HOME
The Info List - Royal Fencible American Regiment


--- Advertisement ---



Not to be confused with Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Fencibles

Royal Fencible American Regiment
Royal Fencible American Regiment
of Foot a.k.a. Royal Fencible Americans, RFA

Active 1775 - 1783

Country  Great Britain

Allegiance King George III

Branch Provincial corps, American command

Type Battalion

Role Infantry

Size 5 companies

Garrison/HQ Fort Cumberland, July 1776 - Oct. 1783

Motto(s) PRO REGE ET LEGE (Eng.: For King and Law)

Engagements Siege of Fort Cumberland; Saint John River expedition

Commanders

Notable commanders Joseph Goreham, Thomas Batt

The Royal Fencible American Regiment
Royal Fencible American Regiment
of Foot (or RFA) was a Loyalist battalion of infantry raised in 1775 to defend British interests in the colony of Nova Scotia. The RFA was commanded by Lt. Col. Joseph Goreham throughout its existence. The most notable achievement of the RFA (and its only combat as a regiment) was the successful defense of Fort Cumberland during the Eddy Rebellion in November, 1776, which prevented the revolution in the other American colonies from moving into Nova Scotia.

Contents

1 Formation

1.1 Battle of Fort Cumberland

2 Later service 3 Uniforms 4 In popular culture 5 See also 6 References 7 Bibliography 8 External links

Formation[edit]

Part of a series on the

Military history of Nova Scotia

Citadel Hill

Events

Battle of Port Royal 1690

Siege of Port Royal 1710

Battle of Jeddore Harbour 1722

Northeast Coast Campaign 1745

Battle of Grand Pré 1747

Dartmouth Massacre 1751

Bay of Fundy
Bay of Fundy
Campaign 1755

Fall of Louisbourg 1758

Headquarters established for Royal Navy's North American Station 1758

Halifax Treaties 1760-61

Battle of Fort Cumberland 1776

Raid on Lunenburg 1782

Halifax Impressment Riot 1805

Establishment of New Ireland 1812

Capture of USS Chesapeake 1813

Battle at the Great Redan 1855

Siege of Lucknow 1857

CSS Tallahassee
CSS Tallahassee
Escape 1861

Departing Halifax for Northwest Rebellion 1885

Departing Halifax for the Boer War 1899

Imprisonment of Leon Trotsky 1917

Jewish Legion formed 1917

Sinking of HMHS Llandovery Castle 1918

Battle of the St. Lawrence 1942–44

Sinking of SS Point Pleasant Park 1945

Halifax VE-Day Riot 1945

Walter Callow Wheelchair Bus established 1947

Notable military regiments

Mi'kmaq militias 1677-1779

Acadian militias 1689-1761

40th Regiment 1717-57

Troupes de la marine 1717-58

Gorham's Rangers 1744-62

Danks' Rangers 1756-62

84th Regiment of Foot 1775-84

Royal Fencible American 1775-83

Royal Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Volunteers 1775-83

King's Orange Rangers 1776-83

1st Field Artillery 1791-present

Royal Nova Scotia 1793-1802

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Fencibles 1803-16

The Halifax Rifles (RCAC) 1860-present

The Princess Louise Fusiliers 1867-present

78th Highlanders 1869-71

Cape Breton Highlanders 1871-present

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Rifles 1914-19

No. 2 Construction Battalion 1916-19

West Nova Scotia 1916-present

The Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Highlanders 1954-present

Other

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Captivity Narratives Impressment in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
portal History of Canada portal Canadian Armed Forces portal

v t e

Goreham was a prominent landowner in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
in 1775, as well as a former officer of Gorham's Rangers
Gorham's Rangers
during the French and Indian War. Noting the growing tensions in New England and especially Boston between the government and the patriot movement, he wrote the following to Gov. Francis Legge:

Proposed to raise a Battalion of Light infantry
Light infantry
or Royal Fensible Americans, To consist of Five Companies. 1 Lieut. Col. Commandant and Captain, 4 Captains, 1 Capt. Lieut., 4 Lieutenants, 5 2d Lieutenants or Ensigns, 15 Serjeants, 15 Corporals, 5 Drummers, 300 Privates, 1 Adjutant, 1 Surgeon, 1 Surgeon's Mate. That they be clothed and armed as Light Troops and put on the same Establishment of Pay as the late 80th, Gage's Light Infantry and [this] Corps to be employed on the like Services.[1] "Fencible" troops differed from militia in that they were full-time soldiers and were paid; however they differed from regulars in that they were exempt from overseas service. They were, in effect, a full-time secondary defense force (defensive = fencible). As a former Ranger, Goreham proposed that his regiment serve as light infantry. In the event they served as garrison troops for the regiment's existence. Goreham's proposal was accepted in April 1775, and recruiting began in Boston, Newfoundland[2] and in and around Halifax; the Boston
Boston
men were shipped to Halifax in October.[3] At that time the approximately 200 men of the RFA comprised a large portion of the total British forces available in Nova Scotia.[4] This situation changed briefly when Gen. Howe's army arrived in Halifax from Boston
Boston
in April, 1776, but this army left again for New York in June.[5] Meanwhile, rumours of rebellion stirring in the Cumberland region arrived in Halifax, prompting the authorities to dispatch Goreham's regiment to Fort Cumberland in late May, first overland to Windsor and then by ship via Minas Basin
Minas Basin
and Chignecto Bay. Fort Cumberland (originally built by the French as Fort Beauséjour
Fort Beauséjour
in 1750) was in an advanced state of disrepair by 1776.[6] Goreham set his men to reconstruction, both the buildings and the earthworks, but work went slowly due to the shortage of supplies and equipment, and lack of assistance from the local population, who were mostly pro-patriot.[7] With winter approaching, Goreham had his men put more effort into the accommodations than the fortifications. In spite of this, the fort would be a hard nut to crack by any rebel force without artillery. Battle of Fort Cumberland[edit] Main article: Battle of Fort Cumberland The fort was strategically important to the British as it guarded the overland route to peninsular Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
and also the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy. The rebel forces, led by Jonathan Eddy, planned to capture the fort, seizing its artillery and stores, as a first step in an overland march via Fort Edward in Windsor to Halifax, raising rebel sympathizers along the way. As there were some sympathizers in the colony, the plan was feasible. Goreham had deployed an outpost of 14 Fencibles
Fencibles
under command of Lt. John Walker, a long time friend of Goreham, to Shepody in September,[8] about 20 miles (30 km) northwest of the fort, to warn of any approach by rebel forces from New England. On the evening of Oct. 29 Eddy's arriving force of about 150 men overwhelmed the outpost, with one officer of the RFA, 2nd Lt. Solomon King, killed, and the rest taken prisoner. Lt. Walker was wounded. Eddy's men suffered no casualties.[9] Goreham finally became aware of the rebel presence on Nov. 4 when a boat carrying a relief party and supplies for the outpost returned early with the news.[10] By this point Eddy's force had effectively cut all overland communications from the fort, making it impossible to send reports of the invasion to Halifax. Meanwhile, winter supplies, plus arms and ammunition, for the garrison had arrived on the sloop Polly, escorted by the frigate HMS Juno, on Oct 31; Juno departed for Halifax on Nov. 3.[11] Polly was brought up a creek near the fort and unloading began with the ship lying in the mud at low tides. Eddy's army staged its next coup on the night of Nov. 6/7 when a party of 30 men, led by Zebulon Roe, set out to capture the Polly. After a difficult approach march over the tidal flats, with the tide rising, Roe's men took the RFA party aboard by surprise and captured the sloop without firing a shot. Waiting for the rising tide, Roe's men captured a work team and several officers coming to the ship. Finally as the fog lifted around 7am, the rebels were able to sail and tow Polly out of the creek, followed by cannon fire from the fort, which fell short. In all, Goreham lost 49 officers and men captured. Added to the men lost at the outpost, the RFA garrison was down 25% of its strength, plus most of the Polly's provisions.[12] On Nov. 9 Michael Francklin, the former lieutenant-governor, got word of the invasion from residents around the Minas Basin;[13] he passed these reports to Halifax where planning got underway to relieve the fort. Meanwhile, Eddy presented an ultimatum that Goreham surrender the fort on Nov. 10; Goreham replied with a demand that Eddy surrender instead.[14] His bluff having failed, Eddy began planning for battle. Although the RFA was down to a strength of 172 all ranks, plus some armed civilians,[7] it's unlikely that Eddy was able to persuade more than about 80 of his men to actually participate in any of the following attacks,[15] so numbers were very much on Goreham's side. The first attack began at 4am on Nov. 13. A Maliseet
Maliseet
warrior of Eddy's force managed to slip inside the fort, but was wounded by an RFA officer before he could open the main gate, foiling Eddy's plan. After about two hours Eddy disengaged. The warrior, who escaped, was the only casualty on either side.[16] The second attack began in the early morning of Nov. 22. This time the rebels set fire to several buildings to the north of the fort. With a brisk wind blowing from that direction, it was hoped that the fire would spread to the fort, and it very nearly did so. Only desperate but effective fire-fighting by the garrison prevented disaster, and Eddy's men somehow failed to exploit their opportunity. Again there were no fatal casualties on either side.[17] Finally on the morning of Nov. 27 the rebels tried to seize several dozen head of cattle from the marsh below the fort. This attempt was intercepted by two parties of picked men from the Fencibles. In the running fight that followed, several of Eddy's men were killed; the RFA lost one man, Peter Calahan, died of wounds and two others wounded.[18] Later that morning the entire situation changed with the arrival of the sloop HMS Vulture, including a company of Royal Marines
Royal Marines
under Cpt. Branson plus Maj. Thomas Batt and Cpt. Gilfred Studholme of the RFA, who had been on duty at Fort Edward.[19][20] Before dawn on Nov. 29 Maj. Batt led a mixed force of Marines and 74 men of the Fencibles, led by Cpt. Studholme, in a sortie from the fort against the rebel positions on Camp Hill. Somehow Eddy had not noticed the arrival of Vulture and the rebels were taken by surprise. When the alarm was finally sounded, the Fencibles
Fencibles
"gave a loud Huzzah and ran like lions" towards Eddy's headquarters, according to Batt's report to Goreham. Eddy was nearly captured and rebel resistance was broken. The homes of many rebels and sympathizers were burned.[21] The RFA lost one man, Michael Dickie, killed, one died of wounds, and three wounded; one Marine was wounded, and at least three of Eddy's men were killed, with several others taken prisoner. Batt was later commended by King George for his conduct.[22] Later service[edit] Most of the RFA remained at Fort Cumberland for the duration of the war. In September 1777 a company under command of Studholme was part of an expeditionary force to the Saint John River. Sent in response to a rebel expedition to the area, they captured some New England rebels and drove others up the river to secure that part of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
(now New Brunswick). Men of the RFA, under Studholme's direction, constructed Fort Howe
Fort Howe
near the river mouth, and garrisoned it until the end of the war.[23] In 1777 Goreham had a major dispute with Batt, probably due to Goreham's terms of amnesty granted to the rebels on December 1, 1776, which were also disapproved of by some parties in Halifax.[24] The regiment was disbanded on October 10, 1783, at Halifax and Fort Howe. Officers and men received land grants, plus tools and provisions, if they chose. Studholme was appointed agent for these arrangements.[25] Fourteen other ranks took up grants in Remsheg (today Wallace, NS) while 57 officers and other ranks are listed as having settled in New Brunswick.[26] Uniforms[edit] For nearly two years after its formation, the men of the RFA mostly wore civilian clothing, essentially, whatever they were wearing when enlisted. This caused them great hardship in winter, and Goreham permitted them to wear blankets or rugs in lieu of greatcoats when on sentry at Fort Cumberland. They would have looked very much like their rebel opponents during the siege. Their first uniforms arrived in early 1777, green coats faced white, with white smallclothes, in common with most other Loyalist corps of the American command at that time. Officers wore silver lace. By 1780 the regiment was wearing red coats faced black, probably with white lace for other ranks.[27] In popular culture[edit]

Thomas H. Raddall's novel His Majesty's Yankees (Doubleday, New York, 1942) is centered around the Siege of Fort Cumberland.

See also[edit]

List of British fencible regiments

References[edit]

^ Loyalist Institute: Royal Fencible Americans, Proposal to Raise a Battalion, 1775 ^ Piers, Harry; "The Fortieth Regiment, etc", p 154 ^ Chartrand, René; American Loyalist Troops 1775-84, p 23 ^ Clarke, Ernest; The Siege of Fort Cumberland, p 12 ^ Clarke, p 50 ^ Clarke, p 45 ^ a b Piers, p 154 ^ Clarke, p 86 ^ Clarke, p 91 ^ Clarke, p 100 ^ Clarke, pp 92, 98 ^ Clarke, pp 109 - 122 ^ Clarke, p 121 ^ Clarke, pp 131 - 32 ^ Clarke, p 137 ^ Clarke, pp 138 - 141 ^ Clarke, pp 169 - 170 ^ Clarke, pp 183 - 84 ^ Clarke, p 184 ^ Chartrand (p 23) states that the Royal Highland Emigrants also arrived at the fort at this time. However, Clarke makes clear that while two companies of the RHE left Windsor on Nov. 20 escorted by Vulture, their vessel lost contact in fog on Nov. 24, and returned to Windsor on Nov. 28. pp 162, 175, 187 ^ Clarke, pp 191 - 99 ^ Clarke, p 200 ^ Piers, p 155 ^ Loyalist Institute: Royal Fencible Americans, Goreham's Complaint, n.d ^ Piers, p 156 ^ Clarke, pp 222 - 229 ^ Chartrand, pp 42-43

Bibliography[edit]

Piers, Harry; "The Fortieth Regiment, Raised at Annapolis Royal in 1717; and Five Regiments Subsequently Raised in Nova Scotia"; Collections of the Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Historical Society, vol. XXI, Halifax, NS, 1927, pp 152–58. Clarke, Ernest; The Siege of Fort Cumberland, 1776; McGill-Queen's University Press, Montreal & Kingston, 1995. ISBN 0-7735-1867-3 Chartrand, René; American Loyalist Troops 1775-84; illust. by Gerry & Samuel Embleton; Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84603-314-8

External links[edit]

On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies Various articles, period papers and other records of the RFA. Brigade of the American Revolution Volunteers throughout western Nova Scotia re-create th

.