This website attempts to identify the dates and deployments of various British military units prior to 1870 within Canada and elsewhere in the western hemisphere. The goal of this site is to provide an overview of the British Army and soldiers who served in this region.
For a century after the American Revolution and the peace of 1783, the military in Canada concerned itself primarily with defence against the United States. During the War of 1812 successful defence against the United States was mostly attributable to the British regular regiments and the Royal Navy. In 1838 the regular garrison of British North America numbered over 13,000 men, but fell off to only about 3,000 in 1855 because of the high cost of maintaining such a force. The Militia Act of 1855 set up a new force of volunteers, not more than 5000 strong, which would be uniformed and armed and would undergo a short period of annual training. This volunteer force is the origin of the modern Canadian Army (Militia). The first Militia Act of the Dominion of Canada, passed in 1868, set up a Department of Militia and Defence and divided the country into military districts
In general, the following Information is included for each unit:
Regimental or unit numberBattalion level information is provided in some instances where regiments were deployed in part only. Similarly, company level information is included for units such as the Royal Artillery which were traditionally on "attached" assignment to infantry and other units. I have also constructed a table showing geographic distribution of regiments of foot by era to assist researchers. This site does not encompass detailed unit histories - particularly for eras or regions outside of the stated scope. For details on the major military campaigns in book form, see the recommended reading list.
Regimental or unit name
Outline history, major campaigns and battles
Deployment dates in North America
Links to soldiers' attestation and discharge papers on microfilm
Documents exist for many soldiers who survived their service time and were discharged. They usually inclufe attestation and discharge papers which provide place of birth, age on enlistment, army service and details of appearance. This document group, from the UK National Archives is known as W0 97. The companion group WO 120 group provides summary information similar to that in group WO97. These files do not include general regimental documents such as muster rolls (WO 10 through 16) and pay lists.
You can use the UK National Archives Discovery to see if a specific name occurs within record group WO 97. It is helpful, but not necessary to know the regiment number or place of birth in order to limit the results returned. An overview of the various types of records available for British regiments can be seen at the GENUKI site.
Examples of the type of information available can be seen in the 1818 WO97 documents for Sgt.John Gibson and Pvt. William Pender and the 1818 WO120 document for Sgt. William Shea.
|Regimental summaries & links to records