History of the 46th Regiment
1749 - 1763


In the year 1749, the 46th Regiment proceeded to Ireland, where it remained for eight years.

In the Royal Warrant, dated 1st July, 1751, for ensuring uniformity in the clothing, standards and colours of the army, and regulating the number and rank of regiments, the facings of the 46th regiment were directed to be yellow. The first, or King's Colour, was the Great Union; the second, or Regimental Colour, was of yellow silk, with the Union in the upper canton; in the centre of the colour the number of the rank of the regiment, in gold Roman characters, within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.

While the regiment was stationed in Ireland, the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was interrupted by the aggressions of the French on the British territory in North America, and early in 1756 the King of France prepared a powerful armament for the capture of the island of Minorca. In consequence of this attack on Minorca, hostilities became inevitable on the part of Great Britain, and on the 18th May war was declared against France.

On the 7th May, 1757, however, the 46th and other regiments, embarked at Cork, for Nova Scotia, being intended to form part of an expedition under Major-General the Earl of Loudoun, for the attack upon Cape Breton, an island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On arriving at Halifax, the 17th, 42nd, 46th and the 2nd Battalion of the 60th were formed in brigade under Major-General James Abercromby; but the French at Louisburg having been reinforced, the expedition was deferred until the following year, and the regiment remained in Nova Scotia during the winter.

While the expedition under Lieutenant-General (afterwards Lord) Amherst proceeded in May, 1758, against Cape Breton, the 46th Regiment was ordered to join the body of troops under Major-General James Abercromby, selected to attack the fort of Ticonderoga. This force, which comprised the 27th, 42nd, 44th, 46th and 55th Regiments, embarked on Lake George on the 5th of July, and landed on the following day near the extremity of the lake, from whence the troops marched through a wild and thickly-wooded country, in four columns, upon Ticonderoga; the guides mistook the route through the trackless woods, and on the 6th of July, a skirmish ensued with a body of French troops, in which Brigadier-General George Augustus Viscount Howe (of the 55th Regiment) was killed. With this exception the British sustained but small loss, while the enemy had three hundred killed, and one hundred and forty-eight taken prisoners. On the 8th of July, the British appeared before the fort, which was situated on a tongue of land, projecting into Lake Champlain, and was built by the French in 1756. It could only be approached on one side, which was strongly fortified; the other three sides being surrounded by water. Felled trees, with their branches outward, were spread before the works, which were defended by between four and five thousand men.

The engineer having reported that the entrenchment might be forced by musketry alone, Major-General Abercromby, unfortunately, determined to attack the place without waiting for the artillery, which, on account of the badness of the ground, could not be easily brought up. A rumour also that the French were about to be reinforced with three thousand men, confirmed the General in his resolution. Although the troops behaved with the utmost gallantry in the attack on fort Ticonderoga, on the 8th of July, it was found impossible to succeed in the undertaking, and after many unavailaing efforts, during a desperate contest of upwards of four hours, Major-General Abercromby gave orders to withdraw, and the British returned to their camp on the South of Lake George, where they arrived the following evening.

The following officers belonging to the 46th Regiment were killed on this occasion: Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Beaver, Captains George Needham and Edward Wynne; Lieutenants Jacob Laulhé and Arthur Lloyd; Ensign George Crofton, and Quarter-Master Thomas Carbonell.

In the year 1759, it was proposed to attack the French in all their strong posts in Canada at once, so as to fall as nearly as possible at the same time upon Crown Point, Niagara, and the forts to the south of Lake Erie, while a great naval armament, and a considerable body of land forces under Major-General James Wolfe, should attempt Quebec by the river St. Lawrence.

Lieutenant-General Amherst, who commanded the British forces in America, was to attack Ticonderoga and Crown Point, by Lake George; the reduction of these forts would command the Lake Champlain, where having established a sufficient naval force, he was, by the River Sorel, which forms the communication between this lake and the River St. Lawrence, to proceed to Quebec, and effect a junction with Major-General Wolfe.

The third of the grand operations was against Fort Niagara, near the celebrated fall of that name, a place of great consequence. The reduction of this place was committed to Brigadier-General John Prideaux (55th Regiment), under whom Sir William Johnson commanded the provincials of New York, and several Indians of the Five Nations, who were engaged in the British service, by the credit that gentleman had obtained among their tribes. It was to this portion of the army that the 46th Regiment was attached.

The troops which had been appointed to proceed to Niagara, arrived at the fort in July. This was a very important post, and was situated at the entrance of a strait by which Lake Ontario is joined to Lake Erie. A little above the fort is the cataract of Niagara, the most remarkable in the world, for the quantity of the water, and the greatness of the fall. The siege of the place had not been long formed, before Brigadier-General Prideaux was killed in the trenches, by the bursting of a cohorn. This occurred of the 20th July, and the accident threatened to throw a damp on the operations; but Sir William Johnson, upon whom the command devolved, omitted nothing to continue the vigorous measures of his predecessor, and added to them everything his own genius could suggest.

The French were alarmed for the safety of the fort, and collected all the troops they could draw from their posts about the lakes, and to these were joined a large body of Indians; the whole advanced to raise the siege, and they amounted in all, to seventeen hundred men.

It was on the 23rd July that Sir William Johnson received intelligence of the approach of the enemy to the fort, and instantly made a disposition to defeat their designs. The guard of the trenches was commanded by Major John Beckwith, of the 44th Regiment, and, lest the garrison should sally out, and either attempt to surprise or overpower that guard, by which the British would have been hemmed in between two fires, the 44th Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Farquhar, was posted in such manner as to be able to sustain Major Beckwith.

The road on the left of the line, which led from the cataract tot he fort, was occupied by the light infantry, and picquets of the army, on the evening of the 23rd July; early next morning these were re-inforced by the grenadiers and part of the 46th Regiment, the whole commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Eyre Massey, of the 46th, to whose good conduct in the distribution of the troops, and the steadiness with which he received the enemy in front, while the Indians in British pay, attacked them on the flanks, the honor of the day was in a great degree attributable. The French were completely defeated, and all their offciers were made prisoners, among them Messrs Aubry, De Lignery, Marin and Repentini.

This action sealed the fate of Fort Niagara, which surrendered on the following day (25th July), and Sir William Johnson, Bart., in his despatch to Lieutenant-General Amherst of that date, thus alluded to the conduct of the troops:

" Permit me to assure you, in the whole progress of the siege
which was severe and painful, the officers and men behaved
with the utmost cheerfulness and bravery."

In the meantime, the siege of Ticonderoga was prosecuted with vigour by the troops under Lieutenant-General Amherst, and on the 25th July the garrison blew up the fort, and sailed to Crown Point, another fort on Lake Champlain, which place the French also abandoned, and retired down the lake to Isle aux Nois; Crown Point was occupied by the British on the 4th August following.

The operations against Quebec by the troops under Major-General James Wolfe, caused the year to end in the most triumphant manner to the British Arms. The battle fought on the 13th September, 1759, on the Heights of Abraham, in which the Major-General was killed, led to the surrender of Quebec, which capitulated five days afterwards.

While the above operations were being performed, Lieutenant-General Amherst found that the command of Lake Champlain was still an object of some difficulty, although the retreat of the French from Crown Point and Ticonderoga had left him master of Lake George. In October the troops embarked in boats, and proceeded a considerable distance along the lake, but the season became too advanced for operations, which were postponed to the following year, and the force returned to Crown Point and Ticonderoga for winter quarters.

The French endeavoured to regain possession of Quebec, and after the battle of Sillery fought before that place on 28th April, 1760, in which, from their superiority in numbers they had the advantage, trenches were immediately opened by them before the town. The arrival of the English fleet in May dissipated all fears for the safety of Quebec, and nothing now remained to cloud the prospect of the reduction of Canada, by the united efforts of three British armies, which, by different routes, were marching to attack those parts of the country that remained in the power of France.

A large army was collected at Oswego by Lieutenant-General Amherst, which the 46th regiment joined in the afternoon of the 6th of August, 1760. The whole army embarked on the 10th of August, and the grenadiers, amounting to about six hundred men, were embodied, and placed under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Eyre Massey of the 46th regiment. Dispositions were afterwards made for the attack of Fort Levi on L'Isle Royale, and after two day's sharp firing, the fort surrendered on the 25th of August, of which Lieutenant-Colonel Massey, with three companies of grenadiers, took possession.

After spending some days in repairing this post, and in fitting out the vessels for passing the troops down the river St. Lawrence; the most difficult part of which was now to be encountered; notwithstanding all precautions, nearly ninety men were drowned in passing the dangerous falls, and a great number of vessels broke to pieces. After a tedious voyage the British came in sight of the Island of Montreal on the 6th of September.

The troops were immediately landed, and all dispositions were made for attacking the place, and so excellently was the plan concerted, that Brigadier-General the Honourable James Murray landed from Quebec on that very day, and Colonel Haviland with his force from Isle-au-Noix on the following day.

The Marquis of Vaudreuil, the French Governor-General, saw himself entirely enclosed, and was compelled to surrender the garrison of Montreal on the 8th of September; thus was completed the Conquest of Canada, which vast country has since continued under the dominion of Great Britain.

The 46th Regiment remained in North America until October 1761, when it embarked along with ten other regiments, for Barbadoes, there to join an armament against Martinique and the Havannah. The land forces consisted altogether of eighteen regiments, under the command of Major-General the Hon. Robert Monckton. The naval part of the expedition, which was commanded by Rear-admiral Rodney, consisted of eighteen sail of the line, besides frigates, bomb-vessels, and fire-ships.

The armament sailed from Carlisle Bay, in Barbadoes, on the 5th of January, 1762, and proceeded against the island of Martinique, which was settled by the French about eh year 1635. The fleet anchored in St Anne's Bay, Martinique, on the 8th of January 1762, when the bulk of the army immediately landed. Re-embarking his troops, General Monckton landed his whole army on the 16th in Cas des Navieres Bay, under Morne Tartenson and Morne Garnier. As these two eminences commanded the town and citadel of Fort Royal, and were their chief defense, great care had been taken to improve by art their natural strength, which, from the very deep ravines which protected them, was great. The general having resolved to attack Morne Tartenson first, he ordered a body of troops and 800 marines to advance on the right along the sea-side towards the town, for the purpose of attacking two redoubts near the beach; and to support this movement, he at the same time directed some flat-bottomed boats, each carrying a gun, and manned with sailors, to follow close along the shore. A corps of light infantry was to get round the enemy's left, whilst, under cover of the fire of some batteries which had been raised on the opposite ridges by the perseverance of some sailors from the fleet, the attack on the centre was to be made by the grenadiers and Highlanders, supported by the main body of the army. Many difficulties were encountered from the rugged surface of the country, and from the formidable heights occupied by the enemy, but these were overcome by British skill, discipline and valour. After an arduous contest, the enemy were driven from the Morne Tartenson on 24th January; but a more difficult operation still remained to be performed. This was to gain possession of the other eminence, from which, owing to its greater height, the enemy annoyed the British troops. Preparations were made for carrying this post; but before they were completed, on 27th January, the enemy descended from the hill, and attacked the advanced posts of the British. This attempt was fatal to the assailants, who were instantly repulsed. "When they began to retire, the Highlanders, drawing their swords, rushed forward like furies, and being supported by the grenadiers under Colonel Grant (Ballindalloch), and a party of Lord Rollo's brigade, the hills were mounted, and the batteries seized, and numbers of the enemy, unable to escape from the rapidity of the attack, were taken".

Fort Royal surrendered on the 4th of February. The whole island immediately submitted, and in terms of the capitulation all the Windward Islands were delivered up to the British.

Major-General Monckton commended the conduct of the troops in his despatch, and added, - "The difficulties they had to encounter in the attack of an enemy, possessed of every advantage that art or nature could give them, were great. Their perseverance in surmounting these obstacles furnishes a noble example of British spirit:" and in alluding to the conduct of the three divisions of grenadiers, one division of which was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. John Vaughan, at this period Lieutenant-Colonel commandant of the 94th (since disbanded), but who was appointed to the 46th regiment in November following, added, that "they had particularly distinguished themselves, the warmest part of the service having fallen to their lot."

The capture of Martinique was followed by the submission of Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent.

Whilst the 46th Regiment was taking part in the Capture of Martinique (q.v.), war had been declared against Spain, and the 46th joined the armament under General the Earl of Albermarle, destined to proceed against the wealthy Spanish settlement of the Havannah, in the Island of Cuba. On the 7th of June a landing was effected, and on the 9th the troops took up a position between Coximar and the Moro Fort. Extraordinary difficulties were encountered in making the approaches, and carrying on the siege, while a severe sickness prevailed amongst the seamen and soldiers. Every obstacle was, however, overcome by the unanimity which existed between the land and sea forces. The Moro Fort, which protected the harbour, and was regarded as almost impregnable, was captured by storm on the 30th July; on the 11th of August a series of batteries opened so well-directed a fire on the defences of the town, that the guns of the garrison were soon silenced, and flags of truce were hung out. On the 13th of August the town of the Havannah, with all its dependencies, and the ships of war in the harbour, surrendered, and the British troops took possession of this valuable settlement. Negotiations for peace were shortly afterwards commenced, and the preliminary articles were signed at Fontainebleau by the Duke of Bedford on the 3rd of November, 1762.

The treaty of Fontainebleau was concluded in Paris on 10th February, 1763, the ratifications were exchanged on 10th March, and peace was proclaimed in London on the 22nd of that month.

By this treaty, the whole of Canada, part of Louisiana, together with Cape Breton, and the other islands in the Gult of St. Lawrence, were ceded to Great Britain. In the West Indies, the islands of Tobago, Dominica, St. Vincent, and Grenada, were retained by Britain, but Martinique, Guadaloupe, Marigalante, and St. Lucia, were restored to France. In the East Indies, the French ontained the restitution of their settlements, but agered not to erect any fortifications in Bengal. Minorca was restored to England in exchange for Belleisle, which had been captured by the British in 1761, and it was stipulated that the fortifications of Dunkirk should be demolished. Spain ceded East and West Florida to Great Britain, in return for the restitution of the Havvanah, Manilla, and all the places which spain had lost since the commencement of the war.

In the meanwhile, the 46th Regiment had returned to North America, where it remained for the four following years.


Other Sources of Information

Timeline covering the 32nd and 46th Regiments and the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 1702-1997.



 Back to 46th History Menu      Back Home


Did you realise that there are Load images to see the counter people interested in the 46th Foot?

Last updated by the Adjutant on the 14th of February, 2002

Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 46thFoot.com