Regular British and Canadian Regiments in the Canadas
The following note is provided by Rodney T. Lee, author of A Directory of Officers & Men of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment 1795-1816.
In 1803 the British prepared for action in North America. London gave orders to establish four regiments of “Fencibles” - Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canadian, These Fencible Regiments were subject to the same laws, regulations and conditions of service as other corps of the British army, and were considered a full part of the Regular British Army. The Fencible infantry Regiments were different in only one respect; they were to serve in North America only.
British Infantry Regiments in the Canadas
Date of Arrival
1st, Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)
9th, East Norfolk
13th, First Somersetshire
37th, North Hampshire
41st, Welch (todays Welch Regiment)
57th, West Middlesex
70th, Glasgow Lowland
82nd Prince of Wale's Volunteers
88th Connaught Rangers
90th Regiment Perthshire Volunteers
97th Regiment Queen's Own
100th Prince Regent's County of Dublin
101st Duke of York's Irish
British North American Fencible Regiments
Date of formation
Royal Newfoundland Fencible Infantry
104th Regiment of Foot (originally New Brunswick Fencible)
Nova Scotia Fencible Infantry
Canadian Fencible Infantry
Glengarry Light Infantry Fencible
New Brunswick Fencible Infantry (see above)
Provincial Corps of Light Infantry (Voltigeurs)
The British Regiments are numbered by their seniority, based on their formation date. Thus, The Royal Scots (founded in 1633) were the 1st Regiment of Foot, or 'The Royal Regiment', or more simply, 'The First of Foot'. The full regimental title for these regiments is 'xx Regiment of Foot'. It should be noted that of the impressive list of British Regiments serving in Canada, only 10 regiments were present in Canada prior to 1814. In addition to the 10 British Regiments were two Swiss Regiments which arrived in Canada 1813. This list does not yet include units that served in the Atlantic region.
As Rodney Lee pointed out above, the Fencible Infantry Regiments were British line regiments, and were considered regular troops, with many long-serving and well-trained regular officers and NCOs. Their distinction as 'Fencible' indicated they were required to serve only in North America. These regiments were known simply as 'xx Fencibles', or more fully as 'xx Regiment of Fencible Infantry'. It is not clear why the British Regiments were designated 'Foot' and the Fencibles as 'Infantry'.
Honours and Awards
Individual medals in the War of 1812 consisted of the following:
General Officers Gold Medal
Field Officers Gold Medal
Military General Service Medal (Of the 911 medals issued, 4 were awarded to Royal Newfoundland Fencible soldiers for Fort Detroit, and 2 for Crysler's Farm.)
These individual medals were awarded for service at Fort Detroit, Chateauguay, and Crysler's Farm. It is not clear why individual medals were never awarded for Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane, two bitterly fought battles of high significance for the outcome of the war.
Collective battle honours were awarded for the capture of Fort Niagara, 19 Dec. 1813, to:
1st, Royal Scots Regiment
The following units were recognised for service at Lundy's Lane, 25 July, 1814:
1st Bn Royal Scots
1st Bn of 8th King's Regiment
2nd Bn of 89th Regiment
The Glengarry Light Infantry
41st Regiment flank companies (perpetuated today by the Welch Regiment)
19th Light Dragoons
104th Regiment (originally New Brunswick Fencible Infantry)
The above units were given the right to carry the word 'Niagara' on their colours. The 41st also carry Detroit, Queenston, and Miami.
The following statement by George Stanley, made in his 1983 book The War of 1812 Land Operations is of interest:
It is to be regretted that no Canadian regiment of the day, regular or reserve (militia), is authorized to carry any of the battles or engagements of the Canadian War of 1812 as "battle honours" on their colours. A case could be made for designating some existing militia units as perpetuating units of those which took part in the principal battles of the war (p. 431).
In 2012, the Canadian Government attempted to adjust this error or oversight by awarding Battle Honours to Canadian Regiments, including The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which is now recognised as perpetuating the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry.
A truly remarkable photograph appears below. It is of a group of 1812 war veterans, who gathered on a lawn in Rosedale, Toronto, in 1861. It is not clear why the group in the foreground is separate from the group in the background, but it is possible both groups were veterans. Photographs of public events not in studio settings were in their infancy. At this time (1861) photographs of battle scenes of the American Civil War were just coming to wide public attention.