AMERICANREVOLUTION.ORG

LETTER BOOK OF CAPTAIN ALEXANDER McDONALD,
OF THE
ROYAL HIGHLAND EMIGRANTS


To CAPT. ROBERT McKENZIE ESQR.

Halifax July 13th 1777

DR SIR.

Inclosed You have the Bill or Abstract ending the 24th Augst. the three Rects. Mr Turner insists upon being delivered to him wch. he tells me is your Orders. I have always furnished him wth exact copies of the Accots. from one Muster to another the two last were Signed by Major Small & me With General Massy's Warrants Annexed or Sealed to them Wch. warrants & Accots I always take up when a Genl. Warrant is sent from you. Major Small insists upon the Officers names being inserted wch make it so much more prolix When I think the Numbers of the difft Ranks might Answer as well & then the whole wd. Appear upon one page

He is also determined to lay the Contingent Accot before all the old paymaster's of Regiments here that nothing may be inserted but What is usually allowed these Gentlemen certify'g the Accot to be right & the proper Vouchers produced he will apply to Genl. Massy for a Warrant he is the more inclined to take this Step On Accot of the fluctuating Situation of the Army at prest. & of Course the Multiplicity of Business you will have to Attend to. I Need not trouble you with News as you shall receive them regularly from the difft Quarters Only to let you know we had the pleasure, of seeing the 1st Rate man of war belonging to the Americans brot into this port by Sir Geo. Collier & their famous Commander Mr Manly a thieflike ugly Dog

Another Attempt has been made from New England to invade this province wch. is also defeated by a detachmt from our Regt & the Marines on board of Captn Hawker. Our Detachmt. went on board of him here & he having a Quick passage to the River St John's wch. divides Nova Scotia from New England & where the Rebells were going to take post & Rebuild the old fort that was there the last War. Immediately on Captn Hawker's Arrival there Our men under the Commd of Ensn Jno McDonald & the Marines under that of a Lieut were landed & Engaged the Enemy who were abt. a hundred Strong & after a Smart firing & some killed & wounded on both Sides the Rebells ran with the greatest precipitation & Confusion to their boats. Some of our light Armed vessells pursued them & I hope before this time they are either taken or Starving in the Woods.

We are all here full of Anxiety & Wishing to hear of the proceedings of the Army under his Excellency Genl. Howe. For my own part I'm no ways uneasy but they will be Successfull if they will but keep healthy; if they proceed to the Southward Sickness is my only fear but will say no more but wish success to our hopes & disappointmt to our fears & wishing you all Manner of health & happiness I remain Dr Sir
Your Most obedt & most hble Servt


To MR. GILBERT MEYER.

Halifax 13th July 1777
MY DEAR GILLY

All I have to write to you at prest. is in the first place to let you know that we are all well, & in the Second place to exhort & beg of you to take care of your own Conduct wch. is your own interest & to use your utmost Endeavors to put the farm in the best order, Especially to have it immediately properly fenced & endeavor to raise every thing that can Command money. You should endeavor to get a couple of Good Gardners & make all the Garden you can - Endeavor to get As many men for this Regimt as possibly you can & keep them along with yourself on the farm close at work untill a proper Oppertunity will offer to transport them here. You will apply to Captn. Alexr. Campbell for Subsistce. & provisions & you will take care to keep an Exact Accot. of all the money & provisions you receive. You will Speak to Jno. Simerson & if he is inclined to dispose of that Small tract of land Between mine & the Mill dam & joining to the tract he Sold to Mr. Wm. Black As my farm is destitute for want of Water Ill give him as much an Acre for it as Col. Simmons or any other honest man on the Island will think it worth. You will please give my kind Compts. to Mr. Charlton & Colo. Simmons & tell them I beg the favor they wd. assist you in makg. this purchase & how soon the purchase is secured so that he can't go back from his word I shall order the Money to be pd. Upon the Signing & Delivery of the deeds. At any rate I beg to hear from you & Send me a very Circumstantial & particular Accot of every thing going on; if the Affairs of America are liked to be Settled this Summer You may expect to see our family there in the mean time remember me kindly to all friends & am My Dr Gilly

Your Affect: Brother.


To LIEUTT BLISS.

Halifax 5th Augst 1777

SIR
Since my last of the 14th June there has been another Opportunity by wch. the Clothing of the men has been sent to you but the Major & I both had been so busy about the Affairs of the Regimt that neither of us had time to write to you; in that letter I directed you to send me an Accot. Currt. Charging for the full Subsistce. of yourself Mr .Hawkins & the full Company from the 24 June 1776 to the 24th Aug 1777 Also for all Recruits that were delivered here at Head Qrs their Subsistce from the dates of their Attestations to the time you cleared with them at Newfoundld Bounty or Levy money for the Same & wt. you have agreed to pay for their passage at the Same time giving me Credit for all the money you have recd. by drafts upon
me &ca., As for these Contingent boys as you Call them Nither the Major or I understand wt. you mean by it

As it was the Majors Orders these boys should be returned as Recruits & an Equal No. Sent back to the Regimt so that none Should remain there but the Complete Company

You will Require to have Regular Attestations for all those you have Charged bounty money & Subsistce & did not join the Regimt As witht. that it will be impossible to recover the money you have laid out upon them. You may rest Assured that I Shall use my utmost Endeavours to see you all manner of justice done & I wish with all my heart we were all Joined together As well to Settle all our Accots properly As to make a respectable figure in the field.

Captn. Duncan Campbell, Who has all along been Captn. of that Comy, will not allow but one half of the Contingent men to any Officer that Commands his Comy in his Absence, the Vessell is just getting under way & I have no more time to Write will Endeavor to send you a New York News Paper & the last Halifax Gazzette with Compts to Mr, Hawkin's & friends I am Sir

Your Sincere friend & h'ble Servt


To LORD AMHERST.

Halifax Augst 1777

My LORD.

Two Years ago I troubled your Lordship with a Letter Solliciting for the Government of Crown Point, to wch. I was honored with a Suitable Answer by your Lordship - Matters of another kind now Oblige me to repeat the trouble -

I have been on the most active Services on the Continent of America & in the West Indies during the last War - have been severely wounded & as I never missed an hour of My duty all that time no Commandg Offr. Challenged or found fault with me -

In time of the Stamp Act, I most freely Offered my Service to Genl. Gage in Case it Should be found Necessary to levy any troops in America -

In October 1774 perceiving the Americans Were determined to revolt, I wrote Major Jno. Small then at Boston desiring he wd. inform Genl. Gage, that I was Settled on Statten Island & ready to join the Army with a hundred as fine fellows as ever Carried arms, most partly Non Commissd officers & private men Who had been discharged from the Highland Regimts after the Conclusion of last War & from the Knowledge they had Acquired of the Country might be found very useful as Guides to conduct Any part of the Army Wherever his Excellency had Occasion to send them or in Any Other way in wch. they might be found conducive to the Service.

General Gage approved of the Plan on a larger Scale Vizt 5 Companies of a hundred men each to Wch. officers were Appointed & Major Jno. Small to be Major Commandant - In that very Stage of the Progress of the Rebellion we might easily have compleated the intended Corps with Double the Number of the very best men all Highlanders Could we have gone to work without reserve.

But the Genl. having as yet no direct Powers to make new Levys declined giving All the Sanction to it that was necessary for enabling us to Act according to the Exigency -

However he wrote home for the Approbation of the Ministry & desired Major Small to return me his thanks for my Loyalty & Spirited Offers of Service on all Occasions & that he hoped it wd. be Approved of by Governmt desiring in the mean time to be as diligent as possible in Securing men for the new Regimt in a private Manner

Accordingly I sett out from Statten Island thro' frost & Snow to the Mohawk river, where there were 200 highlanders who had lately arrived from Scotland Settled on part of Sir John Johnstons Estate & being Chiefly of my own Name I engaged every one of them, Offering a Captain's Commission to the Gentleman who was at their head from thence I returned to Boston making My observations on the Conduct of the Country people as I went along & leaving trusty persons at Difft Stations to pick up all able bodied & well effected young men Especially Such as had emigrated from the North of Scotland Enjoining the greatest Secrecy as I had been directed.

Arriving at Boston I reported every thing I had done & Seen to the Genl - But no Accot having then as yet been recd. from home concerning a plan there was nothing more to be done for that time & I retd. home to Statten Island - Making my Remarks as I went along, I found the people more violent & Insolent - Nothing but Committees & Liberty poles at every Mile end.

Of all this I acquainted Genl. Gage & begged of him to appoint Crown Point & Ticonderoga our place of Rendezvous where I wd. immediately repair & direct my friends -

Had this been agreed to We wd. before the Rebels had taken the Alarm have had a much greater Number Collected there than wd. be sufft. to maintain these places at least we would have given such a Check to the Rebels in their Attempt towds. Canada as we co'ld have retarded them untill some small Reinforcemt could have come to us from Canada Sufft. to render it too late in the Season for them to think of penetrating over the lakes & thereby saved a Deal of Lives, money & time to the Nation. But even then the Genl. had recd. no Answer from the Ministry to our proposals & the Rebels soon thereafter got possession of these Forts by the Misconduct of the Officer who commanded tho' its probable considering his Weakness in point of Numbers he wd. not have been in Condition to hold out at any rate -

At last in the Month of may 1775 the Approbation of the Ministry came to Genl. Gage's hands & at the Same time arrived Col. McLean having I suppose Understood wt Major Small & I had been about & made proposals for himself to Conduct it with a Commission from the Ministry to treat with the Emigrants from the Highlands of Scotland -

On this Occasion it was Settled to Raise two Battns. each of 500 Men one of them to be Commanded by Colo McLean as Lt Colo Commandant & the Other by Major Small as Major Commandant - The Captains were appointed to consist of half pay officers that had served last War & were settled in America most of them of your Lordships old Acquaintance excepting two or three Gentlemen who had been named from their influence Among the Emigrants & have Acquitted themselves worthy of the honor.

The Subalterns likewise Young Gentlemen of Service & Volunteers.

Upon the whole a Corps of Officers not Inferior to any in the Service - Colo McLean Assured us he was intitled to promise us Establishmt. or half pay & Rank if reduced.

Its to be observed that by this time All America had broke out in open Violence & Rebellion - Every friend of Governmt was persecuted & none durst take a Step in favor of Governmt under pain of imprisonmt. & unheard of Outrages

This rendered our future Success Difficult & precarious & laid us under the Necessity of Altering the ground of our proceedings -

I had previous to Colo McLean's Arrival dispatched an Express to North Carolina to Secure about 800 Highlanders that had but two years before that emigrated from the Western Isles - All of them readily agreed to join us - But what must have been Communicated to 800 people could not long remain a Secret & before we could bring them together the Communication was cut off -

But Amidst these Difficulties we did our best - We fell openly to recruit in the places remaining in Obedience to Government & into the Rebellious provinces, where unfortunately the greater part of our Countrymen were Settled, Some of us went as Emissaries in all the Difft. Shapes of Disguise we could contrive - found means to send men to join the Regimt. Sometimes One by One & Sometimes in larger Numbers According as opportunities Offerred by wch. some hundred Highlanders are by this time in the Corps. It's beyond the power of Expression to give an Idea of the Expence & trouble our Officers have Undergone in these Expeditions into the Rebellious provinces. Some of them have been fortunate enough to get off Undiscovered - But Many have been taken abused by Mobs in an Outragious manner & cast into prisons with felons, where they have Suffered all the Evils that revengeful Rage ignorance Bigotry & Inhumanity could inflict - There has been even Skirmisses on such Occasions, Witness that in North Carolina feby 1776 Where for want of Arms they were overpowered by Numbers Several killed Many taken prisoners & the rest dispersed in a miserable manner over the face of the Country

Nor can we say we have not been (from a Degree of illiberal & unSeasonable jealousy, for I can attribute it to nothing Else:) discountenanced & counteracted on some Occasions by friends & Servts of Government.

But so far have the Warmest Loyalty perseverance & dilligence been Successful that the two Battalions have been Completed & rendered fit for Service under all the Disadvantages to a young Corps of being Scattered & dispersed into fifteen Difft. places & Commands wch. are every other week Shifted & Varied & those who have been Allowed to remain longest in one place Constantly at King's Works -

Those who were in Quebec in Winter 1776 May tell if they Chuse how Material the Services of such an active Officer as Colo McLean with his 200 Men of the 1st Battn & old experienced officers must have been Amidst Such a Scarcity of Officers & men - Genl. Clinton can Witness the Activity & Willingness of a party of our men Offrs & Volunteers that had the honor of Serving under him to the Southward And Governor Martin can relate with Regret the Disaster Circumstances & Consequences of the Affair of the 27th ffeby 1776 in North Carolina -

It was an Uncommon Exertion in one of our Offrs. to make his Escape with forty highlanders from the Mohawk river to Montreal havg had nothing to eat for ten days but their Dogs & herbs & in another to have on his private Credit & indeed ruin, Victualled a Considerable Number of Soldiers he had engaged in hopes of getting off with them to Canada, but being at last taken & kept in hard imprisonmt for near a year by the Rebels to have Effected his Escape & Collecting his hundred men to have brot them thro' the Woods lately from near Albany to Canada. Numbers of such tho' inferior Instances we can relate with truth - We all joined in a Memorial to Genl. Howe intreating to be brot with him on Service tho' he was pleased to think we wd. be equally useful here & lastly for the respectable Character of our Officers their Readiness on all Occasions & their usefulness to him in the difft parts of this province we can Safely referr to Major Genl. Massy.

Nothwithstanding we are assured from good enough Authority that Colo McLean had no Authority to promise us Establishmt & indeed he seems to Acknowledge it, Nay there are not wanting who say that Colo McLean in Consequence of an Agreemt Submitted to be their tool to allure us with hopes or promise of Establishmt. While on the Other hand they were Determined Not to do us that honor & justice - But I should be inclined to judge more favorably of a gallant Soldier like Colo McLean & of the Dignity & justice of the Ministry than to give into such a Belief tho' Nothing but the issue can Assertain the point whether or not we have been bought & sold.

The Necessity we are under, & the Treatment we are like to meet with , constrains us, My Lord, to put the Nation in Mind that we are old Officers of Service & Experience in our respective Ranks older & equal in experience to most that now a days get additional Companies & higher Rank in established Corps - We have seen Service equal to any that will be carried on in America on this Occasion - Many of us have had the honor of Serving under your Lordship & the happiness of having being approved by you - We naturally look up to you as our patron -

We were Comfortably settled in this Country allied & befriended these Settlemts with our wives & Children we left in the hands of the Rebels by whom the first have been ruined & Demolished & the latter insulted Striped & left destitute & all this in the Beginning of the Quarrel Showing an Example of Loyalty Disinterestedness & firmness of wch. there are few or no Instances on this Continent for all others that have at last joined Government & been persecuted did at first Temporize & Some of them have had a hand in the Causes of these Disturbances in the beginning. The Same favourable Accot we can give of our Country men that joined us & this Single Circumstance ought if all others were wanting to place us in the Eyes of Government on a difft. footing from all others who joined Governmt later in the day - Insignificant as we are in reality considered as Individuals Yet our Exertions have had a better Effect & more extended influence on the Affairs of the Rebels than is generally known or will be allowed by our Opposers. It did in a great measure confound them it occasion'd a Schism amongst It did arouse the feelings & Loyalty of

Our Persuasion & Argumts rendered Several of our respective Neighborhood More Moderate & not a few of them were converted to Sentiments of true Loyalty Our Endeavors to recruit men were ingenious, Strenuous & upon the Whole Successful - We were Exposed to Expences in the Course of it to wch our pay & allowce were by no Means adequate & it is a Sacred truth that each of us expended considerably of our private money in bringing the plan to its present bearing & that between this Expence, the Concomitant losses & the destructn & Neglect of our farms & Settlemts we shall have had nothing to Depend on the day we are reduced; then at our time of Life burdened with families to have the World to begin again will be a hard task in a Community & Country whom we have disobliged for doing our duty & who; however conquered & Subdued, will yet retain disaffected Sentimts & Resentment agst us; therefore we shall have no Earthly Chance or encouragemt in any kind of private business amongst them in Competition with their own Sort

These, My Lord, are prospects wch. we view with feeling & Anxiety - It may be Objected that in all this we did no more than our duty And we could make no better of it - In Return I beg leave to ask how many Subjects or Servts of Government from the higher to the lowest have done their duty wth voluntary Exertion with such risk expence & Sacrifice ? We did not sit still untill we were called upon, we did not temporise, look on & dissemble our Opinions - But rejected with Indignation the rebel Offers of Command & Elevated Commissions (: tho' by the by had we been wicked enough to Accept of these, we might by this time have come in under the Benefit of Proclamations, to Enjoy for Life in tranquility & impunity the Considerable Sums we might have Acquired from rapine in the Mean time: ) - We disdained to Accept of the terms of Neutrality wch. were privately & Severally offered to us - We offered our Service's to the Genl - We did every thing in Short that men could do. Are we to be in a Manner punished for this & Neglected ? Will Great Brittain for the Odds of Conferring a trifling Reward & mark of Distinction (: both hard laboured for & not unusual:) I say will Great Britain convince her transatlantic Subjects that there is more to be gained by Rebellion than by Loyalty, that it is equally honorable to be passive or indifferent about her Interest as Zealous ? forbid it national justice, forbid it Sound policy - We & our Endeavours are Well known to the Rebells: they affected to prophecy very early that we Should not be So much as thanked for our Services: the Completion thereof will be a Subject of Exultation to them: it will be held forth in future in this disaffected Country As an Instance of the Relyance wch. may be placed on Great Britain - It will be the Mark by wch. many will measure their Conduct: - It will totally disable our Inclination to be Useful - It will damp the Ardor of our Country men, who have in great Numbers Emigrated from the Highlands & who are keen & Steady in the Cause of Great Britain & in Spite of Riches, fleets, Armies & Allies, the Day will as yet come, when the Services of Such men will be more Necessary than the Present -

And now as if Governmt were at a loss, how to punish us for our Loyalty in place of that reward wch. we thought ourselves entitled to here is an Order from head Quartrs placg. me upon a footing wth a Captn. in a provincial Regimt. to wit Governor Legge's Regimt. if a Corps of Officers who puts Governmt to a vast expence & who never had fifty men Yet tho' they are going on two Years in Condition had we been guilty of such an imposition upon Governmt as this wd. not dare venture to look up for an Establishmt - It is not only these but the Capt Lieut of Marines doing duty wth us thinks they have a right to take rank of us looking upon us in no other light but as provincials as no Acct of our being established has as yet arrived.

May it please your Lordship to look at the list of the officers of our Regimt wch. may be found in the Secretary of States office & you will find that all the Captns. in it except three has served their King & Country from twenty to thirty two Yrs with honor & reputation to place them now on the same footing with provincials wd. be an instance of degradation Cruelty & Ingratitude unknown or unheard of in the Annals of Great Britain.

I will only trouble your Lordship with a Short accot. of my own Situation as an Individual who tho' but one of a great many other Sufferers.

I was Sixteen Months absent from My family. My place upon Staten Island is totally ruined as well by our own troops as by the Rebells. My Wife & Children were more abused & insulted on Accot. of her being an American born than if she had been from any other Country Yet she continued a Steady loyal Subject in spite of every abuse or insult they could offer her & She found means to Convey Useful Articles of intelligence to Governor Tryon Captn Hyde Parker & Captn Vandeput wch. these Gentln. can better relate in Short, My Lord, I have been a Captn. Lieut. the 5th of Augst 1762 A full Captn. in 1772 when all Captn. Lieuts. got Rank Yet after all this My long services & Sufferings what am I ? A provincial Captn. in place of being an olde Major in the Army & may be when these disturbances are over turned abt. my Business without either Rank or half pay a Cruel unjust & unmerited ill treatment should it so happen.

I have nothing further to trouble your Lordship with, we have had no Accots. from either of the Armies Since Burgoine's Reduction of Crown point and Ticonderoga. I only beg your Lordship's Kind interposition in our favor to get us established & it will be a very pretty appointment for any of your Lordship's friends or favorites in the Army to be Appointed as Colol. to this Battalion & I dare say Your Lordship will think Major Jno. Small well Intitled to be Lt. Colol. & I hope no Objections to my being Major wch. in some Measure Attone for all our Sufferings & long Services & place us forever under the greatest Obligations to your Lordship. I have the honor to be my Lord With great esteem & regard

Your Lordships
Most Obt & Most hble Servt


To MAJOR SMALL.

Halifax 25 Aug" 1777

MY DEAR MAJOR.

Since your Departure nothing extraordinary happened either in the Regimt. or in the Garrison. We are all full of anxiety & Concern till we hear from you Wch. I hope in God will be very soon -

I have seen a letter from Sir Geo. Collier to the Governor Giving an Accot of an Attack he made upon Machois himself wth. his Marines. I wish wth all my heart he had let it alone till your Arrival When the affair Might have been done more completely -

One Colol. Freiy from Salem & some others arrived here yesterday but keeps all their News a profound Secret Except to the Governor & the General One thing they report that the Rebels are grown so Desperate that they hang every one they Suspect to be freinds to Governmt without Judge or jury & such as refuses to take up Arms.

That Money for wch. you got an Order from Captn. McKinzie is now ordered to be Stopped out of the Subsistance of the Regiment in a Letter from Messrs Crowder & Gordon. I asked Mr Smyth Why he did not Shew that Letter to you before you left this place he told me he did not think of it however I will leave matters as they are & let that money lie Where it is Till your further Directions

Susy is still walking about & no less anxious than myself for you & the rest of our friends & joins me in prayers that God may defend you all & crown your enterprize with Success & believe me to be My dear Major ever Yours -


[To DUNCAN CAMPBELL.]

Halifax 25 Augst 1777

DR DUNCAN.

I have no time to write any particulars for wch Reason I leave the Major's letter open for your perusal wch. please seal & forward with Expedition to Annapolis. Enquire of D Hr. Deschamps who is the proper person there to send it to. The Woman who takes care of your Children is not very well I have Ordered the Doctor to Attend her. She complains of little Johnny been very unruly & wants me to Correct him I'll threaten hard but will not touch him on any Consideration Mrs. McDonald is Still walking about & joins me in Kind love to Mrs. Campbell & you & believe me to be Dr. Duncan

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