The War of 1812
As Experienced by Daniel Daverne of Hallowell and Adolphustown
Daniel Daverne (1784-1830) was the eldest son of Richard Daverne and Catharine Connery. The Davernes left Ireland in 1798 and lived for a few years in London, before emigrating to Canada. By 1804, the family was at Adolphustown, but Richard and Catherine later bought a farm in Hallowell township, Prince Edward County. This farm is mentioned in the letter. After the War of 1812, Daniel Daverne received a commission to assist with settlement at Perth (Lanark county), while his younger brother, Richard Jr., took up farming at Adolphustown.
The following is taken from the letterbook of Daniel Daverne in the collections of the
Lennox and Addington Historical Society.
Kingston, Upper Canada, 16th December, 1814
To Wm. Connery, Esq'r, Limmerick, Ireland
It will probably not be unpleasant to you to hear that you have a Sister though living in this remote part of the World, Anxious to hear of your Health & Welfare: Who while here has repeatedly written home with that view, without being yet able to learn whether one lives by whom she may expect to be remembered.
Upwards of Nine Years have elapsed since our Arrival in Upper Canada, since which time many Changes have taken place, most of which attend more Strangers coming to this unfriendly Climate, for the greater part of the four first years, our health suffered much. The obtaining of property, though but a secondary consideration, generally keeps pace with that of Health, particularly with those depending on their own exertions for a Maintenance. I need not Inform you that the latter was the Case with my Parents on their arrival here, for Although they left London with Some Money, it could not be supposed to last long. Industry and Economy being as necessary here as possible in any part of the World. Though large Sums have been accumulated by persons of adequate Capital, particularly those having Correspondents at home who favored their views and Supported their Exertions.
Unfortunately, My Father (if any Probability of Success in that way existed) could not make known to his friends what might be done; he therefore, like most people coming to this Country without means bought land and has become a farmer, a calling which neither his Constitution nor experience made profitable, labour being so very dear that although land is not costly, the Profits are very small, almost every Inhabitant being Land-holders, that each Individual profits only by the labour performed by his own hands.
Since the Declaration of War with the United States, people have become more numerous. Yet the execution of every Individual Interested in behalf of their Country has been required to keep it out of the hands of the Enemy. We have now many Good Troops here, & feel more secure, though our Success this Campaign has been very Partial, our Foes are of the worst Kind, Base Uncharitable and Dishonourable in the extreme, they have frequently most barbarously treated the Inoffensive Inhabitants, depriving them of every possible means of existence, which the Great extent and thinly Inhabited State of the Country admits of and is easily accomplished.
Fortunately, the Family has as yet experienced but few of the evils of War, although immediately in the vicinity notwithstanding being obliged to meet them more than once & most generally to their Disgrace.
Our Success in the Present Contest cannot yet be estimated, the Americans are very numerous and daily Improving in the Art of War. My Brother has just come down from the Niagara Frontier where from his information and our loss I am inclined to believe there has been some hard fought Battles. It cannot be otherwise as long as our Troops are compelled to meet them with such Disparity of Numbers, our loss on the assault of Fort Erie was very Severe, having been deprived of Some of the most Valuable Officers and men in the Service. However, the Enemy found it necessary to leave that Fort after moving all that they could do by Stealth, they blew up the works and destroyed the Garrison - a System which has become General in the Cause of the Present War.
May I now beg leave to introduce myself, though not a very easy undertaking to attempt. to a person by whom I was never Seen. My name is Daniel Daverne, the Elder Son of Catherine and Richard Daverne. I have but one Brother living named Richard. We have been employed in the Public Service since the Declaration of War, as Clerks in the Quarter Master General's Department, in which Capacity we have had the good fortune to Please our employers & hope on the Return of Peace to be able to obtain Some Civil Employment under Government, either in this County or at home. The latter place would be by far the most desirable, if means could be found to transfer our Interest that far, though I believe this not easily Effected at the moment, so many capable young men being likely to be out of Employment in Europe, since a General Peace has taken place there. My parents yet flatter themselves (though I fear without a Just hope unless Fortune should favour the Design) of returning home to their Native Country, a wish in which I shall most heartily Join, and Shall use my best endeavours to assist in its Accomplishment, though at my Sacrifice to my own Interest.
Our situations at present are not uncomfortable, as times go. My Father is owner of a Comfortable Little House and Farm, well stocked. I am receiving Seven Shillings & Sixpence per Day Sterling with Captain's allowances of lodging money, Food & etc. My Brother Five Shillings Sterling per Day with Subaltern's allowances. These salaries in Ireland would be considered good incomes, but in this Country where every thing is very Dear little can be Saved, nor is there a prospect of things being better as long as the War lasts, for we find that the price of every thing increases with the Augmentation of the Army.
-- and we yet hope Sincerely, that a greater force may be sent out, or we never can hope to Subdue our Enemies on this Continent, for by sending Small Armies we are only training them to the use of Arms without being able to check their Arrogance or Dispirit their Troops, and it is the General prayer of every one concerned here, that a sufficient force may be sent out, not only to enable us to hold our own territory but to drive them from the Borders of the Lakes & without which we must be eternally exposed to Insult and Invasion. Our Naval force is at Present equal to that of the Enemy on Lake Ontario. One of which, the last built here, the St. Lawrence, mounts 102 Guns of Heavy Metal. We have Six others mounting from 50 to [16?] Guns, the Largest Class of Ships are not considered the most safe or useful for any other purpose than that of War as those of the Enemy are Generally of the Smaller Class though many more in numbers, are far Inferior as to durability; however we cannot hope to equal them in Numbers, as they evidently have it in their Power to build two Ships nearly to the one built by us, out Support depending altogether on the Supplies sent from home, the whole of which must be brought up the Saint Lawrence, one of the most Difficult Rivers in the World, being almost a continual Rapid for upwards of 75 miles. The Rapids are only passable by cables Hauling the Boat along. These sometimes at the rate of only 4 or 5 Miles per Day. This Tardy mode of Proceeding prevents one getting Stores, without the Greatest difficulty & expense. The Boats are frequently from 20 to 24 days in ascending the River from Montreal to Kingston, being somewhat less than 200 miles distant scarcely averaging 16 Miles per day. I wash Room and time would permit my giving you a fuller description of this Rough County, if it should prove entertaining I should be amply compensated.
My mother Particularly requests that you will please write her a few lines, informing of the Status of her Family, Particularly of her Mother, Brothers and Sisters, from all of whom she is anxiously wishing to hear. This may be best Effected through some Military men, if you have any such acquaintances, or by Paying the Postage to Quebec, a Rule which we Invariably adopt here to prevent miscarriage, addressing to me as Chief Clerk in the Qu'r Master Generals Office at Kingston, in Upper Canada. (Signed) D. Daverne, CC QMGC
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Updated September 27, 2007.