The Young Emigrants – Craigs of the Magaguadavic


The Young Emigrants

Part 1 is the story of the 84th Regiment of Foot – the Royal Highland Emigrants – their hardships, accomplishments, disappointments and victories, and how they proudly maintained the British Military tradition with dedicated Scottish tenacity. Their values helped shape the early settlement of Canada’s Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, and Ontario, and as Loyalists assured the continuance of the slogan “For King and Country”. They helped ensure the security and safety for those who wished to live under the British Crown in North America. Following the American War of Independence, many of these kilted ex-soldiers became settlers, farmers, lumbermen and fishermen and through the hardships of frontier life managed to endure and succeed as forefathers of our great country Canada!

Craigs of the Magaguadavic

Part 2 (Family History),deals with the Craigs, who along with many others, settled in rugged terrain and amidst harsh conditions along the Magaguadavic River, (“The Mackadavy”), in southern New Brunswick. They developed and grew over the past 200+ years, as did the communities of St. George, Bonny River and Second Falls. The story begins with Private John CRAIG after the American Revolutionary War and his service with the 84th Royal Highland Emigrants, his land grant petition in 1785 and the six or more generations of family that have followed to the first Craig Family Reunion held in 1985. The Reunion was held on the Craig Grant at Bonny River, and at other locations in nearby St. George and Pennfield, Charlotte County, New Brunswick, Canada. A second Reunion was held in August 1995 at St. George, and another was held in July 2005.


Chapter 1: “The Young Emigrants”

On 19 April 1775, Rebels at Lexington & Concord, Mass., fired upon British Forces. On 13 June 1775, about one week before the Battle of Bunker’s Hill or Breed’s Hill in Boston, the “R.H.E.” was formed, following Royal approval to raise corps of “His Majesty’s Loyal North American Subjects” for defense of Quebec and Nova Scotia. Lieut.Col. Allan MACLEAN/MCLEAN recruited veteran Highlanders who had settled in the colonies: – North Carolina, New York, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.1 Col. MacLean and his Second In Command, Major John SMALL, also recruited recent emigrants from their vessels for the “Royal Highland Emigrants”2 ; also known as “The Young Emigrants“. Major Small had earlier been wounded at Bunker Hill. Other recruiters in the Maritimes included Captains Alexander & John MacDONALD, Capt. Ronald McKINNON, and Lieut. Samuel BLISS.3

Members of the Regiment were raised primarily from discharged men from the 42nd., Royal Highland Regiment, (Black Watch)4; Montgomery’s Highlanders, the 71st., and 78th Regiments, (Fraser’s Highlanders).5 About 300 ex-members of Fraser’s Highlanders who had served in North America, and had fought for Gen. James WOLFE at Louisbourg, Nova Scotia and at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec, formed the nucleus of the “Young Emigrants“.6 Most of these men had been settlers since the peace of 1763 and the disbandment of their units at that time.7 It was documented that Recruits had to be 17 years or more, (drummers could be younger), at least 5’3″, appear healthy, have all limbs, no ruptures, not troubled by fits, and have at least 2 teeth that met.

The First Battalion of the Regiment, (newly raised), received major combat experience much earlier than expected. During the early stages of the American Revolutionary War, the defense of Canada became imperative. On 31 December 1775, rebel troops under Gen. Richard MONTGOMERY and Gen. Benedict ARNOLD attacked Quebec City. The successful defense of Quebec was primarily due to the fine efforts of Col. MACLEAN and his highlanders who defeated the invaders during the early cold winter morning of 1 January 1776.8 This battle is generally considered the one that drastically affected the War insofar as the saving of Canada as a British Possession was concerned. The 1st. Battalion also saw service at forts on the Richelieu River and Lake Champlain area, Montreal, Ontario, and Michigan. Forts which were originally established in the 1750’s to defend against attack by forces from both within and without the confines of the country, i.e. the French, Acadians, and Indians: they counteracted a similar situation in the Revolutionary War.

The Second Battalion served at numerous forts in the Atlantic Provinces and New York. It’s battle experience was mostly confined in the southern theater of the war, (1778-1781), at such places as Savannah, Charleston, and Eutaw Springs. In the early stages of the Revolution, a portion of the Nova Scotia population was pro-American, as exemplified by Jonathan EDDY’s rebel attack of Fort Cumberland on 12 November 1776 with support and/or involvement of some Maugerville, (NB), and Amherst, (N.S.), residents. As a result of the American offence, the strength and defense of such strategic areas as Fort Anne, Fort Edward, Fort Cumberland, and Fort Howe became important once again and was ably carried out to a large degree by the Royal Highland Emigrants, and Col. Joseph GOREHAM’s Royal Fencible Americans. The strength and stability created by the garrisons enabled the Atlantic Provinces region to remain loyal to the British and to successfully discourage attack by invading Americans.

Prior to these latter campaigns, the Regiment was often called “The Young Emigrants“, and was in fact, so noted on Regimental Muster Rolls and other documents. The Colours of the Royal Highland Emigrants were safeguarded by Col. Allan MACLEAN in the United Kingdom after the American War of Independence. (- B.J.Craig’s photograph of the Colours was taken in Scotland in 1990, see p. 39). The Camp Colour, c.1776, wool, blue, 14″x16″, is housed at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, No. 1961-51.9

The regiment was placed on British regular establishment in 1779 known as the “84th Regiment of Foot, (Royal Highland Emigrants). 10 As noted earlier, the First Battalion of “the 84th” served primarily in Quebec, Ontario, and northern New York and Michigan; and the Second Battalion in the Atlantic Provinces, New York, and in the Southern theater of the War.


Chapter 2: Duties & Assignments

During the Revolutionary War, (1775-1783), the First Battalion of the 84th Regiment of Foot, “Royal Highland Emigrants”, consisting of ten Companies, was stationed along the St. Lawrence River, the Richelieu River, and the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Postings included: Quebec City, Carleton Island, St. Helen’s Island, Montreal, Sorrel, Ft. St. Johns, Ft. Chambly, Trois Rivieres, La Chenage, Terrebonne, Riviere du Chene, Isle aux Noix, Ft. Ticonderoga, Ft. Edward, (Lake Champlain, NY), and Niagara.11

In 1784, after the War, most of the soldiers from the Battalion, received (Military) Land Grants and settled along the St. Lawrence River in Ontario and Quebec. Few ever returned to see their former homeland, the Mohawk Valley in New York, New England, and North Carolina.

The ten Companies of the Second Battalion of “The Young Emigrants“, like the first Battalion, were made up primarily of veterans of disbanded Highland Regiments. The majority of those who joined the Second Battalion in 1775, survived the War and rugged conditions of the time and were serving when the Regiment was taken on as part of the regular establishment of the British Army in January 1779.12 Most of the men of the Battalion were discharged when the Regiment was disbanded on 10 October 1783 at Fort Edward, Windsor, Nova Scotia.13 The remainder who had been on duty at Placentia, Newfoundland and the Southern States and West Indies were discharged at Halifax, N.S., on 10 April 1784. During the nine years, members of the Battalion served on Detachments at the Redoubt & Fort Needham, (Halifax), Fort Sackville, (Bedford), Ft. Edward, (Windsor), Ft. Anne, (Annapolis), Ft. Cumberland, (Amherst), Ft. Howe (Saint John), Ft. Clarence, (George’s Island), Eastern Battery, (Dartmouth), Cape Sable, Spanish River, (Sydney), Placentia, Nfld.), Ft. Hughes, Brooklyn Heights and Ft. Augusta.1415The two latter locations are in the USA. The men of the Battalion, had been recruited from North Carolina, New York, Boston, and other parts of New England, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. Some were also recruited from Scottish Emigrant Ships, such as “The Glasgow”, and from prisoners and deserters, (Boston, New York, Halifax, and very likely Eutaw Springs, Monck’s Corner, Charleston, and Wilmington).

From 1778 onward, Headquarters of the “R.H.E.”was at Ft. Edward, a fort created in 1750 for defence and peacekeeping and various notable events such as the Exile of the Acadians in 1755 & the arrival of the Planters in 1760. It consisted of fortifications, a Blockhouse, Officer’s & Soldier’s Barracks, Magazine, Stores, Mess Room, Bake House, Workshop and Parade Ground.

The duties of the Regiment included the defense of their sectors of British North America, protecting and maintaining Forts & Garrisons, and keeping the peace. Assignments were varied, consisting of actual combat, training, drilling and miscellaneous functions of soldiering, construction and maintenance of forts and other defenses, guarding vital installations, cutting wood, mining coal, equipment care and maintenance. On a few occasions, “The 84th”, provided personnel for marine duties at Fort Howe and the St. John River. The high caliber, discipline and adaptability of these Emigrant Soldiers, made them suitable of detachment duty16 in the far-flung reaches of British North America. After the conclusion of the War, officers and men of the Battalion received ‘Military’ Land Grants in Nova Scotia, at Douglas and Rawdon, Hants County, and in Pictou & Antigonish Counties, and Ship Harbour, & Sheet Harbour, Halifax, County17, and in St. George,18 (Passamaquoddy Bay area), of ‘New Brunswick’19.20 Supplies were issued from His Majesty’s Storehouses in Halifax for use by these hardy N.S. & Passamaquoddy Bay settlers, as recorded in Roger Johnson’s “Abstract of Provisions, 8 Oct. To 17 Dec. 1783”. Many grants turned out to be unsuitable for farming, causing many settlers to later seek other lands in the Maritimes and Ontario. Very few returned to their former homelands in the U.S.A. and the “old Country.”


Chapter 3: Dress, Officers & Organization

DRESS (Uniform) of His Majesty’s 84th. Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Emigrants) consisted of full highland costume with belted plaid and raccoon sporran with the facings and regimental tartan of the Black Watch, (42nd), Regiment.21 “The Young Emigrants”, consisted of two Battalions, each having ten Companies, they were regularly armed and equipped like the Black Watch.22 Officer’s uniform included blue facings, lace with one blue stripe in between two red stripes; officer’s metal – gold.23 In 1775/76, before the above uniform was commonly available, it is believed they wore at Quebec for example, green coats or whatever else they had. It was not until the end of 1776 that the troops had full uniform including red coats faced with blue. They retained their kilts with pride. In summary, being known as the Royal Highland Emigrants, meant that they were to be uniformed according to His Majesty’s Highland Regiments; in this case, the kilt of the Black Watch tartan with matching plaid, described as “Old Government Tartan”. The red coat faced with dark blue denoted Royal, the bonnet dark blue and flat with a royal blue tourie. Later, the raised bonnet was worn with a red pompom and red/white, blue/red, and red/white dicing around the headband. Stockings were red and white in Argyle pattern.24Photograph of a uniformed officer of the Regiment is shown on page l, (a watercolour by Robert J. MARION, 1976, National Museum of Canada, 83-750).

In 1780, Commanding Officer of the Regiment, Col. Allan MACLEAN, wrote to Governor Frederick HALDIMAND in Quebec, asking for 100 jackets and waistcoats, adding “breeches we do not want!”25 Great pride was derived from “the wearing of the kilt”. Older clothing was kept for fatigue duty and after 1781, breeches were, (reluctantly), found to be more suitable in Canada for warmth and protection against flying insects.26 For a time, some men wore canvas trousers under their kilts. The equipping of the Regiment did not come overnight; many delays and difficulties were experienced. On 4 December 1775 in a letter of 2nd Battalion 2. I/C, Capt. Alexander “Big Alex” MCDONALD, to Governor MASSEY, Commander of the Halifax Garrison, “I am ready to march wherever you think proper to order me, but I think it is my duty to inform you of the state of our men, we are without clothing of any kind, no necessaries, no knapsacks, no haversacks, shoes, stockings. In short, everything that a soldier ought to have except the rags they had on when they enlisted“.27

….Also as illustrated by the desperate quote of Capt. Alex. MCDONALD at Halifax, in his letter of 6 January 1776 to Major John SMALL, Officer Commanding the Second Battalion; “For God’s sake, send down all the clothing you have there in order to save the people from perishing“.28 Captain MCDONALD, at one stage, found himself in some difficulty with his superiors in that he, in desperation, utilized clothing destined for the First Battalion in Quebec.29 He did what was necessary at the time to clothe and protect his men from the ravishes of winter, and subsequently justified his actions. As time went on, the Regiment did become fully uniformed and equipped and carried itself proudly.

The Regiment had been first envisaged in October 1774 at New York by Captain Alexander MCDONALD and his friend, Major John SMALL of Boston, in view of the civil uprisings in New England. After the battles between British Regulars and American Minutemen at Concord and Lexington; formation of the Regiment was authorized on 12 June 1775, under command of Col. Allan MACLEAN. These events coincided with the British Garrison in Boston, being besieged by 20,000 angry American militia and the Declaration of Independence in 1776.30

Through the hard work of MCDONALD and efforts of SMALL and MACLEAN, under the overall British authority of Generals: GAGE, HOWE, and later CARLETON, the Regiment was planned, organized, recruited, trained, and equipped. Officers such as: MACLEAN, SMALL & MCDONALD provided able leadership; their backgrounds were varied and extensive, some highlights are as follows: – 31

SIR GUY CARLETON: The Regiment was alternately under the overall or general command of Gen. Thos. GAGE, Sir William HOWE, and Gen. Henry CLINTON until late 1782, at which time Sir Guy CARLETON became Colonel In Chief and Officer Commanding all British forces in America, and subsequently responsible for the evacuation of New York and the shipment of Loyalists and troops to Canada.



1 Logan, G.M. Scottish Highlanders and the American Revolution, Halifax, NS, (1976),pp.7-16

2 ibid pp.17,48,49

3 Dallison, Robert L., Hope Restored, Fredericton, N.B., 2003, pp.63,64

4 ibid. pp. 7 – 10

5 Brander,M. The Scottish Highlanders and their Regiments, London, UK, pp.203-205

6 ibid. p. 166

7 Fryer, Mary King’s Men – The Soldier Founders of Ontario, (1980),Toronto, ON & Charlotte- town, PEI, pp. 34 – 40

8 ibid,#1 pp.20 – 22 & 40 – 51

9 Fryer, Mary King’s Men – The Soldier Founders of Ontario, (1980), Toronto ONT & Charlottetown, PEI., p.61

10 Logan, G.M. Scottish Highlanders and the American Revolution, (1976), Halifax, N.S., p.87

11 Fryer, Mary B. King’s Men – The Soldier Founders of Ontario, (1980), Toronto & Charlottetown, pp.40-57

12 Katcher, Phillip R. Encyclopedia of British Provincial and German Army Units, 1775-1783, (1983), pp.72-73

13 Logan, G.M., Dr. Scottish Highlanders and the American Revolution, (1976), Halifax, NS., pp.111, 124

14 ibid pp.80,81,99,110, 111

15 Patterson, George Patterson Papers, (Public Archives of Nova Scotia, “PANS”), MG12, Misc., Vol. 6, No. 19

16 Bruce, Edward The British Eighty-Fourth Regiment, 1775-1784, (PANS Halifax), MG100, Vol. 137, No. 9G, p.5

17 Blakeley, Phyllis, Dr. An Historical Introduction to the Loyalists of NovaScotia, (PANS.)

18 Craig, Calvin L, Early Families of “The Mackadavy“, (2002), Bonny River, NB., pp.4-26.

19 Bell, D.G. Early Loyalist Saint John, (1983), Fredericton, NB., p.32

20 Raymond, W.O. “L’Etang”, Acadiensis, (1907), Saint John, NB., Vol.7, p.256

21 Piers. Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, (PANS,Halifax), Vol.XXI, pp.149-152

22 Reid, W. Sanford A History of Canada’s Peoples – “The Scottish Tradition in Canada“, pp.145-146

23 Katcher, Phillip R. Encylopedia of British, Provincial, & German Army Units, pp.72-73

24 Fryer, Mary B. King’s Men – The Soldier Founders of Ontario, p.37

25 ibid p.56

26 ibid p.56

27 Jack, D.R. Letter Book of Capt. Alexander McDonald, Acadiensis, (1904), Saint John, NB., Vol. IV, pp.53, 54

28 Jack, D.R. Letter Book of Capt. Alex’dr.McDonald, Acadiensis, (1904), Saint John, NB., Vol.IV,pp.53,54

29 Logan, G.M. Scottish Highlanders and the American Revolution, pp.77-79.

30 Reid, W.S. A History of Canada’s Peoples – The Scottish Tradition in Canada, p.145

31 Ibid, #9 pp.2-12



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