The Incident of Walker’s Ear

One year after the end of the Seven Years War the 28th Foot were on garrison duty in Montreal. Day-to-day life was made very difficult for the soldiery there by one Thomas Walker, an important merchant and magistrate of the city, particularly with regard to his failure to provide them with adequate quarters during the severe winter weather. The 28th decided to take revenge and on the night of 6th December a   group of disguised men burst into Walker’s house as he   was sitting down to supper, beat him up and sliced off half his right ear.

The culprits were never brought to justice, although there was plenty of circumstantial evidence implicating Captain Payne, Lieutenant Tottenham, Sergeant Rogers, Sergeant Mee, Private Coleman, Private McLaughlan and four others.

“It was a lesson to outsiders not to tamper with the 28th, and although the removal of magistrates’ ears is to be deprecated, Mr Walker seems to have pushed the forbearance of that spirited corps rather far. The affair became a _cause celebre_, and resulted in resignations by high officials and kept the law courts busy and the Montreal tea tables chattering for four years. One thing emerged from the incident of Walker’s Ear – a new name for the 28th – ‘the Slashers’.”

David Scott Daniell, “Cap of Honour”, 2005.

Picture: Cartoon of the Walker’s Ear Incident. Original in the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.