COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry
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Author:  pud [ Mon Feb 16, 2009 7:36 pm ]
Post subject:  COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry

A recent question that was sent to me was about the Regimental Colours of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles,...or the lack of them. It has prompted me to post the following details:

A frequent quotation is that of the 'burning of the GLI Colours' that apparently took place in 1813 when Fort George in Niagara-on-the -Lake, Upper Canada, was captured by the usa army and the GLI Colours were somehow left behind and were subsequently caught in the firing of the buildings. I have always found it hard to believe that a regiment, let alone the GLIF, would leave a full stand of colours behind when vacating a military base,...even if it was in an extreme hurry.

IF 'colours' were left behind it is far more likely that it was a single flag/ensign (marker or line marker flag, similar to those hauled around by rifle regiments of the time period) since that is what the Glengarries more appropriately possessed as they modelled themselves after a rifle regiment but that since they also modelled themselves after a highland regiment. On top of those two distinct regimental features they were also a Light Infantry Regiment,...exclusively. Travelling 'light' (no pun intended) was what they did !

Further to those facts is the fact that the 1815 Inspection Return for the GLI Regiment clearly indicates that they DID NOT possess a stand of colours ! Now, it could well be that it's because they were "burned" at Fort George. It is more likely that it did not have Colours in 1815 because they simply did not exist. Another thought is that the better half of the regiment in 1813 was actually being kept back in the home territory of Glengarry, Stormont and Dundas counties and that's where the regimental stand of Colours would have been kept, and away from yankee hands ! So, why were the Colours at Fort George?? The answer is that they weren't. And that is my educated guess. Then why was the passing remark made about "colours" being left behind to burn at Fort George? Likely because a simple ensign representing the division of GLIF's that found themselves located at Fort George in 1813 was left behind in their haste to vacate the site. Too bad, really.

To add fuel to our thoughts about the regimental Colours of the GLIF are these additional facts:

The national archives of Canada identify in RG 8, Series I, Volume 686, on page 195, that on November 24th, 1814, in Kingston, Upper Canada, permission was asked that the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles be allowed to bear the word 'Niagara' on their Colours. Later, in RG 8, Series I, Volume 688, on page 75, it identifies that one Sir H. Calvert of the Horse Guards asked the permission of Sir George Prevost for the GLIF to bear 'Niagara' on its Colours.

Finally, in RG 8, Series I, Volume 1203 1/2 C, on page 178, it identifies that on May 19th, 1815, dated Quebec, Lower Canada, the Glengarry Regiment is granted authority to bear 'Niagara' on its Colours.

The "Niagara" that the above is of course referring to is the fact that Glengarrys helped in the victory over the usa army at Lundy's Lane in Niagara Falls, Upper Canada in the summer of 1814. This is a battle honour and it is one that because of various rules and regulatiojns cannot be displayed by our modern day counterparts the Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry Highland Regiment. What a shame. But, it leads one to believe that a full stand of Colours existed for the GLIF and yet the 1815 Return says there were no Colours !

So, how can we explain this apparent contradiction? To help us please consider the following information/quotation provided to me on January 11, 1994 from a respected and dear friend, Mr. Paul Fortier, who was at that time an employee of the National Archives of Canada representing the Client Services and Communications Branch:

"As you are aware, the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles was a light-infantry regiment uniformed as a rifle regiment. It appears they had no colours which would have been typical of a rifle regiment of the period. References in the general orders to battle honours being presented on a regiment's colours are "generic" meaning that the battle honours are to be exhibited as appropriate for the regiment. This could have meant, for the Glengarries, inscriptions on the swords of the officers, new sword-belt plates with the word "Niagara" included or other similar expressions."

The worst part of all of this is that the GLIF were disbanded shortly after they were granted permission to 'display' the battle honour of 'Niagara' and that the current SDG Highlanders cannot currently display the honour of "Niagara" either.

So, you decide. Was there a stand of Colours? I don't think there was. But I believe that there was a travelling ensign, or two.


Author:  Keith [ Fri May 14, 2010 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry


Since the unit styles it self off of a rifle regiment in some ways, would it not be possible that the GLI's colours were (or ment to be ) on the regimental drum as per rifle regiments?

Also if they were to be a flag type what would they have looked like? Also what would the traveling ensigns have looked like? Would they be like the small penant that we currently have (small green flag with GLI in the middle) or would they have been something grander?


Author:  pud [ Tue May 25, 2010 12:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry


The common theme for our regiment without colours would have been to display "Niagara", for our victory at Lundy's Lane, on our Officer's swords but also to have ensigns, since we apparently did not have colours.

There is no evidence for this, but because there ended up being two divisions of GLI by 1814 it is supposed that there may have actually been two slightly different designs for the ensigns since tradition was that the officers of each division would have designed them.

The first ensign we had, voted on in 1995 between 3 different designs, was blessed by the SDG Highlander's regimental padre and put into service until it had to undergo repairs and eventually was decommissioned about 2006. It was fairly elaborate. The current one is direct, bold and beautiful in it's own right. I've got another design that's elaborate but I haven't put it to rag yet.

Great question,...good discussion. Thank you. And, yes, drums were a possibility,.....if we had had one on the march. The GLI didn't have a regimental band, per se. I'll have a look at the specs again for musicians and report to you the details in a future report.

p.s. How's the Stan going??
Stay safe.

Up the Glens!


Author:  Keith [ Fri May 28, 2010 11:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry


I was wondering if you could describe the ensin in a little more detail. I was thinking of having a flag made here by one of the local craftsmen. (For my own use as addornment for my "man's room" in the new house.)

Also did the regiment have a motto?


Author:  Glengarry Fencible [ Fri May 28, 2010 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry

If you look really carefully at Pud's profile picture, the ensign is behind his head. He must have a bigger picture somewhere.

Just found a small one, looking for more:

Image17.jpg [ 5.23 KiB | Viewed 17706 times ]

Author:  Keith [ Mon May 31, 2010 9:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry

Thanks Bill!

Author:  Glengarry Fencible [ Tue Jun 01, 2010 12:38 am ]
Post subject:  Re: COLOURS of the Glengarry Light Infantry

Here's another

IMG_2422.JPG [ 48.53 KiB | Viewed 17697 times ]

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