Classic History Books


William Wood - The Winning of Canada: A Chronicle of Wolfe

the light infantry companies, which were then led by Colonel Howe. Wolfe had also made up a small
three-company battalion of picked grenadiers from the five regiments that were being left behind at

Louisbourg to guard the Maritime Provinces. This little battalion became famous at Quebec as the

'Louisbourg Grenadiers.' The grenadiers all wore red and white, like the rest, except that their coats were

buttoned up the whole way, and instead of the three-cornered hats they wore high ones like a bishop's

mitre. The artillery wore blue-grey coats turned back with red, yellow braid, and half-moon-shaped black

hats, with the points down towards their shoulders.

The only remaining regiment is of much greater interest in connection with a Canadian campaign. It was
the 60th Foot, then called the Royal Americans, afterwards the Sixtieth Rifles or 'Old Sixtieth,' and now

the King's Royal Rifle Corps. It was the first regiment of regulars ever raised in Greater Britain, and the

first to introduce the rifle-green uniform now known all over the Empire, especially in Canada, where all

rifle regiments still follow 'the 60th's' lead so far as that is possible. Many of its officers and men who

returned from the conquest of Canada to their homes in the British colonies were destined to move on to

Canada with their families as United Empire Loyalists. This was their first war; and they did so well in it

that Wolfe gave them the rifleman's motto they still bear in token of their smartness and dash - Celer

et Audax
. Unfortunately they did not then wear the famous 'rifle green' but the ordinary red.
Unfortunately, too, the rifleman's green has no connection with the 'green jackets of American

backwoodsmen in the middle of the eighteenth century.' The backwoodsmen were not dressed in green as

a rule, and they never formed any considerable part of the regiment at any time. The first green uniform

came in with the new 5th battalion in 1797; and the old 2nd and 3rd battalions, which fought under

Wolfe, did not adopt it till 1815. It was not even of British origin, but an imitation of a German hussar

uniform which was itself an imitation of one worn by the Hungarians, who have the senior hussars of the

world. But though Wolfe's Royal Americans did not wear the rifle green, and though their coats and

waistcoats were of common red, their uniforms differed from those of all other regiments at Quebec in

several particulars. The most remarkable difference was the absence of lace, an absence specially

authorized only for this corps, and then only in view of special service and many bush fights in America.

The double-breasted coats were made to button across, except at the top, where the lapels turned back,

like the cuffs and coat-tails. All these 'turnbacks' and the breeches were blue. The very long gaiters, the

waist and cross belts, the neckerchief and hat piping were white. Wearing this distinctively plain

uniform, and led by their buglers and drummers in scarlet and gold, like state trumpeters, the Royal

Americans could not, even at a distance, be mistaken for any other regiment.

On June 6 Saunders and Wolfe sailed for Quebec with a hundred and forty-one ships. Wolfe's work in
getting his army safely off being over, he sat down alone in his cabin to make his will. His first thought

was for Katherine Lowther, his fiancee, who was to have her own miniature portrait, which he

carried with him, set in jewels and given back to her. Warde, Howe, and Carleton were each

remembered. He left all the residue of his estate to 'my good mother,' his father having just died. More

than a third of the whole will was taken up with providing for his servants. No wonder he was called 'the

soldier's friend.'

There was a thrilling scene at Louisbourg as regiment after regiment marched down to the shore, with
drums beating, bugles sounding, and colours flying. Each night, after drinking the king's health, they had

drunk another toast - 'British colours on every French fort, port, and garrison in North America.' Now

here they were, the pick of the Army and Navy, off with Wolfe to raise those colours over Quebec, the

most important military point on the whole continent. On they sailed, all together, till they reached the

Saguenay, a hundred and twenty miles below Quebec. Here, on the afternoon of June 20, the sun shone

 

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