AMERICANREVOLUTION.ORG

LETTER-BOOK OF CAPTAIN ALEXANDER McDONALD,
OF THE
ROYAL HIGHLAND EMIGRANTS
March and April, 1776


TO MAJOR SMALL.

Halifax 1st March 1776

DR MAJOR

Since writing the above, I Received a Card from Gl My desiring to know from me, in what Manner the Commandr In Chiefs orders has been Signified to me, in Reguard to Your Captn Campbells & Captn McLeans Absence from the Regt, In Consequence of which I waited on him Immediately and told him I never had any orders at all from the Commander in Chief, About it, & that I Could not return you any otherwise, than as I did, well knowing that the Commander in Chief knew of Your being at Boston, and that all of you had his Leave for Staying there. I hope General Massey Will be wrote to, and Satisfied on that head. I am afraid in a Short time you shall have a Complaint from Lt FitzGerald, that you might be prepared to receive it, I beg Leave to give you the particulars now. About a month Agoe, an advanced post was established at Fort Sackville, Consisting of two Subs two Serjeants & 36 private, the first two Sub's was Lieutenant Proctor & Ensign Roberts of ours, at the End of the Month, Ensign Roberts insisted on being Relieved and Lt FitzGerald being the first for duty was ordered to relieve him. It Seems General Massey intended that Proctor Should Always Command there, in order to put the five Shillings Allowed by Government upon out posts in his way - FitzGerald went there Yesterday and his Commission being Prior to Proctors insisted on taking the Command. Proctor Refused giving up the Command until he would first acquaint the General of it, which Accordingly he did, and General Massey ordered me to Send an Ensign to relieve him, and I sent this morning Young Ensign Day - this is all I can tell you on this Subject until Mr FitzGerald Comes in - I was Surprized this Morning by Mr Roberts Coming to ask my Leave for going to Boston, he knowing very well, the Situation we are in for want of officers, he is a very smart Clever Young man, and I told him I should be glad to do any thing in my power to Serve him, but that it was Entirely out of my power to grant him Leave to go there Espescialy as Mr Hamilton is going to Leave us. He went off Seemingly very much disatisfied, for indeed he has not been well pleased Since Mr Campbells Commission as Lieutenant Came in, and I think Mr Roberts has got as much as he has a just title to, having never raised a man. Another thing I must tell you in Reguard to Mr Roberts is that you'd write YrSelf to him, and get Captain Montresure to do the Same, to Caution him about his method of Speaking of people who has at Least as great a title And I think more than he has to think themselves Gentlemen. It Seems he in a publick mess Expressed his Surprise, at people Giving themselves Ayres who has been the other day Serjeants and Corporals. Ranold McDonald has been told that Mr Roberts Should Say, what a damn deal of impudence he had for Coming to an. Assembly among Ladies and Gentlmen, who has been but just promoted from being a Serjeant - If I had been here I Suppose he or Ranold would be in Eternity before now. I don't want him or any body else know that I gave You this hint. I mean it Entirely for Mr Roberts Intrest, as I have a great Reguard for him he is a very smart Clever boy, but yet Young, & Unacquainted with the world. I will Speak to him but he will proub'ly think that I would be partial on account of My Name, but i declare to god if he or anybody Else will think So they're Mistaken, for I shall be much More Severe on Either officer, or Soldier, with that Name than any other name or Clan in the Regiment. I must Confess that I feel Extreamly well pleased when they do their duty and act in Every Respect as they ought to do, and if they should Surpass any body Else, I would not be Sorry for it. Once more I beg for the Cloathing to be Sent down for this very day some of the men came to me with their toes through their Shoes frost bit, and there is not a Shoe nor a bit of Leather to be had in halifax for Either Love or Money. I am Sorry to tell you that the paymaster General is Scarce of Money, and I will require to draw the ballance of the Account which I have not got yet, and also for the two Musters Commencing 25th december & Ending the 24th April, which will be above two thousand pound Sterling.


To MAJOR SMALL.

Halifax 24th March 1776

My DEAR MAJOR,

What can be the reason that Genl How has orderd Brigadeer Massey to Send our Regt or all Detatchments from this Garrison and to keep all the others Coares togethere if we are looked upon to be the worst body of men (which I Denigh) we are not certainly the most fitt to be a Barieer for this Province & Espetially in our present Situation without Cloathing & all othere acoutrments Necessary for Soldiers to take the fielde. 8 Days ago I received orders to have a Detachment in readiness for Fort Cumberland consisting of 1 Capt 3 Subs 3 Serjts 2 drms & 50 R & F when I represented the condition we were in for want of the above articles I was tolde to Compleat the men and that all the Taylors of the Garrison should be order'd to make our Cloathing with the outmost Dispatch Such as Coats, Vest, breetches, Leggens 3 Shirts 2 pr Stockings 2 pr Shoes & a knapsack made of Saile Cloath, the men are not to pay for these things as the commanding officer of the Regt Should have provided them before now they are allmost Compleated and waiting for a fair winde to go up the Bay of Feunda on Board the Halifax & Kings Schooner I Darr Saie Each man will cost £3 Sterg at the rate things are Selling here for which Sume whatever it will amount to, I must Draw. The People Does not Chuse to trust us long in this Place -

You will finde an Error of about £322. 13s 7d in the last acount I Sent you which was Owing to inadvertancie in Charging in the Generall Cash acount Sums of money which I advanced to Capts McKinnon & McDonald for the recruiting Service and which Should have been Charged to their Particular accounts, however I Discover'd the Mistake before I received the Ballance so that I only received £182 0s-8 1/2 in place of £515-4-3 1/2 of which you will be pleased to take notice and that I have only Drawn for from 1st July 1775 to 24th Decemr for us no more then two thousand one hundered & four pounds Seven Shillings & eight pence 1/2 I say £2104-7-8 1/2 in Place of two thousand four hundered & thirty seven pounds Eleven Shillings & threepence £2437-11s-3d if you have charged me with the last in place of the first, you will be pleased to Creaditt me By £333-13s-7d - I hope you will find the inclosed accounts from 25th Decemr to 24 aprill pritty just. I have Drawn for 3 Contingent men to each Company over and above the strength. Some of the old fellows who has been in the Service before are grouling about their Poundage money or Queens Bounty Some will have it 16/ 6 others 17/ a year. I would require the Pajience of job to be able to Deall with them, when the men has a just reason to Complean for the want of those articles they have a just title to receive - an officer can make but a very foolish Excuse to them. I have Drawn on you in favour of Capt Alexr Campbell a Sett of Bills for Eighty three pounds Sterlg & twelve Shillings being the amount of his account for Cloathing the Quartermaster Bought for the use of the men & which was made up for them & Stoped out of their Subsistance. You can not Imagin what we Suffer for want of our Regimentalls; the othere troops in the Garrison abusing our men, every moment calling them Ragged Rascals & no Soldiers & Such foolish contests which however triffling might be attended with Disagreeable and troublesum Complents. We are all of us here full of anxiety to hear what you are about at Boston, not having heard from you for a long time. I am Sory to writt anything that you would not like to hear and, yet, I can not Saie but I am Sory to See our men oblidged to be the Drutches of the garrison for want of Cloathing, our part of the duty is pulling and Dragging of Cannon and all othere Kings workes at lest we must give Duble or trible the No. that othere Corps Gives & I can not Saie but it is just as we can not mount Guard. I long much to See Lieut McLean with that parcele of goshawks that you promished to Sende me as a reinforcment - I am now as much at a lose for officers as ever, having but Capt John McDonald, Lieut FittsGerald & Ens Day (who is realy a Sensable pritty Boy) Coll Gorham, I assure you Spaires no paines or Expence to make his men look well and to Bring his Regt into repute he has hired a Vessell that will Saill from here in two Days for Liewisburgh where they Expect to get a number of Good men & from thence to new found land, they judge very Rightly that the want of Provishions will Stope the fisheries & of Course all the fishers will be glad to list - the Detatchment of ours to Fort Cumberland prevents my sending any even if I was never so well Suported otherwise I will be happie to hear if you have form'd any plans for recruiting this Season and what they are. Sandy Bell the Colonels Servant is anxious about going to his Master, and I told him it is in vain for him to think of going to quebec until we hear what is going on there, in case he is to go, he wants to have some papers belonging to his Master he left in your Custody. I am Sorry to hear that Colonel McLean wrote you in a very Angry Manner against me for not following him to Canada. I should be glad to know, what he said - Once more I beg if you Can let me know our destination Next Summer, and the plans of operation in General, whether or not the parleament of Great Britain is determined to make America Yield to them or they to America - there is a report here that General Clynton in his way to the Southward put in to the harbour of New York, and that Lord Sterling appeared at the head of 8000 men to oppose them in Case they attempted to Land, if that is true, I suppose it was his poverty and his Connection with the Livingstons that forced him to do it, however he will not have the honour of having his head Struck off, I insist on his being hanged. If 10,000 troops are Coming to the province of New York I once more wish that we Should be among them; be so good as forward the inclosed, I am greatly at a loss until I know your opinion and whether or not we are to Go or stay from this province, whether or not to order Mrs McDonald here or stay where she is.

I am Dr Sir
Your Most obedient

& Most Humble Servt


To M
RS MACDONALD.

28 March 1776

My DEAREST LIFE,

Though I have nothing further to Communicate to You at present, farther than to Let you know that I am in perfect good health, and as happy in every respect as I would wish if I had but you & the children along with me, and yet the fear of Exposing you to Eminent danger, and God knows what trouble forbids my incouraging you to move from where you are, if you can but remain with any degree of ease or Comfort, and more particularly as I have some hopes of being able Coming to see you this Summer as I hope a varst Number of troops will be Landed there as well as in a great many other parts of America - but I shall Say nothing about Polleticks - the deluded Americans will be Convinced of their Error. Proposals are going to be made to them which if they will Agree to, good and well, and if they refuse them, it is not only Great Brittain but all europe that Stands ready to Crush them: this they will not beleive 'til they find it's too Late for gods sake fail not to write often if you can find any Opportunity of putting them aboard of the man of war.

Peggy McDonald is safely delivered of a fine Little Girl, and is welcomed to the world by the Name of Susanah; poor peggy wished for no More in the worlds than your being here. She was so much discouraged that she could not be Persuaded she would Live this trip. She desired her kind Love to Alexr you & the rest of the Children - Kiss them all for me, give my kind Love to all my Worthy friends and my Dearest yours for Ever.

P. S. if A. H. could bring me one hundred Clever Loyal Subjects I would provide for him handsomely but if he cannot join me Let him be looking and Ingeaging as many as he Can; I send you inclosed our Newspaper.


To M
RS MACDONALD.

14th April 1776

My DR SUSEY,

The inclosed two pacquets of 22nd February and 28th March was sent to boston two diffrent times in order to be sent to you but as the Army has abandoned that place they were returned to me again, and whether they will ever find their way to you or not is very uncertain.

I dare Say you will hear a varst number of Militias & false Reports about our Armys Leaving boston, these falsehoods will be spread among the poor deluded, and unwary inhabitants of America, though the truth is that General How with his army Left that place as well as the Admiral and the fleet under his Command, by a positive order from home, to be in readiness to join the Grand Army and Navy, now on their way to America, Consisting of 60000 troops 70 Sail of men of war small and great, when these are joined with what there is already in America planns will be formed for the opperations of the Ensuing Campaign,, where attacks will be made is unknown ,and even if it was Known to me I could not acquaint you of it, one thing is most certain, that its fully determined to Conquer America and the Longer they will Continue obstinate & hold out the worst will their terms be.

No doubt it will be reported through the Country that the army was forced to Leave boston, if so it is a most Infamous falshood, the army embarked on board their transports with all their baggage stores and artillery and every thing that was worth the Carrying without the Least hindrance or Mollestation, or the Loss of one Single Man, and which is more rare not a single Soldier of any of the Regiments attempted to desert though hundred's of them might Concealed themselves in Cellers and Empty houses about the town, and none of the Yankees durst venture into the town for twenty four hours after the army had Left it. I have nothing more to add but that I am in perfect Good health and greatly at a Loss which way to advise You, tho' there is nothing on Earth I wish for More than to have you and the Children along with me, yet the dread of the fatigues and dangers you must Undergo Strikes a damp upon me that I cannot run the risque of ordering you and the Children to be exposed to Such dangers, this, and the Uncertainty of my staying in this place and yet unknown where I am to go, puts it intirely out of my thoughts to give you any such orders. I will certainly write by every opportunity, and Let you know, my farther thoughts upon this affair. Surely the people has not got so barberously mad as to Mollest or hurt a poor innocent woman and still more Innocent poor Children and Especialy till they know how Matters are to be Settled in America. Should you form a Resolution of Coming to me with the Children, I have given directions to the Commanding officer of His Majestys Ships in the harbor of New Yorke to Send you all the asistance In his power, and procure you a passage in any of his Majestys Ships that Should Come this way; it's to be hoped you will be allowed to depart in peace and dispose of as much of your Effects as you dont chuse to Carry along with You. You may bring as much Corn, oats, wheat or flour, Gammons, & fowls, of all Sorts as you can possibly get aboard. David & Donald & Gilbert if he chuses shall Come along with You, all this is only in Case you should Chuse to Come, but if you could Live happy and at peace where you are, I would Like it better as I think it was best for you, for a Little time 'til I am able to know how Matters are Like to go - Peggy is perfectly recovered, her daughter is to be Christened this afternoon by the Name of Susanah McDonald, all the Gentlemen of our Core are very well, those of your acquaintance desires their kind Love to you and the Children. James McDonald mounted his post Guard to day as Lieutenant and I asure you will make a fine brisk officer.

I this moment Signed the weekly return and I can asure you I have three hundred & thirty five fine fellows under my Command besides officers. Kiss the Children for me and with my best wishes and kind respects to all friends, I ever am my Dearest Your affectionate Husband

& most obedient

Very humble Servt.


To COL. M
cLEAN.

Halifax 19th April 1776

My DR COLONEL,

The 47th Regt is ordered to Sail in four hours, which I did not know above an hour agoe, and it is not Certain where they are bound, but presume they are for Quebec, and at all hazzards, I send you your Servant with all your baggage. He has been here all Winter, but arrived too Late, to be Sent up the river St Lawrence. The monthly Return that will be Sent by Major Small will Shew you our Success in Recruiting, which is far beyond Expectation in the Situation of Affairs in America. In Reguard to Articles of News I must referr you to Colonel Nesbit & the Gentlemen of the 47th Regiment, for Every particular about the Army Leaving Boston and the Accounts from home - what is to become of the Eight Companys we have here, I know no more than you who I hope this will find at Quebec, nor do I think that Major Small knows it, whether we are to be left here, or whether we are to join you, or what is to become of us. If we could believe the reports from the Rebells Quebec is taken & you are all prisoners, which god forbid Should turn out to be true though it Seems they are determined to be very resolute. They have got a fleet of 12 or 18 Armed Vessels, Some of them I am told Mounting 36 Guns. They fell in with the Glascow Man of War a few weeks agoe and gave her such a damned Rough handling that she was obliged to run for it, and had a narrow Escape of being taken; another peice of Intelligence we have from N Carolina, is that the Highlanders there to the number of 1500 in the favour of Government, had Collected themselves together And upon hearing upon Genl Clyntons Arrival at New bourn they made an attempt to join them, but being very ill Armed, and Some of them having none at all they were met by Double their Number of the Rebells, who was well furnished with Arms and had Some field peices, at a breach where they were to pass fired at them and killed Captn Donald McLeod of ours, who was at the head of them & 20 of the men on which the Rest dispersed. This Account is also from the Rebells themselves and I hope & wish may not prove true. You have it however as I got it from the Master of a Vessel who arrived here in ten Days from Virginia. I suppose General How will order us to join you how Soon he is informed you are Salfe & in possession of Quebec but this is a mere Conjecture. I am Sorry you should be so much offended at my not following You to Quebec, before you knew what orders I had received, for here I was ordered to Come and remain till further orders should Remove me which orders I never Received, and I am Sure I have done every thing that was in my power for the intrest of the Core. What troubles & difficultys I have had is best known to myself but I think nothing of trouble if I am but in the Least able to Contribute to the good of the Core; in reguard to Angus McDonald, he has richly deservd Every thing that is done for him. He run the risque of his Life for the Service Lost every thing he had in the world Inlisted 49 Men by my orders & directions, part of them joined the Regt 24 of them are prisoners with Captain Duncan Campbell and the very finest fellows that has been yet inlisted for the Regt and besides that fully Capable of the office of a quarter Master. I only wish to have an Opportunity of representing all Matters to You, as they truly are, face to face; 'til then I hope You shall pay no great Reguard to any misrepresentations that may be made to You, though I am under no Apprehensions that any such thing will be, only that I have seen tattlers do a damned deal of Mischief in Cores before Now. One thing more I do mention that we who Left our Comfortable habitations to Serve our King & Country are Shagreened & Mortified to hear by every Account from home that both our Core & that of Coll Gorhams are to be turned about our business after this unnatural war is Setled without rank or half pay; this disturbs a great Many very much for my own part I will not believe it 'till I See it, as it Certainly will be the most unjust action that Ever a Nation was guilty of. I have nothing More to Say, wish god may prosper you in all your undertakings in that part of the world, and that we may Soon Meet put all Matters to rights is the Sincere wish of Dr Colonl

Yr/FONT> Most Obedt

& Most Humble Servt


To J. OGILVIE.

Halifax 24th April 1776

SIR,

I Received Yours of the 29th February with an Account Current on the back ballance overdrawn twenty pounds twelve & five pence as I was obliged to Leave My own house in June Last with all my books papers and Accounts behind me I cannot Enter directly into the Examination of this Acct. I believe its just and I Send you herewith a bill of five & twenty pound Sterling drawn by Lt Neil McLean a half pay officer from the 47th Regt who was offered a Lieutenancy in our Chore but Refused without he would get a Company and because he thought we should not have rank or half pay at the Setlment of these Miserable troubles and indeed I am at a Loss to know whether we shall have rank or half pay if we Shall not the Ministry will be guilty of the most barborous Cruelty, that ever was known, Espescialy to us who has been Cumfortably Situated and Left our wives and Children to the Mercy of a Merciless Enemy, and at the Risque of our Lives flew to the defence and preservation of the honour intrest and dignity of our King, & Country. Should Such of us as Survives these troubles be turned about their business, without rank or half pay, after this Unnatural Rebellion is Quelled - might be Attended with bad Consequences upon a future Occasion but for my own part I don't believe we shall meet with so Much injustice and am very Sorry that you did not Give me a more particular Account, how matters are Like to go in Reguard to the Regiments Establishment, we have Eight Companies here which has been Mustered the other Day and we only want to Compleat these 8 Companies about sixty or Seventy men: the Last account from Colonel McLean he had about 500 Men we have above 300 in North Carolina 200 upon the Mohawk river So that whenever we are able to join, we shall find Ourselves 200 over and above our Complement; and how Soon we will Establish strong post in the province of N Yorke, I will ingeage myself to get 500 fine fellows.

I observe what you write Concerning Captain Duff and Lieutenant Huston Lands but it seems to me you have no Conception or Idea of the Situation of affairs in America. The property of Lands are become very precarious and the very spot where the Land is in question Lay, are Surrounded with as damned Yankey rebells as any in America. I will Speak Mr Allan, and will Act in this affair as far as I think it Consistant with your intrest, and Salfety, I dont think it adviseable to Lay out money imediately but will Endeavour to Secure Your title to the Lands Until Matters Are Setled.

You might have heard of one Mr Fernandus, who was once an Eminent Merchant in London And when I was there Last was reckoned by all the Merchants on Change to be worth Clear of the world £60000 Sterling by Mr Fordice and other misfortunes he is within this three or four years past reduced to nothing - he was married to a Sister of mine who Came up with Lady Margret McDonald from Scotland; in his prosperity he was my very good friend. I beg you would Enquire for him and my Sister, if they are both alive and In London, give them twenty pounds Sterling Charge it to my Account. I will soon reimburse you, at the Same time Let them know that if I Live and find myself able to perform it they shall receive that sum Yearly - Ranold McDonald the insurance broker, in Nicholas lane Lumbart Street will shew you Mr Fernandus or my Sister if they are alive and in London or what is Come of them - as I have the whole business of the Regiment to transact I am not able to write to so many of my friends as I would wish please give them all my kind Compliments deliver the inclosed pacquet to Mr McDonald the Counsellor and oblige Dr Sir

Your very humble Servt

P.S.

Since writing the above I sent for Mr Allan read your Letter over again Consulted with him about the Situation and Quality of the Lands in Question, he asured me that they were very Valuable and if he was a young man and the troubles in America Over, he would give an hundred pounds Sterling for them himself rather than they Should fall to any body Else and he is very Loath to take any thing Less than that now, but if I can get them for the Eighty pound I will take them. The affairs of America Must be Setled Somtime or another the Lands cannot be Carried away nor the property altered.

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