Monday, 8 September 2014



    About sixty-five years ago, the Hamilton Field battery was first organized. About the same time, there were three rifle companies and one cavalry company, which comprised the military establishment of the town. Hamilton had part of a regiment of regulars stationed here, the barracks being the old stone building on the bluff at the foot of Macnab street. That old barracks was afterwards used as a glass factory, and it stands today like a castle deserted. Later the old hospital at the foot of John street, originally built for a hotel, was used as a barracks before it was converted into a hospital. When the regulars moved away in the early ‘50s, the only military organizations in Hamilton were the volunteers, of which the artillery company was the leading one. Its armament was one field piece owned by the company and one gun loaned to the company by a private citizen who was interested in, though not actively connected with, the organization. Alfred Booker was the first captain of the company. W. H. Glassco, J. Harris, J. P. Gibbs, W. J. Copp, lieutenants. Dr. J. H. Ridley, surgeon. The battery was the pride of Hamilton, especially on the Queen’s birthday, when it always led in the annual parade and fired the national salute at midday. Beside the battery of two guns, Hamilton could boast of a rifle brigade composed of three companies. The officers of No. 1 company were Thomas Grey, captain, Thomas Bain, lieutenant, George James, ensign. No. 2 company, W. H. Macdonald, captain, T. Samuel, lieutenant. No. 3 company was composed of Highlanders, and was officered by J. F. McCuaig, captain, J. Munro, lieutenant, J. A. Skinner, ensign. There was also a cavalry company, mainly made up of young farmers living in the vicinity of Hamilton. G. M. Ryckman was captain, Harcourt B. Bull, lieutenant, H. J. Lawry, cornet, W. Applegarth, cornet, H. S. Strathy, cornet and adjutant, A. Alloway, veterinary surgeon. How war-like appeared these young soldiers with their glittering swords by their sides. Not one of these old defenders of Hamilton is present now to answer the roll-call.


          In the year 1855, there was a reorganization of the militia of Canada when the government organized the First Field battery in Quebec; the Second in Ottawa, the Third in Montreal, the Fourth in Hamilton. Where practical, the officers of the old organizations were commissioned. Captain Booker and his company enlisted as a unit, and the organization remained as it was. In the older days, the men generally paid for their own uniforms, but when the company enlisted in the regular volunteer service, the government for a complete new outfit and an equipment for the battery. The old Methodist Episcopal church building on Nelson street, near King, was bought by the government and the brick building now occupied as a machine shop, was erected for the gun sheds. Sergeant Brown, an artillery sergeant from the regular army was sent out from the old country as drillmaster for the company, and under his tutelage the battery became one of the best drilled in Canada. Sergeant Brown remained as instructor of the company for a number of years and then resigned to enter into business for himself. He is yet living in Toronto, and makes Hamilton a visit at rare intervals. After the reorganization had been perfected, Captain Booker was promoted to major, and Lieutenant Glassco became captain, the lieutenants going up in rotation. The old Fourth battery has always been the pride of Hamilton from the date of its organization down to the present, and when the call from over the seas to go to the help of the mother country came, officers and men responded promptly and are now in Camp awaiting orders to go to the front. That the battery will give a good account of itself no one questions. In Wednesday’s issue of the Spectator was published the provisional list of officers of the three brigades of field artillery that will represent Canada on foreign battlefields. Commanding the First brigade is Lieutenant-Colonel E. W. B. Morrison, D. S. O., an old Spectator boy who went to the front and commanded a battery in South Africa, winning laurels for himself and for his command. The Eighth battery is a part of the Third brigade, and is composed of our Hamilton boys. The officers assigned are : H. G. Carscallen, major; H. G. D. Crerar, captain; J. D. Hoodless, W. I. S. Hendrie and C. S. Craig, lieutenants. The company is recruiting up to its full strength, and dozens of brave boys are disappointed because they were not accepted.


          During the hundred years of peace that Canada has enjoyed there has been little use for soldiers, if we may except the rebellion of ’37 and the Fenians raid. It is true we furnished thirty or forty young fellows to the Hundredth regiment and about the same number to South Africa; but Canada has never had real occasion to learn the art of war. The present call came as a surprise, but it found the Canadian boys prompt to respond. The Fourth battery never had the pleasure of pointing a hostile gun at an enemy, but all the same they were ready should the trumpet sound the call to duty. Not one of the original members of the battery is now connected with it even in an honorary way, and it is doubtful if many of them are living. In 1856, the city band, with Peter Grossman as its leader, was the first military band in Hamilton, when it became the Fourth Artillery band. Bandmaster Grossman had served for fifteen years as bandmaster of an artillery band in the German army, and I his day was one of the finest musicians in Canada. But one member of the band is living, so far as the writer knows, and he is Julius Grossman, the youngest son of the old bandmaster. On the 12th of November, 1866, the artillery band was merged into the Royal Thirteenth band with Mr. Grossman as bandmaster. Three years later Lieutenant George Robinson became the bandmaster of the Thirteenth and is still at the head of that organization.


          In 1866, when General O’Neil, the commander of the French army, made his celebrated raid to capture Canada, and the Thirteenth was at the front learning the art of war and driving back the invaders, one night a mysterious craft was sighted creeping along the north shore. The alarm was given and the men of Hamilton rallied to protect their homes and firesides from the invaders. Here was the first opportunity the Fourth battery had to show what it could do. The company rushed to the armory, and in their haste to get at the enemy did not wait for horses, but dragged its two guns down to the bay front. For hours the mysterious craft creeping along was watched, and a man was sent around the bay on horseback as a scout to report what he could learn. There were no boy scouts then, for if there had been the little fellows would have been on to the movements of the mysterious craft before it had got out of the canal. After long and anxious waiting, the scout returned, and his report was that the mysterious vessel was laden with lumber and was making for Cook’s wharf.


          The disgruntled artillerymen returned to the armory with their formidable battery, and thus ended the only opportunity that ever presented itself for the boys to show off of what stuff they were made. But it will be different with the present company in camp in the Jockey club grounds. The chances are that they will see active service and a good deal of it, and that they will give a good account of themselves on the field of battle. ‘War is hell,’ and they will know the truism of General Sherman’s saying before they return to the peaceful pursuits of the workshop and factory. Hamilton is proud of its brave boys who have answered their mother country’s call, and this old Muser hopes that the men who are at the head of the city affairs will see that the dependent mothers and the wives and children of the men who have volunteered will be generously provided for, not in charity, but as a debt the people at home owe to the men who are going to the front. The raising of funds should not be left to the haphazard of collecting by private subscription, but should be made a tax levy by the authorities on the wealth of the city, so that every man and woman who own or control property should pay their just share for the defense of the homeland. To leave the collection of a war fund to private individuals means the giving by the generous ones, and the tightwads escape altogether. A war tax for the support of the families of the soldiers should be levied by the city, and a generous sum paid weekly or monthly by the city treasurer to every woman and child.



          “Ubique’ means that warning grunt

             The perished linesman knows.

           When o’er is strung an’ sufferin’ front

             The shrapnel sprays his foes;

           An’ as their firin’ dies away,

             The ‘usky whisper runs

           From lips that ‘aven’t drunk all day:

             “The Guns ! Thank Gawd, the Guns !”

-        Kipling.      



The battery has been well-connected with the history of Hamilton from its organization sixty years ago. Its first commander, Captain Booker, was one of the leading business men in the city in his day, and was the son of the Rev. Alfred Booker, the pastor of the First Baptist church organized in Hamilton. He was succeeded by Captain W. H. Glassco, and others who were identified with the early history of the battery. Coming on down to a later day, Colonel John S. Hendrie and Colonel Tidswell were commanders of the battery and Lieut.-Col. Morrison, now commander of the first brigade, and Dr. Osbourne, who won their spurs on the field at South Africa, and Lieut.-Col. Rennie, commanding the Army Medical corps, learned their first lessons in the gunnery in the old battery. The present officers of the old Fourth are: Major Carscallen, Captain Field, Lieut. Taylor, Major E. E. O’Reilly, surgeon, and Sergt.-Major Peace. Three ex-majors, Wholton, McDonald and Horner are residents of this city.


Major R. H. Labatt, of the Thirteenth, went into camp at Quebec with the contingent from his regiment. He is a grandson of a brave soldier, who won his promotion from a sub-altern in the Twenty-Fourth regiment of infantry to become the commanding officer. Colonel Hodgetts began his military career early in the last century when British soldiers were in the thickest of the fight on every battlefield. The Twenty-Fourth was an Irish regiment; in 1833 or 1834, it came to Canada, and for a time a detachment of the regiment was stationed in an underground fort at Coteau du Lac, where the writer of these musings was born, my father being a soldier in that regiment. Captain Roberts, who will be remembered as the pay master of the pensioners in Hamilton was a member of the same company, so was John Nickerson, the old theatrical manager, who owned the theatre on the corner of John and Merrick streets, sixty years ago. Major Labatt must have been born with the warlust as an inheritance from his grandfather, Col. Hodgetts, for when Great Britain decided to enter the war, the major was one of the first of the Thirteenth officers to tender his services. He was active in raising the first contingent, giving up his large business to the care of his office manager. When he arrived in camp at Valcartier, he was appointed commanding officer of the Seventh battalion of 1500 men, of which the Thirteenth contingent was a part. Major Labatt has the reputation of being one of the best tactically in the old Thirteenth, and the Seventh battalion under his command will give a good account of itself on the battlefield. Hamilton seems to be getting recognition from the government for two more of its young officers have been detailed for duty. Lieut. H. G. Storme and Lieut. J. V. Young have been commissioned in the heavy battery of artillery in the overseas force.

Monday, 1 September 2014


It is cheering news that comes from the head managers of some of the leading industries both in Canada and the United States that notwithstanding disarrangement of business on account of the war, they expect to keep open their factories as far as possible, and that married men are to have the preference in being employed. The closing down of factories in the war zone will of necessity create demand from this country to supply the waste created by war. The manufacturers have had many years of prosperity and good profits, and even if they were to keep the factories going at the bare cost, they would be the gainers in the end, for they would be in better shape when the war clouds roll by to open up with renewed force. There are thousands of men out of employment today who were not prepared for the closing of the factory doors; while, fortunately, there are thousands who laid by a trifle each pay day who are now able to pull through the hard times by strict economy. Judging from the late government report of the chartered banks in Canada, there is now close upon one thousand millions of dollars on deposit in the banks, and over $800,000,000 of that amount are the savings of the thrifty when times were good put away a portion each pay day. It is estimated by a very conservative manager of one of the local banks that there is not less than $35,000,000 on deposit in the savings banks and post office in this city, and nearly all of this are the savings of the workingmen and women who had the forethought to lay by a little as they went along for the proverbial rainy day, that comes sooner or later in every industrial city. Hamilton depends upon its factories to support the workers, and the more saving they are doing during the days of prosperity and plenty of work, the more independent the workman is when the factory door closes. The manufacturers have been reaping a large harvest during the past ten years in the history of Hamilton; they can certainly afford to use some of the profits in running their industries, even on half time, for the benefit of the workers. There is no scarcity of money in the banks, and with one hundred millions of dollars to fall back upon, the financial condition of Canada should be in a very comfortable condition.


          For the fourth time in the history of Hamilton as an incorporated city has the cry of war been heard in the streets, and the recruiting officers have been calling for men to accept the King’s shilling and go forth to the field of conflict. The war of 1812 was of an earlier date, when this town was known as the Head of the Lake, and the population was so small that few, if any, saw service. Seventy—even years ago the rebellion of 1837 brought out the patriots to protect the flag from the followers of William Lyon Mackenzie, and they made short work of it. The next call for soldiers was for the One Hundredth regiment, when the recruiting sergeant, accompanied by a fifer and a drummer, beat up for recruits in the streets of Hamilton. This was war in earnest, and many a young man donned the ribbon and took the Queen’s shilling. The Fenian in 1866 was the next thriller to appeal to the patriotism of young and old men, and the Thirteenth Royal regiment saw service. There was no beating up for recruits then, as more men wanted to go than there was a demand for. The boys smelled powder and had a taste of war, just enough to whet their appetites and make them wish that the Fenians would only stand up to the work and have it out in true soldier fashion. The boys of the Thirteenth tell the story that when the bullets were whistling at Ridgeway, a sergeant was hunting for a tree behind which he could play sharpshooter, when he heard a plaintive voice yodeling :

          Oh, why was I a soldier

            To fight for any royal Guelph,

          When I might have been a butcher

             In business for myself ?

          Going closer to a tree that was no larger than a sapling, he espied a member of his company hugging it very close; and indeed the young soldier was about as slim as the tree, so that it was not very inviting to the fat sergeant. The sweet singer kept on yodeling, and the sergeant was so impressed with the sentiment of the song that he carefully entered it in his diary, and so it has come down to the present day. What is remarkable about the story is that the yodeler has been successfully engaged in the butcher business ever since the cruel war was over. The next call was for the South African war, and Hamilton was heroically represented on many a battlefield in the Boer country.


          And now the war cloud has grown to huge proportions in a very few days. The month of July opened as peacefully on the world as a calm summer day, when all at once a storm broke and war was declared by Germany. It began out of a little scrap between Servia and Austria, owing to the assassination of a prince of the royal blood, and at once the whole world plunged into it. It had come sooner or later, for all Europe seemed to be in a state of uneasiness owing to the preparations being made by some of the powers. It was the old story of two boys in a threatening attitude, one daring the other to knock the chip from his shoulder. War is the sport of kings and rulers, but it is death to the man who has to do the fighting in the ranks. The pity of it is the large army of widows and orphans, the wives and children of the private soldiers slain in battle, who are to be the future sufferers. Man is a fighter by nature, and when the war drums beat he wants to answer the call promptly. We had a sample of this during the past week; the old soldiers who had done service in past wars for Queen and country were the first to respond, and the first detachment to leave this city was made up entirely of men who knew what war means. ‘War is hell’ and they know it by past experience but the tap of the drum and the blare of the rumpet started the warm blood in their veins, and they were the first to respond to the call when the recruiting office was opened. ‘Brave boys are they, they rush at their country’s call and yet, and yet, we can never forget how many brave boys must fall.’ That was one of the songs of the civil war in the United States half a century ago, when this old Muser and hundreds of thousands more, were on the firing line, thinking of the loved ones at home and wondering should they ever meet again. Now and then some soldier went into battle with a presentiment that he would not come out alive, and the chances are ten to one that he never got a scratch. It is a good thing that every man thinks he is bulletproof; and while he may be standing in line waiting for the command to open fire or charge the enemy, with his heart in his mouth, yet, when the first volley is fired, he forgets the danger and stands up to duty like a man. They talk about bravery and coolness in battle. It sounds well, but it is the fighting nature of the man, when he gets warmed up to the sound of whistling bullets, that wins battles.


          When the recruiting sergeant beat up for recruits in Hamilton nearly sixty years ago for the One Hundredth regiment, there was a fascination in the tap of the drum and the shriek of the fife that made it easy for the sergeant to get his quota. The Queen’s shilling and the bunch of red, white and blue ribbon caught the thousand men required to fill the ranks, and the One Hundredth sailed for glory, but never got there, as peace was declared by the time they reached the shores of Great Britain. It takes about a man’s weight in lead to kill one soldier in battle in these days of improved weapons, so that in the days of the old flintlock muskets more dependence was put on bayonet charges to rout the enemy. In the civil war in the United States with the improved Springfield rifle, the bayonet charge became a lost art. At the beginning of the war, the federal army was mainly equipped with what was known as the Belgium musket, for the United States had not yet learned the need of arsenals for the making of rifles for its soldiers. In the last few years, every government has been improving its deadly implements of war, till now a rifle will carry a bullet far beyond the sight of the man who fires it, and there seems to be no limit to the power of cannon on land or sea. If ‘war is hell’ in General Sherman’s time, what must it be now to the man on the firing line with all of the improvements in death-dealing implements that the scientist and the inventor have added to its horrors? Away back in 1866, the Royal Thirteenth had a slight inkling of war when they stood on the firing line at Ridgeway. The boys who volunteers for South Africa had all the glory that was coming to them in the conflict with a hostile army that was expert with the gun and accustomed to the lay of the country. But the present war is the climax of all the wars of the past century in the number of men engaged and in the superiority of arms and equipment. In the civil war in the united States at the battle of Gettysburg, the federal army had 35,000 men killed and wounded in the three days’ fighting. If the reports that come to us of the losses of the German and Belgian armies in the preliminary skirmishes seem serious, with only those two nations engaged, what will the slaughter be when the combined armies get into the conflict? ‘War is hell,’ but only when the bully comes out with a chip on his shoulder. The chip must be knocked off.


          With all the advantages of the present day mechanical schools and public schools there is no excuse for a boy to be ignorant of books or of the means of earning a living when the time comes for him to make his own way. Boys nowadays seem to be averse to learning a trade, and in a measure the parents are responsible. The mother does not fancy her boy working at a trade, as his father had to, but wants him educated for one of the learned professions. Many of them think that their boys, to become rich or famous, must be a lawyer, a doctor or a minister, or at least a clerk in some office or in a bank. They do not welcome the kind of opportunity that presents itself to the hand of him that is versed in manual labor. Here is a story of a newsboy whose way of thinking was different. He had sold papers on a street corner for thirteen years – let us say on the corner of King and James streets. He was the main support of his invalid father, his mother and the younger members of the family. He was a wide-awake boy, and during his hours of selling papers, his mind was active in taking in the everyday occurrences that surrounded him. Probably his handling of newspapers was an incentive to him to read and study, for he had not the privilege of attending school, his labor to support the family requiring his time when other boys of his age had the good fortune of being able to attend school. What he lacked in opportunity  during the daytime, he made up at night, and when other boys of his class were out in the streets at night, he was a close student in his humble home, reading and studying such books as he was able to borrow or get from the public library. There was no technical then for him to take advantage of. That newsboy had spent his early life in a city, and its surroundings did not appeal to him; his greatest desire was to live in the country and become an independent farmer. To the end he took up the study in scientific agriculture, and faithfully he pursued it till he acquired such an elementary knowledge that he was prepared to begin with the practical part.

          His brothers and sisters had grown up and were able to do their part in support of father and mother, and this gave the newsboy more time to pursue his studies. Mind you, he had never given up his business of selling papers during these years of preparation and study. The time came at last when he was ready to make the soil yield at once his health and a living. He was not ashamed of the noble ambition to become a farmer, and thus provide a home in the country for his invalid father and for the loving mother who had encouraged him during all the years of his sacrifice and toil. He had a little money that he was able to save during his newsboy days and with it bought a small farm on time for the balance of the price. Today his farm has increased in the number of acres, and as he works it on scientific principles, it yields him large profits. He has no failure in crops. Many struggling doctors, lawyers, preachers have missed their calling through a false idea of their parents that one kind of labor is gentlemanly and another is not. The world does not care for these nice distinctions. It recognizes you for what you are worth, and rates a capable farmer or mechanic above a genteel loafer, who lives on the earnings of his good father. And this little story of the newsboy, true in every particular, reminds us that Hamilton’s generosity has provided a means whereby any industrious boy can work during the day to pay his board, and relieve his old father and mother of the care and responsibility of his support. In the course of the next three or four weeks, the technical school will again open its night classes for the training of boys in the rudiments of a practical education in mechanics and electricity. There are a dozen different studies to select from, any one of which will prepare a boy for an independent manhood, and had our newsboy the advantages of the boy of the present day, it would have made his preparatory studies easier. Fathers, mothers, think it over and send your boy to the technical school to spend time when he will have to enter the battle of life. Go up to the technical school, and see what it is doing, and have a talk with Prof. Witton. He will tell you more about the advantages of manual training for your boy than the writer can tell in a column of the Spectator. The school room is a safer place for your boy during the long winter evenings than the street corners.