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December 18 1812: Gloomy Despondency in Canada



On December 18, 1812, Colonel Robert Nichol, in Niagara Upper Canada, writes to Colonel Talbot. "Alas! my dear Colonel," he writes,  "we are now no longer commanded by Brock, and our situation is most materially changed for the worse. Confidence seems to have vanished from the land, and gloomy despondency has taken its place".

Niagara, Dec 18, 1812.

My Dear Colonel,—You must think me the worst of men for the apparent neglect of you since my return from Montreal, but when you know that I have not had time even to see my own wife you will not, I am sure, think me much to blame. This cursed office, to which for my sins I have been appointed, engrosses all my time, and if I don't soon get leave to resign it I believe I shall go crazy. I have not had it in my power to attend either to your affairs or my own.

Alas! my dear Colonel, we are now no longer commanded by Brock, and our situation is most materially changed for the worse. Confidence seems to have vanished from the land, and gloomy despondency has taken its place. I dare not trust myself to write you all. I feel the field officers of the troops and militia have saved the country for a time, but their efforts will be unavailing against bad management and despondency in those who are at our head and who ought to be better qualified to fill energetically the high and important situations they hold. You may, however, depend upon it that those on this line will not relax in their exertions to save the country. I enclose you the only scrap of a paper I have. I have no longer access to the staff papers. I, however, learn that by the mail just arrived that a body of about 700 of the enemy attempted to surprise one of our pickets at Odell Town. They retired without doing us any damage, losing 60 or 70 in killed and wounded. We took five prisoners.

It is a long time since we had any Continental intelligence, but there is no doubt our affairs will continue to prosper in Spain. In Russia I fear matters are not so favorable. Gray, the Assistant, but now acting Deputy-Quartermaster General, arrived here a few days ago. He goes off this morning to lay down the keel of a frigate at York and a sloop of war at Kingston; the one to carry 30 guns, viz: 24 32-pound carronades and 6 long eighteens; the other of the class of the Royal George. An establishment from the Royal Navy is to man them, so I hope we shall yet hold up our heads. I have really had no time to attend to your concerns. Your coat is with my baggage at Kingston, for which I have sent by land. Young Rolph, just come in, will tell you all the American news.

P. S.—Madison re-elected. Lord Wellington at Burgos. The Russians, according to the French bulletins, defeated with immense loss—say 50,000; they (the French) acknowledge to have lost 10,000. Several generals killed on both sides.

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