Nairne’s regiment, the Royal Highland Emigrants, had been put upon the permanent establishment in 1779. Sometimes he complained that his own promotion was slow; not until the spring of 1783 was he given the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Having reached this goal he intended, as soon as he decently could, to sell out and retire. Late in 1782 we find him again in command at Isle aux Noix and not sure but that he may at any time be surprised by the Americans. It seems odd that, though Cornwallis had already surrendered at Yorktown, and the war was really over, Nairne was still hoping for final victory for Great Britain; on February 8th, 1783, he writes: “It is to be hoped that affairs will at last take a favourable turn to Great Britain; her cause is really a just one.” In fact preliminary articles of the most disastrous peace Great Britain has ever made had already been signed.
Nairne was now anxious to go home. But even in June, 1783, he could not get leave of absence from Isle aux Noix for even a fortnight. Conditions were still unsettled. American traders were now pressing into Canada but Nairne sent back any that he caught; the cessation of arms was, he said, no warrant as yet for commercial intercourse and many suspicious characters were about. The troops from Europe were returning home. General Riedesel, about to leave for Germany, wrote from Sorel on July 6th, 1783, a warm letter of thanks to Nairne for the attention, readiness, and punctuality of his services. Not long after, in the same year, Nairne was at last free. He now sold his commission, receiving for it L3,000. With the sale he renounced all claim to half-pay, pension, or other consideration for past services and the sum he received was, therefore, no very great final reward for his long services. There had been some competition for this commission and its final disposal throws some light on promotion