Manuscripts and Memoirs

Manuscript of James Cummings, a Captain during the War of 1812.  He describes his military career during the War.

Manuscript of James Cummings

James Cummings (1789-1875) was the son of Thomas Cummings, a United Empire Loyalist who was the first white settler in Chippawa.  Both Thomas and James were important figures in the settlement of Chippawa.  During the War of 1812, James served with the 3rd Regiment of the Lincoln Militia.  In 1813 he was promoted to Captain and served as a Staff Officer.  He participated in the battles at Stoney Creek, Chippawa, and Lundy's Lane.  

A manuscript written by James Cummings in 1860 describes his military career during the War of 1812.   He makes reference to several battles he participated in, including Stoney Creek, Beaver Dams, Black Rock, Chippawa, Cook's Mills, and Lundy's Lane.  

RG 401  James Cummings manuscript

Memoir written by William Haile about his life, and in particular his experiences in the War of 1812.

Memoir of William Haile

William Haile served in the War of 1812 as a lieutenant in the 11th United States Infantry.   He was severely wounded in the Battle of Lundy's Lane.  After the war, he settled in Plattsburgh, New York, and became a lawyer.  

Haile wrote a memoir for his children in 1859.  His memoir contains the names of many well-known military personnel and battles, although it ends in July of 1814 before the Battle of Lundy's Lane.   Haile freely expresses his opinions about General Dearborn and others, and recounts he experiences at Fort Erie, the battle of Chippawa, and their pursuit of the British to Queenston Heights. 

RG 557  Some Incidents and Circumstances written by William F. Haile in the course of his life, 1859

Diary of Oliver Rising Sr.

Oliver Rising Sr. (1775-1855) was from Herkimer County, New York.  In his diary, he recounts his travels into Canada through Chippawa, Niagara Falls, and the garrison at Little York in 1797 (p. 61-62).  He also describes the British invasion of Sacket's Harbour in 1812 (p. 100). 

RG 452  Diary of Oliver Rising Sr.


Abraham Colby Diary, 1812-1813

A diary belonging to Abraham Colby, the master of the sloop Priscilla, which made regular runs from Newburyport, MA to Augusta, ME to collect lumber. In his diary he makes note of the developing war between the United States and Britain.

RG 739  Abraham Colby diary, 1812-1813

Financial history of the Schooner Ranger.  The ship was "destroyed by the enemy" in January 1813.  

Letter addressed by Benjamin Bates to a Member of the Legislature, ca. 1812

Schooner Ranger

The Schooner Ranger was a Great Lakes cargo ship from 1810 to 1815.  The ship sustained damage in 1811 on its journey from Detroit to Black Rock, in which 3 people drowned. The ship was subsequently “destroyed by the enemy in January 1813”.  In August 1815, the ship’s account was settled. The settlement acknowledged that the ship was “taken by the U.S. Navy Officers for the use of the Government”.

RG 454  Schooner Ranger document

List of freight earned by the Schooner Simcoe in 1812

The list of freight earned by the Schooner Simcoe is an account of Forsyth Richardson and Co. with the owners of the Schooner Simcoe, and is dated August 16, 1813.  The schooner Simcoe was built in England. It was involved in the action on Lake Champlain on September 11, 1814. It disappeared from lists after the battle and was apparently renamed the Cochrane.

RG 731  List of freight earned by the Schooner Simcoe in 1812

“Let every Federalist do his duty and Massachusetts will yet be saved”, 1811

This broadside is addressed to Federal Republicans and calls for Massachusetts voters to seize more representation in the national government.  It was issued just a year before the War of 1812 and touches on issues that contributed to the War, such as the British impressment of American sailors and confiscation of American ships during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Federalists felt that the damaging economic implications of Britain’s embargo was not understood by the Southern States. The Northern States were active in shipping and commerce, whereas the economy of the Southern States was centred on slavery-based farming. Citizens are warned “You heed not the things which concern your peace, your property, your freedom. Plans are laid to take from you the use of the ocean…You now obey the commands of the enemy of the human race, BONAPARTE; these commands are sent to you through the proud, tyrannical slave holding PLANTERS of your Southern States. Would war, would the loss of you commerce, the loss of your liberties be evils to you? These are at hand. Will you LISTEN? Will you THINK? Will you ACT?"

RG 607  Broadside, "let every Federalist do his duty and Massachusetts will yet be saved", 1811


Letter addressed by Benjamin Bates to a member of the Legislature, ca. 1812

This 14-page manuscript is a personal appeal to a specific member of the Virginia Legislature.  The letter often accompanied a Memorial and Petition of the Religious Society of Friends (commonly called Quakers) submitted to the Virginia Legislature, asking that they be exempt from military service or from paying a penalty for refusal to serve in the military, on the grounds that it conflicted with their pacifist religious beliefs. This was during the outset of the War of 1812 in the United States, where the failure of a national military draft prompted several states to recruit independently.  Both documents were published in the Georgetown newspaper the Federal Republican on May 31, 1813.

RG 510  Letter addressed by Benjamin Bates, ca. 1812

Remarks & c on the Navigation of the Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron & Ontario, ca. 1816

An unpublished manuscript report titled Remarks & c on the Navigation of the Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron & Ontario by Henry Kent, Lieut., R.N. [Royal Navy]. The manuscript appears to be a guidebook for Great Lakes navigation, with special consideration to naval operations. It describes the various harbours, sheltering places, and British and American military and naval establishments on the Great Lakes during the early 19th century. There are numerous references to naval operations on the great Lakes during the War of 1812. The document is divided into two parts: “Sailing directions & c for Lakes Erie & Huron” and “Sailing directions for Lake Ontario”.

RG 729  Remarks & c on the Navigation of the Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron & Ontario

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