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Fraser, Simon

Fraser, Simon

FRASER, SIMON. (1729–1777). British general. The youngest son of Hugh Fraser of Balnain, Scotland, Fraser seems to have begun his military career in the Dutch service. In 1747 he was wounded while with the Scots brigade at Bergen-op-Zoom, in the Netherlands. However, on 31 January 1755 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the new British Sixty-second Regiment (later the Sixtieth Regiment), also known as the Royal Americans. Two years later Fraser moved as captain-lieutenant to the Seventy-eighth Foot, which came to be known as Fraser's Highlanders. After service at Louisburg in 1758, he was commissioned captain (22 April 1759) and fought at the capture of Quebec.

Fraser then served in Germany, being made brevet major on Ferdinand of Brunswick's staff on 15 March 1761, and later leading a light infantry unit known as Fraser's Chasseurs in a number of actions. He became a major in the Twenty-fourth Foot on 8 April 1762, afterwards serving in Gibraltar and Ireland and being promoted lieutenant colonel in 1768. In 1770 he was made Irish quartermaster general. During these years Fraser introduced his regiment to new infantry tactics pioneered by General James Wolfe, and made friends with John Burgoyne and William Phillips.

On 28 May 1776 Fraser and his regiment arrived in Canada with Burgoyne's reinforcements for Sir Guy Carleton, and was at once given a brigade on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River. He successfully defended Trois Rivières on 8 June and pursued the fleeing enemy until ordered to halt. Two days later Carleton made him a local brigadier general with orders to take command of the British advance guard and, if possible, cut off the fleeing Americans. During the summer he protected the flotilla Carleton was building at the fort on Lake Champlain, and after Valcour Island (11-13 October 1776) his force was advanced to Chimney Rock, twelve miles from Ticonderoga (New York). In June 1777 he took command of Burgoyne's advance guard and helped to capture Fort Ticonderoga, and on 7 July his troops defeated the American rearguard at Hubbardton, Vermont, albeit with heavy losses. At Freeman's Farm (New York) on 19 September, during the first battle of Saratoga, he led one assault on Daniel Morgan's riflemen. On 7 October he was leading another attack when he was shot, possibly by the rebel sniper Timothy Murphy. Though nursed through the night by Baroness Riedesel (wife of Baron Friedrich Adolphus Riedesel), Fraser died at eight the following morning.

SEE ALSO Freeman's Farm, Battle of; Saratoga, First Battle of; Valcour Island.

                            revised by John Oliphant

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