Knightley William Horlock.

A narrative. A short and thrilling narrative of a few of the scenes and incidents that occurred in the sanguinary and cruel war of 1812-14, between England and the United States; (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryKnightley William HorlockA narrative. A short and thrilling narrative of a few of the scenes and incidents that occurred in the sanguinary and cruel war of 1812-14, between England and the United States; (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 5)
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WAR OF 1812 — '14,












WAR OF 1812— '14,





1853. '


Although the following sketches were written entirely from
memory, more than thirty-seven years after the scenes and
incidents here related had passed away, yet the writer feels
confident there is no error or mistake of any importance, as
all are now. January, 1852, nearly as fresh in his mind as
they were the day they took place, and never can they be
eradicated from his memory, so long as he retains his natural
vigor and strength of mind.

Being solicited bv friends to write them out and have theni
printed, the writer has thought it might not be improper to
comply with their request, believing that a true narrative,
like the following, is none the less interesting, although many
years may have passed away since the scenes transpired. The
narrative commences from the time of the enlistment of the
writer, and all that is deemed worthy and is not too tiresome
for the reader to peruse, is noted and written out.


The autlioT enlists as a private soldier, and with his com-
pany marches to Portland, Me.; from thence to Burlington,
A't.. and from Burlington to the town of Champlain, N. Y.
While there, he. with others of his company, volunteered, and
went on board of the two U. S. sloops of -war. Growler and
Eagle, carrying 22 guns, 11 each, then on Lake Champlain,
to serve as marines. The next day fought a battle with the
enemy, -were overpowered by more than five times our own
number, made prisoners and sent to Quebec, and there confin-
ed on board a prison ship nearly six months, then set sail for
Dartmore prison. England. — numbering 372 prisoners, besides
the guard and ship's crew, about 40 more. Seventeen days
after leaving Quebec, and while in the Gulf of the St. Law-
rence, we met with a sad disaster and came near being all lost
in consequence of losing the ship's rudder. "We were there-
fore obliged to put the ship back, and entered the harbor of
Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Our intense Buffering while en board that horrible ship.

We were ordered to leave the prison ship and were thrust
into a dirty, loathsome prison on Melville Island, then occu-
pied by more than 1500 American prisoners, and confined
there nearly six months. Our Bufferings while there and the
subsequent exchange of all of us who were so fortunate as to
endure and survive the cruel privations of an imprisonment
in a foreign land of a year's duration.


Immediately after the United States declared war with Eng-
land, there was a call made for volunteers to serve one year
in the U. S. army, and the writer of these sketches enlisted
as a private in a company commanded by Capt. Oliver Iler-
rick, for that term of time. The company was organized in
October, 1812, and in January following was ordered to Port-
land, Me., and there we took up our quarters in old Fort
Sumner, on Munjoy's neck, now Mount Joy, and cold quart-
ers they were. Here were five companies, commanded by
Captains Herrick, White, Elkins, Snell, and Bryant. The
three former were quartered at the Fort, and Snell's and Bry-
ant's companies were quartered in private houses, near the
Fort, hired for that purpose.

The companies were paraded and drilled everyday, Sun-
days and stormy days excepted. Our quarters and parade
grounds were surrounded by sentries, at all times on guard to
prevent desertions, to keep off intruders, &c, and from 9 P.
M. to 4 A. M., at the striking of the town clock, they were
ordered to sing out at the top of the voice, ' ; All is well,''
which, in a still, calm night, might be heard for miles.

Our only fare was one pound of salt beef, one pound of
bread, and one gill of potato whiskey per day. This we soon
became tired of, and prevailed on our officers for liberty to go
into the town, which was granted us about twice a week. We
•ioon, with happy hearts and jovial glee, found our way to our
old friend Quincy, the one-leg man, who then kept a victual-
ru-"' cellar on what was then called Fish htreat. now Exchanzo

street. Here ^e were famished with mugs of flip ami many
I bites, which we enjoyed with keen appetites.
Our old friend was then somewhat advanced in years, and

was a good, kind hearted man. In his younger days he had
been a practical former, in that part of the State of Maine
called the Sandy River country. While there, being engaged
iii felling a tree, it slipped from the stump upon hi I and

•verely injured him that it was found necessary to ampu-
tate the leg near the hip.

Many of our men. by the time they had been in Portland a
few weeks, found themselves so short of cash that they had
the means to purchase a meal of victuals. That foci
made known to Mr. Quincy, he generously offered to supply

.1 on tick, by their promising to pay him when they re-
ceived their pay from the Paymaster. I think he lost n
ing on that score, for I believe all paid him well. But alas,
our old friend is gone; he has lung been numbered with

An amusing incident took place while we were in the Fort.
The company of Capt. Snell had not r I their advance

and bounty money, as had been promised them when they
enlisted. After being in Portland several weeks and not re-

iqg it. they su they were not bound to serve I

< ountry without pay, the]

,' them pushed past the sentries, and ti i k up their

line of march for their homes in Poland and H<

I • quick time. An alarm was immediately given, the c< mpa-

wcre called on to the parade ground, and thirty mei

d including myself, to pursue re. All of us

were fully equipped for the occasion. We took horses and

.',is and commenced the pursuit, under the command of
Capt. Chapel of Portland, who, by the way. was a furious old

w. We came up \\ith them at what is called Black-strap,
in Falmouth. Capt. Chapel ordered them to halt, or we
i ; them down! We only had guns and b

but wot a particle of ammunition with us. He instantly jump-
ed from his sleigh with his sword drawn, frothing and foaming
with rage, and in his fury carelessly thrust the point of his
sword several inches into the breech of his horse ! The poor
fugitives surrendered at discretion, and were driven back and
put into the blade hole, or cellar, under the Fort, and kept
there twenty-four hours as a punishment.

Sometime in the month of March, a British Cartel arrived
in Portland harbor from Halifax, with American prisoners.
The prisoners were a remnant of the traitor Hull's army,
of about 2000 men which he igominiously surrendered to the
enemy without firing a gun, in the month of August previous.
Their privations and intense sufferings had. been such that
they were reduced to the lowest extreme of wretchedness, and
when the)" landed upon the wharf they were scarcely able to
stand up on their feet. They were objects of universal pity.
and were immediately sent to hospitals fitted up for their re-
ception in the upper part of the city, and not far from Fort
Sumner, where we were quartered. One man. by the name of
Russell, came to our barracks and gave us a short history of
their treatment and suffering while prisoners, the particulars
of which I do not now remember. Little did we then think
that before four short months should expire, ourself, or any
of our jovial company were doomed to be captured by our
imon enemy and realize, by sad experience, the same cruel
treatment and suffering that poor Russell and his companions
had experienced : but such was the case, as my story will
soon show.

Our five companies commenced their march from Portland
to Burlington, about the first day of April. 1813. At that
time I was at home, at my father's house, in Pejepscot, now
Danville, I then being quite lame in consequence of a severe
but accidental blow upon my knee. Being a minor and hav-
ing enlisted without my father's consent, some effort was made
by him to get me clear and detain me at home. Cant. Her-

rick being at his home at the same time, -which was but a
few miles from my father's, called on and told him if he would
consent to let me go, I should ride with him in his sleigh to-
Portland, and from thence to Burlington should have all the
assistance that my lameness required. At that the old gent-
leman gave his consent, and after bidding all a hearty good-
by, I jumped into the sleigh with him and we Mere off in a
trice. "We arrived in Portland that evening. The compa:
were all gone. Capt. Elkins', SnelFs. and Bryant's, had been,
gone about three days, and Ilerrick's and White's started the
morning before we arrived in Portland. That evening Her-
rick enlisted two sailors by the name of Simmons and Chute.
The next morning Herriek directed us to push on and over-
take our company, (himself being detained in Portland a day
or two.) We came up with them the second day at Fryehurg,
having traveled fifty miles in two days, through mud. snow,
and water. The next day after we left Portland, we were
overtaken by two U. S. military officers on horseback. They.
Beeing we were all dressed sailor fashion, and haying guns and
equipments, stopped and made some inquiries, and after being
informed that we were U. S. soldiers, on our way to Canada
to fight the enemy of our country, one of them presented each
of us with a dollar, and told us to push on. He told us that
his name was McCobb, that he was the first <',d. of our Reg-
iment and was on his way to Burlington to join it. and that
we looked like just such boys as he wished to have in his reg-
;it and on the lines, to face the enemy.
I cannot now. after the lapse of near forty years, remember
all our -topping places, but 1 think the next night after we
left Fryeburg, we pal opal the tavern where the Willy family

perished some years after by a mountain slide. Our next stoo

was at a public house kept by a man named Rosebrook about
ine or two miles beyond the Notch »\' the White Mountains in

New Hampshire-. We arrived hen- about neon, the traveling
being bad, the baggage horses tired, and the men much fa-

tigued, is was resolved by our officers to give us a good resting:
spell. Our cooks soon -went to work and got on several large
kettles, and after boiling about one barrel of beef,, we helped
ourselves to a hearty supper of beef and bread, and then retir-
ed to the barns, stables, &C, for our night's lodging. Our
two companies numbered about 160 men, besides commission-
ed officers and teamsters. We found but very few public-
houses on the road from Portland to Burlington, that could
furnish lodgings for more than our officers and teamsters, con-
scqucntly, we soldiers had to take ourselves to the bams,
wrap up in our blankets and stow ourselves away in tlse hay-
mows, and notwithstanding- the nights were cold and freezing,
we generally rested well until the latter part of the night,
when we would begin to feel rather cool. We stopped at
Rosebrook's two nights, and then pushed on for Burlington-

The next day we crossed the Connecticut river on the ice,
and our teamsters continued to haul our baggage on sleighs
till we got within about five or six miles of Montpelier, Yt.
Here the snow had got so much worn in the road that they
were obliged to leave them and procure wagons, and then we
pushed on again for Montpelier, where we halted for the night..

The next morning the Reveille was beat at early dawn.
This was always done to summon the men to Roll call, and
the barns, stables and out-houses were quickly emptied of/
their occupants. After answering to our names and all had
taken their morning dram, (a glass of potato whiskey.) we
partook of our homely meal of cold beef and bread, and left
the pleasant village of Montpelier, the most of us, probably,
never to set eyes on it again. Our road this day continued
for many miles along the banks of Union river, a beautiful
stream, then free from ice and somewhat swollen. Beautiful
intervales stretched along on each side, and for many miles
along the east bank, there is a range of high rugged moun-
tains, which approach from one to within half a mile of the


We arrived at Burlington about the 15th of April, having
been fifteen days traveling about two hundred miles. My
traveling from Portland to Fryeburg, on foot, bo increased
my lameness, that from thence to Burlington I rode most of
the way. Little did I then think that that lameness would
trouble me for more than thirty-eight years then to come, but
such has Urn the case.

On our arrival at Burlington, we went into barracks with
about 2000 U. S. troops that had wintered there. At first
we were struck with honor at the sight of the bodies of dead
meD lying upon the side-walks, wrapped up in dirty blankets,
but they soon became so common and familiar, that they were
l»ut little noticed, for we were b coming inured to those cruel-
; - bloodsheds and deaths, that always follow in the trail of

Burlington Village lies upon the East • f Lake < !ham-

plain, with a gentle slope to the water's i . It was then.
1813, a lar it, handsome village, and had the appear-

ng a place of considerable trade in time : |
with their Canadian neighbors, having uninterrupto
navigation to the Isle Aux Naux, al I miles, and in row

• to St. Johns, about 20 miles farther, and within about
30 miles of Montreal.

On the north, and contiguous to Burlington village, there
an extensive pine plain, and here were the U. S. soldiers'
acks and parade grounds, bi out ten acres, encl

at all time on guard.
We were at this place about three weeks, and it was diffi-
cult for us i" get a permit from our ofl ■ to the vil-
. which was less than one fourth of a mile from our bar-
racks. 1 got hut one while there, and that not to be ab

• than one hour. Those that were not on guard had to
submit to a long, tiresome drill every day. and after the drill
we were put on fatigue — that is. we h rk with

els, hues, pickaxes, &c, 3tones. stumps.


roots, and leveling the ground, which I suppose was done
more to keep us out of idleness than anything else.

While we were here, a young man deserted, with the intent.
as was supposed, of joining the enemy. He was pursued by
some dragoons, overtaken, and brought hack, tried by a Court
Martial, and condemned to he shot! He belonged in Ver-
mont, and had a wife. She being informed of his situation,
came to visit him in his dismal abode, a sort of cell for the
safe keeping of prisoners. I was on guard at the prisoner's
door, when she was permitted to go into his room, and never
shall I forget the scene that followed. The prisoner was seat-
ed on his couch when his wife entered, and without speaking
a word she fell at his feet, and for some time they both seem-
ed to have lost the power of speech. She choked, sobbed and
cried : and her grief and sorrows seemed more than a young
and delicate female ought to bear. Soon after she went to the
commanding General, and plead with all the strength of a
woman's love, for the life of her husband : but her pleadings
were in vain, for he was soon executed.

Some four days after this, one poor fellow was made to run
the gantelope, for desertion. All the troops, excepting those
on guard. &c, were drawn up in double rank, that is. in two
line- about six feet apart, facing each other, every man being
furnished with a small bundle of birch twigs ; the prisoner
was then brought on to the ground, the drums beating and
playing the Rogue's March, and placed in the open space be-
tween the files, and marched through one regiment, an ofl
holding the point of a drawn sword at lbs breast and a f\\r of
men with charged bayonets at his back, at a slow pace, every
man giving him a switch on hi.- bare back, and blood was
drawn at almost every Mow. The; __ ■ ! him to their
hearts content, before he came to me. and glad was I.

While we were here it A\as very sickly. Some days two or
three died in a day. Sergeant Sinclair, of Capt. Whites
company, died here. He belonged w Monmouth, Me


We were here about three weeks, and then Capi Herrick
and Capt. White, with their companies, were ordered to the
town of Champlain in the State of New York, about 50 miles
from Burlington. We went by water, on board a sloop, about
40 miles, until we came to the mouth of a small river, where
we went on shore ami stopped over night and took up our
lodgings in barns, out-houses, &e., tho best we could find.
The next day we ascended the river in row boats eight or ten
miles. Nearly all the way both banks were covered with a
thick forest of heavy timber, but as we advanced we came to
a small but neat and pretty village, situated on the West side
and only one mile from Canada line. Here were two block
houses, or garrisons, built upon a little' rising ground, one
on the West and the Other on the East side of the river, and
about half a mile each from the village. These block hous
were built two stories high, of hewn square timber about twelve
inches thick, and were bullet proof. The basement story was
■.bout 2~> feet square, and the upper story jutted over the low-
er story about three feet larger, with port-boles to fire down
upon the enemy, in case lie sliould attempt to set lire to. or
blow up the garrison. We had also port-boles all around the
garrison, both in the upper and lower stories, so that we could
Ere upon the enemy in case be should make his appearance in
any direction within a fair musket-sho.t. These garrisons bad
n^t been occupied, and were just finished for our reception.
Ilerriek's company occupied the one on the Ka-t side. It was
built in the forks of two road-, one leading to Canada, distant
one mile, the other to the lake, distant (bur miles.

Our companies were ordered here as an advance guard and
to prevent smuggling, which was said to be carried on to some
considerable amount. The inhabitants on both sides mar the
lines, were on the most friendly term-. The Yankees sup-
plying the Canadians with provisions, and the Canadians pay-
ing in English good-, ,^e. To prevent that unlawful inter-
course, every night sentries were placed, not only by thesidea


of all the roads and by-paths that led into Canada, but in open
fields, bushes, kc. They were stationed about dark, and ad
secretly and silently as possible.

As far as the eye could see from any point that was acces-
sible to us in our rambles about the neighborhood, all along
on the Canada side of the line the country was covered with
one dense forest; no cleared land or building could be seen.
This forest was said to be full of hostile Indians, lurking
about and watching for an opportunity to fall upon and cut us
down. On that account the sentries were doubled, that is,
two men -were put on guard together, with loaded muskets,
and at nine o'clock the watch-word, or countersign, was given
out to the sentries by the sergeant of the guard. They were
ordered not to move a step, but to be wide awake, to see and
hear all they could, and if any human being came within hail-
ing distance, they were to demand, "Who goes there?" If
those so hailed, should say " Relief," the sentry was to reply,
"Relief; stand; corporal, advance and give the countersign,"
which he would do, in a low tone of voice, with the point of
the sentinel's bayonet at his breast. The sentinel was then
relieved from duty, which was done every two hours. If in-
stead of answering "relief," the person so hailed should say,
"Friend," the sentinel was to reply, "Friend, advance and
give the countersign." If he refused to do so, the sentinel
was to call the sergeant of the guard and a file of men, to take
the Cl friend " to the guard house to be examined. Should he
attempt to run from the sentinel, his orders were to shoot him
down, if he could. There was but one man brought in while
we were there. He was going down the river with a boat-load
of English iroods. one dark night: the sentinel hailed him. and
receiving no answer, fired upon him : this brought him too. the
ball having passed through the boat. He was taken to the
guard housc ; and the next morning he and his goods were
sent to Burlington, and that was the last I ever heard of him.


In the month of December before we came here, there was
about 2000 l\ S. troops stationed at this place about ten days.
They had been on an excursion into Canada; but the enemy
not being in sufficient force to meet them, fell back to their
Btrongholds, and the U. S. troops came out into this town,
(Champlain.) and there not being any barracks for their ac-
commodation, they went into a thick forest of hard wood, on
the outskirts of which there were many small bushy pines:
these they cut down to build their camps with, and although
many acres of wood were cut down, to keep their fires, in this
short space of time, it was said their camps were built in such
a slight and rude manner, that they suffered severely with the

< >ne day while some of our men were rambling through the
woods that these troops had occupied, they found the
a dead man in a cradle-hollow, covered over with leaves, rot-
ten wood, brush, kc. It -was told us that while those troops
were there, one man was killed by a sentinel who was guard"
ing some hay. An officer wanting some lor his horse, sent a.
man to get it for him. without a written order, as the regula-
tions required. The sentry forbid his taking any. but he dis-
regarded it. and attempted to carry sonx' away in his arms.
The sentry becoming exasperated, thrust his bayonet through
his body and killed him on the spot !

This, reader, is no fiction] it is a true story. Such is the
nature and cruel disposition of man. when he supposes he has
the laws of his country to sustain him. That was the case
with that murderer, for such 1 must call him. lie seemed to
think :hat. because he was placed there by a military officer to
guard the hay. le hail a right to take that man's life for at-
tempting to carry some away without his consent, lint such
was not the case. He was handed over to the officers of jus-
tice, tried by the laws of Ne\\ York State, for manslaughter,

found guilty, and sentenced to the State Prison for life.


We were at tins place about four -weeks. Many of our men
were taken down sick with fevers, and Joseph Freeman, from
the town of Greene, Me., one of Herrick's men, died here.

There was but little wrilitary duty to be done : no guard
duty, except as before stated, and but one short drill daily.
There were no fatigue parties called out to dig up stumps and
stones, to level and smooth off parade grounds. Neither were
we kept under very strict discipline; for we were all good
and true men. and our officers had much confidence both in
our courage and fidelity.

The neighboring farmers wishing to Ire on good terms with
the soldiers, occasionallv offered to hire them to work on their
farms: there was, however, but a small number who accepted

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Online LibraryKnightley William HorlockA narrative. A short and thrilling narrative of a few of the scenes and incidents that occurred in the sanguinary and cruel war of 1812-14, between England and the United States; (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 5)