J. Smyth Carter.

The story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 online

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Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 24 of 40)
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shiftless or insubordinate. When, however, discipline becomes the cover for
gross, flagrant injustice the self respecting soldier cannot but dislike it.
Army reform schemes are all right in there place, but in my opinion the man
who brings in a system of examination for officers and non-commissioned
officers wherein courage, intelligence and manliness are the primary qualifi-
cations, will have brought to the British army a great boon of which it has
long stood in need. It is well known that courage is usually found in
some degree in men and officers of all ranks but it is not invariably associat-
ed with the other two attributes.

From Montreal we went to Quebec, a.nd after spending a week at the old
fortress we proceeded to Halifax. Here we were introduced to our horses
and the mysteries of the military saddle were unfolded to our minds. After
several lessons on the wonderful art of placing the saddle on the horse's back
we were allowed to saddle for a ride. It is well known that the new beginner


in the saddle has a tendency to grip his horse's side with his heels for support.
Accordingly, as a precautionary measure spurs were left off on the occasion
of our first ride. One lad, who boasted to his officer that he had been on the
trail out west, begged to be allowed to retain his glittering heel accoutrement.
The officer refused, and we proceeded on our ride. After walking the horses
around, interspersed with such practice as mounting and dismounting, we
turned towards the stables. The horse of the would-be-cowboy became some-
what unmanageable and began to trot. Only those who have had the ex-
perience of learning to ride know the startling sensation of the first "trot."
To the cavalry recruit there is nothing in his new life which has such a tend-
ency to rattle him both mentally and physically. In this instance as the
horse started to trot the poor recruit for a moment or two retained his erect
bearing, then losing his military seat and his rifle about the same time, his
back bowed until his chin nearly rested on his horse's mane and with his feet
clinging desperately to the flanks of his now terrified steed, he started across
the plain at breakneck speed, his long black cavalry cloak floating back on
the crisp January breeze like a pennon of distress. His horse was finally
stopped and the officer riding up to him with a glance of recognition in his
eye said sternly: "Young man, if you had had spurs on, you'd have been in
H now." Gradually we became accustomed to the saddle. Of the fine art
of saddle-packing or preparing for "kit inspection" upon short notice when
you have only partial equipment on hand and when you are compelled to
borrow from your neighbor to make up the deficiency, I shall not here speak,
suffice to say that we soon got well into line and in five weeks were considered
ready for embarkation for the front. We embarked on board the old Mil-
waukee and after a voyage of thirty-one days arrived off Table Bay on
which is situated the city of Cape Town.

After ten days at Cape Town we entrained for the front. We joined the
field force at Bloemfontein and were in the main advance from this point on.
In the fighting before Kronstadt, Johannesburg and Pretoria my regiment
took its full share. In the three days fight at Diamond Hill following im-
mediately the fall of the Dutch Capital we also took an active part. For a
month or so after this fight our brigade helped to make up several "flying
squadrons" whose chief business seemed to be getting out of touch with the
commissary ^department. About the eighth of July General Botha made
a determined attempt as if to retake the Capital. He was met southeast of
Johannesburg by the forces of Pole-Carew. General Hutton, who command-
ed our brigade, assisted in the latter. After eight days of desultory fighting
Botha attempted to turn Pole-Carew's left flank. General Hutton and his
force were sent to check this move. It was during the poceedings of this day
that I received the wound which resulted in the loss of my sight, and I shall


attempt a description of our part in the fight. We were in the
saddle early that morning. Soon after sunrise the rumble of distant
guns told us that the "game" was still on. A little later the boom-
ing of big guns only a couple of miles distant informed us that "things were
coming our way," so to speak. We had been sent out to hold a ridge south of
our camp. On the grassy crest of this ridge we were enjoying the kindling
rays of the sun after the chilly night passed under insufficient blankets. Our
horses were at the bottom of the slope, behind us, guarded by the horse-hold-
ers. Most of the men were smoking, their rifles pushed out in front of them
on the grass, the very picture of indifference. Suddenly we heard the deep
roar of a gun somewhere towards our right front. Someone said, "I sort of
believe that's for us." A moment later the ferocious hiss instantly increasing
to a terrifying shriek as a big shell bore through the air above us, burying
and exploding in the hillside beyond with a deafening roar, told us that this
surmise was not far estray. The Boers had evidently also arisen early and
had bidden us the time of day with an energy which promised fair for a good
day's work. Our gunners, always prompt, immediately returned the salute.
Once the enemy made for our ridge apparently thinking it unoccupied. The
rattle of our rifles however sent them back helter-skelter, and a few minutes
later "stand to your horses" brought us down the hill on the double. Mount-
ing hastily we had a splendid gallop of nearly a mile to another ridge and
again were just in time to check the enemy. Once more we mounted and
hastily returned to our first ridge.

This operation was repeated four or five times. Sometimes we took
up new positions, sometimes returning to the old ones. The enemy had no
stomach apparently for anything closer than a thousand yards and was easily
turned at each point of his advance. In this way the day wore on till near
the middle of the afternoon when we again mounted and rode eastward about
three or four miles. Vainly the enemy's gunners endeavored to get our
range. Riding in extended order the shells seemed to always burst between
our lines. We rode in columns of troops, fifteen or twenty men riding abreast
with an interval of nearly twenty feet between each two men. The troops
rode about twenty-five yards distant from the one in front or in the rear. A
gun exactly on our right was trying hard to get the range of one of the lines.
Being the first ti'ooper on the right I was not at all anxious that he should
succeed. One of his shots, however, certainly did him .no discredit. It had
been fired at high angle and reaahed us on its descent. It came probably
within afoot or two of my head, and passing squarely in front of the heads
and chests of four men, it came close enough to the fifth man, Collins, of
Ottawa, to cause him to feel the breath of it on his bridle hand. The sixth
man was a Scotchman hy the name of Gould. We were walking our horses,


and Gould had just happened to check his horse suddenly in order to avoid a
large hole in the ground. The shell exploded fairly in front of him, lifting
his horse fairly into the air, but doing practically no damage. The canny
Scott cooly took his pipe from his mouth as he spurred abreast of us, "Close
shave, eh, lads ?" he said quietly, as he shoved the tobacco further down
into his pipe and resumed his smoke with every appearance of satisfaction.
It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction, and in every war things
happen which no writer of fiction would dare insert in a book for fear of leav-
ing himself open to the charge of drawing too strongly on the imagination or
credulity of his readers. At four in the afternoon we halted and dismounted
for a rest. To our right was a rocky ridge semi-circular in shape, lying to
right angles of our line of march. The western side the outer side of the
circle was covered with boulders. The opposite side was so steep that noth-
ing whatever rested on its face. Towards the western side we saw eighty or
a hundred Boers galloping at full speed. We received the order to mount,and
riding afc a full gallop from our place of cover where we had been resting we
headed for the eastern side of the ridge across a considerable fire zone. Shells
rent the air above us, bullets hissed and sang, but we kept our line in good
order. Arriving in the shelter of the ridge, which was about three hundred
yards from end to end, two troops were dismounted and under command of
Lieutenant Harold Borden swarmed up the steep ascent. They were only
about twenty-five or thirty men in all, and formed into one line with
about four yards interval. They reached the summit and held it just as the
enemy disposed himself over the face of the slope among the sea of boulders
which covered it. The south end of the ridge vras still unprotected, and in
order to provide against them suddenly taking us at a disadvantage, two
more troops were ordered by Major Williams to dismount and go around the
corner. The gallant major gave us timely warning to keep close to cover as
the enemy would be near us as soon as we turned the ridge. This time my
troop was ordered to dismount. Lieut. Birch was in command. A certain
officer, nameless here, had command of the other troop. We led, they sup-
ported. We found the Boers within forty paces of us, but so high and num-
erous were the boulders that one could only locate them by the crack of the
Mausers. Advancing in Indian fashion towards them and firing as we came
on they began to give ground, Some of their dead and wounded lay in our
path. It was guerilla fighting sure enough and everyone seemed to be his
own officer. Thus it happened that Lieut. Birch, who was a very keen fight-
er, and four of us pressing closely about fifteen of the enemy, who were along
the bottom of the semi-circular ridge, found ourselves around an angle of the
ridge out of touch with our support. Had the craven-hearted officer who was
in charge of the support, supported by his brother officer as he should have
done, we should have captured every man on the ridge for passing in pur-


suit of the smaller number along the bottom of the ridge, we suddenly found
ourselves close to their horses and squarely across the line of retreat of the
large body of Boers still on the hill facing Borden and his men. The ridge
was so constructed that passing along the bottom of the western slope one
was completely hidden from view of anyone on the summit by a ledge of rock
running parallel and some ten yards distant from the base. Well, the men
we had been following, less the number of their casualties, were galloping off.
Their friends on the hill thinking it their move next, and, imagining the road
clear, started also. They came pouring down the hill in an irregular stream
but were met by a steady fire of five rifles. They immediately took to the
rocks.and making a detour of twenty or thirty yards tried to reach their hors-
es. Keeping along the far side of the rocks they sprang from rock to rock
shooting when they had an opportunity, but fearing they would be charged
with the bayonet from the hill made all speed towards their mounts. Borden
had been killed at the hill summit, and our men were acting very cautiously.
The officer in charge of our support had taken the other members of our
troop and those of his own off in another direction to a part of the field
where the fight had been fought and won some hours previous. In front of
us were the Boer horses standing bunched like a lot of western cattle. In
the rocks between us and them were some eight or ten horse-holders using
their rifles whenever they could without exposing themselves too much. The
horses were not over fifty paces from us. On the right and rear the enemy
was trying to pass us. Birch had been severely wounded in the knee but
maintained the fight with admirable coolness for about ten minutes when he
said "I think I had better get back and bandage my knee, lads, it is bleeding
heavily." I answered, without looking at him, "Better stay where you are,
sir," The next moment Collins said, "Poor Birch is done for," as the gallant
officer, shot through the heart with an explosive bullet, stretched his manly
form almost under the muzzle of my gun. My rifle had become heated with
the rapid firing. It became so hot that I could not touch the barrel, and then
suddenly as I wrenched the lever the ejector slipped past the empty smok-
ing shell, stuck in the breech, and I knew I was disarmed. I had a revolver,
but it was back on my saddle. Just at this critical moment Price, one of the
four remaining, said, "For God's sake, look here ! " and turning round we be-
held a sight which made the blood throb through its arteries with a sudden
start. There stood nine or ten of the enemy, one of them so close to me that
I could almost touch him with my rifle. Collins on my left could have arisen
and shaken hands with the big fellow without so much as moving a step.
It was difficult to say which experienced the greater surprise, the Boers or
the four boys surrounded and hopelessly cut off from retreat or support.
This little crowd of Boers had evidently been operating on the further end


f the ridge, and not caring to cross the front of Borden's men, had reached
first the bottom of the ridge and taken the same path around that we had
used before them, not dreaming that their way was barred. Before anyone
had time to say anything the foremost Boer threw his rifle down with a zeal
that did credit to his discretion and threw up both hands, trembling in every
limb, and face as white as ashes. This gave us the cue. "Surrender!" shouts
Collins. "Surre nder,or out goes your lights!" cheerfully sings out old Brown,
never behind. "Surrender!" said I, covering a stalwart Boer with my dummy
rifle. It was at this moment that they perceived the weakness of our force,
four of us, and our officer dead. The Boer who had so hastily thrown down
his rifle began to edge towards it, but was stopped with a remark from
Brown which might be taken as a hint to the unconverted rather than a direct
threat. For all that the Boers who had run among us did not surrender nor
did they offer to fight. It is not easy to shoot men at close quarters, and for
a minute or two the men contented themselves with ordering and threatening,
During this time the enemy in front was trying to make us "lose the num-
ber of our mess." I saw the ruse and called on the lads to shoot. Collins was
covering a man on our outer flank, the left side of his head was exposed to a
Boer right opposite me; we were now facing our original rear; the Boer cau-
tously raised his rifle in the direction of Collins, taking deliberate aim at his
head. With my dummy rifle I shouted"Dropit!"as authoritatively as possible,
He obeyed. I instinctively felt a chill as I thought of what might have hap-
pened if he had called my bluff, and foreseeing such a contingency I left my
rock to obtain the rifle of a wounded Boer who had fallen earlier in the fight,
I threw my bandolier which was still partially filled with Lee-Metford cart,
ridges to Price who was running short of ammunition, put the Mauser ban-
dolier on my shoulder, got the Mauser rifle in my hands, when two of the
fellows whom our lads bad treated so humanely fired at my head; one of the
bullets grazed my forehead; the other, an explosive one, fired from the left
rear caught the edge of my left temple, and, exploding, destroyed my left eye
completely. The right eye was so injured by the shock that I immediately
lost the use of it, too, I did not lose consciousness, but dropping on my hands
and knees tried to find my way to my former cover. Our fellows immediately
opened fired and wounding three of the Boers the rest of the men surrendered,
The others of the enemy took to flight and the fight was over. We all came
in for honorable mention in the General's report.

After lying on the ground about four hours I was put in an ambulance beside
an English soldier. Four hours brought us to camp, but before arriving there
the man beside me had expired. Here my wounds were dressed, and I passed
the night in a marquee tent literally jammed with wounded and dying. The
next day we were put in ox-wagons and after an eight hours' journey of sixteen
miles we arrived at the station, at nine p. m.


That ride in a rude ox wagon was a memorable one. We formed a line of
wagons nearly half a mile long. Each heavy wagon was drawn by ten oxen
accompanied by two Kaffir drivers. We went straight across country, mov-
ing over rocks and boles, hill and plain, at a vertitable snail's pace, and not a
medical officer in attendance. I shall never forget to my dying day the
awful suffering of that journey. After waiting, lying in the open wagon at
"the springs," for about three hours, a train came along, and in the upper
berths of some hog cars we were stowed away, and in this way reached
Johnnesburg and hospital treatment next morning, at five o'clock. Thug
thirty-six hours had elapsed in which time our wounds had been dressed but
once, and then roughly. No one had even taken off our spurs. Our blood
stained tunics were still on us. This, however, while apparently hard was easy
to what some men suffered in that, same war. Sometimes a journey in ox
wagons occupied a week. After two months spent in various hospitals, in
South Africa I embarked on a hospital ship for Southampton; arriving in
England I spent a week at Netley hospital; from there I was sent to an insti-
tute where I had hope to gain the sight of my right eye; no hope being held
out.however, I immediately entered the Royal Normal College for the blind,
situated at Norwood, a suburb of London. Here I learned typewriting. After
stopping here a month I in company with about thirty other Canadian
soldiers who had been invalided to England took passage on the Allan liner
Tunisian for Canada, arriving in Halifax about the middle of December.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed) L. W. R. MULLOY.


For forms of Government let fools contest,
Whatever's best administered is best.



WITH the coming of the first settlers to these counties martial law was in-
troduced, which at that time simply meant the common English law executed
by a military officer. Captain Richard Duncan was the first such official
placed over Dundas and vicinity. His headquarters was at Mariatown. His
wife was Maria Fraser.sister of Captain Thomas and Captain William Fraser.
With the beginning of parliamentary government Captain Duncan was by-
writ, issued from Kingston July 16, 1792, called to the Legislative Council.
After the ill feeling between Canada and the United States had in a measure
subsided the Captain entered into business with friends in central New York.
Early in 1800 he removed to Schenectady where he died sometime previous to
the war of 1812. But it is his life in this district that particularly interests us.
Here he was indeed "Lord of the Manor." Mr.Croil says of him: "As a soldier
he was generous and humane, and with religious sentiment largely prevailing
among the German settlers his office was a sinecure. In his day he seemed to
have monopolized every office. A storekeeper and holding a Captain's rank
he dealt out martial law, dry goods and groceries alternately. A member of
the Legislative Council, he framed laws,and as judge of the Lunenburg district
he dispensed them. His universal hospitality gathered around him a host of
friends, while in his capacity as magistrate he was a terror to evil doers."

Between 1784 and 1788 when this part of the country was included in the
district of Montreal magistrates were appointed by the "Court of Preroga-
tives" of that district. Of that period Judge Pringle says: " There are no
records of their having held any Courts of General Sessions of the Peace be-
fore the issuing of Lord Dorchester's proclamation, but there are traditions of
Magistrates' courts being held, and of justice rough and ready, somewhat in
fcae drumhead court-martial style, being dealt out to offenders; of a culprit'*


feet being fastened between two rails of the justice's fence in default of the
legitimate engine of punishment, "the stocks," or of a party convicted, and
sentenced to hard labor working out his punishment by hoeing the convict"
ing magistrate's corn or potatoes."

The division of Upper Canada into districts in 1788 was the dawn of further
changes. In each district a judge and a sheriff were appointed and a court
of common pleas established. Courts of Bequests held on the first and third
Saturdays of every month were also created for the collection of small debts.
The first judge for the Lunenburg district was Richard Duncan, to whom we
have already referred, and the first court held in the district of which any re-
cord is extant was the court of General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, held at
Osnabruck June 15, 1789.

In the course of time revisions of and additions to the statutes were many,
In 1833 the Court of Bequests was taken out of the hands of the magistrates,
and placed under the direction of commissioners, appointed by the Lieutenant-
Governor. The Eastern District was formed into eleven divisions, each with
a clerk and bailiff, and the Courts were to have two sittings each month.
The Commissioners appointed for Dundas were as follows: Willramsburg (7th
Division), I. G. Weagant, John McDonell, Christopher Merkley, Alexander
B.ose, George Merkley, John Crysler, William Kyle, John P. Crysler (Clerk);
Winchester (8th Division), John Marsees, John Cook, John Dillabough; Ma-
tilda (9th Division), James McDonell, Duncan Clarke, Miles McCargar, George
and Jacob Brouse, Peter Shaver, James West, Alexander Wylie, Edward
Brouse (Clerk) ; Mountain (10th Division), Hugh McCargar, David Brown
John Madock, William Bower (Clerk). This plan was not satisfactory, and
in 1841 a new act was passed by which the commissioners were done away
with; the old name Court of Requests was changed to that of Division Court;
the magistrates of each district, in Quarter Sessions, were to define the limits
of the several court divisions in the district; court was to be held once every
two months, and the presiding judge was to be a resident of the district.
This scheme has suffered some modifications, and at present Division court is
held quarterly in each township of Dundas.

As previously stated, the early sittings of the Court of General Quarter
Sessions were held at Osnabruck, but on April 9, 1792, the court was held for
the first time at Cornwall. The minute books from June 16, 1789, are extant
in the office of Mr. Dingwall, Clerk of the Peace, Cornwall, through whose
kindness the writer has secured much interesting data from those and other
well preserved documents.

At the court held June 15, 1789, the magistrates present were : John Mc-
Donell, Bichard Duncan, James Gray, Thomas Swan, Jeremiah French,

J. W. Liddell (Junior Judge). 3. Adam Johnston (Junior Judge, Prescott and Russell.).

1. James R. O'Reilly (Senior Judge).
4. James Dingwall (County Crown Attorney). 5. J. F. Smart (Deputy Sheriff).


Justus Sherwood, Ephraim Jones, William Falkner, William Fraser, Archi-
bald McDonell. The Grand Jury empanelled were : Alexander Campbell
(foreman),Peter Drummond, Thomas Fraser, John MacKenzie, George Stuart,
John Stigman, Malcolm McMartin, Neil McLean, Martin Walter, John Pes-
cod, Ranald McDonell, jr., Ranald McDonell, sr., Gideon Adams, John Dul-
mage, James and Alex. Campbell, David Brackenridge, Ephriam Curry, John
Jones, Elijah Bottom, William Snyder, Daniel Campbell, Matthew Howard,
Thomas Robertson.

On Tuesday, June 16, 1789, a case of "assault and battery" was dealt with
by the Grand Jury, who returned a true bill. The defendant pleading "not
guilty," the following jury were empanelled : William Phillips, Jacob Van-
allan, Jacob Weagar, Michael Ha ins, David Jaycocks, John Koons, Joseph
Loucks, Anthony Wallaser, John Wart. Jacob Merkle, Adam Empey, Nich-
olas Ault. In 1799 it was ordered "that the Treasurer of this district do pay
to Cornelius Peck and Duncan Grant the sum of two pounds, twelve shillings
and ten pence for erecting a pair of stocks and pillory at New Johnstown."

Under date Jan. 13, 1802, "These are therefore to authorize you forthwith to

Online LibraryJ. Smyth CarterThe story of Dundas, being a history of the County of Dundas from 1784 to 1904 → online text (page 24 of 40)