We know that many soldiers had their wives and children with them at
posts in Upper Canada--Kingston, York, George, Erie, Amherstburg and St.
Joseph. They do not seem to have gone with their husband on detached duty
for example, when the flankers of the 49th were posted to Queenston prior to the American invasion which resulted in the Battle of Queenston Heights, they seem to have arrived without their wives who were presumably left back at Fort George. Same thing when Brock brought men from George to Amherstburg for the capture of Detroit. HQ issued an ordnance just after the war began to the effect that wives should be shipped from posts in Upper Canada to Lower Canada unless they were serving as nurses. They were to be shipped back by the first available transport. We know that there were many wives
and children at Fort George when it was captured on May 27, 1813, so the orders must have been ignored to a large extent. However, I think that they were enforced for regiments being sent to Upper Canada after the issuing of this ordnance. I suspect that the families of the 100th and others would have stayed in Lower Canada while the men marched to Upper Canada. I am
equally sure that there would have been exceptions. Women had proven invaluable as laundresses and as nurses. Soldiers paid to have their laundry done by other soldiers' wives. This kept them in clean linen and the soldier and wife with enough income to clothe and properly feed their children. Clothing in particular was very costly. Consider that a few yards of simple cotton for a dress could cost as much as 30 shillings--a soldier's take-home-pay for two months! Linen was a little less expensive but still costly enough that soldiers' women normally only had one dress protected by an apron. The dress would actually be turned inside out and resewn when worn to present unfaded fabric. Scrap cloth was kept for patching and making children's clothing. Tough life!
At least in Upper Canada the women were supplied with shelter.
At the same time in the Pensinsular war. wives and children followed Wellington's
army.The men did not even have tents but slept in the rough under blankets
etc along with their families.
-Extracted from a message from Ron Dale, January 2004
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