By Tom Fournier
A visit to Fort George National Historic Site in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada is sure to include the Officers’ quarters.
Displayed on the wall in the dining room is a plaque detailing the Mess Rules for the 41st Regiment. They can also be found in the history section of our website here.
The reading of the rules is fascinating. There certainly seems to be a preoccupation with a proper accounting of the wine consumed and the management of fines (to be paid in bottles of wine). I find it strange that there are no strictures about discussions surrounding politics and religion. It is also disappointing that there no limitations on feats of daring or animals brought into the mess (although maybe for the amusement of those in the mess perhaps it is not disappointing?) It is nice to see that the management of Betts (sic) are covered.
What I find more interesting is the background as to why these rules were available to researchers so that they could be posted in the recreated dining room at Fort George.
These mess rules are in fact found in the archives of the United States of America in a Department of State file for Miscellaneous Intercepted Correspondence 1789 – 1814, British Military Correspondence, “War of 1812 Papers”.
In October of 1813 as part of the aftermath of the naval Battle of Lake Erie and the resulting resounding American victory (U.S.N. Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry, “We have met the enemy and they are ours”), the British forces under Major General Henry Proctor had begun a retreat from the area of Amherstburg, Upper Canada and Detroit, Michigan. Their withdrawal was to go up the Detroit River to Lake St. Clair and then up the Thames River.
Prior to his promotion to Major General, Procter was the Commanding Officer of the 41st Regiment. The force under his command was predominantly members of the 1st Battalion and some members of the 2nd Battalion of the 41st Regiment.
On October 5th, 1813 the American pursuit had overrun elements of the baggage train and forced the British to halt and stand to fight. This horribly managed retreat and defense resulted in a very quick American victory known as the Battle of the Thames or the Battle of Moraviantown with substantial numbers of the 41st Regiment captured. Another outcome of this battle was the death of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
Part of the baggage captured was the personal effects and correspondence of Major General Proctor. It is because of this captured baggage that we have the Mess Rules of the 41st Regiment which were in among his papers.
But not often seen was another accompanying piece of correspondence, which was a Regimental Order issued to the 41st Regiment. The Mess Rules were a supporting document to his Regimental Order.
The Regimental Order follows. I find it interesting as it illuminates the relationship that Procter (then the Commanding Officer of the 41st Regiment) had with his Officers. It also offers some insights into his prickly character (which I think may be a good subject for a future blog!)
Regimental Order Fort George 5 October 1808
The Commanding Officer actuated solely by zeal for the good of the Regiment, feels it highly expedient to give the Officers particularly those at Fort George some information and directions for their future guidance in their conduct towards their Commanding Officer which will be found more agreeable to the Virtue of the Service and the Articles of War, than the Opinions which seem for some time past to have directed their conduct. He has to inform them that disrespect to the Commanding Officer of the Regiment is as contrary to the Articles of War and General Orders in Officers composing a Mess, as it would be on a parade or any other situation. He desires that on future occasion they will depute or sanction any Individual among them, whatever Mess title they may choose to give him, to send him a written reminder summons by the Mess’ Waiter as has been lately done, and which, he received whilst performing the duty of inspecting the Barracks with the Acting Barracks Master, announced in the Regimental Orders, and on the Morning Parade, in the presence of every Officer and which, from the severe Sickness of the Barrack Master had not been performed for near half a year.
It betrays an unpardonable ignorance of the Service and no sense of Subordination and high disrespect in any body of Officers to summon their Commanding Officer to attend their Meetings, instead of respectfully requesting to know when his attendance would be convenient. He has also to inform them that no other authority than the Commanding Officer can call a Meeting of any body of Officers. He has further to desire that on occasions where it may be wished to prefix his name in attendance (?) that he may be previously committed, and not hitherto , the same fixed for his consequent attendance; where as the Mess may be desirous of making any communication as required that it be done by the Senior Officer designated by the Mess and not by a corporate or Municipal Officer as he acknowledges no Independent body over the Corps he Commands.
“War of 1812 Papers” of the Department of State
1789 – 1815
Miscellaneous Intercepted Correspondence 1789 – 1814
British Military Correspondence
Microcopy No. 588
By Tom Fournier
It is in June and July of 1804. The 41st Regiment of Foot have already been in Canada since the autumn of 1799. On behalf of the Board of Ordnance, Lieutenant Colonel George Glasgow of the Royal Artillery has supervised an inspection of the muskets of the 41st Regiment.
He finds they are in a remarkably deplorable state. For those who love the minutia of detail associated with the British Army of the Napoleonic Age, his reports and summaries offer incredible and fascinating details! He wraps it all up with what I think is a shocking recommendation.
Report – 20 June 1804
In the examination of arms belonging to the 41st Regt. Of Foot the following points have been attended to – Viz
Every barrel has been taken out of the stock, the breech taken out, and both inside and outside closely inspected; those marked unserviceable have visible defects from holes or flaws, each of which was tried with a searcher before being condemned.
The doubtful are those containing smaller defects, not so visible but probably equally dangerous, and which might require further proof.
Very many barrels (even among the serviceable) have bulges within, opposite to the fixing on of the loops, and the whole almost without exception, have bulges opposite to the Proof marks.
All those stocks which were cracked or splintered in the upper part were marked Repairable; and where the cracks or splinters are situated about the Lock, in places which would not bear repairing, they are marked unserviceable, they might however in their present state with care, last a considerable time with any Regiment although not fit to be issued as serviceable from Store or received as such; these bear a great proportion among the Stocks marked unserviceable.
The principal part of the repairable Locks are so, from the hammers being soft; the feather spring weakened by wear; or the tumbler requiring some trifling examination by the Armorer. The Locks appear by much the best part of their arms.
Some of the unserviceable Ramrods are broke, & others made of soft Iron.
The unserviceable Bayonets are mostly broke, either in the blade or the Shoulder; many are injured by having been used to unscrew the swivels & lock screws.
Marked repairable consists chiefly in pipes worn down or wanting, in swivels wanting, or in the guard plate being broken at the Screw.
The Extract from the report on the annual return sent home; and the Quarter Masters statement of the reception of these arms in 1799/both which are annexed show them to have been received by the Regiment in a very defective State; and the Quarter Masters statement is confirmed by the Variety of marks when them either of different Regiments or Depots or of the East India Company.
We cannot conclude this report without adverting strongly to the injury which might to their Majesty’s Service from Regiments being actively employed with arms of so bad a description in their hands.
Lieu Col Comg. R. Arty.
4, 5 & 6th July 1804
The whole of the barrels except the unserviceable have been proved in these three days, with 10 drams of the best powder and one ball each rammed well home with wadding – those marked doubtful & many of the others had each two balls which proof they all stood without exception.
Lieu Col Comg. R. Arty.
Source: Library and Archives Canada, "C' Series, Record Group 8, Volume 909, pp 11 - 13
The marks that Glasgow refers to, can be found on a report that he created showing the marks by locations on various muskets. I have chosen to highlight the column of marks on the “barrels” which is referenced in the above report when he talked about the “variety of marks.” It is stunning to look at the variety of marks and wonder where on earth did all of these muskets come from and how old were they? For example, an understrength 41st Regiment arriving in Canada in 1799 drafted 224 members of the 2nd Battalion 60th Regiment who were scheduled to leave Canada for England (see previous Blog post here). These muskets predated the 41st Regiment in Canada!
41st Regiment of Foot
Return by Companies of the Arms, which present Marks.
Quebec 19th June 1804 --
Marks on the Barell
60th Regt. 2nd Battn.
60th Regt. 2nd Battn.
four straight cuts thus IIII
60th Regt. 2nd Batt.
29 A. m. D.
60th Regt. 2nd Battn.
Prince of Wales Fencibles
60th Regt. 2nd Battn.
60th Regt. 2nd Battn.
60th Regt. 1st Battn.
60th Regt. 1st Battn.
Royl. Cornwall Regt. R.C.F.
County Limerick Militia
60th Regt. 2nd Batt.
60th Regt. 2nd Batt.
60th Regt. 2nd Battn.
“on the Butt” A.L.D.
County Limerick Militia
Prince of Wales Fencibles
Source: Library and Archives Canada, "C' Series, Record Group 8, Volume 909, pp. 34 - 35
Another report breaks down the muskets and various components of the muskets by company. I have created a table that shows the summary and it gives a very good sense for how rough these muskets must have been.
State of the Arms of the 41st Regiment of Foot examined between the 5th and 18th June 1804 at Quebec
And finally, the shocker.
As someone who has stripped down a Brown Bess musket for the purpose of cleaning, I can relate to the essence of the following report. My first musket was bought second hand and it had been in service for a number of years. In removing the barrel, I found a pin or two were missing. As I removed the barrel, I found some of the “tangs” on the barrel that would pin it to the stock had been broken off. There really was not much that was holding the barrel to the stock.
Needless to say, I now have a new musket and the other has been retired as a lovely wall hanger!
I was really surprised to come across this report and find that soldiers of the 41st Regiment were experiencing the exact same problems 200 years ago but those muskets remained in service and were in the hands of those trusted to defend the frontiers of Canada.
Quebec, July 7th 1804
As the Artillery Officer appointed by you to examine the Arms of the 41st Regiment, we think it our duty to submit to you for the purpose if you should think proper of being transmitted with the report to the proper Officers in England, the following suggestions, which we humbly conceive might benefit His Majesty’s Service, and ultimately diminish, instead of increasing expense.
Every Soldier, in order to clean his arms, is occasionally obliged to take the barrel out of the Stock, by which means, in the present form of the breech pin, the screw becomes soon loose, the breech pin itself often broke, and the stand of arms rendered in many cases useless. A false breech therefore, fixt in the Stock in the manner of fowling pieces, would be better, as it need never be removed even for cleaning.
The manner of fixing loops into the under part of the barrel essentially injures it, each loop having a dove-tail filed flat into the barrel, which cuts deep into its thickness, the riveting of which in many cases bulges the interior of the barrel; --
The Wires which go thro’ these loops, by being often removed injure the Stock, & with every care of the Officer and N. Commis.’ Officer, are frequently left out by the men to save trouble: this, in the end, by leaving the barrel to no other connection with its stock than the upper swivel pin and the breech pin, must tend to destroy the Stock, and cause the stand of arms to be soon defective, if not useless; --
The pipes, also, for the ramrod is pinned in a similar manner with wire into the stock, will if removed for cleaning tend to injure it by the frequent removing of the pins; --
For all which reasons, the Clasps in use with the arms of most of the Continental powers, embracing both barrel and stock, serving as loops for the ramrod, and being easily removable, appear to us better calculated for preserving the Arms of a Regiment, and consequently beneficial to the Service.
We have the honor to be, Sir
with great respect
Your most obedient humble Servant
Lieut.-General Hunter George Glasgow
Commanding H. Majesty’s Forces Lieut. Col Comg. Ry. Arty.
in both Canadas Wm. Riley (?)
V.V.V. – Captain R. Artillery
Source: Library and Archives Canada, "C' Series, Record Group 8, Volume 909, pp 7 – 9
So ultimately, Lieutenant Colonel Glasgow felt the style of musket used by the French and American armies (the Charleville pattern illustrated in this Blog), was a superior fashion of manufacturing and keeping muskets in service. Seeing as how the Brown Bess never changed, it is easy to see that his insights and advice were not heeded!
From His Majesty's Gentlemen: A Directory of Regular British Army Officers of the War of 1812 by Stuart Sutherland, here is a brief description of George Glasgow’s career:
GLASGOW, GEORGE: second lieutenant Royal Artillery 8 September 1774, first lieutenant Royal Artillery 7 July 1779, captain-lieutenant Royal Artillery 29 December 1784, captain Royal Artillery 25 September 1793, brevet major 6 May 1795, major Royal Artillery 3 December 1800, brevet lieutenant-colonel 1 January 1800, lieutenant-colonel Royal Artillery 25 December 1801, colonel Royal Artillery 24 July 1806, major-general 4 June 1811, lieutenant-general 12 August 1819, died 28 October 1820 at London, England.
Present: July 1812-February 1815.
Staff appointments: officer commanding Royal Artillery in the Canadian command, July 1812-February 1815.
Civil appointments: administrator of Lower Canada, June-September 1813.
Biographical reference: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, V.
By Tom Fournier
In this blog post we look at new content posted in the history section of the 41st Regiment of Foot MLHG’s webpage.
This is the remarkable (to me) Court Martial of Lieutenant Benoit Bender of the 41st Regiment of Foot, held in Montreal in July of 1815.
The Court Martial occurred at the request of Lieutenant Bender after he was barred from further association with the mess of the Officers of the 41st Regiment in May of 1815 after Captain Peter Latouche Chambers made an accusation of cowardice against Bender. Chambers made this claim one evening, just after Bender excused himself from the mess. Bender asked for exoneration through a Court Martial but was told that he could not be accommodated right away. Finally, with a wide gathering of the Officers of the 41st Regiment and many others in Montreal for the Court Martial of Major General Henry Proctor (also the former commanding Officer of the 41st Regiment), an opportunity arose for the Court Martial of Benoit Bender. At the Court Martial he was arraigned on the charges but had to wait until November 27th, 1815 for this to be approved by the Prince Regent and posted by Horse-Guards.
It is startling to see the words of Major General Proctor in the testimony for the defence. When asked after the affair at Sandusky (the Battle of Fort Stephenson in Sandusky, Ohio) if Captain Chambers had made a report respecting Lieutenant Bender, he said “He did, but from my knowledge of the character of the accuser and of the accused, I did not take notice of it …”. Relative to charges that Bender misbehaved at the River Raisin, Proctor said that he had heard mention of it and asked that the accuser come forward with charges but heard nothing further.
Bender describes the numerous occasions when he had garrisoned with Chambers, spent time with Chambers and served with Chambers but Chambers had never said anything to him on any occasion.
Benders references that be believed the origins of Chambers enmity towards him originated with a dispute on the Miami River on May 5th, 1813 with a relative of Bender’s. This would be Captain Adam Muir of the 41st Regiment. Muir rose through the ranks of the 41st Regiment to become an Officer. He also married Mary Elizabeth Bender (Benoit’s sister). At Fort Meigs on the Miami River on May 5th, 1813 there was a major action where an American relief column captured the British siege battery. A furious counter attack recaptured the batteries and a large number of Americans were captured and many more slaughtered in the forests as they recklessly chased after the indigenous warriors aligned with the British. It was a significant victory, one that ultimately gained the 41st Regiment the Battle Honour “Miami” but Chambers was out of sorts because he felt he was responsible for the recapture of the batteries where Muir was also given credit.
There are to be more examples of the dysfunction within the Corps of Officers within the 41st Regiment which was seemingly divided between a Chambers camp and a Muir camp. At the time of the Court Martial, Muir was with the 41st Regiment in Europe as part of the Army of Occupation just outside of Paris.
Some other items that I thought interesting:
In closing I offer a brief description gathered from various sources, of the service of the primary characters in this blog. Bender, Chambers and Muir:
Ensign 41st 29.12.1808, Lieutenant 41st 4.4.1810, Half Pay 41st 28.8.1817, Lieutenant 70th 29.3.1827, Captain 70th 26.11.1830, Half Pay same day, Captain 82nd 17.4.1835, Brevet Major 9.11.1846, Retired Full Pay 1851.
Served in Canada with 41st from 1808 to January 1815. In the War of 1812 – 14 was present at Detroit where he was employed in the direction of the boats & engages of the South West Company** (Procter to Brock 10.9.1812). Also present at actions of Monguaga, on the Miamis & Raisin Rivers, at Fort Sandusky, Fort Niagara, engagement of 2.1.1814, Black Rock 2.2.1814, & Buffalo. Accompanied 41st to France when it formed part of the Army of Occupation.
M.G.S. Medal with clasp “Detroit”.
* Benoit Bender was a brother-in-law of Adam Muir.
** An interesting reference as the Southwest Company was a joint venture between the American Fur Company and the Northwest Company. The Southwest Company had absorbed the Michilimackinac Company which had employed Robert Dickson. This likely refers to Dickson and the native warriors which he brought to Fort St. Joseph and which had participated in the capture of Fort Michilimackinac.
CHAMBERS, Peter Latouche
He joined the 41st in 1803 as an ensign. He became lieutenant in 1806. Date of rank within the regiment was 14.5.1808 through purchase. A general order of 14.8.1812 confirmed Chambers as a brevet major for the local area.
Chambers was in command of one of the brigades in the attack on Fort Detroit. Chambers was at Frenchtown on 19.8.1812 for the surrender of stores and the destruction of the Stockade and 2 detached blockhouses. He moved on to the rapids of the Maumee on 21.8.1812 for more surrendered stores. He is said to have returned to Amherstburg on 23.8.1812 to find his horse stolen by the natives. After a confrontation with Mathew Elliot he is sent back to the Niagara by Procter.
Baptism of son Frances Peter at Niagara (present day Niagara-On-The-Lake) on 2.2.1813.
In his memorial he claims to be at the various actions of the right division but also claims to have been at Queenston Heights, Fort George and Stoney Creek. It is said that because he was so hungry for promotion, he was embroiled in disputes with Captain Muir, Lieutenant Bender and Colonel Procter.
Chambers led a wing that recaptured the batteries at Fort Meigs that also cut off Dudley's Americans from their boats and a possible retreat. Chambers was part of the contingent that demanded the surrender of Fort Stephenson prior to the attack. Chambers was captured at Moraviantown. He was in command of a Corps D'Observation which included Dragoons Militia and Indians which followed McArthur after Malcolm's Mill. Chambers testified at the Proctor and Bender court martials.
He served as Major with the 41st in the Burmese Wars. He was appointed Lieutenant Colonel in the 87th Regiment in 1826 and transferred back to the 41st to assume command in 1827. He was also named a Companion to the Order of Bath. He died of Cholera on 29.8.1827. He lies buried in a graveyard in Bangalore India with his wife Emily Ann who is said to have died within 2 hours of him. His son Frances joined the 41st rising to the rank of Lieutenant.
MUIR, Adam Charles*
In Ranks 41st, Sergeant Major 41st, Ensign 41st 3.9.1794, Lieutenant 41st 12.10,1794, Adjutant 41st 30.9.1793 – 9.2.1804, Captain 41st 9.2.1804, Brevet Major 4.6.1814, Retired in 1819, Died before 1842.
Served as Adjutant of 41st throughout the campaign in San Domingo 1794 – 96. Played a most distinguished part in Canada during the War of 1812. As local Major commanded the 41st at the capture of Fort Detroit, gold medal, & then at Frenchtown, on the Miami, at Fort Sandusky. He was taken prisoner at Moraviantown. He was mentioned in dispatches for his services at Detroit, Fort Meigs: Brevet Majority.
* Married Mary Bender in Montreal in 1801. She was the sister of Lieutenant Benoit Bender also of the 41st. Muir was wounded at the 1812 action at Maguaga (Detroit River between Detroit and River Raisin). He was also at Brownstown and commanded the support expedition to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Upon his return from captivity in the U.S. he was assigned to the Militia in the Grand River area and opposed a crossing of the Grand River around 5.11.1814 by Duncan McArthur prior to the Battle of Malcolm’s Mills.
Muir was crippled in a fall from a horse in 1816 and forced to retire in 1818. Upon his retirement he returned to Canada where he struggled to make a living and support his large family. He died in 1829.
His one son, George Manly Muir, went on to become Clerk of the Legislative Assembly in Quebec. He is also considered the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Ontario.
The nephew of Major General Sir Isaac Brock published a book in 1845 titled, “The Life and Correspondence of Major General Sir Isaac Brock”. In the letters shared in the book, can be found some references to the 41st Regiment as it was found in Canada during the prelude to the War of 1812.
The one quote seems to often permeate writings on the War of 1812; it reads “The 41st is an uncommonly fine regiment, but wretchedly officered.”
In 1846, a passionate rebuttal and defence of the Officers of the 41st Regiment appeared under a pseudonym in the United Service Magazine. It is believed that the author is in fact John Richardson who served with the 41st Regiment as a gentleman volunteer (serving as a private soldier but hoping to gain acclaim and glory and thus be promoted to an Officer’s role). He did ultimately gain an Ensigncy but in the 8th Regiment. Richardson went on to write his own history of the War of 1812, commonly called “Richardson’s War of 1812”. Born in Canada, he is also at times considered Canada’s first novelist writing works such as “The Canadian Brothers” and “Wacousta”.
The 41st Regiment of Foot MLHG is very fortunate to have gained the permission of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, Whitehall, London to transcribe this letter and share its details on our website.
The letter can be found in our history section or by following this link:
On the 17th of August, 1799 the 41st Regiment set sail from Cork, Ireland to Quebec.
They sailed on the H.M.S. Asia, a transport ship. Typically, transports were old battle ships no longer fit for service in that capacity.
The 41st Regiment had just finished a period of extensive recruiting and rebuilding. It had previously served in the West Indies and saw its strength greatly reduced by the illnesses associated with that geography. The regiment had transferred the remaining private soldiers to the 17th Regiment and returned to England with its Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Regimental Staff.
As part of its final preparations for deployment, still understrength, the 41st Regiment accepted a draft of prisoners from the prison hulks (old ships used for confinement) and with these prisoners came a fever.
From the letters and correspondence of the 41st Regiment comes a remarkable series of letters and notes that does much to illustrate the conditions on board the Asia, the efforts to deal with the fever and the ongoing fight to bring it under control upon arrival in Canada. They can be found here:
In his History of the Services of the 41st Regiment D.A.N. Lomax claims that 85 all ranks died from the fever (20 on board Asia and the remainder in Canada). Lomax describes a note that was found in the Regimental Record Book (since destroyed like many of the 41st Regiment’s records in fires at the Pembroke Dockyards in 1895) which tells a story of how in Montreal the doctors and attendants had also contracted the fever and died so the care of the sick soldiers fell to a local doctor. His solution was to leave the doors and windows open in the temporary hospital even though it was in the middle of winter. The next morning there was no longer any fever but there were a considerable number of frozen bodies. Soldiers of the 41st Regiment on learning of the fate of their comrades, went searching for the doctor to exact their vengeance but he had fled from Montreal.
The now understrength 41st Regiment drafted 224 men from the 2nd Battalion, 60th Regiment who were scheduled to return to England.
The 41st Regiment remained in Canada all the way through the years of the War of 1812, earning more Battle Honours associated with the War of 1812 than any other regiment. They finally sailed from Canada on the 24th of June, 1815. They sailed not for home but rather Europe. Too late for the Battle of Waterloo, they did go onto become part of the army of occupation of Paris.
I'm posting this message in as many places as I can because it would appear that word isn't getting out very well. I'm still seeing on Facebook and other groups that rumours are flying, so I would like to clear the record.
Most infantry and artillery reenacting groups in Canada have insurance through the National Firearms Association. What scares people is that on their website, there is a note that that there is a non-application of the policy for horse related activities. Many people have taken this to mean that any reenactment event that has horses present voids our insurance. This is absolutely NOT true. The Crown Forces Staff have been in contact with the NFA and their representatives, and have clarified the position through lawyers. As long as the event we are at (Fort Erie for example) has their own insurance for the event (they do) and the cavalry units have their own insurance (they do), our insurance is not affected.
Please spread this message as widely as you can in an effort to stop this rumour. Also, if you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me and I will do my best. I worry a little bit that if people keep asking the NFA about this, they will start to think maybe they shouldn't be covering us...:)
- Andrew Bateman shared this message from Chris Mckay