Saturday, December 17, 2011

Captain Shole's Diary: A Trip down the Lake

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog, generally because of my being busier with my day jobs, and researching and writing my book. But I have located some interesting primary sources for War of 1812 research, and thought that I might as well post some of the notable passages here.

Today's passage comes from the journal of Captain Stanton Sholes, 2nd Regiment US Artillery (transcribed by Richard C. Knopf, 1956). Sholes spent much of 1813 stationed with his artillery company in Cleveland, Ohio--a tiny village back then. He built the first hospital there (a log cabin constructed without any nails or ironwork), and established a gun battery to protect the flotilla of transport boats being constructed by Major Thomas Jessup (who later went on to bigger things) consisting, apparently of one six-pounder. The passage has been corrected for grammar and spelling except where noted.

A typical bateau or Schenectady boat drawn by Pearson Scott Foresman. An open boat constructed by Major Jessup's boatyard would have been a longer vessel with a mast, rows of oars, and perhaps a small swivel gun mounted in the bow.

Monday Sept. 13th
This day commences with fine weather. The quartermaster give (sic) encouragement to me that I should have a passage in a boat that would sail the next day for the Portage (Portage River in Northwest Ohio, near the Marblehead Peninsula --DW), laden with ammunition for the N.W. Army.

Tuesday Sept. 14th
This day fair weather. This day news come from Lower Sandusky confirming the account of the capture of the British fleet this day about six o'clock in the evening (referring to O.H. Perry's victory over the British fleet on 9 Sept. 1813 --DW). We set sail for the Portage River, the wind being light. We sail all night but made slow progress.

Wednesday Sept. 15th This day commencing with light wind from the east. This morning we stopped at the mouth of the Vermillion River (now Vermillion, OH --DW) for the purpose of cooking & etc. at this place. Come up with one Jesse Sprage, a fellow who had stolen my top coat the day before at Cleveland after I had put it on board of the boat. Challenged him with the theft but promptly denighed (sic) it. I made search and found it on board the boat he come in. The gold lace torn off and some of the buttons. I searched his pockets and found the lace and buttons in them. To his shame and disgrace upwards of twenty people (were) present to witness his show. About eight o'clock we again set sail, the wind began to strengthen. By twelve o'clock the wind high, but fair. About eight o'clock in the evening we arrived at the Portage River. At the same time found a boat load of British prisoners just a landing from on board of the ships taken by Commodore Perry.