Lt. Charles Grant

Biography of Capt. Charles Grant, 42nd or Royal Highland Regiment

Excerpted from Kilts & Courage, Vol. II, The Officers of the 42nd or

Royal Highland Regiment in the American War for Independence 1776 – 1783

by Paul Pace

Charles Grant was born Mar. 13, 1740, the youngest child of Jacobite Alexander Grant, 4th of Sheuglie and his second wife, Isabella Grant (daughter of John Grant, 6th of Glenmoriston).  Sheuglie is located in Glen Urquhart, about eight miles west of Urqhart Castle on Loch Ness. At the end of the ’45 Jacobite Rebellion sixty-year old Alexander Grant of Sheuglie was made prisoner, and was accused of being the chief mover in the rebellious actions of the Urquhart men, though he himself, did not actually join the Prince Charles’ Jacobite army.  Grant was taken to London and confined in Tilbury Fort, where he died of a fever on July 29, 1746, just as he was about to be brought to trial. One of Charles Grant’s older brothers was Col. Hugh Grant of Moy, the father of Lt. Alexander Grant, 42nd Regt. 

Grant began his service as a Volunteer in the 77th Regt. (Montgomery’s Highlanders) during the French and Indian War.  Volunteer Grant took part in Maj. James Grant of Ballindalloch abortive attack on Fort Duquesne (at the current site of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) in September 1758 and was captured and held prisoner by the Wyandott Indians near Detroit. 

A July 1759 letter from Lt. James Grant of the 77th Regt. to Col. Henry Bouquet requests assistance for Grant writing “Colonel [Archibald] Montgomery desires his Compliments to you & General Stanwix & begs the favour Youl exert yourselves in recovering the prisoners among the Indians taken in Major [James] Grants affair particularly Lt [Alexander] McDonald [77th Regt.] & Mr Charles Grant, a Volunteer who came from home under Major Grants protection, if this opportunity of treating wt the Indians when you are in their Country, is overlooked; it is hard to Say how long those poor people may remain in Slavery.”  Vol. Charles Grant and Maj. James Grant of Ballindalloch were distant cousins.

Indian Scout George Croghan was involved in Grant’s release and wrote in his journal for Jan. 11, 1760 that “a Number of Wyandotts came here to trade, and brought Lieutenant McDonald of the [77th] Highland Regiment, and one Hamilton that was taken out of the Cove, both of them they delivered up to me; and said that their Nation would bring in all the English Prisoners they had, and deliver them up in the Spring.”  He continued in his journal on Jan. 26 that “One Charles Powers an English Prisoner…gives the following intelligence…That the Wyandotts are Pretty kind to their Prisoners, but all other Nations that he has been amongst are very Cruel…”

In late Nov. 1760 Capt. Campbell of the 60th Regt. arrived at Detroit to accept the surrender of the fort, per an earlier arrangement with the French. The former French Garrison of three officers and 35 privates was sent to Fort Pitt and arrived on Dec. 24, 1760.  Croghan noted on Dec. 2, 1760 that “Lieut. [Robert] Holmes [of Roger’s Rangers] set out with Mr Belleater and the rest of the Garrison for Fort Pitt with whom I sent 15 English Prisoners that I had got from the Indians. Lt. Holmes made a listing or “Return” of the released English prisoners at Detroit dated Dec. 26, 1760 and included Volunteer Charles Grant, indicating he had been captured at Major Grant’s defeat near Fort Duquesne, Sept. 14, 1758, and had been a prisoner with the “Wyondot Indians” ever since.

Soon after Vol. Grant’s arrival at Fort Pitt, Col. Henry Bouquet, commander at Fort Pitt sent a letter to Gen. Monckton which read “Fort Pitt 25th Jany. 1761  Sir, The bearer Mr. Charles Grant was a Volunteer in Col. Montgomery’s Regiment, and had the misfortune to be taken by the Indians in the Campaign of 1758. Having made his Escape, he came here last month, and hath been sick ever since, as he desired me to inform you of his case I take the liberty to do it…. Your most Obedt and most Humble Servant  Henry Bouquet.”

Grant was commissioned Ensign in the 42nd Regt. on July 28, 1760, although “Volunteer Charles Grant,” discuss above, was still a prisoner of the Indians until Nov. 1760.  After commissioning Ens. Grant participated in the capture of Montreal in 1761 and Martinique in 1762.    Ens. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant in July 1762 and instead of going out on half-pay when the battalion was reduced, he reverted to the rank of Ensign but retained his seniority as Lieutenant and participated in the 1764 expedition to Muskingum, Ohio under Gen. Henry Bouquet. 

Lt. Grant was the commander of Fort Loudoun in Western Pennsylvania in 1764 to1765 with a half-company of the 42nd Regt. to enforce the Proclamation Line of 1763 (which prohibited illegal settlement west of the Allegheny Mountains).  Fort Loudoun was located about 70 miles southwest of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and about 150 miles southeast of Fort Pitt where the largest part of the 42nd Regt. was located.  In 1765 Lt. Grant was involved in a series of confrontations with James Smith, the leader of a local paramilitary group of about 300 men, nicknamed “The Black Boys,” who darkened their faces prior to engagements.  At one point Grant was captured by Smith but was soon released. A senior officer described Grant’s capture in a letter from Carlisle dated June 1, 1765, writing “I received letters from Lieutenant Grant, commanding at Fort Loudoun, complaining much of some late insult, received from the rioters near that post. He says on the 28th ult., [May], he was taking the air on horseback and about half a mile from his post, was surrounded by five of the rioters, who presented their pieces at him. The person who commanded them, calling to them to “shoot the bugger” – that one of them fired at him, frightened him and his horse that he ran into the bushes and occasioned his being thrown upon the ground. They then disarmed him, carried him fifteen miles into the woods and threatened to tie him to a tree and let him perish if he would not give them up some arms…” Grant was released by the “Black Boys” and resumed his command of Fort Loudoun.

Grant was finally re-promoted to Lieutenant on Dec. 16, 1771 (effective with his earlier date of rank of Aug. 1762) in place of Lt. Nathaniel McCulloch.  Several editions of the annual Army List incorrectly listed Grant’s date of rank as 1771, but the date was corrected to Aug. 9, 1762 by the 1775 edition.  Lt. Grant then obtained Capt. Alexander, Earl of Balcarras’ company when Lord Balcarras was promoted out of the regiment in Mar. 1776.

Just a few weeks before Grant sailed for America, his illegitimate daughter was born. The entry of the baptism read “3 April 1776 Inverness – Captn Charles Grant of the 42d Regt & Jean Steven had a child begotten in fornication baptised by Mr George Watson called Anne.”

Grant’s company traveled to America on the transport Glasgow.  Upon arrival Grant served as a company commander in one of the line battalions for the entire American war, including the New York/New Jersey campaign of 1776-1777, the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777-1778, the occupation of Stoney Point, New York  in 1779, the Charleston, South Carolina Campaign of 1780 and the relief attempt to rescue Lord Cornwallis in 1781. 

During the war, Grant married a “Miss Hunt” from Newtown, Long Island, where the regiment went into Winter Quarters in Nov. 1778.  Capt. Peebles commented on Mrs. Grant in his journal for July 17, 1780 writing “…paid a visit to Mrs C. Grant who is in Camp.  She looks well & may turn out something.”  In Sept. 1781, Grant offered a five dollar reward in The Royal Gazette for “…a negro man named TOM, about 27 years of age five feet five or six inches high, thick and well made, has a cut in his forehead.  Whoever brings the said negro man TOM, to Captain Grant, or Mr. Hunt, at Newtown, Long-Island, or gives information where he can be found, shall have the above reward…”

Grant was the senior Captain of the regiment in 1784 and contrary to the regimental succession book, which shows Grant retiring on Aug. 26, 1785, his tombstone in the St. Paul’s Church burial ground in Halifax reads: “…Here lies the body of Charles Grant, Esq., late Captain in the First Battalion of His Majesty’s 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of Foot, who departed this life the 1st day of February, in the year of our Lord, 1785.  Aged 44 years.”

Commissions: Ens. July 28, 1760; Lt. Aug. 9, 1762; Ens. (as Lt.) 1763; Lt. Dec. 16, 1771 (effective Aug. 9, 1762); Capt. Mar. 20 1776; Died Feb.1, 1785.