From Our Collection: New Brunswick Fencibles Officer’s Coatee

Officer's coat of the New Brunswick Fencisbles (1969.2547.1)

Officer's coat of the New Brunswick Fencisbles (1969.2547.1) circa 1808-10. Probably the New Brunswick Fencibles unit in existence 1803-10.

Recently, I received a telephone call from that National War Museum enquiring about a War of 1812 military tunic.  I have been told that the York Sunbury Museum owned one but I had never seen it.  With the anniversary of the War of 1812 fast approaching, museums are starting to plan exhibits and are taking stock of what artefacts are available.  The Museum has a few objects reportedly from the 104th Regiment who fought during the War of 1812.

Fredericton is where the 104th regiment started its historic winter march to Kingston in 1813.  Started in 1803 and based in New Brunswick, the regiment was established as Fencibles, it then became in 1810 the 104th Regiment of Foot in the British Army; however, they only served in North America.  In March of 1813, during the War of 1812, the regiment marched on foot from Fredericton to Kingston.  The march took 34 days and lasted almost two months; it was necessary in order to protect Upper Canada, now Ontario, from the invasion of the United States.  

Officer's coat of the New Brunswick Fencibles (1969.2547.1 back)

Scarlet wool cloth with white collar, cuffs (round) and turnbacks. White braid lines to buttonholes on collar, lapels and cuffs. Stylized trefoil or fleur de lys decoration in silver embroidery on turnback.

When the United States attacked, the British forces were outnumbered and needed the 104th Regiment to come to their aid.  This action united the separate provinces of British North America against a common enemy; it also showed the military importance of the St. John River Valley to the rest of what would become Canada.  The 104th Regiment of Foot was ordered to disband in 1817; Britain wanted to reduce the strength of her army because of peace that had been established in Europe with the imprisonment of Napoleon.  

Officer's coat New Brunswick Fencibles (1969.2547.1)

Silver domed buttons with crown surrounded by "New Brunswick Regiment".

After a very enjoyable morning to searching through the textile collection with a volunteer, I managed to find the coatee (a short close-fitting coat).  The York Sunbury Museum is planning to host its own War of 1812 exhibit and the scarlet officer’s coat in the York Sunbury Historical Society Collection will definitely be a part of it.

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