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.
Bt Tom Fournier
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:
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