Daily Life of Soldiers and Officers



British officers were keen on art and literature; some mounted theatre productions and several were good actors, such as one Artillery Lieutenant Marlay, who around 1830 acted "with considerable poise and energy." 84 Some were also musicians. One evening in 1785 there was a small concert at Fort Niagara at which two officers played "charming overtures and symphonies" 85 on the violin, accompanied by the horns, bassoons, oboes and clarinets of the band of the 29th Regiment.

If one is to believe the travel diaries they kept, officers had a veritable passion for fishing and hunting. It may be surprising to find that they had enough leisure time to engage in these sports, but it was an excellent way to keep in shape, practise shooting, and familiarize themselves with the surrounding fields and woods where they would perhaps one day have to deploy their troops. Some painted watercolours of the landscapes and towns, which was very useful from the strategic standpoint because it gave the officers the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the local topography.

Of the many games of chance, horse racing was the most popular. Races were organized by officers with the assistance of local gentlemen, in accordance with the prevailing English Jockey Club rules and ceremonies.