King and Regimental colours for the 4th, 8th, and 93rd regiments.
The 4th (King’s Own) Regiment of Foot departed for the Peninsula in October 1810 where it fought at the Siege of Badajoz in March 1812, the Battle of Salamanca in July 1812 and the Battle of Vitoria in June 1813 as well as the Siege of San Sebastián in September 1813. It then pursued the French Army into France and saw action at the Battle of the Nivelle in November 1813 and at the Battle of the Nive in December 1813. It embarked for North America in June 1814 for service in the War of 1812 and saw action at the Battle of Bladensburg in August 1814, the Burning of Washington later in August 1814 the Battle of Baltimore in September 1814, and the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815, as well as the capture of Fort Bowyer in February 1815. It briefly returned to England in May 1815, before embarking for Flanders a few weeks later to fight at the Battle of Waterloo in June.
When sustained tension between the United States and Britain culminated in the War of 1812, the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 8th (King’s) Regiment of Foot were based in Quebec and Nova Scotia respectively. In February 1813 the 8th Foot and Canadian militia had to traverse across the frozen St. Lawrence River and through dense snow to attack Ogdensburg. In April 1813, two companies of the 8th, elements of the Canadian militia, and Native American allies attempted to repulse an American attack on York (present-day Toronto). As the Americans landed on the shoreline, the grenadier company engaged them in a bayonet charge with 46 killed, including its commanding officer, Captain Neal McNeale. The Americans nevertheless overwhelmed the area but subsequently incurred 250 casualties, notably General Zebulon Pike, when retreating British regulars detonated Fort York’s Grand Magazine.
While garrisoning Fort George, at Newark (present day Niagara-on-the-Lake), in May 1813, the 8th Foot attempted to disrupt an amphibious landing by the Americans. Although numerically inferior, the British delayed the invasion and retired in good order. In June 1813, the 8th and 49th regiments assaulted an American encampment at Stoney Creek. Five companies from the two British regiments engaged more than 4,000 Americans in a nocturnal battle.
In July 1814 the regiment fought in the Battle of Chippawa, later in the month, the regiment fought in the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. The British, Canadian and Native soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant-General Gordon Drummond, engaged the American force. It was one of the bloodiest battles recorded on Canadian territory. The following month, the King’s took part in the action at Snake Hill during the siege of Fort Erie. In September 1814 the Americans attacked the British posts with overwhelming force and the regiment suffered heavy losses. The King’s Regiment received the battle honour ‘Niagara’ for its contributions to the war.
The 1st battalion of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment of Foot embarked for North America in September 1814 for service in the War of 1812. It anchored at the entrance of Lake Borgne off the Gulf of Mexico in December 1814 and then advanced up the left bank of the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. It came under fire from an American armed schooner on the river and destroyed it. The regiment next saw action at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. British troops overran and captured the American position on the right bank of river while, on the left bank where the main assault occurred, a detachment of light infantry companies including that of the 93rd Regiment of Foot, captured the advance redoubt on the American right beside the river. However, the British assault on the left bank faltered and General John Keane led the main body of the 93rd Regiment of Foot diagonally across the field to support the faltering British right flank attack near the swamp. Following the death of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Dale, the regiment’s commanding officer, no orders were issued either to advance or to withdraw so the regiment stood fast and was mown down. General John Lambert having taken command upon the death of General Edward Pakenham finally sent orders to withdraw and after a futile attempt to advance the regiment withdrew from the field. The “immense bravery” shown by the 93rd in this advance was noted by the American Paul Wellman, General Andrew Jackson’s biographer:
To the very edge of the canal before the rampart the few that were left of the kilted regiment marched, then halted there. The men who had been detailed to bring scaling ladders and fascines had failed to come up. Unable to go forward, too proud to retreat, although the regiment behind them had all fallen back. At length a mere handful of what had been the magnificent regiment slowly retired, still in unbroken order, still turning to face the foe. From the ramparts the Americans cheered them wildly. All rifle fire ceased.