Adeline’s War of 1812 Journal: August 1814
©2012 Mollie Pearce McKibbon
A fictional account of the War of 1812 as told through the journals of a young woman, Adeline Price.
Sunday, August 7, 1814
We have had no news of the war beyond an awful battle in a place called Lundy’s Lane, not far from the huge waterfall on the Niagara River. Hundreds of men lost their lives there when forces with the British army commander, Lieutenant-General Gordon Drummond, were attacked at the supper hour. William, who brought us this news from Fort Wellington, said that in the dark it must have been very difficult to tell one’s friends from foes. I asked William if there was any word about Robert or White Wolf, but there was not. All we can do is pray that they will return safely.
As for Bourke, thankfully no one has seen him or anyone of his description on this side of the St. Lawrence. Even so, Father and Henry keep the muskets beside them.
I had so hoped to have my sons back in our own home by now, but Blueberry Creek Farm still lies in ashes and I suppose we won’t see it until next summer. Oh how, I wish this ugly war was done and all of us living peaceful lives as we were before.
Sunday,August 14, 1814
We took the babes to Johnstown in the wagon yesterday to have them Christened by the Reverend Bethune. I dressed them in their best baby robes and Mother gave me two of her shawls to wrap them in. They slept during the drive there and woke up wailing, so I had to nurse them before we went to the reverend’s place of residence.
Elizabeth and William are the boy’s Godparents. The boys were Christened Andrew James and Charles William. Andy and Charlie were very quiet during the Christening and I felt so proud of my little sons.
Afterwards we drove back home and had a late supper of garden vegetables and one of the old hens that Evvy had stewed with onions. I was very relieved that nothing untoward had happened because it is the first time we had ventured away from the farm with my babes. I did notice that Father had taken his musket and so had William. Thankfully, they were not necessary.
Tuesday, August 16, 1814
I had a terrible shock in the earliest hours before dawn. We were awakened by a musket shot which seemed to be right outside our bedchamber. Father bolted down the stairs with his musket in hand and Henry hot on his heels, but much to our relief it was Arthur Randall, who, unknown to us, was keeping an eye on the farm for his brother, Robert.
Arthur apologized for frightening us, but he had spied a fox creeping into the hen house and had speedily dispatched the thief. Father thanked him and Mother made him a warm breakfast before he set out for his own home at the O”Meara’s.
Father says that the fox tail will make a handsome collar for mother’s winter coat and the rest of the pelt might make smart warm booties for the twins. It was kind of Arthur to keep watch but, perhaps it is unnecessary as no doubt Bourke has had enough revenge. I voiced that opinion,but Father said he was keeping his musket by his side, nonetheless and Mother nodded her head.
“Don’t forget for a moment, Addie, we are still at war.” Henry piped up and Evvy squeezed my hand.
My heart sank when I considered the dangerous world into which I had brought my sons. I wonder if things are as worrisome in dear old England.
Keeping you in prayer,
Tuesday, August 30, 1814
Today should have been a beautiful summer’s day. The weather was perfect, warm with a gentle breeze ruffling the grass and trees. The sky was pale blue with just a skiff of white cloud and as the rest of the family was out harvesting the furthest oat field, I was left at the house to look after the twins. I dressed them in their tiny lawn night shirts, nursed them and tucked them into their cradles under the shady maple near the well. Pirate wanted to go with Henry, Father, William, Mother and Evvy, but Father told him to stay with me and so he went to lay down and sulk between the two cradles.
Pirate has become an excellent watch dog now that he is almost fully grown. He dotes on the twins and is very proprietory. I therefore felt that it was an excellent opportunity to do some harvesting of the bounty of our garden. I took my reed basket and the musket Father had left for me and settled myself down between the rows of carrots and beans.
Now the garden has already produced many baskets of turnips, potatoes and beets which we have stored in the root cellar Father and William built on the garden side of our stone house. They dug it deep enough so that Father can stand upright in it. They lined it with stones and set down a flagstone floor and fashioned a wooden plank door for it to keep out the snow. Then Henry and Father made some shelves on two walls and a place for wooden barrels set on cedar fence rails to keep them off the floor. Mother put up crocks of wonderful currant and wild berry jams. The black berry, raspberry and wildstrawberries have been abundant this year. Evvy made jam herself from blueberries she harvested at my farm, which isn’t much now without a cabin.
I never thought it would ever be used for anything but produce. As I was working away filling my basket, the sun got warmer and I took off my straw bonnet to wipe my brow. I noticed that Pirate was standing up, the hair on the back of his neck straight up and he was growling. My skin began to prickle, though I was unable to see anything to disturb him.
I listened carefully and thought I heard far-off hoof beats coming in our direction. It might be White Wolf and Robert Randall returning from the battlefront but they wouldn’t approach without hailing us. I knew it couldn’t be anyone else as the harvesting was to go on all day and it was barely noon. Mother had prepared a lunch to take with them.
As well, I knew that Pirate would not growl at Arthur or any of the Randalls.
I had to protect the children. I ran over and snatched them out of their cradles and dashed to the house but midway there, I changed my mind. The house would be the first place anyone would look. I went instead to the root cellar, lifted up the door and scooted down the steps after sending Pirate to get Henry. I hoped he would understand and he seemed to as he ran off into the woods. I closed the door again and peered out a small knothole that father intended to fill.
It wasn’t long before I could hear a horse snorting and the swishing sound of someone dragging something through the long grass around the house. I peered out the knothole once more hoping to see a familiar figure. The figure I finally saw was familiar but not in a good way. The man’s back was turned but I could tell that the green military jacket he wore had no longer the appearance of care. It was missing trim and had a bedraggled hem needing patches. The hair was long and tied with a dirty ribband in a style long out of fashion. The beard was unkempt and his buckskin breeches were in sore need of cleaning. When he finally looked in my direction, my breath caught in my throat. It was Bourke, the same Bourke who had kidnapped me and menaced my life. It was the man who murdered my husband.
“I knows yer here, Adeline. I knows yer hide’n but yer ain’t goin ter get away this time. I got yer man and I will get yer.”
At that very moment Charlie began to stir and complain. Immediately, Bourke looked in our direction and it seemed my heart stopped beating. How would I protect my children? It was at that moment that I realized with horror that the musket was in the garden with my basket of vegetables.
“Hide’n in the root cellar I see! Clever gal! Very clever, but not enought to fool Jacob Bourke. Oh no…”
I needed a weapon, anything. While he was talking I went back down the steps and kicked a basket of onions over with my foot. Onions went rolling all over the root cellar floor. I put the twins wrapped in thin blankets into the righted basket and pushed it behind one of the barrels. Then I felt along the floor for a cedar stave to use to trip Bourke down the stairs or beat him.
The door above me began to open and I attempted to shrink further back into the shadows. Suddenly, I could hear Pirate barking from afar and voices shouting. The door slammed shut.
“Damn all, someone’s comin’” hissed Bourke, “Yer saved this time, but I’ll be back. Yer goin’ to pay, Oh yes.”
I could hear Bourke limping away and then the sound of hoofbeats as he fled. Pirate was barking loudly now and growling with a fierceness he’d never had before. I thought Bourke would be far away now, but I heard musket shots and decided to stay where I was until I knew who was in the yard. There were more shouts and I recognized a familiar voice.
“Adeline, are you safe? Addie, O God, why don’t you answer? If Bourke has touched one hair of your head or hurt the babies I will make him pay.”
I snatched up the basket with my two wailing babes and stumbled out of the root cellar. Robert darted forward and pulled Andrew wriggling and crying, out of the basket. He looked him all over, hugged him and handed him to me saying,”there there, little
fellow, here’s Mama.” Then he lifted Charlie out and I followed him into the house. White Wolf, inscrutable as ever, reloaded his musket, mounted his horse and rode away following the tracks left by Bourke’s mare. Not long after, Father, William and Henry came on the run after hearing musket shots and Pirate’s barking.
“Father, Robert and White Wolf saved our lives,” I gasped and I recounted to him as best I could, the morning’s narrow escape.
“I am very grateful to Robert and White Wolf for rescuing you, Daughter, but I think it was very brave of you to hide in the root cellar. I shall contrive a way to lock the door from the inside should you ever need protection there again.”
Mother and Evvy were horrified, when they returned on the run, to learn about my ordeal, but relieved to know that we were safe and well.
It wasn’t until he was assured that we were out of danger that Robert returned home to his parents. I knew how grateful they would be to have their son home whole and hale. At the same time, I was very grateful to God that Robert and White Wolf had chosen to return at that time.
I am so frightened of this horrible person that I cannot sleep, but the candle is guttering. I need to sleep for the babes arise in the “wee hours” as Mrs. Randall would say.
Goodnight dear friend,
Wednesday, August 31, 1814
In all the drama of yesterday, I never enquired about the war in the Niagara River area where Robert and White Wolf had been. Father today informed us that Robert was recovering from a bayonet wound that White Wolf had been tending since the Battle of Lundy Lane. I am glad our good friend is now home to recuperate.