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.