Biography of Major Andrew Patton

The Late Andrew Patton, Major in the 45th Regt., was descended from a military race, his father and grandfather having been Colonels in the British Army. Major Patton was born at Clatto, near St. Andrews, Fifeshire, Scotland in 1771, and while comparatively young, and at school in France, received a commission as Ensign in the 6th Regiment, of which his father was Colonel. In 1794 he was appointed to a Lieutenancy in the 10th Regt., and in 1798 to a Captaincy in the 92nd, or Gordon Highlanders; in the last mentioned year he was also made A. D. C. to the Marquis of Huntley, afterwards Duke of Gordon. In 1809 he received promotion as Major in the 45th.

Major Patton was in numerous engagements in different quarters of the globe. He took part in putting down the Irish Rebellion of 1798; served in Holland under Sir Ralph Abercrombie and the Duke of York in 1799, and was in the battles of the Helder, Bergen, and Alkmaar; assisted in quelling the insurrection of the Negroes in Jamaica; and was again under Sir Ralph Abercrombie in the Egyptian campaign of 1801, when that gallant commander defeated the boasted “Army of the East” at Mandora and Alexandria, and drove the French out of the country. At Mandora, as will be seen by Sir Robert Wilson’s narrative, the 92nd long bore the brunt of the battle: “The Gordon Highlanders, being far in advance of their line, were exposed to a galling fire of grape shot, and at the same time were attacked by the 61st demy brigade, but they continued unshaken in their advance up to the very muzzles of the enemy’s guns, and succeeded in taking two field pieces and a howitzer, completely routing all who defended them. The conduct of the 92nd, whose Colonel was killed, and who lost many officers and men, was splendid on this occasion. Opposed to a tremendous fire, and suffering severely from the French line, they never receded a foot, but maintained the contest alone, until the marines and the rest of the line came to their support. So conspicuous was their gallantry that they were afterwards ordered to have the word `Mandora’ on their colors and appointments.”

In 1807, Major Patton was with Lord Cathcart’s army in Denmark, at the attack on Copenhagen, and in the division commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley, then a Major-General. In 1808 he was in Spain under Sir John Moore, where he endured the terrible hardships of that ever memorable retreat in midwinter, when the British were outnumbered tenfold, and to escape being hemmed in, the little army of 30,000 had to fall back on Corunna, before (according to Napier’s computation) Napoleon’s 330,000. “Moore,” says another historian, ” did not begin his retrograde movement until he learned that the Emperor in person was on the march to intercept his retreat towards Portugal and the sea, while another army was advancing against him from the direction of Burgos. At length learning that the whole of the disposable French armies in the Peninsula were gathering to surround and cut him off their cavalry alone exceeding his whole force by 12,000 men he commenced, on an evening in December, a rapid march towards the coast, through the mountainous regions of Gallicia, and began one of the most splendid, masterly, yet harassing and disastrous retreats in the annals of British warfare, pursued by a swift and active enemy, through defiles deep with snow, across rivers that were bridgeless, for the length of 250 miles, amid sufferings that were unparalleled, without the loss of a single standard, a piece of cannon, or any military trophy whatever. And yet, with an army reduced to 14,000 men, when in January, 1809, they reached the coast, and confronted by 20,000 French veterans, Sir John Moore not only defeated the enemy at Corunna, but secured the embarkation of his gallant warriors. The heroic leader, however, was mortally wounded, and the nation as with Wolfe at Quebec, Nelson at Trafalgar, and Abercrombie in Egypt had to mourn his untimely death on the field of battle, and in the very hour of victory.

For a time, the combined effects of the exposure in Spain and a slight sunstroke in Egypt, told on Major Patton’s health, and he was not allowed to return to the seat of war the result being that his thoughts were turned to Canada, where so many of his old companions in arms were directing their steps. Retiring from active military life, he came to Canada in 1816, and settled on a fine farm in the Township of Adolphustown, on the Bay of Quinte; but, like many half pay officers at a later period, he soon found out his mistake, and in 1820 accepted the position of Ordnance Storekeeper at Fort Wellington, Prescott, and was the first Registrar of the County of Grenville. In 1829, he was offered the Barrackmastership at York, now Toronto, and held the appointment until 1836. He died at his residence, Queen street, August 15, 1838, in his 68th year.

In the true sense of the term, Major Patton was the type of a Christian gentleman and while integrity, united to a keen perception of duty and honor, commanded the confidence and respect of all with whom he was brought in contact; so his goodness, genial disposition, and courteous bearing, endeared him to a wide circle of friends. He married Elizabeth, nee Simpson, of Derby, England, and of six children four survived him Henry, lately deceased, of Belleville; Andrew, a merchant, living in Wroxeter: Ann Cartwright, of Cornwall; and James, of Toronto. Mrs. Patton died in Cornwall, Sept. 14, 1868, at the advanced age of 84.



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