Adeline’s 1812 Journal: November 1813

Adeline’s 1812 Journal: November 1813

©2013 Mollie Pearce McKibbon

A fictional journal as it might have been written by a young woman in Grenville County during the War of 1812.

Blueberry Creek Farm                                                                                                                                               Saturday, November 13, 1813

Dear Janetta,

William rode in to visit me today.  There was solemn news of a huge battle at Mr. Crysler’s farm many miles east of here along the St. Lawrence shore.  William said that he had reported that he, Charles and White Wolf had seen the American gunboats approaching and that Lt. Duncan Clark had warned the settlers along the river shore.  The weather has been a miserable mixture of snow and sleet, not the best for a battle, but the Americans have been harassing the ships and boats on the river for some time, so an attack was expected.

First of all, William relieved my mind about Charles, Father, And the Randalls.  All of them got through the battle without major wounds, thank the Lord, but sadly, Charles’ friend, John Thompson, was killed instantly right beside Arthur Randall in the last skirmish.  The Americans had been hit hard and seemed to be retreating, although our soldiers were greatly outnumbered.  Suddenly, one company wheeled round and began advancing towards our men.  Our troops led by Lt. Colonel Morrison and Major Heriot fought very valiantly and in the melee John was killed and Arthur wounded in his left hand.  The doctor was able to remove the bullet and bind it.  The settler women nearby were helping to find the wounded and aid the doctor.  

I was thrilled to hear of how bravely our young men acted along beside the professional soldiers and I was grateful to William for coming to let me know that my dear Charles was still hale.  The militia is pursuing the Americans, but I am trying not to be too concerned.  I am keeping myself busy while I wait for Charles to return.  I have completely cleaned our cabin, shaken out all our blankets, quits and coverlets and I have made some drapery for around our bed out of two old quilts mother gave me.  They will help keep out the cold.  I filled our kindling box, trapped some rabbits just like Father taught Henry and me.  I’m glad Father taught us how to snare partridge and grouse too, as I don’t think I could shoot well enough to bring down anything as large as a deer or even manage to drag it back home through the woods.  Besides, musket balls are scarce now.  I must save them for the stray lynx, fox or bobcat that might try stealing our few chickens.  

William didn’t stay long as he was anxious to see Elizabeth.  Her time is getting close.  Their baby is to be born in December.  I do hope all will go well.  However, I could tell from Williams face, when he first arrived that the battle must have been horrible.  He had promised Charles he would stop by.  I shall keep myself very busy as it helps the time pass and I will do less fretting.  I hope Charles returns home soon.  

I was hoping that William might have a letter from Charles’ parents in England.  We have been expecting one as Charles has written them about our wedding.  I expect it has been delayed by the war against Napoleon or perhaps the mail was seized by the Americans.  I did hope to have good news to tell my dearest.  I miss him so and I won’t be truly happy until I see him here by our hearth.

Longingly, Adeline

Blueberry Creek Farm                                                                                                                                                Monday, November 15, 1813

Dear Janetta,

Heaven be praised!  Charles returned home today.  Pirate and I ran out to meet him through the wet snow and I could hardly let go of him once he’d dismounted.  He looked so very weary.  I could see that the battle had taken a toll on his spirits and his body.  He stabled his horse and I got to work preparing a hot luncheon.  We had the two rabbits I had snared in a good stew with some of the root vegetables from Thistledown Farm.  I made a batch of biscuits and for the final course we had blueberry bread pudding.  Charles declared himself well satisfied and we sat for awhile drinking hot tea while he described the battle.  He said that although our men were outnumbered by the Americans, clever planning by our commanding officers and the help of the Indian warriors like White Wolf and his people  turned the tide in our favour.  He also said that the American army had tried to attack Montreal in Lower Canada but had been repulsed at Chậteauguay at the end of October so perhaps they know now that we are not to be easily conquered.  

“Oh Addie, ” he said,”the fighting was so fierce and in all the smoke and cannon fire it was hard to tell who had the upper hand at Crysler’s farm.  I can’t describe the sights and sounds, they were terrible. Young men moved down, enemy or our own, all cut down by deadly fire.  There were screams, moaning, some men crying for water or their mothers or sweethearts.  Poor John, I thought we would both return home unscarred, but then at the final volley from the enemy, he was done.  Thank the Lord it was swift.  He didn’t linger.  A lot of our comrades lost legs or arms.  We must pray that they recover.  Some will not.”

Charles sat in silence a long while squeezing my hand.  I cried for both of us.

Now Charles and Pirate have gone out to check on the animals and bring in some………

At this point the journal trails off into a sharp downward stroke of the pen and an ink blot as if the pen had been dropped.

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