Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The 47th in New Wolfe Biography

Paths of Glory: The Life and Death of General James Wolfe
by Stephen Brumwell (author of Redcoats and White Savage).

Published 2006 by McGill-Queen's University Press this new biography reassesses Wolfe's life and career and details his rise through the army. The author draws on many previously unpublished personal letters, exploring the attitudes of Wolfe and his allies and rivals during his career, as well as examining the process of his elevation to national hero after his death.

Brumwell mentions several of Wolfe's connections to 47th in the book including:

The song "Hot Stuff", composed by 47th grenadier Ned Botwood, is cited as an example of the high esprit de corps of Wolfe's army as it assembled for the assult on Quebec in 1759. The song mentions several incidents in the campaign up to that point, including the issue of uniforms meant for the 50th to members of the 47th, then known by its colonel's name "Lascelle's". The 50th had surrendered at Oswego and Botwood was anxious that the French would not mistake Lascelle's for Shirley's 50th. Hot Stuff is one of the few army songs that specifically mentions a British regiment. For more information on the song click here.

When the Forty-seventh Regiment is dashing ashore,
When bullets are whistling and cannon do roar,
Says Montcalm, "Those are Shirley's, I know their lapels."
"You lie," says Ned Botwood, "We are of Lascelles!
Though our clothing is changed, yet we scorn a powder-puff;
So at you, ye b-----s, here's give you Hot Stuff."

The 47th was in the first wave in the assult on Quebec along with the 28th, 43rd, 58th, Howe's Light Infantry, Fraser's Highlanders, and some grenadiers of the Royal Americans. After scaling the cliffs to the Plains of Abraham, the 47th was assigned a position in the line near the center. During the fighting they faced the compacted formations of the Bearn and Guyenne French regular regiments. The British adopted a two-rank line at open order, with about three feet between files, and 40-yard intervals between battalions. This was a formation they had practiced in preparation for the campaign and presages the more open, tactically independent British formations to come in the Revolution.

Colonel Hale of the 47th was assigned to carry the victory dispatches to the King. Hale afterward raised the 18th (soon after the 17th)Regiment of Light Dragoons, and he had a black line woven into the wool lace on their uniforms as a mark of mourning for General Wolfe. A similar line was added to the 47th's coat lace. Hale apparently also refused to pay the 100 pound fee to be included in Benjamin West's painting of Wolfe's death.

Perhaps most important for the soldiers who fought in the American Revolution, including the 47th, was Wolfe's influence on tactics and drill in the army. Brumwell discusses how Wolfe's aggressive tactics and simplified firing drill deeply influenced the next generation of military manuals including Bennet Cuthbertson and the 1764 Manual.

For more information on the book click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Book on Mackinac Features Painting of Captain Aubrey

A Picturesque Situation: Mackinac before Photography, 1615-1860
By Brian Leigh Dunnigan (Wayne State Press, 2008)

This new book features many great Mackinac paintings, drawings and prints. Among them is a painting of Lieutenant Thomas Aubrey in the uniform of the 4th Regiment of Foot, not long before his promotion to Captain in the 47th in April 1771.

Aubrey entered the British army as an ensign in 1762, and after his service in the Revolution he gained promotion to major in 1785. Aubrey retired from the army in 1788, and later served in Parliament representing the bourough of Wallingford. He died in 1814 (from an article by Paul Malo). At the time of Aubrey's death he was still listed as an army major, a half-pay Captain in the 73rd Regiment of Foot and a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Bucks County Militia (Hadden Journal xcii)

More information on the book can be found here. To see the painting in the collection of the National Museum of Wales click here.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Painting of Wolfe Stays In the Public Eye

This past year the fund raising appeal to keep the famous JSC Schank painting of General Wolfe from export out of Britain was successful. A total of 300,000 pounds was raised to keep the painting in Britain after the National Army Museum was outbid in 2007.

The painting is the most accurate portrait of the young general and is based on a life sketch of Wolfe by his aide de camp. It will go on exhibit at the National Army Museum June 5th, 2008 with a selection of Wolfe artifacts, including a series of prints from the painting. To learn more click here

The 47th was one of the British regiments that earned the nickname "Wolfe's Own" fighting under Wolfe's command at Quebec.


Welcome to the 47th Foot in North America Blog. I wanted to start this Blog to organize, save and share interesting and useful information I found on the 47th and on Redcoats in North America during the Revolution.

The 47th was formed as Mordaunt's Regiment in 1741. The regiment fought in Scotland in the 1740s and was deployed to North America first during the French and Indian War. It played an important role in the battle ending the Siege of Quebec in 1759, earning the name Wolfe's Own for General James Wolfe who was killed in the battle. The 47th later added a black line to the wool tape that decorated each soldier's uniform.

In 1773 the 47th was stationed in New Jersey and was transferred to Boston in 1774, they fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill, then moved with the British forces when they evacuated next spring to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The 47th was added to the command of General Carleton (the regiment's Colonel)who commanded the British expedition to move down Lake Champlain to the Hudson, attempting to cut the Colonies in two.

After Carleton's command was stalled at Valcour Island, the expedition was continued (including the 47th) in 1777 under the command of General John Burgoyne. Most of the Regiment was captured at the battles of Saratoga, but two, and one partial companies of the 47th escaped, as they had been left behind to guard some of Burgoyne's supply dumps.

These remaining companies were later transferred west to build a fort on Carleton Island at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River near the east end of Lake Ontario. In 1779, 47th soldiers were moved west to reinforce the Great Lakes posts at Niagara, Detroit and Mackinac. By 1782 the officers, sergeants and drummers were sent back to England to recruit a new 47th, while the men were transferred (or drafted) into the 8th Regiment.

The 47th was amalgamated with the 81st in 1881 to form the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire). In 1970 the Loyal Regiment was amalgamated with the Lancashire Regiment to form the Queens Lancashire Regiment, then finally in 2006 linked with the King's and King's Own Border Regiments to form today's Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.