The following is a description of Colonel Arthur William Wellington Freer's (Freear's) Military Funeral as described by a Mr. Ragan as he recalled it some years later

A Reminiscence of Early Days in Warwick



The following sketch was written at the earnest request of Mr. H. M. Carroll, now of this place, who was present, and can vouch for the descriptive accuracy of the scene described: In the early part of the sprang of 1845 there died a worthy Col. of the Militia named Freear [commonly called Col. Freear on the lot adjoining the Village of Warwick. The Colonel had in former years served as an officer in the British Army, consequently, his services were brought into requisition during the years 1837-38, or during the rebellion of those times, when he displayed a good deal of military ability and usefulness. He was also a J.P. and a commissioner in Courts of Requests. He built a grist-mill, which however, proved a failure, was a man of kind and affable disposition, a thorough Irish gentleman, but he was compelled to pass in his cheques. The scene at the funeral was so ludicrous that it made such an impression on my memory that it never has been effaced. In fact, I see the whole in panorama shape passing in my mind now as vividly as the day on which the event took place, more especially did it interest me having witnessed military funerals in the city of Dublin and in the city of Toronto a short time before on the day previous to the funeral, as many of the militia as would form an escort and firing party were dutifully notified to attend. Major Ingles, being the next senior officer in command, took charge of this most important duty. It must be observed that we had no volunteers with cap shacks, etc., in those days, no Snider Enfield rifles or other modern weapons of warfare.

Imagine then each militia man coming dressed, as his means or fancy would admit, some with the common straw hat, some with an old dilapidated plug, a little flattened down, to be sure, but then, that same hat was once new and stylish, some with caps, and as for coats and unmentionables, a good number resembled Joseph's coat of many colours, with particles of every imaginable colour and material, as for shoes, some had one boot and shoe tied very neatly with some basswood bark, some of the men had evidently shoved their legs too far through as their exposed nether part of their legs was plainly visible.

Major Ingles, who by the way was a perfect specimen of military gentleman, at the house previous to starting, had selected his firing party, who had every kind of weapon, from the small Indian fowling piece of all grades and calibre to the bold Elizabethan musket having given the men every verbal information as to how the should prime, load and fire at the grave, the order as given to march to the cemetery at the Village, which was done something in the following order. First, George Clark [who had formerly been in a band In the regular army] about six rods ahead, walking and playing an appropriate dirge, the Portuguese Hymn, I think, with a clarinet, next, Major Ingles, dressed a ra militaire, with a suitable coat, cap, sash, etc., with drawn sword in front of the firing party, with arms reversed or partially so, then the defunct Colonel carried on a bler [there was no hearse to be had in those days] next the multitude, as motley a group as can well be imagined. Service was read by the Rev'd Mr. Mortimer, at an old log school house, when the procession again started for the graveyard, a stone's throw from the school house. The services of the clergyman being through, Major Ingles, who had evidently been looking at somebody drinking that morning, with sword in hand, commanded the firing party to take their places, and with stern voice gave the words prime, load, really, present, FIRE!

And now, let me describe the firing. Anyone who has witnessed the firing of a volley at the grave, knows that there should be but one report; not so in this case. In fact, I can only describe it this way: Imagine a piece of picket fence, with an occasional picket missing, then get some boy to run along the side with a stick in contact with the pickets, then some idea may be formed of this irregular firing, but the climax had yet to be reached. Someone of the party had reserved his fire until the last, and being a musket of large calibre, made a deafening noise. The gallant Major Ingles, who was by this time exasperated at the firing, stepped boldly to the front of the grave and with stentorian voice, made the following remark, "Who the devil fired that last shot?"

Thus ended one of those amusing reminiscences of early days. I may state, however, that the services of Mr. Clark and his clarinet were engaged for the evening at Nixons and those who missed the wake, made up for sport to equal it that night.

P.S. I have since learned who fired that last shot---Thomas Kenward.

Watford, February 21, 1879


May 2, 1879

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