December 31 1812: Sheaffe's Report

On December 31 1812, Major General Sheaffe, in Fort George, writes to Lord Bathurst, in London, to update him on the status of the war in Upper Canada.

Major General Sheaffe to Lord Bathurst.
Fort George, 31st December, 1812.
No. 1.

My Lord,—Having been so many weeks constantly in presence of an enemy of greatly superior numbers, will, I hope, apologize for me if I have not done myself the honor of addressing Your Lordship so often on the affairs of this Province as may have been expected.
During the season for active operations a great proportion of the male population was necessarily brought forward to aid His Majesty's troops in the defence of the Province. On this frontier from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie the enemy assembled so great a force that all the militia of the neighboring district were called out.

Liberal supplies of clothing, blankets, &c, had been purchased for them in the Lower Province, but unfortunately various causes combined to delay their arrival at Kingston to a late period and to prevent them being all forwarded from thence before the close of navigation. The militia were therefore deprived of the early and extensive benefit which it had been intended to afford to them, and they were exposed to wants and privations, which many bore for some time with a most commendable constancy. In their absence, too, from their homes, their farms were suffering from neglect, much of their produce was lost, and many of their families were in distress. This state of things caused desertions before the close of the campaign, but after the feeble and unsupported attempt made by the enemy on the 28th November, near Fort Erie, his militia and a considerable number of his other troops having disbanded themselves, and a large portion of the rest having retired to winter quarters, I dismissed the militia from this frontier, with the exception of a small body. In being thus permitted to return to their homes it at the same time affords relief to them and to their families and enables them to prepare future supplies of various kinds for His Majesty's troops. The effective force of the militia which has served on this frontier has been reduced by losses in the field and also by sickness, which, not confined to them, has generally prevailed in the Province. On the enemy's side it has raged to a much greater extent, and has not a little contributed to weaken his efforts against us.

The vigorous measures which have commenced under the direction of His Excellency Sir George Prevost for the increase of the Provincial Marine force have produced a happy effect on the public mind, which began to be depressed on finding that the St. Lawrence had closed without bringing reinforcements from Europe, and that the Americans were making most formidable exertions to wrest from us the superiority on the lakes.

I propose going soon to York, where I shall consult the Executive Council on the expediency of summoning the Legislature to assemble before the expiration of the winter.
(Canadian Archives, Q. 315, pp. 219-221.

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