Simon Fraser (general)

Simon Fraser of Balnain (general)

Simon Fraser (1729 - October 7, 1777, Saratoga, New York) was a British general during the American Revolutionary War who was killed in the Battle of Bemis Heights.

Simon was a younger son of Alexander Fraser of Balnain, Highland, by his second wife Jean Mackintosh and was born in Scotland in 1729. He fought with the Dutch army at Bergen-op-Zoom in 1747, and joined the British Army as a Lieutenant in 1755.

Fraser came to Canada with the British forces in the French and Indian War. At the siege of Louisbourg, he was called Lieutenant Simon Fraser, Jr., since he was the younger of two lieutenants with the same name. He was promoted to Captain before taking part in the Battle of Quebec (1759). At that battle, he was in James Wolfe's boat crossing the St Lawrence. It was his reply, in French through the fog, that enabled the party to sneak ashore before ascending to the Plains of Abraham.

Fraser served in Germany, Ireland, and Gibraltar between wars. In 1768, he became the Lt. Colonel of the 24th Regiment of Foot.

In 1776, the 24th was transferred to Canada in response to the American Invasion, and Governor Guy Carleton promoted him to Brigadier General, but in America only. When John Burgoyne organized the Saratoga Campaign in 1777, he was chosen to command the advance unit.


During the Battle of Saratoga, the Advance Corp had about 1,000 men. Besides his own 24th Regiment of Foot, he had the grenadier battalion, the light infantry battalion, and a company of marksmen, along some Canadian militia and Indian auxiliaries. Their role was to precede the main column.

Battle of Hubbardton

On July 7, 1777 Fraser's Advance Corps caught up with the American rear guard at the Vermont town of Hubbardton. Though the British captured more than 200 Continental soldiers, the Americans fought well and were able to retreat, keeping their force intact to fight at the later battles at Saratoga.

Freeman's Farm

Daniel Morgan's riflemen wiped out Fraser's advance party at Freeman's farm on September 19, and began to inflict casualties on his column before they could form up in the open. Morgan's men charged, and Fraser fell back on the main column, under General Hamilton. As Morgan and Benedict Arnold regained control of the Continentals, his column also took some casualties from friendly fire. The British finally took the farm, but the cost was high.

Bemis Heights

Early in the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7, Fraser fell to rifle fire from Morgan's men. He was carried to a nearby house and placed in the care of Baroness Riedesel, where he died that evening at age 48. He was reportedly buried in a nearby redoubt, but the exact location is uncertain. In her diary, the Baroness noted that he was "...buried at six O'clock in the evening, on a hill, which was a sort of redoubt."

His passing is noted by a memorial plaque in the Saratoga Battlefield National Park.

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