Monday, September 30

Lieutenant Hamilton

"I never once seen Lieutenant Hamilton loose his Gentleman's bearing when a pressed man was brought before him. Weather they cursed or pleaded he would tell them "Best volunteer, my man, for forced or willing we will have you either way".

- James Cullen, Remembrances of Eight years before the Mast, 1834.


Friday, September 27

A Letter to the Captain

Captain Freymann
HMS Acasta
On station off the American coast.
September 12, 1813.

Dear Captain Freymann,

Significant events have happened here in the interior on our small inland seas and I’m certain that they will have major influence on the war. I do not have all the details but I believe I have enough information to extrapolate to an unfortunate conclusion.

In response to Commander Barclay’s entreaties for more men and supplies for his Lake Erie Squadron, Commodore Sir James Yeo managed to find a small party of seamen and a half dozen 24 pounder carronades to send to the west. I was detailed to take these much needed items to the dockyard at Amherstburg.

As the forces of the United States are in control of the Niagara River at this time with garrisons at forts Niagara, George and Erie, the Niagara River is unusable to us and so the standard practice is to use an overland route from Burlington Heights to the anchorage on Lake Erie at Long Point, then ship supplies from there to Amhersburg, Fort Malden, Detroit and the Upper Lakes. When I arrived at the anchorage on the 11th I learned that there had been no vessels there for several weeks and that when the US Navy completed their two brig-sloops Lawrence and Niagara, Commander Barclay retired to Amherstburg to await completion of sloop of war HMS Detroit that would restore a balance of forces on the lake. Without her, it was felt that the US Navy was too strong to confront and that any vessel’s venture out of port would simply add that ship to the American’s line of battle.

You may recall that the Americans raided York in April? One of their spoils of that victory included the guns for the Detroit, captured and taken back to Sackets Harbour along with the schooner Duke of Gloucester. So, even with the sloop Detroit completed, she had no ordnance with which to fight. My shipment of carronades was vital. Yet with no British vessel to move them, I had to find some alternative route or method to complete the mission.

Within the hour of my arrival however, a small party of Red Indians in canoes came in along the shore with fresh news from Malden and, while not complete, I think it says much.

With no food, cannon and other supplies received for several weeks, and the warriors and their families not receiving their regular issue of gifts, the Indians, garrison and squadron were all on short rations. General Procter and Commander Barclay determined that the US Lake Erie fleet must be defeated so that the supply line could be restored.

The sail lockers of the other sloop, HMS Queen Charlotte were raided to provide sails for Detroit and Fort Malden was stripped of its usable artillery to make up the ship’s missing ordnance. And the shortage of seamen was augmented with soldiers from the garrison. On the 9th, Barclay took his squadron out to fight.

On the 10th, gunfire could be heard to the south. It went on for hours, and then went silent. For the rest of the day, Procter sent riders along the shoreline looking for the returning vessels but none came. Since the garrison and residents of the area were desperate for supplies, after a victory or even a draw, one of the British vessels should have returned to begin the process of resupply. The only conclusion is that Barclay was defeated.

I could list off the reasons for a defeat. I could say that the two brig-sloops were bigger than the sloops of Barclay’s squadron. I could say that whatever guns equipped Detroit were some varied collection of field or garrison ordnance of a mixture of calibers that may have given powder monkeys fits when bringing charges up from the magazines. Or, I could say of the men crewing the ships, “Finer soldiers there can never be, but they are only landsmen.” Having seen the documents go through the offices at Kingston, I know Barclay had only about 60 Royal Navy personnel in his squadron’s crews, and 110 Provincial Marine people. The Indian I spoke with estimated about 230 redcoats shipped out with the squadron.

And, because of the fine job you and your consorts are doing on the Atlantic coast, blockading the American cruisers in their harbours, the US Navy is known to be sending their idle sailors inland to man the warships on the lakes.

My opinion is that Procter will have to retreat. He has stripped his fort of men and guns to supply the squadron and he still has little or no food. The Indians will likely abandon him as he cannot provide food and blankets for them as did these natives from whom I learned of the probable defeat.

There is a road, a poor one, which runs from Malden to Burlington Heights. The season is not too late for him if he moves quickly. I hope that Barclay mauled the US squadron sufficiently to slow its use as transports.

And now to the second bit of news..

I ordered the seamen to conceal the carronades and then head back to Burlington while I would go on ahead and deliver the shocking news of Barclay’s likely defeat and collapse of the Detroit frontier. I commandeered a horse and began the frantic return to the headquarters of the Army’s Division at Burlington Heights. I arrived there, rather saddle-sore late today.

I was told that, after delivering me and our carronades at the head of Lake Ontario at Burlington just a few days ago, the Commodore sailed off to the south in search of his American counterpart. On the 11th, again, gunfire was heard from the south and again, no ship has returned, although it’s more likely that Sir James would make for Kingston after a battle. At any rate, I have no further evidence to suggest any outcome of this encounter.

I will continue on my way back to Kingston, where I will post this. Should I have any further information at that time, I will include it.

I remain,
Your Most Humble Servant,
Thomas Hurlbut, Captain.
Burlington Heights,
Upper Canada.

Post Script
September 14, 1813
Kingston Navy Yard, U.C.


I caught a small transport schooner and made a rather quick passage to Kingston so scrawled this on the leaf. You may imagine my relief at finding the Lake Ontario Squadron safe in harbor, however, cut up somewhat. The new American sloop of war General Pike is armed with twenty-six 24 pounder long guns, two on circles, allowing her to fire 14 guns of a broadside, and Commodore Chauncey caught Sir James and the Squadron off Niagara in a calm where the long guns were employed exclusively. A breeze came up and Commodore Yeo was able to escape, however. The US have again tipped the balance in their favour, have the most powerful vessel on the Lakes and, unless the Commodore can close to within effective carronade range before commencing the fight, the US is likely to win another battle.

Some may criticize the Commodore for the lack of support he sent Barclay on Erie, but things are very serious here, very serious indeed. I will tell you more at a later time.

Yr. M. Hmbl. Srvt

Thursday, September 26

Images from the Fair at New Boston

The New Boston Fairgrounds at night
It would appear they were too vigourous in pressing this man.

Vassermann and his lady friend Miss Nowack.

The Gang brings in the local rat catcher, Mr. S. Moore
Mr. Moore was pleased that the gang had taken care to bring in his 'pet' as well.
"Show me your teeth thusly." The sailors watch the rudimentary medical exam with disgust.
"Gentlemen, it does not take a trained medical eye to know that this poor fellow is unfit for service. Turn him loose."
The Doctor and his servant, Mr. J. Vassermann
While out on their rounds, the gang set upon a particularly troublesome constable.
All images taken by Kristin Shultz. Find the entire set in her album HERE.

Tuesday, September 24

Let's Talk about Research

I'm a firm believer in research… and in theory ALL historical interpreters/re-enactors should be. It's the MOST important tool we have in our arsenal for showing the public what life was like in the past. Because, at the end of the day we're supposed to be displaying and depicting correct history, or at least as correct as we can make it… right? It is OUR job as historical interpreters/re-enactors to be as historically accurate as we can for the public.

I was not always this way. When I first got into reenacting as a hobby, I was guilty of what alot of reenactors do when they get started… I copied what I saw other reenactors doing & wearing. It's easy to fall into committing what are commonly referred to as 'reenactorisms', because when you see 'everyone' doing something, it's very natural to assume that it must be right, or at least have SOME basis in historical fact.

Then, with the help of some awesome people along the way, and a TON of reading on my own… I eventually got started in a more 'research based' direction.

Want to see some of the research that has gone into my impression? Check out these albums on Facebook:

To that end, everything you wear and carry should be researched. When it comes to primary source documentation, what you're looking for is: WRITTEN DESCRIPTIONS OF THE PERIOD, FASHION PLATES, PORTRAITS, and ORIGINAL GARMENTS.

One of the great things about doing an impression like an officer in the Royal Navy, is that there is a wealth of all of those types of documentation that are fairly easy to find.

If you'd like to see some of the work that went into my particular uniform, be sure to check that project out HERE.

The beauty of our hobby (and History in general) is that you can never know everything! Even if you read and research all the time, you'll never learn all there is to know.

So my mandate to you is this, 'always be working'.

"How" you ask? Whether that means working on your first person impression, working on improving your clothing, working on your knowledge of the period or working to bring ideas to the table for  events you attend regularly… don't get lazy or comfortable, don't plateau in your interpretation. I want to encourage you to always be working and researching, because there is always room for improvement!

Monday, September 23

A Silhouette Cut

Silhouette cut by Lauren Muney of Silhouettes by Hand.


Seein' as how Miss Nowack had caught me eye while we was ashore at the Fair at New boston and seemed about as keen on me as I was on her, I asked Mrs. Muney to cut me my profile so I could give Miss Nowack a token of m'heart.  I hope she kept it. 

Thursday, September 19

Talk Like A Pirate Day 2013

Any of you proper Jack Tars get caught talking like some common pirate will have the hide flogged off of you by the Bosun! I've never heard of such stuff and non-sense in all my days. We're a ship of His Majesty's Navy, not a bunch of foul-mouthed gutter filth! Now, back to work you lot!


Tuesday, September 17

The Battle at New Boston

The Acastas lead the British forces onto the field near New Boston. You can specifically see them as they rush up the hill near the end.


Thursday, September 12

Almost There!

This upcoming Wednesday, Sept 18th, is the final turn in day for Magazine sales... and thanks to YOUR help here online, MY class is in second place over the entire school, and just a little behind our rival class. We are definitely gaining ground, but we're not there yet.

With your help, we can pull off the perfect 'come from behind' victory!

Here's what you can do to help:

Follow the link to and enter the School Code 2682037

That's the code for BEECH HIGH SCHOOL.

When it asks you the name of the student you want to give the sale to, tell it "Albert Roberts", That's me! I know I'm not a student, but it counts toward my class this way.

Then, find the perfect magazine for you, or to give someone as a gift...


Don't put it off, I need your help to achieve victory, LOG ON RIGHT NOW!