Place Published: Fort George, UC
Date Published: 1810
Edition: 1st Edition
Binding: No binding
UNIQUE BRITISH (CANADA) EARLY 1800's COURT MARTIAL DOCUMENT
[20pp. with blank on recto of docket p.20] 20cm x 32cm (7-3/4 x 12-5/8 inches) A unique, rare and important piece of Canadian military history. This is the official 20 page 1810 report on the Court Martial of Private Alexander Waddle, at Fort George in Upper Canada, presided over and signed by Brigadier General Isaac Brock, President, and military commander of Upper Canada and soon to become the 'hero of Upper Canada' Counter-signed by the Governor of Canada, Sir James Henry Craig. Alexander Waddle of the 100th Regiment was convicted by Brock's 2 day court martial for desertion.
The 20 pages (paper Britannia watermarked) was bound with a small piece of vellum in the top left corner with a green cord, now broken and loose. It was originally folded down the middle of the 12-5/8 inch length, now flat. A summary title docketing information on the final leaf, page 20, in very faint old red ink reads: 'Laid before the Prince Regent 23 March 1811' confirms the officially that it arrived in London at Horse Guards and formally presented.
Condition: The paper is browned with some finger-marking and the text is written in two hands (2pp of Waddle's defence statement signed). More soiling on the last couple of pages at the bottom. Page 18 has a very small pin hole likely from folding not affecting any hand-writing. Page 19 is blank and page 20 is in poor condition with doing, tears and a 1/4 hole in the center - no handwriting affected. In good condition overall. Even a casual student of Brock and the beginnings of the War of 1812 will wholeheartedly agree British desertions to USA were a serious and undermining concern that Brock faced in 1805 shortly after his arrival til his death in 1812.
So little is known and written about this issue and in fact there appears to be no other court martial documents to be found from 1805 to 1820 relating to the British before and after the War of 1812 until now. The following comment promoting a CBC documentary I think summarizes the situation well, especially the last statement…
When the War of 1812 was declared… Canada had 500,000 people (some of whom had recently been Americans) to America's seven million. Brock had only 1,600 troops to defend a 1,200 mile border. And he had the same worries Guy Carleton had had in 1774: Would the citizens fight the enemy or embrace them?
"My situation is most critical," Brock wrote to the adjutant-general in Montreal, "not from anything the enemy can do but from the disposition of the people – the population, believe me, is essentially bad – a full belief possesses them all that this province must inevitably succumb...Most of the people have lost all confidence. I, however, speak loud and look big."
It was difficult to look big given the state of affairs. To compound his problems there was rampant desertion in the Canadian militia, many of them going over to the Americans. Quoted from the People’s History produced by CBC
The account of the two day trial over the 28th and 29th of August 1810 begins with the formal warrant for the court martial 'from Sir James Henry Craig K.B. General and Commander of His Majesty's Forces in North America' and a reading of the charges.
'Brigadier General Isaac Brock' as President, presided over the hearings. There were thirteen other officers who were members of the Court Martial some of which which included; Lieutenant Colonel John Vincent, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Ellice and J B Clegg performing the legal role of Judge Advocate.
Major George Taylor who recounts the claims of a conspiracy masterminded by Waddle to escape into the 'States' using a canoe. There follows a vivid account of the pursuit of the escaping man to cross to the nearby island of Bois blanc. In his cross examination Waddle denies the charge against him. The account of Waddle's defence tells a different story of course. The verdict of the court found Waddle guilty with the sentence 'to be transported as a Felon for life.'
This is signed: 'Isaac Brock B[rigadie]r Gen[era]l L[ord] Presid[en]t' also by Clegg and counter-signed: 'Approv'd J H Craig Gen[era]' and a 2 page "Defence" signed possibly by Alex. Waddle.
J.B. Glegg purchased the rank of captain in 1803. In 1810 Brock appointed John Baskerville (sometimes spelled Baskervyle) Glegg as his ADC. Glegg fought in the Battle of Queenston Heights and was praised for his role by Brock’s successor, Major General Roger Sheaffe. As Brock’s surviving ADC, as well as close friend, he had the principal role in arranging Brock’s funeral on 16 October. Subsequently, he was appointed acting ADC to Sheaffe.
General Sir James Henry Craig was a British military officer and colonial administrator. He arrived in Canada to take up the appointments of governor-in-chief and commander of the forces in October 1807-1811. He strongly supported Brock in trengthening the military for the expected War of 1812.
Waddle returned to England before being transported to Tasmania aboard the Indefatigable in June 1812 where he appears to have prospered, being granted town allotments in Launceston, marrying and becoming a wealthy merchant, even presenting himself as a free man, finally dying in 1852 some forty years after the man who presided over his court martial.