Diary and Letters by Captain Robert Allison - part 2

Created: Friday, 11 March 2011 Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email


Left Hew's and after marching about five miles, bad breakfast at a small
Inn, on
The same fare as Friday, then proceeded to Bloss', previously called Peter's
Camp, through
Almost an entire wilderness, especially bad roads of stones and swamps.
Arrived at
Bloss' at half-past two o'clock. The men were much fatigued and the horses
of the baggage
wagon much wearied.

This day at the breakfasting place George Thompson strayed into the woods
became lost. Soldiers were dispatched in pursuit of him and returned without
him, he
having found the road in pursuing the Company. Crossed the Tioga River at
Paid Aaron Bloss Expenses $9.60.

I commence, my dear Polly, this letter today in order to give you an account
our match and shall continue to add to it until it can be forwarded by mail.
On yesterday
morning our prospects were gloomy, every appearance of rain and a wilderness
pass through, but the day became fine. We left Reynolds, the place from
where I last
wrote, in Lycoming County in which we still are, and moved on through an
country for six miles which distance we waded a small stream of water three
times, then
sat down on logs and partook of a most sumptuous breakfast composed of
bread, cold
herring and cold bacon prepared the night before. Last night we lodged
rather uncomfortably
at a small house after making the entire day's march of fifteen miles over
the highest hills, part of the Allegheny Mountains, and the worst roads I
ever saw. This
morning we marched about five miles and at a small inn, ate our breakfast in
the same
style as yesterday, there being no house from where we set out until this
place. This is
the part of the road called the wilderness and a dreary one it is. We have
not heard the
chirping of a bird for two days, our day's march has been twelve miles, and
we appear
all fatigued. There is but one apartment and the soldiers are sleeping on
their chairs
around me while I write. At our breakfasting place George Thompson, without
knowledge took his gun and went into the woods in search of game. When the
roll was
called he did not answer and I became alarmed least he should not again find
us. I had
the drum beat and guns fired, all without effect and I was obliged to
dispatch two
soldiers in search of him and since our arrival here they have come in with
him. He had
strayed so far from our little encampment as to have lost himself. The poor
fellow was
in great trouble and I inflicted no punishment on him, although it is
contrary to orders
that any soldier should leave the place of rendezvous more than one hundred
without leave.

Jim behaves himself remarkably well and attends to his duty. He is tired
and says if myself and him had stayed at home, we would not have had so much


Left Bloss' a little after light and marched to John C. Youngman's for
distance five and one-half miles. Rained part of the time. We then proceeded
to D.
Willard's, making the day's march altogether nineteen and one-half miles.
Crossed the
Tioga three times. Paid expenses of $20.00.

Dear Polly: We have arrived here after a march of nineteen miles principally
the bank of Tioga River. The drum aroused us at the dawn of day and we
started. It rained on us for about half an hour and then became pleasant. We
have comfortable
quarters for the night, the evening has become cold and I have a fire put on
my room from where I now write, but cannot look around me without calling to
recollection how great my happiness would be were it possible to be
transported in an
instant to my own fire side and surrounded by you and my poor little girls,
but these
reflections unman me and I must endeavor to dissipate them, it will be only
an attempt.
It is said we now have good roads and a pleasant country to pass through.


Remained here for breakfast and then proceeded on out way. Crossed the line
New York at Linley Town, passed the Conaneague and halt at the house of
Ford, a genteel liberal man who well entertained us. Total amount of expense
Distance this day ten miles.

Dear Polly: For the first time since we started I agreed to take breakfast
our march and have arrived at Linley Town in the State of New York, about
170 miles
from Huntingdon. To this place I requested you to write and the post is to
arrive this
evening. My anxiety is great but I fear from the arrangements of the post
office at
Williamsport that I shall have to wait one week longer. We have been
marching among
the Yankees for three days, they have behaved very politely, but evince a
great disposition
to make money off us. Yesterday evening being Sunday, a number collected and
this morning a Colonel, a Major, a Captain, a Doctor and God knows how many
officers waited on me and escorted my Company for a mile carrying two stand
colors in front of us, and swearing we were the handsomest set of men as
soldiers, they
ever saw. Indeed the compliments we have received ever since our setting out
been such that under any other circumstances than mine at home would make me
of my present situation, but my mind is too much engrossed about my family
affairs at home for compliments to make any impression on me. The regular
troops who
have passed before us have been guilty of such outrageous conduct that we
are considered
as gentlemen. They are one day's march before us and I am determined they
shall remain so unless they stop a few days and then I will proceed ahead of
them. We
are now at a genteel house on the bank of the River Cowanesque, commonly
Conanesky, about twelve miles on this side of Painted Post, where I expect
to reach
tomorrow, perhaps further. Myself, officers and soldiers are all well and
stand the
march much better than they expected. My feet have not yet got sore and I
have been
obliged to administer salve for sole feet and laudenum for the lax, brought
on by eating
fresh provisions, to only one or two men. I never was in better health in my

The soldiers have got a fiddle in the adjoining room and are dancing
briskly. It
annoys me a good deal, but I am willing to submit to it, as their spirits
are revived in
consequence of the music. The Post will leave this place tomorrow and I must
my letter. I have given you all the news I can think of. Tell the families
of the soldiers,
they are well, and I will endeavor to take them home so.

No doubt you will show my letter to Mrs. H. and all our other friends. If it
them as much pleasure to read, as me to write, under an idea that you and
them will be
gratified, it will be some little consolation. God bless you, my dear
children and all my
friends is the wish nearest the heart of your ever affectionate husband.
Write to my
mother where I am.


We moved from Ford's, crossed the Tioga twice, paid James Cook for
the Company over one crossing of the Tioga, one dollar, crossed the Canisteo
halted a few minutes at Irwin's near the Canisteo and then moved on across
the Cohocton
River over a bridge to Irwin's at the Painted Post, distance twelve miles. A
rain commenced
at half-past 8 o'clock and wet the soldiers considerably. Paid expenses


Left Painted Post and marched to Campbell's for breakfast. Purchased bread
milk for men $2.00, then proceeded to Bath, total day's march eighteen and
miles. Halted at the house of Captain Bull.


Remained at Bath to have washing done, bread baked, etc. Paid for bacon
paid Samuel Nixon for bread $5.00, paid Howell Bull, expenses $37.50.

Dear Polly: I have not received no letter from you but one since I left home
can I expect any till my arrival at Niagara, and have directed the different
where I requested you to write to forward them after me, which will be done.
My last
letter to you was from Linley Town to which place I gave you an account of
our journey.
The next morning we marched off and ate our breakfast on the bank of the
Tioga River
at which place rain commenced and continued on us during our march that day.
We got
twelve miles, crossed the Cohocton River to the Painted Post, and yesterday
arrived at
this place where we are remaining today for the purpose of resting, washing,
etc. Nothing
of moment has occurred to any of us. We still continue to be improving in
and all have good appetites. Tomorrow morning we shall again resume our
march and
suppose it will be nearly two days before we reach headquarters. The
distance being
about 120 miles. I feel astonished at myself to think that I can walk
eighteen and nineteen
miles a day without being fatigued or my feet getting sore. Snyder
complains of his ankles but after riding a short distance in the baggage
wagon, is restored.

We have generally been well lodged on our march, the men always having a
or barn to sleep in, and I have as yet had a good bed. You will not receive
this letter
until Friday two weeks, and perhaps at some time receive another which may
be written
when I get some further on. You must not be uneasy if a week should slip by
you receiving a letter, for although I will not neglect writing, the
arrangements of the
mails are so that there is no certainty. I hope Elizabeth and Catherine
behave well and
are a comfort to you, but I must not think too much about you and them, or I
will not
be considered a soldier, which I wish I never had been.

That God may grant you fortitude to bear our separation without too much
is my most sincere prayer. Give my love as usual to all friends and kiss the
children for me.


We marched from Bath along the turnpike road to Hornell, distance twenty
Paid expenses of Company $6.80.


Moved on to Mr. Hurlbrut's for breakfast and paid for milk $.50, distance
five miles,
then marched on to Dansville, twelve miles, making this day's march
seventeen miles.
Paid expenses at Dansville $12.00.


Left Dansville and marched to Mr. Kennedy's where we breakfasted, distance
miles. Marched on to Bigtree. (Genesco) Paid for bread $.75.


Left Genesee and marched to Lege's for breakfast. Paid for bread on the road
Paid for milk at Bigtree $.25. Arrived at Calidonia, making this day's march

My Dear Polly: This day three weeks I left Huntingdon and all I hold most
to me this side the grave and am now two hundred and seventy-three miles
distant from
them and about ninety-five miles yet to go. For two days we have had good
roads, fine
weather and a pleasant country. The men still continue well and cheerful. No
accident has befallen any of us.

The officers breakfast and sup at public houses. I provide provisions and
soldiers cook for themselves much to their satisfaction. This evening white
sitting at
supper my friend Mich. T. Simpson rode up to the door on his way to
headquarters in
the capacity of an officer, but what it is I have not yet asked him. I
presume in the
Commissary department.

We have now got on the State road from Albany to Niagara, having crossed the
Genesee River. Three volunteer rifle companies passed on before this morning
and one
overtook us. There are one thousand troops about twenty-five miles behind
and five
thousand others are on their march from Albany. The whole country is alive
soldiers and everything has a warlike appearance. Honor calls me to the
scene of action,
effection and inclination call me home where all my happiness rests. A great
variety of
incidents and little anecdotes along the road tend much to amuse and keep me
from reflecting
too much. At Niagara I shall expect to receive several letters from you and
some of my Huntingdon friends. I wrote to McCahan as well as you from Bath
this is the sixth time I have written you since my leaving home, but am
fearful you will
not receive all the letters. I cannot see any little children along the road
without thinking
about my dear girls at home. I feel the great necessity of my presence at
both on account of my family and that of Mr. Henderson. Tell John he must
write to me and when I arrive at Niagara I shall give him an account of our
May God protect you, our little girls and all friends is the ardent prayer
of your affectionate


Left Calidonia and marched to ..... . for breakfast. Marched on to Batavia,
making the whole days march eighteen miles.

Dear Polly: I wrote you yesterday from Calidonia but lest the letter should
have thought it advisable to write from this place. The distance being
miles from Calidonia, we have had a most delightful day and the people here
are very
genteel and polite.

In yesterday passed through a small Indian village where there were a great
Indian warriors who are preparing to espouse the American cause and will in
a few
days follow us. I purchased from one of the Squaws a musk mellon.

Tell Catherine I saw a great many little Indian girls like her. I just hear
the sound
of drums approaching at the head of two regular troops from the eastward.
and believe me most affectionately yours.


Left Batavia and marched to McCracken's for breakfast. Paid for milk $1.25.
Moved on and at Bruce's paid for two quarts of whiskey $.75. Marched to
(damp dirty uncomfortable house) making the whole day's march eighteen


Left Vandevander's and moved to Harris for breakfast. Then marched to
the whole day's march being fourteen miles.


Moved towards Buffalo, distance eight miles, having on the road called on
Smythe, who had no orders for me, but to go to Buffalo and ordered my stay
until he would receive a communication from General Van Rensselaer. Arrived


Remained at Buffalo to wash, etc. Having on yesterday called on General Hall
who recommended my remaining at Buffalo until he would write and receive an
from General Van Rensselaer with regard to my destination.

My Dear Polly: On yesterday afternoon we got to this place which was not one
of the points contemplated to pass by when I left home. It is about twenty
around to come this way to get to Niagara, but the roads were so bad the
other course
und all the other troops pursuing this route, I thought proper to follow. I
am remaining
here today for orders and expect on Monday to resume our march and probably
stationed at Lewiston about thirty miles from this place and eight from

I have not yet been able to learn what number of troops are at the different
but regiments and companies are hourly coming on and in a very few weeks
final will be done. The strong presumption at present is that we will be
ordered into
Canada which I can now see from my window across the point of Lake Erie.
are a great number of friendly Indians in this town and neighborhood and one
of their
great men informed me last night that in about four weeks there would be a
body of
eight hundred assembled at this place to assist in making the attack.

There are two regiments of regular troops stationed about three miles behind
and a great many others two miles further down the river, but I will not
distress you by
writing an account of the military transactions. The scene is new to me and
I am
heartily tired of it. What the result of our operations will be is very
uncertain but all
the officers appear to be in good spirits and confident of success. I have
not yet received
any of your letters but expect they are at Niagara, to which place you will
to direct them.

The distance to this place from Huntingdon is three hundred and thirty-one
and I did not ride one foot of the road. My feet were sometimes a little
sore but I now
feel no inconvenience from them and am not even tired. The soldiers continue
well and
appear contented. The compliments paid our Company has a good effect to keep
cheerful. This letter will be put into the Post office to go by the way of
Albany as
being the most expeditious way of reaching you. This is a very rainy, stormy
day and
Lake Erie has a grand and terrible appearance. The surrounding country is
pleasant and
fine but there is no comfort for me separated from you and my dear children.
my dear wife, take care not to spoil our little girls and endeavor to be
contented. Give
my love to the children and all friends.


Remained in Buffalo awaiting for orders and drew a provision return for
rations of bread for use of my Company.


Remained at the same place and drew a provision order for my Company
of forty-eight men and one woman, for ninety-eight complete rations, at 2
P. M. for Company exclusive of officers.


Remained at same place.


Drew a provision order for ninety-eight complete rations for the Company
of officers, commencing on the 7th of October. This evening I received a
verbal communication from General Hall that he had orders from General Van
to remain at Buffalo until further orders and that all the Pennsylvania
Troops were
to do so.


Reported to General Hall as follows: Buffalo, 8th of October, 1812, Sir: In
to orders from the Honorable William Eustis, Secretary of War, bearing date
16th of August, last, I have the honor to report to you that I am arrived at
this place
(after a march of 331 miles) with a Company of Volunteer Infantry from
consisting of one Captain, two Subalterns, four Sergeants, four Corporals,
two musicians
and thirty-three privates, all of whom are now subject to your orders I am


Drew a provision order for ninety-eight rations for my Company, exclusive of
officers and servants.


My beloved Wife: At this place we are ordered to remain until further
We have very comfortable quarters both for officers and men and all continue
well. I
have written to John Henderson an account of the particulars of the war
which he will
communicate to you. I have not yet been able to get your letters from
Niagara, but
will send for them tomorrow by the mail. It is not safe going down the river
or I
would have sent before this time, but have no wish to unnecessarily expose
myself. You
may assure the families of all soldiers that they are well. I can form no
idea yet of what
will take place or whether anything this winter. In future direct your
letters to this
place. As usual give my love to the children and believe me to be most
your tender husband.


Drew a provision order for ninety-eight rations.

My Dear Polly: I wrote you a short letter yesterday which left this day and
go round by the way of Albany to Huntingdon as the most expeditious route.
being able to make any correct calculation how soon a letter will reach you
from this
place, I write by almost every mail leaving here. I am in hopes that my
Company will
be stationed here until the whole army is ordered to cross the river into
Canada which
is much talked of. This morning about twenty-three hundred regular troops
march to
a place called Lewiston, where the other part of the army is stationed. By
some it is
suggested that the object is to have a sufficient force collected in order
to cross at that
point. The volunteer corps to which Canan and Vandevander's Companies are
have not yet arrived nor any news of them. Major Cuyler, aide to General
who was killed bv a cannon ball was yesterday buried with the honors of war.
Company was selected by the General to perform the ceremony and firing at
the grave.
We all cleaned ourselves up, made a brilliant appearance and acquitted
ourselves with
'honor much to the satisfaction of the General who was pleased to compliment
us for
,our correct military conduct. We are much in favor and not yet put to any
very hard
duty, except that in General Orders we are directed to exercise six hours
every day.
At the home where I lodge there are two British officers who were taken
prisoners on
'Friday in a Brig which was taken by the Americans. There are also here a
number of
American officers who were surrendered by General Hull at Detroit, among
whom is
Captain Hickman and his lady who is the Daughter of General Hull. Their
'is very unpleasant owing to the conduct of Hull being frequently the
subject of conversation and much censured.

We have had no alarm today from the British. This morning a few cannons were
fired across the river at our fort two miles from Buffalo but no injury
done. This is
the most unpleasant country at this season of the year I ever saw, there
being continual
storms and rains. I am getting so fat that my clothes will scarcely button
on me and I
eat hearty three times a day, and have not yet become either lazy or
dissipated, or forget
that I have a family and comfortable home, where I should rather be than
all the laurels which military ambition could possible desire. I hope the
children and
you are well, frequently do I awake dreaming that Catherine is prattling to
me. I fear
paying the postage of so many letters will break you up and I must not write
so often.
Tomorrow I expect to get all the letters which you wrote and directed to
Niagara and
other places. It will be a great treat to me. With my love to all friends. I
am your
loving husband.


(No entry in diary)


Drew a provision order for one hundred rations, having recruited one other


My Dear Polly: David Snyder has been discharged and now goes home. It would
give me great pleasure if we were all in the same situation, but I cannot
form any opinion
yet, whether we will remain all winter or not, but my fears are that we will
be obliged
to stay. There has been one hard battle fought by the Americans in
attempting to take
possession of Canada, in which a great many valuable lives were lost, and at
the place
where we were to have been and no doubt would be, provided we had tents, so
that you
see all things are for the best. I am sorry to say that I have not yet been
able to obtain
either clothing or money for my men and they are getting uneasy. I hope soon
to get
warm clothing for them. For three days past all has been peace and
quietness, until
last night when we were alarmed and out immediately under arms, but it
turned out to
be in consequence of some drunken Indians in the neighborhood firing their
There are a number of Indians who drew their rations and say they are ready
willing to fight for us. Owing to the confusion in the neighborhood of the
post office
where your letters were directed I have got none of them yet, but hope in a
few days
to receive them all. Heaven protect you and my children. Your ever

P. S. Mr. Simpson, Miller, Swope and myself have got boarding at a small
house in a
retired part of the town with a poor family. The man of the house drinks
hard, the
woman is neat and clean, and has one little girl, the size of Catherine. We
have a room
to sit and sleep in and eat in the kitchen. Jim still behaves well but is
heartily tired' of
campaigning. I have written so often that I have nothing to say.


To the Secretary of War. Sir: In obedience to your orders dated i6th of
last, delivered by Captain Wheaton on the 22d of the same month, I marched
with my
Company of Volunteers from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, on the 7th of
September, and
arrived at this place (after a march of 331 miles without tents) on the 2d
of the present
month, where I was halted by orders from the Commander-in-chief. We are yet
tents or any prospect of getting them, my men have no winter underdress,
directed to leave home with linen pantaloons and waistcoats, their shoes are
worn out
and many of them have no stockings and are entirely without the means of
any kind of comfortable clothing suitable for the approaching season, which
this climate
particularly requires. After diligent inquiry I cannot find any person
authorized or
who has the means of advancing to my men the amount of clothing, agreeable
to the
act of Congress, or even to pay the men their wages as soldiers. I am
willing to submit
to many inconveniences, but the clamors of my men and seeing them shivering
cold for want of clothing morning and evenings, when on guard are very
My company is not the only one in this situation, there are two others from
out of which five of their men have deserted and unless some pecuniary
relief is
shortly afforded, I fear it will be impossible to keep our men together.

Having received my orders direct from you and there being no person here to
whom I can apply must be my apology for this communication which I hope will
be overlooked but immediately attended to for the good of the service. I
have the
honor, etc.

My Dear Wife: No doubt before you receive this the news of the Battle of
Queenstown will have reached you, and in my last letter I stated the reason
why my
Company were so fortunate as not to be there, viz, what we all consider a
the want of tents. A true account of the engagement cannot yet be given. I
have spent
a great part of the day in company with General Van Rensselaer who commanded
expedition and he has but an imperfect knowledge of the number killed. The
amount of killed and wounded and taken prisoners will be about one thousand.
officers and privates taken (except the regulars) will be permitted to
return on their
parole not take up arms during the war. A flag of truce came over the river
today. I
was ordered by the General to receive the officers. They had nothing
particular to
communicate, only to inquire for some friends. An armistice has taken place
hostilities are not to commence until thirty hours notice is given. My
opinion at present
is that there will be no further attempt to invade Canada this winter and I
hope that a
peace will shortly take place, for which I do most sincerely hope. This
evening I received
two Huntingdon papers which were going on to Niagara, directed to me. They
were a great treat. The letters are gone on, they could not be opened, but
will return
on the day after tomorrow. Write every post, direct to Buffalo. I heard
yesterday by
a gentlemen direct from Meadville that the two thousand volunteers were in a
State of
confusion, desertions daily taking place and doubtful whether they will come
on or not.
If they do not come on they will be disgraced. My love to all my friends,
Your affectionate


My Dear Polly: On Tuesday last I started from this place for Niagara to see
country, and more for the purpose of receiving letters from you which I
expected certainly,
but may you well guess my disappointment and mortification to find on
that there were twelve or fifteen for the different soldiers and both the
officers but none for me. I am certain they must have miscarried and yet
cannot well
reconsile this opinion on reflection that the others were forwarded from the
offices to which they were directed.

I spent an hour in viewing the falls of Niagara, which are certainly one of
wonders of nature, but I was a little out of temper in consequence of my
and did not enjoy the scene so much as I otherwise would have done. Neither
or J. Henderson have any reason to expect any more letters from me. It is
impossible for
me to make up any decided opinion as to what will be the operations of the
army during
the winter, but present appearance indicate an intention to retire into
Major General Van Rensselaer who was Commander-in-chief of all the forces is
still at this place but has given the command of the army to General Smythe
of the
regulars, and is going home. Major General Hall has gone home not to return,
and I
am sorry to say that things relative to the war appear to be in much
confusion. It is
impossible to get a correct account of the late unfortunate battle,
particularly the number
killed, but from the best idea I can form there must have been about two
killed and nearly the same number wounded, many of whom are daily dying. The
after the battle an armistice took place which still continues and uncertain
how long it
will be, but hostilities are not to commence on either side without thirty
hours previous
notice. I saw the ground on which the battle was fought, the river is not
more than
one hundred yards wide at the place the Americans crossed and the British
soldiers, their
forts and batteries were in full view. Colonel Wynders Regiment of regulars
are stationed
at Niagara Fort, the others encamped about three miles from this place.
The whole force now on the lines who can be compelled to go into Canada does
not exceed two thousand, and I presume the General, who is said to be a
cautious man,
will not attempt it with so small a number. The Meadville volunteers have
not yet arrived
and doubts are entertained that they will not come over. Out of one of the
Volunteer companies now here, nine have deserted and three from the other.
None of my men have yet disgraced themselves by such conduct. They are
situated in the, courthouse but I cannot tell how long they will remain
Give my compliments to our friends and love and kisses to each believe of
the children, and me most affectionately your tender husband.


My Dear Polly: When I wrote you last, I had not received your letters nor
from McCahan, both of which arrived on the evening of the day I wrote and
pleased was I to hear from home. We are going on as usual, all well, but the
number of the Company's beginning to grow uneasy and anxious to get home. We
have not yet went into tents, but were very near it yesterday, being ordered
out of the court-
house to give room for the sick. However, I made out to provide a house into
the men go this day. I have purchased warm clothing for them, under an
that the paymaster will shortly be on and remunerate me. The regular troops
who are
encamped about two miles from this town are becoming sickly, owing to their
obliged to sleep on the damp ground, about three hundred out of one thousand
are laid
on their backs and many of the poor fellows who were wounded in the late
battle have
died. This day at 1 o'clock I am to go out to the encampment with my Company
to see a
soldier shot for desertion.

All is peace and quietness here at present, the armistice is not yet at an
end. When
it ceases, no doubt some little trouble will commence, but there will be no
danger unless
we are ordered to cross over into Canada. The Pennsylvania troops have not
arrived. I am anxious to hear from home and no doubt in a few days will
receive letters.
I seldom suffer myself to think of my business which is suffering much, of
you, the
children and my friends, it is impossible for me to forbear thinking too
much for my
own happiness. I hope Mary is come home and that you are all well. Heaven'
you. Your affectionate husband.


I called on General Smythe and received his direction to appoint the Officer
of the
Day and give the countersign till further orders.

My Dear Polly: The same day on which I wrote you last, your letter of the
9th of October, together with McCahan's paper were both received and there
is little doubt
but all your letters will safely arrive. I have not been able yet to receive
any money
for the men, either their pay or in lieu of clothing, they are becoming very
fretful and un-
less I can get some from the government shortly I fear they will become more
so. I
have laid out nearly all my own money to buy clothing for them and unless I
get some
shortly, will be obliged to get it sent from home. Captain Collin's Company
who are
in my situation have determined to the number of forty-two to stack their
arms and go
home. They are all republicans and the officers have had more trouble with
them, than
I have yet had. Tell Mr. Henderson that so soon as I have any news to give,
I will write.
At present all is peace on the lines, both parties making preparations, the
Americans for
the invasion, the British for defense. I was all day yesterday engaged on
the Court
Martial, trying soldiers for desertion, and am today to be on another. The
soldier who
I stated in my last letter was to be shot, was executed in the presence of
the whole army
in and near this place. He met his fate with great resolution, and I think
had hopes of pardon till the last moment. I can form no opinion as to the
course the war will take or whether it will soon be at an end, but hope for
the best. I am growing very fat and of late had so little hard duty to
perform that I am getting lazy, but not dissipated.

I am glad Mary has got home. She will be company for you, though Tho. Blair
add to your comfort. Tell all the children, I hope they will be good and
obedient to you. Does ever Elizabeth talk of me? Remember me affectionately
to Mr. H. and all
other relatives and friends. I am your affectionate husband.


George Armitage, James Simpson, Abraham Vandevander, L. Westbrook and J.
Westbrook deserted,--to pursue them to Cattaraugus. I proceeded towards
overtook them, and the three first returned.

My Dear Polly: The occurrence which causes the date of my letter from this
place is a very unpleasant one for me. The volunteers have not yet had one
cent of pay
and have became very impatient and much dissatisfied with their situation.
On Tuesday
night five of my Company deserted. Yesterday at twelve o'clock I procured a
horse and pursued them to this place, being thirty miles distant from
Buffalo, up Lake
Erie. This morning I started at 3 o'clock with a man to carry a lantern to
guide me
through a wilderness of nine miles and arrived at a house at day light,
where I found my
men, very much to their confusion and astonishment. After a good deal of
they agreed to return to their duty and began to retrace their steps. I
remained with
them for sometime and then rode on before. Three of them have came on and
two I
fear much have determined to go off. I have first dispatched a messenger to
raise the
militia to go in search of them. They were all making their way home.

Yesterday morning before I left Buffalo, every member of Captain Phillips'
and several of Captain Collin's (both from Fayette County) stacked their
and refused to do duty until they were paid their wages and money in lieu of
They were all reported to the General, and I have just received information
that they
were put under guard and marched out to the encampment where the regulars
poor fellows, I feel much for their present situation. It is a hard one and
I know not
what the consequences will be.

They are almost naked and barefooted, and without money, or any to be had
them,--yet all these hardships will not justify mutiny or desertion. My men
are much
better off, as I purchased pantaloons for all of them that wanted, but the
novelty of a
soldier's life is over and they want to go home. It is shameful that we have
not yet received
our money from the government. I have repeatedly applied to General Smythe,
who is now our commander, but without redress. He is willing to do all in
his power
for our accommodation, but has not the means. The Pennsylvania troops from
have not yet arrived. What can occasion their delay, we are at a loss to
know. An
express was sent after them last Monday, who has not yet returned. On their
arrival, it
will be ascertained whether the campaign closes for this fall or not. I hope
it may and
the war too.

Since I wrote you last, one other of your letters arrived. They will all
come on.
McCahan's paper containing a statement of the election is to hand.

I shall remain here tonight and tomorrow return to Buffalo. The ride under
other circumstances than being so far from you, my children and friends,
would be
pleasant. The whole distance being along the beach of Lake Erie, but my mind
is too
much engrossed about the situation of my business and family, to enjoy with
pleasure some of the magnificent scenes of nature exhibited in this quarter
of the world.
I am becoming quite accustomed to the appearance and society of Indians,
seeing them
daily and frequently meeting with them at their camps in the woods. I feel
much for
your situation next week during the Court, so many inquiries will be made
my business. George Thompson has not been very well but is getting better.
Swoope says if he was once more at home he would give security not to leave
the Borough
for two years. Neither officers or men enjoy the greatest possible
contentment of
mind, but all appear to be growing fat, which is not strong evidence of too
much anxiety.
As usual, present my love kindly to all our friends and give each of the
children a
kiss from me. I am your truly affectionate husband,


My Dear Polly: I wrote you a few days since from Cattaraugus when I was in
pursuit of deserters from my Company. Levi Westbrook and John Westbrook have
yet been taken and I fear much will reach home before they are apprehended.
conduct was so dishonorable and unprincipalled that I hope the citizens of
will have them immediately apprehended and confined in prison in order that
a detachment
of men may be sent to bring them back. The other three who were persuaded
by them are in excellent spirits and glad they returned. No punishment has
been or will
be inflicted on them. We are generally well. George Thompson is still a
little better.
All is yet doubt and uncertainty as to our movements this fall. The regular
have been ordered to build huts, which looks like retiring into winter
quarters. I am in
great hopes the campaign is at an end and that peace will be made. The war
is badly
carried on. No money yet for the volunteers. The Company who stacked arms
kept under guard for three days and nights exposed to the weather without
tents and
then discharged with each a suit of clothes. Their Captain had his sword
taken from
him and is yet under arrest.

So far as I can learn there is a very general wish, particularly among all
the volunteers,
that the war would cease.

The armistice still continues, consequently all is peace and quietness. My
is attached to a battalion of volunteers from Albany and New York. We have
no hard
duty to perform and are doing but little good.

In future write to me at this place and direct your letters to come by the
mail. They will arrive several days sooner. John Henderson, John Miller and
J. Mc-
Cahan have not performed their promises to write. I think you must receive
at least
three letters from me weekly by the different mails as I write that often.
The mail will
close in a few minutes and I have not time to write any more.

May happiness attend you, my darling children and all friends is the wish of
affectionate husband.


Received from Captain James Thomas, Divisional Quartermaster, $1737.60 in
of clothing for the men of my Company.


My Dear Polly: Yesterday we had a slight fall of snow, this morning is cold
everything has a gloomy appearance. The poor soldiers who are obliged to lay
tents have a very uncomfortable time. My men are in a house, and with great
I have been able to procure pay for their clothing, which has elevated their
spirits a
little and they are better satisfied. A few days since the General issued an
order for the
soldiers to build huts which was considered as putting an end to the
campaign for the
season, but it was afterwards countermanded and every arrangement is making
crossing over into Canada in a few days. The Meadville troops will be here
this day or
tomorrow and then something conclusive will be done. I am still in
expectation that
the General will retract his orders for crossing. The weather is becoming so
cold and
unpleasant, I have got my flannel made up and a cloth waistcoat made. I
shall make
myself as warm as possible as the nature of the circumstances will admit of.
Thompson has not yet entirely recovered, his complaint appears to be of the
kind and has settled principally in his left arm, otherwise he is well
enough. I am sorry
you were so much tortured with the reports of part of my Company being cut
off, as we
have never had even a skirmish. Waggoner was standing sentinel a few nights
since, it
being dark, something approached, he hailed and for want of an answer fired
his musket,
immediately on report of which a dog yelped loudly and ran off. Should we go
over the
river you cannot expect to hear from me so often, but I will write before we
start. A
company of volunteers from Baltimore have came on and are united to the
I am attached to. Our whole regiment consists of about four hundred
volunteers under
command of Colonel McClure, an Irish democrat from New York. He is a clever
and very friendly with me. This day the mail arrives by which I expect to
receive letters
from home. That God may protect you, my children and all our friends is the
prayer of your affectionate husband.


My Dear Polly: The Meadville troops arrived here the day before yesterday,
in good health and spirits, but I believe will not generally cross the
water, indeed from
what I can learn I don't believe that more than one fourth of them will, but
perhaps when
they see others crossing it will encourage them. Everything preparatory to
our entering
Canada in a few days is progressing. The weather at present is extremely
unfavorable, very
cold and repeated snow storms. The soldiers who are in tents complain much
and not
without reason. The volunteers are generally tired of soldiering and if once
more at
home would remain there. From the present movements, it is generally
understood and
believed that a descent will be made, even without the aid of the
Pennsylvanians. It is
considered imprudent but I fear will be persevered in. If a landing is
effected, we shall
have a pretty severe winter. The armistice which has continued since the
battle of
Queenstown is taken off, and this night at nine o'clock hostilities on
either side may

As you might hear more unfavorable reports of our situation and
than are in reality founded in facts, I have thought advisable to give you
the above statement
of what appears to be intended. Captain Canan looks well, he says his men
cross, but after conversing with them I find the general cry of all the
Pennsylvanians is
they will be the fewest number. That if there was a sufficient force to go
over they
would not remain behind. Knowing that we are compelled to cross, myself and
are relieved from suspence.

Perhaps this may be the last letter you will receive from me while we remain
as it is probably the orders for embarkation of the troops will be given
before it is done. After orders are received, if possible, I will write.

My health is very good, my spirits more depressed than those of a soldier
should be.
I cannot help it. The men are well except George Thompson, whose rheumatism
his arm has become so bad that I will endeavor to have him discharged and
sent home.
I pray that you will endeavor to be contented and not distress yourself too
much on my
account. Give my love most affectionately to the children and also my
friends, and
believe me most truly your loving husband.


George Thompson discharge from service by Colonel McClure.

My Dear Polly: The bearer George Thompson has been dismissed from service in
consequence of a complaint in his arm. I am sorry he was no longer able to
do duty as
he has always conducted himself with great propriety and as a good soldier.
I wrote you by the mail which left this place yesterday and write generally
times each week as many of the letters miscarry. Your letter bearing date
the 3 Ist of
October arrived by the mail last night, none from J. Henderson have yet come
to hand
and only three from McCahan.

On the arrival of every mail I am at the postoffice. In a letter written you
Cattaraugus I requested you to forward your letters by the western mail.
Continue to
do so, they will come more certain and more expeditious. If the two
Westbrooks have got
to Huntingdon I hope they are safely lodged in prison and will there remain
until sent
for. Their conduct is of that kind which cannot, nor will it, be overlooked.
They have
added baseness to cowardice. There will be no humanity in the citizens
refusing to
confine them.

I hope the recruiting officer has attended to my request in having them
In the course of this day it will be determined how many of the Pennsylvania
will volunteer to cross the line. The number at present is extremely
doubtful. Several
of Captain Canan's Company, and amongst others, Arthur Moore, have said that
if his
company will not go over, they will join mine.

The whole country is bustle and confusion. In this town and within three
around, there are not less than five thousand soldiers, but not more than
two thousand
regulars and volunteers who are compelled to cross the water. I think in
less than five
days we will, without fail, embark the troops. A severe cannonading has been
the greater part of this day, supposed to be at Lewiston, but the cause of
it is not yet

It is now late on Sunday evening, part of this letter was written in the
morning, since
when I have been to the encampment of the Pennsylvania troops. They have not
determined how many will go over. Volunteers are hourly arriving from this
under the General's invitation to assist in the conquest. As I have no time
to write any
other person than you, it will be necessary to communicate the intelligence
herein contained.
I am so much engaged procuring good arms and blankets for my men that I
scarcely know what I am doing, much less writing. For want of an ....  I
have a bayonet
fixed on the end of a pole. Miller and Swoope will take a musket and
bayonet. If anything
particular occurs during the night, I shall inform you. It would give me
pleasure, and no doubt my friends, if I had leisure to write all the passing
of the times.

No two men appear to be of the same opinion except that the better opinion
present is the idea of crossing is imprudent with our present forces and
provisions. If
we remain here for ten days, they will be scarce, and should we cross over,
they will be
difficult to be had. A lady has engaged to have me a boiled tongue and some
cakes to
put in my knapsack.

Monday--Last night there was an alarm and we were under arms for an hour,
there was no danger. I am just returning from a ride along the river and am
so cold that
I can scarcely write.

As usual, remember me to all friends, and kiss the children for me. Your


Drew from Captain James Thomas, Divisional Quartermaster, Forty-five
boxes and bayonet belts for use of my Company.


My Dear Polly: I commence this letter, my dear wife, with feeling which by
cannot be described. Your ever reading it depends entirely on my fate.
Should I fail in
Canada, then you must read this to me, distressing and melancholy, last
assurance of my
unbounded and unalterable affection for you. For my own fate, I am somewhat
for your situation my dear little children and my friends to whom I might be
some assistance, I feel the keenest regret. My pen trembles in my hand, and
the tears
trickle from my eyes on the paper while I write, at the idea of the pain and
distress which
you will feel at reading this. Perhaps it would have been better had I
desisted, but my
feelings would not permit me. I deemed it proper to make a will, which is
herein enclosed.
I can write no more. Kiss each of the children for me. Tell them that their
father's lips are cold, and that his prayer was for you and them. Farewell
alast--a long
farewell. I hope to meet you in heaven. Your affectionate husband.


My Dear Polly: The determination of the General is publicly made known, that
are in a very short time, even tomorrow morning, to make the conquest of
Canada. This
morning I was ordered to parade my men with their knapsacks and everything
in a state
of preparation for crossing. I have mine ready packed with two good boiled
tongues and
a half a loaf of bread, one shirt and cravat, one pair of stockings> and a
pair of blankets.
We moved on some distance when we were ordered to return. The regulars
attempted an embarkation of the troops, which for some reasons not yet
publicly known,
failed. Great trouble has been given by the men of the Pennsylvania troops
to their
officers about crossing. Captain Canan informed me yesterday that out of the
to which he belongs, commanded by Major John Scott consisting of 285 men,
had volunteered to go over, twelve of whom were from his Company. It is
believed that the whole brigade will not turn out more than two or three
hundred men.
The Commanding General has ordered four hundred of those who refused going
to be marched about thirty miles down the Niagara River to build a fort. The
will be stationed at some other place. This is done by way of degradation
for their refusal
to go over. I am in great hopes they will yet do better. The question is to
be again
agitated this day. Out of Captain Ox's Green Castle Company, two including
Wilson have agreed to volunteer.

Captain Clackner and all his men from Pennsylvania have absolutely refused.
of Vandevander's men will cross. Kinote, who deserted, has returned to
Canan. I hope
the two Westbrooks are secured. Tell all my friends that unless they have
them taken,
they want spirit and a due regard to order. A very unpleasant occurrence
took place in
our regiment a few days since. All the companies, mine accepted, took
umbrage at a
Landlord whom they pleased to call a Tory. The Baltimore Company, well
versed in
the management of mobs, proposed pulling down his house and began by
breaking the
windows which they effected and were proceeding when my company was called
to protect it. We drove them from the house, charged bayonets, and protected
it for
about two hours, and could have done so. The mob appeared to disperse when
Porter and my Colonel came and directed me to remove my men. Scarcely was
done when they returned doubly enraged, entered the house with axes and
the floors, the roof, the sides, and threw the furniture out of the windows,
and attempted
to set fire to it. A company of regular artillery armed with loaded pistols
and sabres
were ordered to enter and clear the house dead or alive. They immediately
entered and
began cutting with their swords when the rioters got out of the windows in a
hurry. None of them were killed, but several wounded. One had his hand cut
off with
the stroke of a sabre. One of the artillery men had his nose cut off by one
of his own
company. Patrols were kept up during the night but no injury done. Vengeance
been sworn against many of the inhabitants who are called
federalists--denominated tories
--by the Baltimorians. My men are in high spirits and in great estimation
for their manly
conduct in the affair of the riot. They are now warmly clothed and by great
I loaned each of them an additional blanket this morning. Every favor which
a soldier
could expect has been granted them, and by great exertions on my part, they
have been
rendered comfortable. This they all acknowledge which is some little
satisfaction, but
is far from being any compensation for the deprivations I suffer on account
of being from
home. Jim was at first delighted at being left on this side of the water, as
he was never
considered very courageous. Today, he has applied for permission to go over.
I have
got a place for him to stay here for a while. When we make a stand, if
necessary I can
send for him. Doctor Dean is appointed Surgeon of our regiment with which I
am well
pleased. It was on the solicitation of W. Simpson and myself. I have neither
more paper
or time to write you further at present. With my love to all friends, and
kisses to the
children, I am your loving husband.


My Dear Polly: In my last letter I stated that the time was fixed when the
was to be made on Canada, and in pursuance of the order, each officer and
soldier was
provided with two days' provisions in his knapsack. The night before last
about two hundred
regulars and sailors passed over and stormed several batteries, spiked a
number of
British Cannon, threw others into the river. They set fire to a house, took
about forty
prisoners with the loss of about fifty men killed and wounded. Yesterday
morning at
the dawn of day, the whole army marched to the place of embarkation. One
whole regiment
embarked and rowed about half over the river when the grape shot from the
British field artillery poured so heavily on them that they were obliged to
put back and
return. The whole of the regular troops not amounting to 1000 then embarked
on board
the boats and went some distance up the river in order to strike across. The
forces were paraded in detachments on this shore. The British regulars,
Militia, Lighthorse
and Indians were all drawn up in line of battle in different places on the
shore where it was probable we would endeavor to effect a landing. Their
cannon playing
at our boats all the time and endeavoring to rake them. Our cannon firing at
soldiers and batteries, the balls were whistling about in every direction
and appeared to
be totally disregarded. The scene was extremely grand and yet something
awful in it.
During its continuance, three bold sailors crossed over, set fire to three
houses, killed
almost in face of the British army, stole two turkeys and returned safe. Our
boats attempted
a second time to enter the stream when the cannon began to fire at them. It
then growing towards evening, a Council of War was called by the General,
after the breaking up of which, orders were issued that all troops should
return their
different encampments. They all appeared in high spirits and anxious to get
over. Victory,
to them, appeared in vain. They returned with great indignation and much
at the General. I was in expectation that this would put an end to the
for the present season and such was the prevailing opinion, but since I
commenced writing,
an order has been shown me that we are to cross tomorrow morning at 9
and preparations are again making for that purpose. I had been unwell for a
few days
and for two days had not went out of the house, owing to a bad cold.
Yesterday, I
marched with my company to the place of embarkation which is about three
miles distance
with a determination to cross with them. Owing to the fatigue of walking and
standing all day on the damp ground, I am not quite so well today, and
unless I get
better, I will not be able to go over with them in the morning. Indeed it
was imprudent
for me to go yesterday, but knowing that the tongue of calumny would be
against me by illiberal minds, I determined to risk it at all events, and
when it was thought
I could not go the men appeared so disheartened that I appeared compelled to
move with
the rest. I have pains in my limbs and a considerable headache with a slight
cough. I
have taken an emetic and got bled. In a very few days, I shall, with care,
be perfectly
well. Owing to the severe fatigue of yesterday, Mr. Swoope is unwell with a
pain in
his back and his going is extremely doubtful. In short he cannot go, because
being out
one night without shelter, which must inevitably be the case, would knock us
both up.
It is a most unfortunate and mortifying circumstance at the present
momentuous crisis.
I shall not close this letter till tomorrow and then give you further
details. Your letter
of the seventh of November received this morning. I have never yet received
any from
J. Henderson and only two from McCahan. I wrote you always by the same mail
I wrote any other person, and never less than two and frequently four
letters each week.
I have not received one third of the letters you have written and never but
three newspapers.
So gross is the negligence somewhere. In the future, write only by the
mail. I wrote John H. three very lengthy letters giving a precise and
particular account
of our situation and prospects.


This morning our regiment was under arms in order to proceed to the place of
embarkation. I went part of the way with them, not being able, nor intending
to cross
over, when our march was countermanded and we ordered to remain at our
till further orders. There is to be a general Council of War held this day
at which all the
Colonels will be present. Something will then finally be determined on.
Every person is
dissatisfied at the present trifling mode of managing the affairs of the
invasion. Had the
business been properly conducted on Saturday morning early, I have no doubt
but we
could have subdued part of Canada without even a life being lost, more than
had been
in taking the batteries, etc. I feel considerably better today and only a
little weak.
Knowing that you would hear more alarming accounts of our situation, than
were true,
I have thought it best to give a candid narrative of what has really taken
place. In my
next, I hope to relieve you from all anxiety, and that we will be either in
quiet possession
of Canada or the expedition given up for the season. Two hundred of the
Troops have deserted since their arrival here. Many of them are sick.
Provisions are scarce.
Butter is three cents per pound, and there is no bread to be had at meal
time in any of
the public houses. Potatoes are substituted. I have never been obliged to
eat but one meal
without bread. We are still in comfortable quarters. The desolation of the
war in this
country is truly distressing. Give my love affectionately to the children
and all friends,
and believe me, Your affectionate husband.


To the Secretary of War--Sir: I have returned from the Niagara frontier on
and finding the situation of my private concerns such that it is totally
for me to remain longer in the Army, I therefore resign my commission as
Captain of
Infantry Volunteers in the service of the United States. Should it be
necessary for me to
repair to Washington to settle my account of transportation, I shall on
receiving notice,
proceed there during the month of February. Since my departure from my
they have all (except one who was unable, some who had been previously
and two who who had ran off) went off and scattered over the country. With a
determination not to return into service, I have the honor to be Robert