Canadian troops, War of 1812...Fencibles and Colonial RegularsFencibles were British regulars raised in the colonies with the guarantee the soldiers would not be shipped outside their own area. An important consideration when being sent to the West Indies meant decimation by disease. Often companies of Fencible units served independently in many small garrisons and appearing as single companies on the battlefield. Those who fought in the War of 1812:Royal Newfoundland Fencibles (involved in many actions across the frontier) New Brunswick Fencibles (These volunteered for regular service, becoming the 104th Foot in 1810 while retaining the tile of New Brunswick Regiment. Another unit of New Brunswick Fencibles was raised to replace them but did not see action) Canadian Fencibles (This is when Canadian meant French-Canadian)Michigan Fencibles (A unit of 45 men recruited from fur trappers!)The light battalions of Fencibles are the elite of the Canadian troops. Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles (recruited from Scottish Loyalists, the unit was dressed as riflemen but armed with muskets) Canadian Voltiguers- (A Fencible unit in all but name, recruited in Quebec.) Frontier Light Infantry (formed in 1813 later became the 9th and 10th company of the Canadian Voltiguers while retaining their own identity)Provincial MarineColonial naval force on the Great lakes, becoming part of the Royal Navy in 1813. The Indian Department The Indian Department were Canadian & British officers and interpreters who liaison with Britain’s First nations allies, participating in many battles and skirmishes. (Perhaps the presence of Indian Department officers could give bonus’s to command and control of First nations warbands?)Caldwell’s Rangers were a two company unit of Canadians raised to fight beside the First Nations warriors. MilitiasBoth colonies of Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Quebec) Canada had roughly similar militia systems. There were fears that neither colonies militia could be relied upon, in Quebec because of Francophone national resentment of the conquest and in Ontario because of recent waves of American (non-loyalist) immigration. As it turned out, neither fear was realised. Sedentary MilitiaVillage and county militia’s that could be organised into temporary battalions. The rural militias, if undrilled, would have been made up of men experienced in hunting and woodcraft. City militias were larger and more regularly drilled, but did not serve outside their cities. Lower Canada Select Embodied Militia Battalions (4 line battalions, a fifth battalion later became the Canadian Chasseurs and a garrison 6th battalion. In June 1813 flank companies from the first five units were used to form two Militia Light Infantry Battalions. These were dissolved in November)Upper Canada Incorporated Militia Battalion (Single battalion)These were in essence “Militia Regulars” organised for the duration of the war. Almost all saw action and by the latter part of the war I consider them as British regulars. Light DragoonsBoth colonies raised small units of cavalry, mostly for patrolling and carrying dispatches, that saw much action.Canadian Light Dragoons (lower) and Provincial Light Dragoons (Upper)VolunteersThere were also volunteer units of anything from a weak company strength to, in the case of the Quebec Volunteers, battalion strength. They included infantry, cavalry, marine, artillery drivers and rifle companies. There was also Runchey’s Coloured Company that became the Upper Canada Corps of Provincial Artificers.Corps of Canadian VoyaguersMade up of French Canadian fur traders, colourful characters impervious to discipline, this was mostly a transportation corps but were skilled frontiersmen who could fight effectively as guerrillas.
Canadian troops of the War of 1812
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Posted 18 August 2009 - 06:06 PM
All this, I should point out, is from Osprey MAA's 319, "British Forces in North America," Chartrand & Embleton, 1998.I have much less information on the US Militia aand volunteers. My gerneral immpresion is that the US militia in the East in the beginning of the war were almost useless, the New York milita for example refused to cross the St.Lawerance during the battle of Queenstone Heights in 1812. They were afraid chiefly of the Indians they could hear from across the river. After that fiasco the militia was for the most part left at home, only the most reliable militia units crossed the border. Since most of the fighting was in Canada it's hard to judge the American militas performance although they seemed, along the border at least, to perform ably enough. Of course, at Blandensburg they bolted en mass! The milita in the western territories was made of sterner stuff, ill displined (Until jackson clamped down hard on them) but aggressive. the Kentucky Mounted Riflemen were unique for the period. At the battle of the Thames they charged on horseback a British line (albiet in open order... and example of line troops deploying in open order) into woods full of first nations warriors and then dismounted to fight hand to hand with rifles (without bayonets) and hatchets! The western milita was the major component of American forces in the West and in the South fighting the Creek and the Anglo-Spanish. The British seemed to think that every western militiaman (and allied first nations) was a riflemen but in fact in Florida. While some carried rifles most were armed with whatever smoothbore could be scrounged. Warrior 129, Osprey Frontier Milita of the War of the War of 1812, Southwest Frontier Ed Glbert 2009Colin
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