AMERICANREVOLUTION.ORG

LETTER-BOOK OF CAPTAIN ALEXANDER McDONALD,
OF THE
ROYAL HIGHLAND EMIGRANTS
January, 1776



TO MR OGILVIE.

2nd Jany 1776

DR SIR

I have already acknowledged the Receipt of your Letters and inclosed you my Affidavid to the 24th december. As for News I can Give you none but what the publick papers can inform you. All America is now in the hands of the Rebells Except this pitifull province and that they swear they will have Early in the Spring and I dont See any thing that will hinder them without some Admiral is Served as Bing was the begining of Last war. Canada is all in the hands of the Rebells and I am afraid our poor Colonel McLean against whom they are very inviterate. I have been ordered to this province Since the Month July Last and I never was informed whether there was an agent appointed for the Regimt or Not so that I don't know who to draw upon and even if there was it would be ruin and destruction to the officers to, Draw at present, as we Cannot Sell a bill for Less or more money under fifteen or twenty per cent discount, So that government must Certainly Send money over or Send for all their troops and Leave America to the Rebells or do something more Vigorous than has been done hitherto. The Authors of this unhappy disaster you have among you In England. The pretty speeches that has been made in the house of Lords the time of the Stamp Act and other Gentlemen well known, out of and in the house of Commons, are alone the Authors of this unnatural Rebellion, which I am very much afraid will terminate in the destruction of Great Brittain and the Colonies god forbid it should be the Case but as the Americans are now so flushed with their Success that they will not accept of Any terms Consistant with the dignity and honour of Great Brittian, until they are forced to it and you may think what you will at home I can tell you that Great Brittain will find that a hard task without they happen to Quarrel among themselves which may be the Case if a strong Army & Navy will be sent to New York soon. I shall say no more on this disagreeable Subject God knows how it will end I am Dr Sir Your very humble Servt


Halifax 6th Jany 1776

This far I have gone on with my Letter when an account was brought me that the brigg with our officers and men were Coming into the harbour and I stopt till I had received Your Letters, which I am sorry to tell you brings but Very Little Satisfaction. In my Letter to His Excellency General How I have told him I would wait with Calm Submission for his decision in the affair, and I am now determined not to Say one word more, but refer myself Entirely to his redress, whatever he thinks to do for me. I have spent the best part of my days in the Service of my King and Country and I will Spend the remainder as Long as God Spares me, Let me Meet with what injustice I will so far this affair is Settled, but my Dr Major what grieves me to the heart is the treatment that John McDonald and Ranold McKinan has Met with and which I am afraid will prove fatal to the Regiment as they Swear they will Sell their Men to Colonel Gorham or Governor Legg. Either of them will give ten guineas a head for every man they have, they can easily then Return all the money they have received should this be the Case what will come of us. I used my uttmost Endeavours to pacify them and to perswade them from doing any thing rash till We hear once More from head Quarters. Mr McDonald Swears he will take the first ship for England, represent his Case to the Ministry and do the best he Can for himself. As for Ranold McKinan he is beyond doubt as brave and as worthy an officer as any in the King's Service, he has a wife and Six Children, from his Attachment to his King and Country he forsook his place where he was begining to Live Cumfortable by dint of hard Labour for twelve Years, he is now reduced to a state of Bankrupcy and beggary from his disapointment for he never will serve under a junior Officer nor in any Station below a Captain. For My part I must tell you that I think your Conduct towards me is very hard but indeed how far it is in your power to help it I cannot tell; you know very well that I have often applied to you for a Regular warrant to receive money as I wanted it. I have also demanded of You to know whether or no an Agent or a paymaster was Appointed or who, or in what manner I was to draw or Receive Money. Mr. Turner is very Civil and polite to me and goes as great Lengths as Consistant with Safety to himself but will not give a farthing more without an order from General Massey and I do not know whether Generl Massey has received one Single Scrape of a pen about us and Mr. Turner will issue nothing but the bear Subsistance of the men without a positive order from General How. I have wrote you Long agoe that Governor Legg has washed his hands out of us, that he never would or will order One Single Sixpence to be paid how then from all these Circumstances are the officers to be Subsisted and the Bounty Money paid. I wrote you by Ensign McDonald that our men were almost Stark naked for want of Cloathing of all kinds and to all these representations You never Gave me a direct answer, which forces me to Apprehend that you Look upon me to be a Child, or that you have a despicable opinion of my Sense And Understanding. However I flatter myself that you will find Matters in as good order as you reasonably can expect as well in Reguard to the men as my Accounts. I am Sorry to be forced to write such perplexing Letters to you and I beg you would remove the Cause by furnishing me with all that's needfull both money and Cloathing, without which you know its impossible to keep Soldiers In order, and you may rest asured that I shall not be Short of my duty in Compleating them in their discipline as well as keeping them in good order, when the weather admits of their being in the field. I dont know if I have Yet wrote you about McQuarrie the Little fellow that deserted from the Yankys into boston and which General Gage gave up to McKinnon as he was a highlander the damned Rascal deserted camp; Stole a peice of Silk & other things from his Master Ranold McKinan. I have Catched him and all the deserters that went from me except two, this Rascal cost Me Six pounds odd Shillings. I beg to know whether you will have him hanged or Shott. I Lay any money that you will send me word to Let him at Liberty for a bear Reprimand because he is a highlander. I give you my hearty thanks for your attention to Mrs McDonald and with Compliments to all friends in boston I am Dr Major Yours Sincerely

P.S. I am Surprized we dont hear the Least Mention of our appointments in General orders as well as the Sensible Gorhamites You may tell his Excellency that if a Considerable Army is Landed any where in the province New York Next Summer I will Ingeage to rase 500 in a months time if You can any ways in the world my Dr Major I would be Glad that my brother in Law Gilbert Myer would get an Ensigncy he is the only one of my wifes Relations that Stands by her and asists her.



TO MAJOR SMALL.

Halifax 9th January 1776

Dr MAJOR.

I can Scarcely go among the Men but something will present itself to my view, or to my Ear that will occasion my troubling you with a Letter. This Morning we Landed the Men and the women they are much about the Same in Number. You may depend upon it I will use my uttmost Endeavours to pacify them and keep them in Good order. My greatest Difficulty is how to find quarters for thier women as houses are now grown Scarce in Halifax and the Engineer Complains he cannot get stuff to repair them in fitting for troops. As for their baggage I dont know how to dispose of it without I had a store as big as St Pauls Church to put them in. The officers are some what Discontented as Coll Gorhams Corps received bat and forage Money and I hope you will see your own Corps justified as well as they. How soon I can get a Litle at Leisure I shall send you a General account of all the Money that I received and Laid out. Doctor Morrison will report you all deficiencies for the Sick. I think Governor Legg should allow all these women and Children Sixpence per day agreeable to a proclamation I think I read not Long Agoe. I am Sorry to tell you there is Likely to be a Scarcity of provisions in this place, beef is already at Nine pence per pound and no Market but once a week. I fear we will not be able to give you any more asistance in this Quarter. I am Sorry you should be displeased at my writing to You so often, and asking for things that is absolutely Unavoidable. I only Leave it to yourself to Consider how it is possible for men almost half naked to stand the Severity of the weather this time of the year besides the other Misfortunes that flows from this deficiency. In the first place I dare not venture to bring them out of the barracks to put them through any minuvre or teach them the use of their Arms, the Consequence of this will be that men and officers will be aukward and Ignorant of their duty and Coll Gorhams Regiment will be fit to take the field with the Army and Likely Severe Reflections will be thrown upon me by the General. Coll Gorham has Cloathed his Regiment Compleatly not only with an Uniform but Each man has got a watch Coat. Had we the Plaids I would teach them to wear them in a manner that would answer for a watch Coat, and if I Could get A Sufficient Number of Kilmarnick Caps, I would have them Cut in a form that would Look decent and uniform at the Same time save the mens Ears from being frost bit. I have ordered Mittins to be made for each man of white Milled kind of Cloth that answers very well for that purpose and as far as the few yards that Angus McDonald brought down will go I will distribute it amongst the Most Needy. There is no kind of Cloth or any goods to be bought in this town, but at a price that Soldiers Cannot afford. In short My Dr Major I am anxious for the intrest of the Corps I have the honour to Command, and if they were properly Clothed with their Regimentals they would not be much Inferior in Looks and Appearance to some old Regiments in the Service. The whole Garrison has been under Arms to day to see the punishment inflicted on McQuarrie and Harris by a Garrison Court Martial. Each of them are ordered four hundred Lashes and General Massey is So very Genteel as to Leave it to me to remit what part of their punishment I think proper, but the weather was so Excessive Severe that we were Not Able to go through any part of it at all, for fifty Lashes would certainly made their backs Mortify And the Men Could not Stand out so Long so it was put off 'till another time.

This Morning the Roebuck Captn Hammon Sailed from here for Virginia, and the Sommerset Captn Selrass for England, on board of which went Mrs Coffin and her family and Captn Batt of Coll Gorhams in order to Regulate the affairs of their Corps and to bring out their Cloathing and Camp Equipage. I thought I would not Miss so favourable an apportunity of acquainting his Excellency General Gage with our Success both here and at Cannada, for Godsake if you should go Vollunteer on any of these Expeditions Leave me upon a proper footing In reguard to Money Matters, for god sake send down All the Cloathing you have there in order to Save the people from perishing the plaids in particular and be so good as to Let me know, when you can Expect the Rest of our Cloathing and Camp Equipage, whether they are ordered or not and what place to Come to. One thing more, I want much a drum Major and two or three drums. I shall Say No More but Conclude my Dr Major Your well wisher and Sincere Humble Servant.

P.S. I am Sorry to tell you that one of the handsomest fellows amongst the highlanders one McDougal Contracted a nervous favour upon his passage from boston, and died a few days after his Arrival here. Doctor Boynton whom I appointed to do duty as Chaplain has a great deal of trouble and very attentive to his Duty. I dare not take upon me to allow him any more than fire and candle without Your Approbation for his Character and Merit I refer you to Colonel Bruce and the Gentlemen of the 65th Regiment and Would be Glad to know what you would Chuse to Allow him, you might Consult with Coll Bruce and Captn McKay about that.


To MRS. MACDONALD.

Halifax 15 Jany 1776

My Dr SUEKEY

I am only to acquaint you that I am in a perfect good state of health and neither want Nor wish for any thing more upon the face of the Earth than to hear the Like account from you and the Children. I hope the people round about you are not so Much out of their Senses, as to use you ill in any Shape upon my Account, if any thing else Could make me their Enemy that would be it. However Chear up Your heart and hope for better days. I dont chuse to talk any thing about polliticks, I only inclose you his Majestys Speech to his parliament, by which you see the dreadfull Sentance is passed and that all Europe far from being Enemys to Great Brittain offers all the aid and asistance Great Brittain will Chuse to have, and happy are they who first Lays down their Arms and Sue for Mercy.

I have ordered Major Small to remit you forty or fifty pound Stirling. I have his Letter promising to send it by the very first Opportunity. I have also recommended Gilly for Something and if I am Successfull will Acquaint you.

Pray Let me know whether Mr Weatherspoon refuse to keep the boy in the College or whether it were your own Choice that he should remain at home and whether or not you have paid Mr Weatherspoon any Money Agreeable to my former Orders. Give my Compliments to Mr Riney and tell him to take all the Care of Donald he Can. Remember me kindly to Mr & Mrs Duffley Mr Laurence and all my good friends there, tell Mr Dicker that I think his account Against Mr James McDonald very Extravigant and his Charge Against me Entirely false without you or some of the people has taken things from him Since I Left You. In Case you should not receive any Money from Major Small or by his Order, Apply to Walter and Thomas Buchanning & Compy if they have any transactions in this town Your draught upon me In their favr. will be duly honored. for the Sum above Mentioned.


To GEN
L GAGE.

Halifax 27th Jany 1776

SIR

Since I did myself the honr to write to your Excellency per favr Capt Batt, a Report prevails that Captn Stenton of the 14th Regt is gone home to England from Governr Legge to make a representation to Government, that the men which the Governor Expected for his Regt are inlisted in ours & Coll Gorhams. Regts

In order to Confute any false report of that kind, I Send inclosed to Yr Excellency a monthly Return of the Men under My Command at present, of which only 48 has been inlisted in this province and the half of that Number only fit to do duty in a block house, or within a fort. It is Strange that Government Should be So far imposed upon as to Make them beliefe that a thousand Men Could be raised in a province where by the information of those who knows every man in it there is not 2500 fit to bear Arms and the two thirds of them Notorious Rebells in their heart. It is no Less strange to Me that an order Should Come from home, to Stop us from inlisting men to favour of Governr Legge and indeed hints are thrown out, that he expects both our Chores to be turned over to his. This however is so Unreasonable & unjust in itself that I Can give No Credit to it, tho' I cannot help mentioning it to your Excellency. I will not trouble Yr Excellency with a Long Letter. I hope Not only our Second Battalns Commissions will be Issued but two Companies More to Each Battalion, to put us upon a footing with the rest of His Majestys Regts, as we shall be at no Loss for men if we once take possession of New Yorke. There is about Eight & forty men in that province, that was Ingeaged by Me Last April besides all the Highlanders up the Mohawk River besides Men in North Carolina which I hope will be next Summer; this being all that occurs at present I remain with my Sincerest reguard & Esteem Yr Excellencys Most devoted Most Obedient and Most Humble Servt

P.S. I am almost fifty years of Age and if Your Excellency thought proper its almost time I was A Major.


To MAJOR SMALL.

27th Jany 1776

Dr MAJOR

I beg that you would not Look on my representations of our Situation here as Groundless Complaints, I will Entirely Submit to Yourself to judge how far My Complaints to you are Groundless or not. Here I am with above 300 Men and Officers, the Most of the Men almost Naked and all of them bare footed 'till Angus McDonald Arrived with a few pairs of Shoes & Stockings, which has In a great Measure Relieved some of them, but will Not Last Long, what other Cloathing he has brought up is Making for them as fast as possible besides this there are Knapsacks & haversacks wanting which in my Opinion it is high time to think of to be provided, there is no Stuff to make those things Can be got here. All the men are now Settled & Cleared with, and the provisions Stopt to 26th decemr Except for the women and Children whom I Suppose will be allowed their provisions by government. Inclosed You have a General Account of all the Monies I paid & Received from the beging to the 26th Decemr, and if General Massey will Order the ballance to be paid to me I will Settle with the paymaster General for all the Men's Rations and Every other thing to that date; if any Material Errors will Appear in the Account they will Easily be Rectified, I know***keeping Accounts perfectly well***Care I will be more Liable to Loose *** than to Gain them however I am Convinced when I shall have the pleasure of Seeing you I hope things will Appear to your Entire Satisfaction. One thing I do Asure You I'd rather be in the Governments' debt than they in Mine though I'd Chuse to be in their debt as Little as possible I understood you have promis'd the pay mastership of the Regt to a particular Gentleman, whom I think worthy of Every favour that Can be Conferred upon him but it is not Every man that is Qualified for that business. The Gentleman that Came Down Last has Relieved me a good deal but I am still at a Loss for a Sufficient number to hold Regimental Court Martials. Hambleton has Left us. Roberts is In Command at Fort Sackville. James McDonald & Robert Campbell are up at Fort Cumberland Recruiting and there is not now here of Commissioned Officers but Myself Ranold McDonald & the Qr.Mr although I am Commanding officer of the Regimt here when our Chore here gives a Captn of the day, I am obliged to put myself in orders for that duty. Ranold McKinnon and John McDonald can do No Duty without Commissions I have picked out fourteen boys to be Drummers. I have got two Drumms from Mr Buckley the Secretary of the province and I am about hiring the Drummer that acts as Drum Major of the 65th to teach these boys, but he Says that Each of them Should have a Drumm and then he would teach the whole with the Same Ease as one. I am going to deliver General Massey an Exact Coppy of the Inclosed Acct, if he will order me to Receive the ballance good and well, if not I am sure I am at a Loss to know what to do, having no power or directions to draw Money, on our Agent if any is yet appointed which is More than I know, only I am told that Coll McLean has been drawing upon Mr Oglivie all his bills that he drew but whether as an agent or upon account of his own private fortune I do not know. I think Captains Campbell and McLean as they are drawing their pay might as well be here taking Care of their Companies as Staying in Boston doing Nothing. I am Sorry to tell you that the Serjt Major you sent Me down is very Uncapable of that duty, besides he is a good deal attached to Rum and very ready to give insults this Morning he Came to me and would insist upon to My face, that I promised to give him wood to keep a fire in a Room which he had taken for himself & his wife in town as he is too great a Gentleman to Lodge in the Barracks, when the Last men Came down they were all Crammed into one house whilst other barracks were preparing for them. By that Means we were able to Save a Cord & a half which I ordered to be divided between the taylors, the Serjeant Major & the Serjeant Qr Master, and although I Continue McMillan to do the Duty of Serjt Major, I ordered Anderson to receive the two foot of wood as McMillan being Single might Shift for himself in the barracks, but now that we are obliged to take out more houses for Quarters, we cannot Save one Single Stick, and Mr Anderson had the Impudence to tell me that I promised to furnish him with wood and if I did not I was not a man of my word. I was So provoked that I gave him a kick in the back Side and ordered him to be Confined. So much for Mr Anderson. I am Sorry to tell you that old Robert Campbell is Dead this morning. He has been ill for this Month past and am told that he has left about five thousand pound to his Children, Equaly divided between his two Girls and our Ensign Robert Campbell, being all the Children he has Got.

I had a Conversation with Mr Butler the Agent Victualer, he says the provisions Issued, to the women & Children, should be a Separate Charge and I always made it a Separate Charge he also Says the account of the women and Childrens Rations Should be transmitted to the Commissarys and the Contractors to have nothing to do with it. As for these Matters the Genl I suppose has taken Care to Settle them already.

If Your time would permit I should be glad to have a List of all the Commissions that are issued out, and to know if you have Spoke to Coll Bruce, about this Drum Major here. I torment You with writing Letters yet after Every Letter I write I find that I have forgot Something. I Cannot think of any more at present but that I Ever Am Dr Majr Yours Sincerely
A. M
cD.

P.S We have formed a Mess and a poor one it is without a drop of any kind of wine or Spirits, only Spruce beer to Entertain our friends with; with this we Might be Content ourselves, but as we are often Invited to dine Abroad we are at a Loss how to Return those Civilities therefore I beg you would send us a pipe of Good Madeira also a hogshead of good port wine. What we should not want ourselves, Some of our friends would be very glad to have.

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