What did the 1st Regiment of Middlesex and the 1st Regiment of Oxford do at Detroit - as identifiable separate units of Militia? In what strength did they deploy, under whose command, and what material contribution did they make to the outcome of the skirmish?
Reference :#21 (above) of 01 May 2013; 23:36:31 hrs
Michael, I can tell you that they did exactly what the other units present at Detroit did, including the 41st Foot. They obeyed Maj-Gen Isaac Brock’s orders and positioned themselves for the assault, but before they could advance, Detroit surrendered.
The Flank Companies of the 41st Foot were originally awarded this honour in 1816. It was extended to the whole Regiment in 1824.
All the Militia Units, that showed up at Detroit, consisted of their volunteer
flank companies, mainly because of the fact that Upper Canada was an agricultural based economy and most members of the compulsory
sedentary militia could not be spared for offensive operations and also because of suspect loyalties (most of the western part of Upper Canada was settled by immigrants from the United States)A
Since there was no actual combat (except for an artillery duel) or an assault, this honour could only have been awarded for the results and circumstancesB, C, D & E
of the ‘encounter’ or ‘affair’. Brock was also outnumberedF
by the Americans, under Brig-Gen William Hull. To visibly increase his numbers of regular troops, Brock had many of the militiamen wear the cast-off red-coatsG
of the 41st Foot.
The following quotations (lettered superscript, above) will help to illustrate this :
A - Report No. 6; Directorate of History, Canadian Forces Headquarters, 30 June 1966; ‘Canadian Militia prior to Confederation’ :
87. One of Sir George Prevost's first decisions, after assuming office on 14 September 1811, was to send Major-General
Isaac Brock to Upper Canada to act as Administrator, so that Lieutenant-Governor Gore could have some leave in Great
Britain. There were only the 41st Regiment of Foot and the 10th Royal Veteran Battalion in Upper Canada to garrison its
widely scattered forts. The militia was calculated at 11,000 men, “of which it might not be prudent to arm more than
since “loyalist stock accounted for only one-sixth of the population and emigrants from the British Isles and
their children for another one-fifth.”79
88. Major-General Brock had some success with his preparedness programme, even though a bill to suspend habeas corpus
was defeated in the Legislative Assembly because of the “great influence which the numerous settlers from the United
States” possessed and because of the prevalent belief that war was unlikely.80 The Militia Act of 1808 was extended and
supplementary clauses authorized the formation of flank companies, each of 100 volunteers, for every sedentary militia
regiment. These flank companies were to train six days a month until they became proficient . There was no provision
for pay but, according to the new Militia Act, volunteers “shall not be liable to any personal Arrest on any Civil Process,
or to serve as Juror, or to perform duty as a Town or Parish Officer, or Statute labour on the Highways, during the time
he shall continue in such flank companies any law to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.”81 Brock had requested
clothing for his militia but, since it would be some time before it arrived, his Adjutant General of Militia issued a circular
letter suggesting that each man provide himself with a “Short Coat of some dark colored Cloth to button well round the
Body, and Pantaloons suited to the Season, with the addition of a Round Hat.”82
As much uniformity as possible was
desired. Such clothing would be equally suitable for civilian use. Officers were further advised, when in the field, to
dress in conformity to the men “in order to avoid the bad consequence of a conspicuous dress.”
78. Prevost to Liverpool, 18 May 1812, C.O. 42/146 (PRO).
79. Michael Smith, A Geographical View, of the Province of Upper Canada and promiscuous remarks upon the
Government, etc. Hartford, Conn., 1813, 62.
80. Tupper, The Life and Correspondence of Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, 153
B - Whitfield, Carol; ‘The Battle of Queenston Heights’; Canadian Historic Sites; Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History,
No 11, National Historic Sites Service, National and Historic Parks Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, Ottawa, 1974, pgs 28-29.
Meanwhile, of course, Brock was concerned with the military defence of the colony. Early in Dec 1811, Brock wrote to
Prevost stating his ideas about the strategy they should follow in the event of war. Brock believed that Amherstburg was the
key; from here offensive operations could be launched which would hold the Americans in check and keep them on the
defensive from Niagara west. The Indians would be essential to assist the British in this area but their help could not be
depended upon until the British had captured Detroit and Michilimackinac. Pointing out the vital situation of Kingston, Brock
advised stationing a large force of Regulars and Glengarry Militia there. ……………………. .56
Prevost, however cautioned against initiating offensive measures and worried about controlling the actions of Indians
fighting for the British.57
There was a basic deference in the strategy of the two men. Brock wanted to hold onto Upper Canada by offensive action;
Prevost wanted to fight defensively, retaining Upper Canada as long as possible and then fighting a rearguard action as the
forces retreated to Quebec, the only defensible position in British North America. Holed up in the citadel, the British forces
would wait until Britain, having defeated Napoleon Bonaparte, could send aid. Then go on the offensive and recover Upper
Canada. Brock, however, seemed to ignore Britain’s struggle in Europe.
56 - PAC,RG 8, Vol 673, pgs 171-182, Brock to Prevost, York, 3 Dec 1811.
57 - Ibid, Vol 1218, pgs 108-111, Prevost to Brock, Quebec, 24 Dec 1811.
C - Casselman, Alexander Clark, Editor of “Richardson’s War of 1812”; Coles Canadiana Collection, originally Published 1902 by
the Historical Publishing Company, Toronto, Ontario. This edition was Published by Coles Publishing Company, Toronto,
Ontario, 1974,pg 85-87.
“In the capture of Detroit, General Brock has been termed the saviour of Canada, and most deservedly so. Had he not struck the
blow he did, and at the time he did, at the American power in the West, Upper Canada --- nay both the Canadas must have been
yielded to the triumphant arms of the United States. At this period the whole force of the Province consisted of four Regiments
of the line, namely the 8th, 41st, 49th and 100th and added to these, the Canadian and Glengarry Fencibles and a few companies
of Veterans and of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, So insignificant a force could have availed little against the hordes of
American Irregular Troops, which would have been poured in from the west, along the Delaware and Burlington routes, and
which moving in rear of the Centre and Left Divisions, must necessarily cut off their communications with the interior of the
country and so straightened their supplies as to have rendered them an eventual conquest. That General Hull would have
recovered from the temporary panic, which seems to have induced his relinquishment of his position at Sandwich there can be
no matter of doubt; but even if he not done so, and reduced Amherstburg, which was of vital importance to the American
interests, there were other leaders and other Armies, already on their way to reinforce him, and the subjugation of the Western
District must, on their arrival, have been assured. What then would have been the result? Half the Indians, already bearing arms
on our side, would either have seceded from a cause which they conceived us helpless to defend, of have joined the American
flag, while those who were undecided which party to join, would have thrown their influence and numbers into the opposite
ranks. As General Hull has truly stated in his official letter, most of the Militia if the District ---- particularly the French-
Canadian portion of the population, were daily thinning our ranks, by returning to their homes, and it required but some strong
and effective demonstration, on the part of the enemy, to have left the regular troops in the West to their own unaided exertions,
Fortunately it was fated to be otherwise. General Brock, with that keenness of perception and promptitude of action, which was
so eminently characteristic of his brief but glorious career, at once saw the danger and flew to meet and avert it. He well knew
that, on the destruction of the North-Western Army, depended the safety of the Province committed to his charge, and the
enterprise, which he himself has termed hazardous, was periled only after profound reflection and conviction. He justly
entertained the belief that while, on the one hand, the slightest delay and incertitude of action, would be fatal to the interests of
Great Britain inasmuch as it must have, a tendency to discourage, not only the inhabitants of the Province, but our Indian
Allies, there was, on the other, every probability that an immediate and vigorous attack, upon an enemy, who had lost so much
time, in inactivity, and who had abandoned so many advantages, would be crowned with success. It was a bold --- an almost
dangerous measure; but the danger to the country was greater, and he resolved to try the issue. He succeeded; from that hour
Canada was saved.”
D - Norman, CB, ‘Battle Honours of the British Army’, Chap XXVII, pgs 433-436; John Murray, Albemarle Street, W, London,
Since all of our original traditions have come down to us from the British Army, that has to be our start point.
In 1881 a Committee under the Presidency of Gen Sir Archibald Alison, 2nd Bt, was appointed to look into the matter of
granting Battle Honours, belatedly. Up to this time, Battle Honours had only been awarded for battles during the turbulent years
between 1793 and 1815. Some Regiments, with over some 100 years of good and loyal service, still had no Battle Honours on
their Colours, even after the massive amalgamations of 1881. Alison’s committee came to the conclusion that, “the names of
such victories only should be retained as either, by themselves or by their results have left a mark in history which render their
names familiar, not only to the British Army, but also to every educated gentleman”.
Again, in 1910, another committee, under the able Presidency of the Adjutant-General, had adjudicated what Alison’s
Committee had decided on. The Regiments of the Army owe a deep debt of gratitude to the labour exerted by this Committee,
although it was an incomplete job. Their task was by no means a light one. This committee was guided by two main principles
in their selection of Battle Honours. One, “that no distinction should be granted unless the Regimental Headquarters was
present in the engagement”. Two, that Honours should only be conferred on Regiments with “a continuous history from the
date of the action. A break in the direct genealogical succession would invalidate the claim”.
Despite these two qualifiers, Battle Honours Committees, have continued to give ‘lip service’ to the award of Battle
Honours. They seemed to want to grant Honours … not in a greedy grab for Honours … but according to the circumstances
prevailing at the time and place. Many Battle Honours awarded subsequently by these two Committees, when studied, do not
meet the criteria as set down, but instead were awarded mostly according to results gained by what was achieved.
E - Web-site; `Siege of Detroit` at : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Detroit
The news of the surrender of Hull's army was startling on both sides of the border. On the American side, many Indians took
up arms and attacked American settlements and isolated military outposts22
. In Upper Canada, the population and militia were
encouraged, particularly in the Western districts where they had been threatened by Hull's army. Brock overlooked the local
militia's former reluctance to perform their duty, instead rewarding those militiamen who had remained at their posts. More
materially, the 2,500 muskets captured from Hull were distributed among the hitherto ill-equipped militia.
The British gained an important post on American territory and won control over Michigan Territory and the Detroit region
for most of the following year. Brock was hailed as a hero, and Tecumseh's influence over the confederation of natives was
22 - Elting, John R. (1995). Amateurs to Arms. New York: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80653-3, pp.36-37
F - Hitsman, J. Mackay (1999). The Incredible War of 1812. Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3 United States Forces British Forces
582 regulars 330 regulars
1,600+ militia 400 militia
5 light guns
3 heavy guns, 2 mortars
Total all personnel : 2,182 + Total all personnel : 1m330
1 - Hitsman, J. Mackay (1999). The Incredible War of 1812. Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3, p.81
2 - Hitsman, J. Mackay (1999). The Incredible War of 1812. Robin Brass Studio. ISBN 1-896941-13-3, pp.79-80
G - Katcher, Philip RN; ‘The American War of 1812’; Osprey; Men At Arms Series; Published 1974 by Osprey Publishing Ltd,
PO Box 25, 707 Oxford road, Reading, Berkshire, England, pg 5; ISBN 0-85045-197-3
“….. his regulars and militia, and dressed the latter in old 41st coatees, mixing them one militiaman to every two regulars to
give the impression of a large regular force.”
vaya con Dios