Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: October 1814
©by Mollie Pearce McKibbon
The fictional journal of a young woman, Adeline Price, during the War of 1812. Adeline is the oldest daughter of the family. Her father inherited property from an older brother in what is now Edwardsburg township and he and his son, William, were recruited in the local militia during the war. Adeline married a British soldier, Sgt. Charles Houghton, who died just after the Battle at Crysler’s Farm, leaving her a widow with twin infant sons. Adeline has a younger sister, Eveline, and a younger brother, Henry.
Yesterday was a glorious golden and scarlet fall day. Sadly, it was also the day we laid Arthur’s wife, Kathleen, to rest.
I have been so absorbed with my own problems I have never even remarked on the birth on July 12, of their son, Adam Patrick Randall. It was a name that Kathleen chose and Arthur agreed to. I was quite amazed at the time that meek little Kathleen had shown enough spunk to insist upon it. She had a difficult time of the birth and despite Mrs. Randall’s closest attention and even the last minute insistence of her father that the fort physician see to her, Kathleen never seemed to recover her full strength. She died suddenly after a short bout of influenza. I think honestly, she was just worn out and the birth of a baby was the final stitch in her shroud.
It was a very sad affair. Arthur was grim and seems to have no affection at all for his tiny son. Mrs. Randall hired a woman from a farm near Spencer’s mill who had just lost a baby girl, as a wet nurse for Adam and plans to bring the boy up herself as soon as he is weaned. Mr. O’Meara, who is terribly overweight and lame, blubbered through the whole graveside service, not, I suspect, because he was grieving for his daughter, but because he has been abandoned to his own devices without her. Arthur left to join his division and the rest of us, huddled together over the grave to say our personal goodbyes. Though I didn’t know her well, I felt sorry for her and for her abandoned baby.
Robert is furious with his brother. He is such a responsible person that I am sure his chagrin is mixed with sadness for little Adam. He is still recovering from his Lundy Lane wound. He looked pale and I saw him wincing more than once as we paid our respects. My heart aches for Mr. and Mrs. Randall. I know that they are worried about their youngest son and very upset that he is not being the father he ought to be. Perhaps Arthur is so bereaved he can’t bear to be around the baby. I have heard of such things, but I think it is reprehensible. I cannot imagine my Charles being so heartless.
Wishing for peace,
Sunday, Oct. 23, 1814
Almost all the harvest is in and Evvy, Mother and I have been turning out the house to get ready for winter. Most of the trees have shed their leaves and the air is much colder. My boys are four months old now and a lot more busy. I can’t leave them anywhere for long as they get very restless and begin to fuss. Mother has fixed me a sort of sling to put one child on my chest and the other on my back so that I can go walking with them. Sometimes, Evvy takes one and we go together, but we daren’t stray far from the house for fear of Bourke.
Fighting has gone on all this autumn and there have been heavy casualties on both sides. Mr. Hector Hamish Hamilton has been visiting Evvy on a number of occasions. He seems to be hoping that propinquity will aid his suit. Evvy is more amused than annoyed, but I don’t think that providence is on his side.
Hector is a good source of information about the events of the ongoing war. He told us about the attack that General Prevost had planned against the naval base in Plattsburgh. General Prevost had to wait until the British naval squadron could engage the American squadron, so that he and the troops could attack the town. The squadron arrived on September 11 and fought fiercely against the Americans, but had finally to surrender, both sides losing 250 men. General Prevost decided to retreat, as pressing his attack without naval assistance was impossible. The soldiers who returned from the battle reported that the noise of the naval canon fire was so thunderous they could feel reverberating in their own breasts and the ground seemed to shake underfoot.
There was also a fierce battle over Ft. Erie which Lt. General Drummond had surrounded but his army was quickly running out of supplies. The Americans in the fort suddenly attacked our soldiers on September 17, but were forced back with help of the native warriors. Now Lt. General Drummond has a strong position to defend on the Chippewa River.
Hector was most excited about the commissioning of the 100 gun ship St. Lawrence. He said it is the largest ship to sail on the Great Lakes and that it put the American navy in its place in a short time. He told us all this with much enthusiasm and almost knocked over a candle stick with his sweeping hand gesture when describing how it had turned the tide and regained British supremacy on Lake Ontario.
Hector has a very fine red handlebar mustache which causes Henry much hilarity, though thank goodness, he manages to keep it to himself until Hector departs. It is rather amazing the workout it gets when Hector is speaking and somehow always ends up in his teacup, which embarrasses him terribly. Still, it is kind of him to visit and keep us informed as Father and William have been too busy to attend to much more than our farm. Hopefully, the war will be over soon.