The Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Fencible Infantry (RNR) was raised in 1795 by Major Skinner (Royal Engineers) as a body of regular soldiers to provide for the defense of England’s oldest colony. Briefly disbanded during the peace of 1802‐3, the RNR served at various stations in Canada through the end of the War of 1812.
Although equipped and trained as regular infantry, the RNR contained many men familiar with maritime life. Prior to the onset of hostilities with the United States, five companies were detached for service as seamen and marines, and were posted in detachments to ships of the Provincial Marine. In this capacity men of the RNR saw naval service on Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. In June 1812 the Lake Erie detachments served as infantry in the capture of Detroit, winning a special commendation from General Brock.
In 1812 the remaining companies of the regiment were scattered in detachments posted to Quebec, Prescott, Kingston, Forts George, York and Willow. The large detachment at Ft. George was significantly involved in the defense against the American amphibious attack in May 1813.
The 100‐man detachment serving as marines to the Lake Erie Squadron accounted for twenty eight percent of total British casualties in the Battle of Lake Erie, September 1813. RNR companies were then detached to guard the nine‐mile portage at Fort Willow.
In 1814 two companies of the RNR, ordered to reinforce the key British post at Michilimackinac, built then sailed a fleet of small open boats from Georgian Bay to the post at northwestern Lake Huron. In August the garrison repulsed an American attack; the Newfs then participated in the naval night operation that captured the American sloops Tigress and Scorpion, which returned control of the upper Great Lakes to the British.
At war’s end the RNR returned to the St. John’s garrison. The RNR was disbanded along with the other North American fencible units in 1816.