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Major General John Small

By: Col. Kim Stacy

Small was born in Strathardale in Athole in 1726. He joined the army young with a purchase in the Scots Brigade. In 1756, Small served as a lieutenant in the 42d Regiment (Black Watch) in the war against the French in North America. He was involved in the Oswego, Montreal, Ticonderoga, and West Indies campaigns. In 1762, he was promoted to captain and given a company to command. The following year, with the reduction of the Regiment, Small went on half pay until 1765, when he was appointed to a company of the 21st Regiment (Royal North British Fusileers). Small served with the 21st in America until 1775 when he received an unofficial commission from General Gage to raise the Young Royal Highlanders at his own expense which was later amalgamated into the Royal Highland Emigrants (84th Regiment of Foot). Small spent the greatest part of his time in New York on staff duty. While in New York, Small participated in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He commanded a composite brigade and three times stormed the hill leading his men from in front. He was immortalized by Trumbull who painted Small arresting the bayonet of a British grenadier who was about to bayonet a wounded man. In 1777-78, he personally took charge of an expedition to attack St. John and Machais from Halifax. In 1778, Small was brigade major to General Pigot for the Battle for Rhode Island. Although never coming into combat again after Bunker Hill, his skills as an administrator brought him credit and promotion. For his service, Small was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1780. He held this rank until the end of the War. After the War, Small went on half pay and moved his disbanded regiment to land grants in Nova Scotia. Through his political connection with the Crown, in 1794, he became lieutenant governor of the Island of Guernsey and promoted to major general. Small died on March 17th, 1796, on Guernsey at the age of 70 years.

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