterwards, speaking to some brother officers on the recent battle, exclaimed, "From April battles, and Murray generals, good Lord deliver me!", alluding to his wound at Culloden in the Rebellion of 1745, which had seventeen officers and gentlemen of the name of Stewart killed and ten wounded, and where the vanquished blamed Lord George Murray; and likewise alluding to his present wound, and to General Murray's conduct in marching out of a garrison to attack an enemy, more than treble in numbers. One of those story retailers who are sometimes about head-quarters, lost no time in communicating this disrespectful prayer of the rebellious clansman. General Murray, who was a man of humour and of a generous mind, called on the wounded officer the following morning, and heartily wished him better deliverence in the next battle, when he hoped to give him occasion to pray in a different manner.

78th Highland Officers Killed (plus 3 sergeants, 1 drummer and 51 soldiers):

  • Captain: Donald McDonald, 2nd son of Clanranald.
  • Lieutenant: Cosmo Gordon (possibly 2 of the wounded later died)
78th Highland Officers Wounded (plus 10 sergeants, and 119 soldiers):
  • Colonel: Simon Fraser
  • Captains: John Campbell of Dunoon; Alexander Fraser; Alexander Macleod; and Charles Macdonnell.
  • Lieutenants: Charles Stewart; Archibald Campbell, son of Glenlyon; Hector Macdonald; John Macbean (Maclean?); Alexander Fraser senior; Alexander Campbell; John Nairn; Arthur Rose; Alexander Fraser, junior; Simon Fraser, senior; Archibald McAlister; Alexander Fraser; John Chisholm; Simon Fraser, junior; Malcolm Fraser; and Donald McNeil.
  • Ensigns: Henry Munro; Robert Menzies; Duncan Cameron (Fassafern); William Robertson; Alexander Gregorson; and Malcolm Fraser.


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