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"Mercy is weakness. Strength is truth."
John Graves Simcoe to Caleb Brewster.[src]

Lieutenant Colonel John Graves Simcoe is an officer in the British Army and the commanding officer of the Queen's Rangers. In 1776, Simcoe was a Lieutenant stationed in Setauket until the death of Captain Charles Joyce led to Simcoe purchasing his commission and gaining the rank of Captain.

Simcoe was later captured by the Continental Army after an ambush at a Continental Army safe house due to intelligence from Abraham Woodhull, who had asked Caleb Brewster to kill Simcoe. However, Captain Benjamin Tallmadge had decided to interrogate Simcoe instead. Simcoe was later released in a prisoner exchanged between the Continental Army and the British Army and returned to Setauket.

He later fought in the Battle of Setauket, after Tallmadge, now promoted to Major, led Continental forces to rescue his father, Caleb's uncle and several others. During the battle, Simcoe executed Caleb's uncle and was restrained by Major Edmund Hewlett, who then let Tallmadge's father and the others go.


British Army service

In the autumn of 1776, Simcoe was a Lieutenant and stationed in Setauket, serving under Captain Charles Joyce. One day, a brawl occurred between Captain Joyce, Selah Strong and Abraham Woodhull. Selah and Abe were taken into British custody, but after the intercession of Abe's father, Abe was released by Simcoe. However, Selah was still taken into custody, to be sent to the HMS Jersey.

Captain Joyce was later murdered at the hands of John Robeson, with Lieutenant Simcoe purchasing his commission and gaining the rank of Captain. Simcoe traveled to Strong Manor, where he asked Anna Strong, the wife of Selah, the whereabouts of Abe and soon made advances on her. After she rebuffed him, he informed her he had been billeted at the manor.

Abe later returned to town from the black market. Robeson spotted him and brought Simcoe and the Redcoats to Abe. Simcoe then brought Abe to the church, where Richard Woodhull and Major Edmund Hewlett awaited. When Hewlett demanded to know where Abe has been since Joyce's death, whose killer was unknown at the time, Abe admitted he was "with the enemy" and explained that he was mugged by pirates while trading on the black market, a cover for his attempted recruitment as a spy by Benjamin Tallmadge.

Captain Simcoe warns Abe that he still suspects him in Captain Joyce's murder.

Hewlett then sent Abe home but asked to meet that evening to discuss his captors' identities. Outside the church, Simcoe warned Abe that he was still a suspected in Joyce's murder. Hewlett later ordered Simcoe to raid a Continental safe house in Connecticut.

Unknown to Simcoe, Abe had gathered intelligence about the ambush that made its way to Caleb Brewster and the Continental Army, preparing them for the raid and allowing them to abandon the safe house and await for Simcoe's arrivals with British forces. Abe also asked that Simcoe be killed during the raid.

Simcoe and his troops are ambushed.

In Connecticut, Simcoe and his forces raided the safe house and found it empty. Shortly after, they were attacked by Continental forces, with Simcoe being wounded in the leg. As the British forces were killed, Simcoe crawled his way outside, where he was rendered unconscious by Caleb and taken prisoner.

Simcoe was then taken to a Continental jail on the Connecticut border, where he was asked about a Continental mole that assisted the British in causing an ambush on Ben's regiment by Robert Rogers and the Queen's Rangers.

Given command of the Queen's Rangers

Captain Simcoe holds a knife at his supervisor.

Two months after the Battle of Setauket, Captain Simcoe was posted in the commissary in the recently British captured Philadelphia. One day, a supervisor of his mocked a love letter that he had written to Anna. Simcoe soon after received a package from John André containing a steak knife and letter. He brandished the knife at his supervisor and declared that he’d been relieved of his duties and summoned by André. With a smug grin, he ditched his post, taking a sword and pistol on his way out.

He later arrived at Benjamin Franklin's home, where André had been residing. After waiting for hours to meet with André, Abigail arrived to find Simcoe waiting. Simcoe recognized her from Strong Manor and spoke fondly of Long Island. Later meeting in the music room, André told Simcoe that he’d like to appoint him as the new commander of the Queen’s Rangers. Simcoe called the assignment a demotion but agreed to accept if he could base the Rangers in a place of his choosing.

The Queen's Rangers fall in behind Captain Simcoe.

In the woods of Pennsylvania, Simcoe arrived on horseback to the Queen's Rangers' camp and introduced himself as their new commander. Cager, one of the Rangers, mocked Simcoe, who invited the Ranger to kill him, if he could. Simcoe broke Cager’s arm and slashed his scalp. When Cager reached for his gun, another Ranger, Akinbode, shouted out a warning. Simcoe shot Cager dead and then ordered the men to fall in line. They immediately obeyed.

Later in the wilderness outside York City, Simcoe ran a bayonet drill with the Queen’s Rangers. Pulling Akinbode aside, he handed him his freedom papers and appointed him second-in-command, noting Akinbode was the only man there who he was certain didn’t want him dead.

Meeting Arnold and Caleb's capture

Simcoe meets Arnold.

After Arnold's turn to the British side, Simcoe went to Rivington’s Corner, but was barred from entry by a guard. However, Simcoe called to Townsend, stating that he knew him, causing Townsend to allow Simcoe to enter. Simcoe, now a Lieutenant Colonel introduced himself to Arnold, who questiond Townsend about Mulligan. Arnold took notes as Townsend answered his questions while Simcoe stared at Townsend. Rattled by Simcoe’s gaze, Townsend went to his room and burned his spy tools.

Later, a Ranger informed Simcoe that Arnold had captured Caleb Brewster. Simcoe then visited Arnold and informd him that he, too, had been on the hunt for a spy ring on Long Island. He asked to sit in on Arnold’s interrogation of Caleb. Simcoe waited in the hall as Arnold interrogated Caleb. Caleb pointed out that Arnold couldn't hang him without a confession. He proceeded to mock Arnold for being a turncoat. Arnold stormed out and told Simcoe, “He’s all yours.” Simcoe walked in and punched Caleb.

Simcoe tortured Caleb and referred to Caleb’s “master” as Robert Rogers. Simcoe’s suggestion that Rogers was Samuel Culper, inadvertently lead Simcoe to realize that Rogers was not Culper. Simcoe quickly deduced that Abe was Culper and ordered Caleb to confess. Caleb refused. Simcoe drew his sword and told Caleb that he accepted the challenge.

"Now, you know who I am. And I know who you are."
John Graves Simcoe to Caleb Brewster.[src]

Simcoe prepares to burn Caleb.

Simcoe continued to torture Caleb and asked him to sign a confession. Caleb spat in his face. Simcoe then cut Caleb with his bayonet and slathered salt on the wound. Simcoe revealed that he was born and raised in India and watched his father thrown into the “Black Hole of Calcutta” where he died, and now he taught “mercy is a weakness” to colonists across the country (though the real John Graves Simcoe was actually born in Cotterstock, England, and his father was a Royal Navy officer). When Caleb still refused to talk, Simcoe placed a hot bayonet on his chest, causing Caleb to scream.

Eventually, Colonel Cooke came into the room and saw that Caleb was barely conscious. He denounced Simcoe’s brutal interrogation tactics and worried that the Continental Army wouldn’t release the Woodhulls, who had been offered as a trade for Caleb, given Caleb’s physical state. Before releasing Caleb, Simcoe quietly thanked him for the names he divulged in “the twilight of pain.”

Confrontation with Abraham Woodhull in Virginia

Now the year 1781, in Westover, Virginia, Colonel Simcoe noticed Arnold’s soldiers dumping munitions powder into the river.

Arnold later summoned Abe to his quarters to ask for help selling goods that he’d looted in Virginia. Simcoe walked in and asked about the powder. He counseled Arnold against marching further south and expressed his disapproval over Arnold’s looting. Arnold ordered Abe to find suitable ports through which to funnel his profits. Arnold then dismissed them both.

Walking away from Arnold’s office, Simcoe threatened to kill Abe on the battlefield.

Later, Charles Cornwallis informed Simcoe and Arnold that he requested reinforcements from General Clinton and suggested that they seize control of depots where Continentals might try to resupply.

Later, during the Battle of Blandford, Caleb and his Continental crew joined the battle. Arnold sent Simcoe an order to flank the newly arrived Continentals. Simcoe handed the order off to a subordinate and left to do “unfinished business.”

"Culper. Culper. It'll all be over soon. No more hiding. No more lying. Regards to your father."
John Graves Simcoe to Abraham Woodhull.

Simcoe approaching Abe.

Elsewhere, Dowling ordered his regiment to follow him outside, and Abe took the opportunity to break off from the group. While outside, Abe saw Simcoe and they locked eyes across the courtyard. Abe then turned around and hustled away, with Simcoe following him back into the building he had been in with a parapet. Abe shot at Simcoe but missed. He then ran down a level on the parapet, with Simcoe coolly taunting him.

From the ground, Caleb saw Simcoe pursuing Abe on the parapet wall. As Simcoe raised his gun to shoot Abe at point-blank range, Caleb shot Simcoe in the stomach. Abe rushed at Simcoe and threw him over the walkway railing onto a pile of bricks below. Simcoe gasped for air, indicating that he was alive, and Abe rushed downstairs. On the next level, he saw that Simcoe’s body was missing and followed a trail of blood, picking up Simcoe’s gun and Arnold’s map that he had dropped.

Simcoe drags himself across the floor.

British soldiers soon found Simcoe dragging himself across the floor, gravely wounded and covered in blood, and called for help. While the soldiers were distracted trying to sustain Simcoe, Abe leveled his gun at Simcoe from across the room but decided not to shoot, choosing instead to get Arnold’s map to Washington. Abe then left.

Mercy from Edmund Hewlett

"We can't leave you behind."
"I will ship out on the Bonetta with the other ranking officers that have fallen ill."
"The French will allow her through the blockade?"
"Washington will convince them. He's a man of honor. Go. While you still can."
―Falkoff and John Graves Simcoe, as Simcoe convinces the Queen's Rangers to flee.[src]

Simcoe convincing the Queen's Rangers to flee.

Later, in a medical tent, a doctor treated Simcoe and said that his outlook was grave. He then told Simcoe to get his affairs in order. Later, Hewlett had arrived in Virginia and snuck up to Simcoe’s cot with a dagger drawn, but hid when he heard Rangers coming. He eavesdropped as Simcoe urged his men to rejoin their former rebel units and avoid execution by claiming that they were captured. Simcoe then said he will ship out with the other commanding officers who were ill. Hewlett then walked away.

Later, Hewlett approached Simcoe on the H.M.S. Bonetta with a dagger drawn. Hewlett stuffed an apple in Simcoe’s mouth and recalled his beloved horse that Simcoe had killed with a poison apple. Hewlett ordered Simcoe to eat the apple in his mouth, which Simcoe thought was poisoned. Simcoe ate it and said that Hewlett’s transformation from weakling to warrior had been his greatest creation.

Hewlett then took a bite of the apple, revealing that it was not poisoned. Hewlett then said that he still wanted to kill Simcoe, but changed his mind after hearing Simcoe protect his Rangers, and he had decided to put their feud behind him. Hewlett then stuffed the apple back in Simcoe’s mouth and left. Simcoe then sobbed alone.

After recovering from his injuries, a man paid Simcoe a visit, telling him that Canada is in need of a new Governor. Johns eagerness for war still consumed him, but that desire soon came to an end, for he learned to accept that what happened in the past stays in the past, and that he must move on from it. Eventually he would become Governor of Upper Canada (Ontario) and would abolish Slavery. On December 30th 1782, not long after the American Revolution, Governor Simcoe gained something that he had always wanted for a great many years, a wife to love and care for. Her name was Elizabeth Simcoe. Although Simcoe had ruled with his strict laws and menacing tactics, Major Edmund Hewlett assured everyone that the John Graves Simcoe they all knew, had died. But the new John Graves Simcoe, was someone that no one had ever expected. He had become the exact opposite of his former self and was rewarded with a wife that he had always wanted.

In present day, Colonel Simcoe is honored every year by many Canadians, seen as a major, inspiring figure in Canadian history.

Characters met

Behind the Scenes

John Graves Simcoe was portrayed by Samuel Roukin in Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 of Turn: Washington's Spies.




Season 1

"John Graves Simcoe is a recently promoted soldier in His Majesty’s Army and serves under Major Hewlett’s command in Setauket. A born attack dog, he harbors an intense dislike for most colonists, especially Abe, and holds a deep, menacing infatuation with Anna. A skilled fighter and true believer in the British cause, Simcoe is as crafty as he is dangerous."
Official description

Season 2

"John Graves Simcoe is a born attack dog who harbors an intense dislike for most colonists, especially Abe. He holds a deep infatuation for Anna that is both menacing and disturbing. A skilled fighter and true believer in the British cause, Simcoe is as crafty as he is dangerous. After suffering under the harsh interrogation of Ben Tallmadge, Simcoe was released back to the British in a prisoner exchange. Returning to Setauket, he engaged in a dramatic duel with Abe in an attempt to claim Anna as his own. Ultimately, Simcoe engineered a conspiracy designed as retribution against the families of Ben and Caleb. When his plan is foiled by Ben’s raid, a furious Simcoe executes Caleb’s uncle at point blank range, forcing a horrified Hewlett to have him arrested and gagged."
Official description

Season 3

"A ruthless attack dog, Simcoe harbors an intense dislike of most colonists, especially Abe. Simcoe's lack of restraint is his undoing, however, and his killing of Caleb's uncle allows Hewlett to dislodge him from Setauket by the end of the first season. Major John André has a use for Simcoe's remorseless ways, however – hunting down rebel spies on Long Island. Having been appointed leader of the Queen's Rangers in place of Robert Rogers, Simcoe relocates the unit back to Setauket, a provocation to his old boss Hewlett. By the end of the second season, their feud has come into the open, and Setauket is threateneds to be torn apart by a civil war between rival British forces. Season Three sees this vendetta reach a fever pitch, as the town is not big enough for the two of them. Complicating matters for Abe is that Simcoe now knows the alias of the American spy on Long Island -- Samuel Culper."
Official description

Season 4

"Ruthless and bloodthirsty, a blunt instrument of war, Simcoe harbors an intense dislike of most colonists, especially Abe. Simcoe's lack of restraint is his undoing, however, and his murder of Caleb's uncle allowed Hewlett to dislodge him from Setauket by the end of the first season. Major John André had a use for Simcoe's remorseless ways, however: hunting down Rebel spies on Long Island. Appointed leader of the Queen's Rangers in place of Robert Rogers, Simcoe relocated the unit back to Setauket in Season 2, a provocation to his former commander Hewlett. Their feud came out into the open, and Setauket was nearly torn apart by a civil war between rival British forces. In Season 3, Simcoe learned the name Samuel Culper but was fooled by Abe into thinking Culper was Robert Rogers. Simcoe got his comeuppance when he tried to have Abe hanged for striking him and was instead banished from the town for burning Colonel Cooke's fields. As Season 4 opens, Simcoe is keen to repay old grudges. At Rivington's Coffeehouse he is introduced to someone he admires: Benedict Arnold. Tasked to work together and bring Virginia to the sword, Simcoe's no-nonsense soldiering conflicts with Arnold's insatiable greed. That's not to say he is without distraction himself—his thirst for retribution is unmatched, endangering Abe and the other members of the Ring."
Official description

Links and references

External links