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PUBLICATIONS OF THE CANADIAN ARCHIVES-No. 2.
MILITARY DOCUMENTS IN THE CANADIAN ARCHIVES
LIEUT. COL. CRUIKSHANK
Published by authority of the Minister of Agriculture under the
GOVERNMENT PRINTING BUREAU
PREFATORY NOTE TO AN INVENTORY OF THE MILITARY AND ALLIED DOCUMENTS IN THE CANADIAN ARCHIVES,
PREPARED BY LIEUT. COL. CRUIKSHANK.
This collection of manuscript records now consists of 1,847 volumes besides 149 portfolios of loose papers which have not yet been arranged in a permanent form and 201 similar portfolios of militia papers.
With a very few exceptions the contents of the bound volumes relate to the period extending from the arrival of Lord Dorchester as Governor General and Commander of the Forces in 1786 to the date of the transfer of the fortress of Halifax to the military authorities of the Dominion. The documents obtained from Halifax in 1873 by the consent of the War Office formed the nucleus of this series. These mainly consist of the letters and despatches with their various enclosures which accumulated in the office of the Military Secretary to the Commander of the Forces in Canada in the course of eighty-five years. There are among them a few copies or rough drafts of letters written in the office. Naturally they vary greatly in character as well as in relative value. There are papers of every conceivable description. Many relate to trivial matters and the petty details of military administration or the interior economy of a corps or military post, but a great number are of permanent historical value. Some contain only a few words hastily scrawled on a mere slip of paper possibly by the uncertain light of a camp fire in the heart of the woods while a large proportion are lengthy and momentous despatches from the Admiralty, the Treasury Board, or the War Office, bearing the signature of a Secretary of State, or from officers of rank, detailing their operations in the field while events were still fresh in their minds. In some the writing has almost faded from view while in others of practically the same date it seems as bright and distinct as when it left the pen. Some are so badly written as to be scarcely legible while others are models of caligraphy. Most interesting are the numerous 4646-11
reports and statements of confidential agents, deserters, prisoners, and spies, and the matter of fact journals of officers on special service which have thus been preserved. Rough drafts of some very important despatches may sometimes be profitably compared with the finished documents.
Although dealing in the main with military affairs these papers will be found to contain much useful information relating to the administration of justice and civil government, the construction of bridges, canals, docks, lighthouses, roads, wharfs, and public buildings, immigration and the location of settlers, the management of Indian affairs, the conveyance of mails, the exploration of the country, the provincial marine establishment and shipping on the lakes, the state of political feeling, and relations with the United States.
The classification made by Dr. Brymner has not been disturbed but a few supplementary volumes of important papers have been added since his death.
The letter books of the Commander of the Forces in Canada and his Military Secretary covering the same period which were fortunately acquired in 1904 are the natural complement of these documents without which many of them would be scarcely intelligible. They number one hundred and twentythree volumes containing copies of most of the official letters written by them. Their letters covering the period from 1795 to 1830 fill seventy-eight volumes. Their letters to England from 1830 to 1870 are comprised in twelve thick volumes their letters to officers and other persons in the Canadas fill no less than thirty-three books of about the same size.
The Military Secretary's General Order Books which are complete from the 11th September, 1811 to the 24th of September, 1870, contain much information respecting the distribution and movements of troops and matters of discipline which can scarcely be found elsewhere.
Not less valuable although unfortunately incomplete are the letter books of the Governor General's Military Secretary, the Chief of Staff, the officers commanding in Upper Canada and Nova Scotia, the commanding officers of Royal Engineers, and the Adjutant Generals of Upper and Lower Canada. It