December 10, 2014

The gibes of his comrades – The theft of a beehive

Supplying soldiers in the field during a major offensive into enemy territory was difficult in the best of circumstances during the War of 1812. Both armies relied on finding supplies in enemy territory to help sustain their advance, but sometimes outright theft by soldiers proved to be problematic.

During the American advance on the St. Lawrence in November 1813, there were a few incidences of locals, from both the American and Canadian side, complaining to American officers of theft. One incident told by Lieutenant William Worth describes the theft of a beehive by an American soldier. Before the Americans boarded their boats, a local Canadian woman “declared that one of her bee-hives had absconded, and was no doubt then harbored by some of our soldiers,” writes Worth.
A form of punishment in both armies

The colonel of the regiment ordered all the boats searched and upon finding the culprit, he ordered the offending soldier to return the beehive, with this action also serving as his punishment. Worth writes that the colonel “commanded the culprit to take off the blanket, raise the hive on his shoulders, and thus transport it to the place whence it came, some thirty or forty yards off. A few bayonets were at hand to superintend the exact fulfilment of the sentence.”

The culprit carefully unfolded the blanket and raised the hive to his shoulders before running to his destination. Unfortunately, the bees were not happy and “the moment the fold of the blanket were loosened, [the bees] attacked the first flesh and blood to be met with, which was that of the robber’s face and hands.” Upon completing his task, the culprit “returned to the boats almost blind, a good subject for the doctor’s ointment, and the gibes of his comrades.”

With Christmas fast approaching, remember to be weary of greed. This weekend there are more Christmas events taking place in Niagara with McFarland House having a Holiday Tea event and Fort George having their annual Garrison Christmas. Click here for more information.

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