WE have tried in this
volume to link up some of the honorable achievements of militia men of
York Comity for a century back and show what the response has been when
the bugle sounded or the alarm bell rang. We think we can discern in the
men of this county a continuity of character; of deceptive equanimity in
time of peace, of alacrity in time of war, of unchangeable faith in the
Empire at all times.
We need not pretend that the officers and men of 1912 in the 12th
Regiment are the precise lineal descendants of the officers and men of
the York Regiments of 1812, any more than the Welsh Fusiliers need show
they answer to the same names at roll-call as when they advanced with
drums beating at the Battle of Minden. The continuity of a regiment is
not at any time very tangible or definite. It is not a genealogy written
by a lawyer to secure an estate. It is rather the spirit to undertake
similar toils and endnre similar dangers in consideration of being
allowed to keep the old glory and the old heroes in dutiful remembrance
and to ennllate them if occasion arise.
It is time the histories of all our county regiments were written.
Despite a number of charming books in which fragments of our I pper
Canadian history have been transcribed by men of scholarly style and
antiquarian attainments, the real history of nearly every county is
being irremediably lost. This is particularly true of the military
history of our counties, which when studied repays the student by
glimpses of heroic action and then bailies him with records broken and
defaced by callous neglect.
Most of our old county histories and atlases were written on a
subscription plan which was unavoidable in a country where the arts of
literature and publishing were struggling and precarious vocations.
Under such a plan the man wdio could pay for his biography became a
personage, while the man who could not was allowed to seek an ignoble
grave. This bore hard upon the military veteran who is seldom the most
prosperous or provident of men.
We are therefore much indebted to the subscribers and advertisers whose
liberality has enabled this sketch to be produced.
A. T. Hunter.
the 200th anniversary of Canada's oldest military regiment
Lieut.-Col. J. A. W. ALLAN, Commanding 12th Regt. York Rangers
Concerning a Deception Practised by the People of Upper Canada Prior to
July, 1812—Apparent incapacity for Defence—Efforts of General
Simcoe—Militia Acts and their Impotency—Lukewarm House of Assembly—Lack
of Military Preparation—Small Regular Force—Flank Companies of
Militia—Difficulties in Defending Province—Despondency of Sir George
Prevost—Confidence of Americans—Unexpected Result—Opinion of
Wellington—Defeat of four American Armies
The Raising of the Yorks—Larger Boundaries of the Original County—Varied
Population within Present County Limits—Village of York—United Empire
Loyalists—French Emigres—German Settlement— Quakers—American
Settlers—Joseph Willcocks—The Flank Companies of York Militia—2nd
Regiment, Recruited at Burlington—First and Third Regiments—Colonel
Cruikshank’s Opinion as to Origin of the 12th Regiment—Officers in York
Regiments—Graham—Chewitt—Allan—The “Fighting Judges”—McLean—Robinson.
How the York Militia went with Brock to Detroit and How Peter Robinson’s
Rifle Company Kept Tryst—Parade of Militia on Garrison Common—General
Hull’s Proclamation—Brock’s Proclamation—The Mackinac Expedition—Hull’s
Invasion—How Brock Crossed to Niagara and Rack— Brock Calls for
Volunteers at York—Officers Selected—Route from Burlington—Visit to Six
Nations —Reasons for Water Route—Diary of Voyage—Arrival at Fort
Malden—Orders Issued by Brock en route—Brock’s Boat runs
Aground—Character of Brock and his Volunteers—Results of the
Expedition—Arrival of Peter Robinson—Acts as Escort to Brock—Narrow
Escape at Buffalo—Arrival at Fort Erie
Push on the York Volunteers—The Frontier Defended by Brock—Critical
State of Affairs—Brock’s Disposition of Troops—Van Rensselaer’s
Plan—Attack on Queenston—Cameron Starts for Queenston— Brock Gallops to
the Scene of Action—Attempt of Brock to Recover the Heights—“Push on the
York Volunteers”—Death of Macdonoll—Pickets join Sheaffe’s Column—Kheaffe’s
Dispatch—Effect of Brock’s Death.
How General Sheaffe put the Quietus on the Yorks—Indefensible Condition
of York—Description of the Village and its “Fortifications”—Chauneay
Sails—Sheaffe’s Duty—Conduct of Defence— Explosion of Magazine and Death
of General Pike—Militia Ordered to Treat for Terms—American
Sharpness—Names Added after Capitulation Signed—-Pluckjt Interference of
Dr. Strachan—Futility of Resistance.
The Ingredients of Sedition—Formation of Patrician Class—Land
Grabbing—Clergy Reserves—Agitations—Gourlay, Collins and William Lyon
Mackenzie—Political Methods of the Day—Family Compact—Attitude of
Militia—Higher Officers of the Militia—Mackenzie’s Black List—Weakness
of the System.
The Four Thousand Muskets at the City Hall—Two Distinct Periods in
Mackenzie Rebellion—What Mackenzie’s Revolt Depended on—The Four
Thousand Stand of Arms—Character of Sir Francis Head—The Mackenzie
Movement takes a Military Direction—Head sends the Regulars to Quebec—
Mackenzie’s first plan to get the Muskets—The Restlessness of Colonel
Fitzgibbon—His Snubs and his Precautions—Mackenzie’s Second Plan—Date
fixed for December 7th, 1837—Rolph Changes the Date—Outbreak of
Rebellion—Jarvis’ Picket—Head Dresses Himself—Arrival of McNab from
Hamilton—Defeat of Rebels—V here were the Colonels?—Description of the
Militia in 1837.
The War or the Patriots alias Filibusters—Mackenzie takes Post on Navy
Island—Borrows from United States Arsenals—Van Rensselaer—Steamer
Caroline—Cut out by Captain Drew—International Episode—Secret Society
Generals—Effect on Upper Canada—Immense Growth of Militia—Scarcity of
Arms—Queen’s Rangers—Samuel Peters Jarvis.
Another Quarter Century of Rust—Decay of Militia
Organization—Description of a Muster in 1845—And of a Later Muster at
Toronto—Effect of Crimean War—New Militia Law of 1855—Slow Growth of
Active Militia—Effect of Trent Affair—Gazetting the York Companies—Their
The Welding of the Battalions—Origin of Fenian Raids—Causes why Canada
was Invaded—Sporadic Preparation for Defence—Alarm of 31st May,
1800—Response of the Militia—Departure of Companies to Niagara
District—Strategy of the Authorities—Ridgeway and the Abuse of Booker—
Outpost Duties of the Companies—Deficiencies of Militia System—Standing
Camp at Thorold— Welding the 12th York Battalion—Impression Created by
The Continuity of York Battalions—Originally a Nine Company
Battalion—Jarvis the First Commanding Officer—His Services—The Word
“Rangers”—The Regimental Motto, Celer et Audax— Ancestry of Armstrong of
the Lloydtown Company—Pearson of the Aurora Company—The Selbys of the
Sharon Company—Crosby of the Unionville Company—Cawthra the Paymaster.
Keeping Their Armour Bright—Twenty Years of Routine—The Red River
Expedition—The 12th Actually Gets an Officer Selected—The Value of an
Organized Militia—Character of the Drill—Commanding Officers of the
Stepping out in 1885—Suddenness of the Riel Outbreak—Four Companies of
the 12th Called Out—The Regimental Order Calling out the Companies—The
Summons by Bugle—York-Simcoe Battalion Hurried to the Front—The
Gaps—Tales of Hardships—The Actual Hardships—Treading on the Heels of
the 65t,h—The Last Gap—Appearance of the York-Simcoes at Winnipeg—En
route to Fort Qu’Appelle—Enforced Stay at Fort Qu’Appelle—Occupations
There—Night Attacks—By Forced March to Humboldt—The Astringent Qualities
of Colonel O’Brien—Appearance of the Battalion at Humboldt—The
Meandering of Sergeant Brown—His Portrait of Riel—The York-Simcoes
Become “Foot Cavalry”—The Return and Receptions.
Annals of the 12th Since 1885—Periodical Trainings—Great Changes in
Militia Organization—No Effect on the Infantry—The South African
War—Lloyd’s Tender of Service—The Delicious Answer of the
Authorities—Imperialism—Representatives of the 12th at the War--His
Majesty’s First Visit—A “Skeleton” Camp—His Majesty’s Second
Visit—Migrations of the Companies—Our Splendid Armouries?—The 12th as it
Appendix A Officers of the 12th, Militia List, July, 1912.
Appendix B Record of Officers’ Services.
Appendix C Letter of Colonel Cruikshank.
Appendix D Memo by Dr. Doughty.
Appendix E Rifle Shooting Record of the 12th.
Appendix F Roll of York-Simcoe Battalion.