Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas at Fort Malden, 1814


On December 24, 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed, which ended the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. Of course, word took several weeks to travel across the Atlantic and through North America. Both sides stood down in a cease-fire before the American government ratified the treaty and the war officially ceased. In the meantime, on the quiet Detroit River front of the war, the American soldiers settled in as best they could for a Christmas far from home.

From the Diary of Orderly Sergeant Duncan Ennis, 16th Kentucky Volunteer Militia.

24th A cold day. The Regt. busy getting wood. Immediately after Tattoo some of the men got to firing and throwing cartridges down the chimneys. The alarm beat. The Regt. paraded and kept under arms half an hour. The officers examined but could not find the offenders. Major Kennedy said that if the firing was heard again the Regt. should stand under arms all night. Parole Maria, Countersign Eliza, Watch Word Beauty.
 Sunday 25th This morning at half past four the firing began again. The alarm beat, the Regt. paraded and kept under arms half an hour, then dismissed. In a few minutes the firing began again and again called to arms and stood under arms for some time. The men grumbles amazingly when any one is paddled for stealing but this morning they could cheerfully help to paddle the men for shooting because it keeps them standing in the cold and it is a very cold morning. I was taken with a rheumatism in my left knee so that I was not able to be out any longer than while I was calling the roll. After day light Capt. Logan, Lieut Wood and Ensign Hunter treated the company to two gallon of whiskey and we soon had a drunken set. Some drank three gills smack off. None except officers was allowed to leave camp; almost all the officers of the Regt. went to town to dine and it only cost them $3.25 cents a piece. In the evening a great many of the Regt. got drunk and some of them was so all day. Some wanted to take a spell at boxing. Orders in the evening that whatever company firing was heard in that company (and no other) should parade and stand under arms until the offender was found. The night passed over in quietness although it was very cold. No fatigue called out today. Parole My, Csign Wifes, Wword Wheel.