National Defence and the Canadian Forces

4th Canadian Division

31 Canadian Brigade Group


RHLI Rededicating Restored Tombstone Of First Fallen Soldier And Looking For Soldier's Descendants

The Battle of Ridgeway. 1869 illustration from Library and Archives Canada.

(Hamilton)  The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) will be honouring its first-ever combat casualty in a memorial service at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 17th, at St. Luke's Anglican Church at 1371 Elgin St, in Burlington. 17 year old Private James Henry Morrison died on June 29th, 1866, probably of disease and exhaustion, just 27 days after fighting in the Battle of Ridgeway, near Fort Erie, against American Fenian invaders. Pte. Morrison, who was from Wellington Square, now Burlington, was a member of the 13th Battalion Volunteer Militia, which today is the RHLI, or "Rileys". The Rileys, marking their 150th anniversary this year, restored Pte. Morrison's toppled and broken tombstone, and are now looking for his descendants to take part in the service of re-dedication. He was survived by his widowed mother and as many as six sisters. Related genealogical information is attached and can be found at as well.

The re-dedication ceremony will include church members and soldiers of the RHLI 13th Battalion Ceremonial Guard, dressed in the famous "red coats" of 1862. The Guard will fire a special salute with their period muskets.

Pte. Morrison was buried at St. Luke's on July 1st, 1866, exactly one year before Confederation, which the Battle of Ridgeway helped bring about. Although the 13th Battalion suffered several wounded during the battle, more became ill in the weeks after the fight as they remained in camp on frontier guard duty. While the wounded all recovered, four of the sick died, and Morrison, 146 years ago, became the first fatal combat casualty of the 13th Battalion.

- 30 -


Additional background:

For more information, contact: Captain Tim Fletcher - H: 905-308-6696 C: 905-308-6696