British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada, c. 1

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British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada, c. 1

Postby jf42 » 30 Jun 2015 17:56

I thought I would post the link below to a photograph showing in considerable detail (there is a zoom function) a detachment of the 63rd (West Suffolk) Regiment formed up in front of the Niagara Falls sometime before 1862, the year they returned home according to the National Army website.

I haven't seen this image before; others may be familiar with it but to my eye it's rare to see a photo from this period that shows British infantry parading in regulation uniform who look as smart and redoubtable as these soldiers.

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/british ... 62.113596/
Last edited by jf42 on 01 Jul 2015 08:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby rd72 » 30 Jun 2015 18:25

Fantastic pic, jf.... Thanks for posting... If the Trent thing had somehow got legs, types like these would have been in the van...
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby jf42 » 30 Jun 2015 20:14

"I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, ..."
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby Josh&Historyland » 30 Jun 2015 22:47

Sweet link! It seems to have started a "redcoats in America" debate over on CWT. I would imagine a descent from Canada would have been the natural course.

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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby Mark A. Reid » 01 Jul 2015 00:24

Yes, a " descent from Canada " might well have rattled the American Army but, at the risk of sounding churlish, we should realise that there had been a continuing " descent from Canada " into the U.S. for many years already. Desertion from the British garrisons in Canada had been a constant problem and actually contributed to the formation of the Royal Canadian Rifles whose duties included pursuing deserters. Kingston, in southern Ontario, was a particular problem as deserters could make a dash across the frozen waters of Lake Ontario during the winter and arrive on American soil before their pursuers caught them.

Sir Desmond Callaghan KCVO in his book " Guns, Gunners and Others " ( London, 1925 ) mentions that the Royal Artillery battery which he relieved in Kingston during the 1860's had already lost more than a third of their number from desertion to the U.S. That is a staggering figure which may owe more to hyperbole or a faulty memory than fact but still indicates that British garrisons were subject to enormous wastage when garrisoned close to the United States in the mid-Victorian period.

Whilst the scarlet worthies in this photograph were no doubt " loyal and true, " I would be surprised if at least one of them was not eyeing the far shore and wondering if, on a dark night, with a good look at the North Star ...

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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby jf42 » 01 Jul 2015 08:58

I can't help considering whether a descent from the north would have been a trickle in comparison to the forces available under arms- in theory at any rate- to flow in a torrent the other way. Of course the Union in 1862 was not really in a position to fight a war on a second front and a campaign northward would probably have expired in the vast open spaces of Canada even if columns had succeeded in penetrating the St Lawrence frontier at Kingston or Montreal before winter descended. Given that and the fact that firepower in 1862 had massively increased since 1775 or 1812, I assume that the British with the Canadian auxiliaries would have been better waiting for the Americans to show their hand, should they have been rash enough to embark on an invasion northwards.

Nonetheless, given how an infantry battalion posted at the natural choke point of Niagara in 1862 might be regarding their prospects during a period of international tension, the determined expression on the faces of those men of the 63rd becomes all the more understandable.

I suspect the likelihood of the White House being singed again was not great.

This chapter on the defence of Canada circa 1862 in a book that our colleague Grant R reccommended some time ago is interesting
http://archive.org/stream/ourgarrisonsi ... 4/mode/2up
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby Josh&Historyland » 01 Jul 2015 10:57

Desertion must have been a problem, muster books would doubtless give us the speciphics. I would highly doubt the U.S. Capability to invade Canada, and indeed do it successfully. Not only because they failed twice in that line in each previous war, but because of the relatively poor Generals they had available to command their Largley volunteer armies. Plus the lack of railways which were becoming increasingly important to logistics.

Perhaps the "descent" would take the form of irregular raiding, at least until an expeditionary force shipped out.

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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby Frogsmile » 01 Jul 2015 11:28

Great image jf, with superb detail of the uniforms and equipment. I have not seen it before. Thank you for posting the link.
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby jf42 » 01 Jul 2015 15:41

Yes, it is a pleasing discovery. The 1860s are begining to look much more interesting (with due consideration to Umbeyla, New Zealand and Abyssinia)!
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby Waggoner » 01 Jul 2015 18:28

Having reinforced the Canadas during the winter of 1861/62 following the "Trent Affair", the British had a plan to invade the Northern States if war did break out. They would have used the traditional invasion routes such as the Richeleau River and the Niagara Frontier. The Royal Navy would have blockaded the American coast and quickly brought the war to a successful conclusion.

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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby jf42 » 01 Jul 2015 21:59

A bold plan to include the word 'successful' before contact with the enemy. How big a force was allocated?
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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby Waggoner » 01 Jul 2015 22:30

I don't have my notes at hand but this article (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trent_Affair) suggests some 18,000 regulars plus another 28,000 available as reinforcements. This would have been augmented by the militia. Of course, the Royal Navy ruled the waves at the time. Facing hostile forces on three sides, things would not have gone well for the Union! Just my opinion, of course.

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Re: British 63rd Regiment of Foot at Niagara Falls, Canada,

Postby jf42 » 02 Jul 2015 00:33

I believe 18,000 was the size of General Lee's army on the morning of the battle of Antietam Creek in September 1862. General McLellan had perhaps three times that many men.
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