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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.

Martinique & the Havannah1 Expedition, Jan-Aug, 1762

1England declared war on Spain on January 4, 1762 due to that country's alliance with France.

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 Regiments: Murray's Royal Highlanders (42nd) & Montgomery's Highlanders (77th)
  • Other Regiments: 20 regiments; and 19 sail-of-the-line, with frigates, bomb vessels and fireships.
  • Battle Under General Command of: Major-General Monckton; Lieutenant-Generals the Earl of Albemarle, and Elliot afterwards Lord Heathfield; and Brigadiers Haviland; James Grant of Ballindallon; Rufane; Walsh and Reid; and Colonel Lord Rollo (due to fever, replaced by Guy Carlton in Havannah); and Rear-Admiral Rodney; Admiral Sir George Pocock; and Commodores James Douglas; and Keppell.

Abridged text: Martinique and the Havannah were two of the most important stations in the possession of the French and Spaniards. The plan of operations of the preceding year was now, therefore, resumed, and eleven regiments having embarked in North America, arrived at Barbadoes in December. There they were joined by four regiments who had been at the attack of Belleisle; and being reinforced by some corps from the islands, the whole force amounted to eighteen regiments, including 3 battalions of Highlanders, viz. Montgomery's regiment, and the 1st and 2nd battalions of Lord John Murray's. Fraser's remained in North America.

This powerful armament sailed from Barbadoes on the 5th of January 1762, and on the 8th, the fleet anchored in St. Ann's Bay, Martinique. An immediate landing was effected without loss. Brigadiers Grant and Haviland were detached to the Bay of Ance Darlet, where they made a descent without opposition. On the 16th, General Monckton and the whole army landed in the neighbourhood of Cas de Navire, under Morne Tortueson and Morne Garnier, two considerable eminences which overlook and completely command the town and citadel of Fort Royal. Till these were carried, the town could not be attacked with any reasonable prospect of success. Like the other high grounds in this island, they were protected by very deep and rocky ravines, and their natural strength was much improved by art. Morne Tortueson was first attacked.

To support this operation, a body of troops were ordered to advance on the right, along the seaside towards the town. Flat-bottomed boats were ordered close in shore to support this movement. A corps of Light infantry was to get round the enemy's left, whilst the attack on the centre was made by the Grenadiers and Highlanders; all to be under cover of fire of the new batteries, which had been hastily erected on the opposite ridges. The necessary arrangements were executed with great gallantry and perserverance. The attack succeeded in every quarter; the enemy was driven from post to post; and, after a severe struggle, our troops became masters of the whole Morne.

Thus far they had proceeded with success; but nothing decisive could be done without possession of the other eminence of Garnier, which, from its greater height, enabled the enemy to cause much annoyance to our troops. Three days passed ere proper dispositions could be made for driving them from this ground. The preparations for this purpose were still unfinished, when the enemy's whole force descended from the hill, and attacked the British in their advanced posts. They were immediately repulsed; and the troops, carried forward by their ardour, converted defence into assault, and passed the ravines with the fugitives. "The Highlanders, drawing their swords, rushed forward like furies; and, being supported by the Grenadiers under Colonel Grant (Ballendalloch), and a party of Lord Rollo's brigade, the hills were mounted and the batteries seized, and numbers of the enemy, unable to escape from the rapidity of the attack, were taken." This action proved decisive; for the town, being commanded by the heights, surrendered on the 5th of February. This point being gained, the General was preparing to move against St. Pierre, the capital of the colony, when his farther proceedings were rendered unnecessary by the arrival of deputies, who came to arrange terms of submission for that town and the rest of the island, together with the islands of Grenada, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia. This capitulation put the British in possession of all the Windward Islands. Great Britain having declared war against Spain, preparations were made to assail her in the tenderest point. For this purpose, it was determined to attack, in spring, the Havannah, the capital of the large island of Cuba, a place of the greatest importance to Spain, being the key of her vast empire in South America, and deemed by the Spanish ministry impregnable. Much valuable time was lost in preparations at home; and, instead of reaching the West Indies in time to sail for their destination immediately after the reduction of Martinique, the commanders did not leave England with the fleet till the month of March. The best period for action in these latitudes was thus lost, and an arduous service was to be undertaken in the most unhealthy season of the year. One part of the arrangements was well executed. The fleet arrived off Cape Nicholas on the 27th of May; and a fleet and troops from Martinique, joined them on the evening of the same day. The armament now included upwards of 11,000 firelocks. A further reinforcement of 4000 men was expected from New York.

As the hurricane months were approaching, much of the success of the enterprise depended on expedition. The Admiral resolved, therefore, to run through the Straights of Old Bahama, a long narrow and dangerous passage. This bold attempt was executed with so much judgement and prudence, that the whole fleet, favoured by good weather, completed without loss or interruption, a navigation which reckoned perilous for a single ship, and on the 5th of June arrived in sight of the Havannah.

In the harbour lay nearly twenty sail of the line, which, instead of making any attempt to oppose the operations of the invaders, secured themselves by sinking three ships in the mouth of the harbour, and throwing an iron-boom across it. The preparations being completed on the 7th June, the Admiral made a demonstration to land to the westward, while a body of troops disembarked to the eastward of the harbour without opposition, the squadron under Commodore Keppell having previously silenced a small battery on the beach. The army was divided into two corps, one of which, under Lieutenant-General Elliot (afterwards Govenor of Gibraltar), was to cover the siege, and protect the parties employed in procuring water and provisions, - a service of great importance, for the water was scarce and of a bad quality, and the salt provisions were in such a state that they were more injurious than the climate to the health of the army.

The other division was commanded by General Keppell, and was intended for the reduction of the Moro, which commanded the town and the harbour. A detachment was encamped to the westward, to cut off the communication between the town and the country. In this disposition the troops remained, occasionally relieving each other in the hardest duties, during the whole of the siege. The Spaniards did not continue entirely on the defensive. On the 29th of June, they made a sally with considerable spirit and resolution, but were forced to retire, leaving nearly 300 men behind them.

In the meantime, the three largest of the British ships stationed themselves alongside the fort, and commenced a furious and unequal contest. But the Moro, from its superior height, had greatly the advantage of the ships, which, after displaying the greatest intrepidity, were obliged to withdraw. Sickness had now spread among the besiegers, and, to complete the difficulties, the principal battery opposed to the Moro caught fire on the 3rd of July, and blazed with such fury, that the whole was in twenty minutes consumed. Thus the labour of 600 men for sixteen days was destroyed in a few minutes, and all was to be begun anew. This disaster was the more severely felt, as the increasing sickness made the duty more arduous, and the approaching hurricane season threatened additional hardships. But the spirit of the troops supported them against every disadvantage; and, while they had so much cause to complain of their rancid and damaged provisions, and of the want of fresh water, though in the very neighbourhood of a river from which the small transports might have supplied them in abundance, had any attempt been made to provide a supply; yet the shame of defeat, the prospect of the rich prize before them, and the honour that would result from taking a place so strong in itself and so bravely defended, were motives which excited them to unwearied exertions.

After various operations on both sides, the enemy, on the 22nd of July, made a sortie with 1500 men divided into three parties. Each attacked a separate post, but after a short resistance, they were all forced back with the loss of 400 men. The loss of the besiegers in killed and wounded amounted to fifty men.

In the afternoon of the 30th, two mines were sprung with such effect, that a practicable breach was made in the bastion, and orders were immediately given for the assault. The troops mounted the breach, entered the fort, and formed themselves with such celerity, that the enemy were confounded, and fled on all sides, leaving 350 killed, while 500 threw down their arms. Thus fell the Moro, after a vigorous struggle of forty days from the time when it was invested. Its reduction, however, was not followed by the surrender of the Havannah. The besiegers continued their exertions, and erected new batteries against the town. After many difficulties and delays, in the course of which the enemy exerted themselves to intercept the progress of the batteries, the whole were finished on the morning of the 13th August, when they opened with a general discharge along the whole line.

The fire was so well directed and effectual, that at two o'clock in the afternoon the guns of the garrison were silenced, and flags of truce were hung out from every quarter of the town, and from the ships in the harbour. This signal of submission was joyfully received, and on the 14th the British were put in possession of the Havannah nine weeks after having landed in Cuba.

Immediate preparations were made for removing the disposable troops from the Island. The 1st battalion of the 42nd and Montgomery's were ordered to embark for New York, where they landed in the end of October. All the men of the 2nd battalion, fit for service, were drafted into the 1st; the rest, with the officers, were ordered to Scotland; where they remained till reduced in the following year. All the junior officers of every rank were placed on half-pay.

42nd Highland Officers Killed (plus 1 sergeant, and 18 soldiers): NB: plus 73 by sickness.
  • Major: John Macneil (by sickness in Cuba)
  • Captains: William Cockburn (Martinique); and Robert Menzies, brother of late Sir John Menzies; and A. Macdonald (both by sickness in Cuba).
  • Lieutenants: David Barclay (Martinique); and ? Farquharson; ? Grant; ? Lapsley; ? Cunnison; ? Hill; and ? Blair (all by sickness in Cuba)
42nd Highland Officers Wounded (plus 3 sergeants, 2 drummers, and 84 soldiers):
  • Major: John Reid (Martinique)
  • Captains: James Murray; and Thomas Stirling (both at Martinique)
  • Lieutenants: Alexander Mackintosh; David Milne; Patrick Balneaves; Alexander Turnbill; John Robertson; William Brown; and George Leslie (all at Martinique)
77th Highland Officers Killed (plus 6 soldiers): NB: plus 6 by fever.
  • Lieutenant: Hugh Gordon (Martinique); and ? Macvicar (Cuba); and ? Grant; and ? Macnab (both by fever in Cuba).
  • 77th Highland Officers Wounded (plus 1 sergeant, and 32 soldiers):
  • Captains: Alexander Mackenzie (Martinique)

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