For want of provisions: An archaeological and historical investigation of the British soldier at Fort Haldimand (1778--1784)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Christopher R. DeCorse


British, Soldier, Fort Haldimand, New York, American Revolution

Subject Categories



This dissertation examines the British occupation of Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island during the American Revolution and the difficulties in maintaining a military provisioning system to support that garrison. Archaeological evidence from a soldiers' barrack at the fort is utilized to assess the efficiency of that system and to examine the living conditions of the soldiers. The principle residents of this barrack--and the central figures in this investigation--were soldiers of the 84 th Regiment of Foot. The British constructed this post at the head of the St. Lawrence River in 1778 to protect a vital supply route between the interior of North America and the cities of Montréal, Trois-Rivières, and Québec. The island was also a refuge for Britain's Native American allies and Loyalists fleeing New York. In this context the military exerted a substantial economic influence as an agent for the movement of soldiers, civilians, provisions and supplies. The common infantry soldier garrisoned at the fort was dependent on the military unlike troops in urban garrisons; few opportunities existed to augment their supplies from civilian sources. What also makes the archaeological study of the fort unique is that it was not previously, or subsequently, occupied by the French or American military. Carleton Island serves as an excellent opportunity to examine military provisioning and the frontier living conditions of the British soldier during this volatile time in American and Canadian history.


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