Nairne’s body was not allowed to remain where he had fallen. Judge Bowen thought he ought to lie at Quebec beside his soldier father and this was also in accord with Mrs. Nairne’s wishes. Colonel Morrison, the officer in command on the field where Nairne fell, had already been transferred to the garrison at Quebec and every attention was paid to the task. Bowen ordered a strong oak coffin, large enough to contain that in which Nairne was buried, and with this itself in an outer box a man was sent to bring back the body. He bore a letter from the Bishop of Quebec to the clergyman who had buried Nairne. All was carried out as arranged. A second time Nairne’s body was taken from the grave where it had been laid and its bearer began his long winter journey to Quebec. The sleigh with its sad burden, a moving dark speck on a white background, made its slow way along the wintry roads and by the shores of the ice bound St. Lawrence. We can picture the awed solemnity with which the French Canadian peasants heard the story of Nairne’s fall as his body rested for the night in inn or farm yard. On January 20th, 1814, Bowen wrote to Mr. Le Courtois that the body would arrive by Saturday as it was at Berthier on the previous day when the stage passed.
The funeral took place at one o’clock on the 26th of January, 1814. Of the people of Murray Bay a single unnamed habitant was present, a man detained by Bowen in Quebec that he might witness the ceremony and carry back an account of it to his home. “I examined the body,” wrote Bowen briefly of what must have been a grim task, “with the assistance of my friend Buchanan and there cannot now be the smallest doubt as to the identity of it. He was buried poor Fellow in the Cloathes he wore when killed. His Regimental Jackit and shoes which were put into his coffin I found in it upon opening it and have taken them out and will preserve them for his poor friends if so melancholy a Remembrance of him should be desired by them.” The lock of hair cut off by Colonel Plenderleath at the funeral was brought to Quebec by young Sewell, one of Nairne’s companions; the remainder of his effects, sent forward in a box, seem to have been lost on the way. At the funeral the six senior Captains in Quebec were his pall bearers and the mourners were fellow officers of the 49th and Quebec friends of his family—well-known names—Caldwell, McCord, Stewart, Hale, Mountain, Dunn and Bowen himself. A great crowd was present. “Never,” wrote Bowen to Miss Nairne, “was a funeral at Quebec more generally attended.” The death of the young officer was too tragic not to call forth the sympathy of a wide circle. Eulogies were pronounced upon him and they said only what was true—that a soldier, brave, lovable and promising had fallen on the field of honour.