I for Impressment

My 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge revisits my best posts from the 2014 to 2019 Challenges.

I for Impressment (2015).  

One of the many causes of the War of 1812, Impressment by the Royal Navy was resolved by the end. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, Britain ended the practice, although conscription continued to cover all British armed forces. Gregory Wendell, the author of the diary in ‘Seeking A Knife’in my Snowdon Shadows series, is an RN officer so sees impressment first hand.

How much do you know about the War of 1812? When I studied British history in the UK, it was a footnote to the Napoleonic Wars. But now I’m learning, initiated by spending a few years in Canada.

Links to my other A to Z posts can be found here: https://rolandclarke.com/blogging-from-a-to-z/blogging-from-a-to-z-challenge-2020/

To visit other participants see The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YphbP47JyH_FuGPIIrFuJfAQiBBzacEkM7iBnq6DGDA/

B is for Brock


Major-General Sir Isaac Brock KB (6 October 1769 – 13 October 1812) was a British Army officer and administrator, who was assigned to Lower Canada in 1802. Despite facing desertions and near-mutinies, he commanded his regiment in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) successfully for many years. He was promoted to major general, and became responsible for defending Upper Canada against the United States. While many in Canada and Britain believed war could be averted, Brock began to ready the army and militia for what was to come. To this end he oversaw improvements to the fortifications at Quebec and improved the Provincial Marine which was responsible for transporting troops and supplies on the Great Lakes. Though appointed brigadier general in 1807 by Governor General Sir James Henry Craig, Brock was frustrated by a lack of supplies and support.

However, he worked to alter the militia act to expand his forces and began building relationships with Native American leaders such as the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, and nations such as the Anishinaabe. Brock felt that British military fortunes were bleak. In Upper Canada, he possessed only 1,200 regulars which were supported by around 11,000 militia. As he doubted the loyalty of many Canadians, he believed only around 4,000 of the latter group would be willing to fight. Despite this outlook, when the War broke out, the populace was prepared, and quick victories at Fort Michilimackinac and Detroit defeated American invasion efforts.

Brock’s actions, particularly his success at Detroit, earned him a knighthood, membership in the Order of the Bath, accolades and the sobriquet “The Hero of Upper Canada”.

Brock died at the Battle of Queenston Heights. Leading two companies of the 49th Regiment and two companies of York militia, he charged up the heights assisted by aide-de-camp Lieutenant Colonel John Macdonell. In the attack, Brock was struck in the chest and killed, as was his aide who died in a second charge. However the battle was eventually a British victory. [Q will be for Queenston]

Twelve years after Brock’s death, a 130 foot stone monument was erected in his honour on the heights near the spot where he was killed. His remains, as well as those of Macdonell, were reburied beneath the monument in an elaborate ceremony attended by many of his contemporaries. In 1840, the monument was destroyed by a massive blast of gunpowder, ignited by an American sympathizer. The monument was subsequently rebuilt in 1856, 52 feet taller than before. Today, the monument, which now straddles the longest undefended border in the world, remains one of the most imposing historical landmarks in Canada. Relics of Brock’s career can be seen at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, where his bullet-pierced tunic is prominently on display.


The coat worn by Major General Sir Isaac Brock at the time of his death at Queenston Heights on 13 October 1812. On display at the Canadian War Museum, the bullet hole is evident under the lapel (courtesy Archives of Ontario/S1427)





A2Z-BADGE-000 [2015] - Life is Good

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.

My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.

Further reading on The War of 1812:



The War of 1812


The Great and Powerful A to Z Theme Reveal Blogfest!

 What were you taught about The War of 1812 in school? Who actually won it? Who lost? Okay it happened two hundred years ago, but for me it matters. Why?

First, it is the theme that I have chosen for this year’s A to Z Challenge in April – I was told having a theme was fun, and last year the guys that know these things were right. I took part in 2014 and now have a collection of shorts almost ready – Gossamer Flames. I also enjoyed other people’s themes, which were varied and in many cases clever.

Second, The War of 1812 is one plotline in my current WIP, “Seeking A Knife”, in which a young journalist in Texas receives a Memoir written in the war by a Royal Navy Officer. The ‘why’, the disappearance of the officer’s knife, and the death of the sender, only add to the mystery.

Third, I get a chance to give you an overview of my research into the events that mattered two hundred years ago to the people living in the United States and Canada. It might even help me find some hidden gems that I can use as I write the Memoir sections of the novel.

Early English Naval Dirk with Sheath

Early English Naval Dirk with Sheath

Your perspective on the War will change according to where you grew up and were educated, although judging by some online comments, I wonder.

The War of 1812, which lasted from 1812 to 1814, was a military conflict between the United States and Great Britain. As a colony of Great Britain, Canada was swept up in the War of 1812 and was invaded a number of times by the Americans. For the First Nations this was a chance to halt American expansionism west, and to preserve their land and culture. However, in war there are winners and losers, and often the losers are on both sides.

So join me in April and find out how the British Navy met its match, how the White House was burned to the ground, when The Star Spangled Banner was written, who the Coloured Corps were, who was Tecumseh, and who was betrayed once the conflict ended.


War of 1812 Montage from Wikipedia

Oh, and being English, I never learnt about the War of 1812, except as a theatre in the Napoleonic Wars – a theatre that was not as significant to our History teacher as the Peninsular War. Then I went to Canada, and now I’m married to an American.

Finally, this War of 1812 theme gives me the chance today to participate in this whole separate blogfest!

As the organisers say, “Two years ago A to Z participant Mina Lobo started the Theme Reveal, and we thought it was such a great idea that we made it tradition. It is now our very own, grand and festive way of rolling out our themes together!”

Finally, apologies for those that read this a month ago, when I posted a few weeks early. And my thanks to Sarah Zama for pointing out the error.

Best of luck everyone with A to Z next month.

Visit other participants by clicking here – and have fun.

Riding & Writing

Dick Lane and his team of Lipizzaners at Brighton Driving Trials

Dick Lane and his team of Lipizzaners at Brighton Driving Trials. Copyright: Roland Clarke

Need to know more about me and my past? Although I don’t reveal all, this interview by Gina Knight on her Riding & Writing blog poses some interesting questions. I talk about my equestrian past and some of my writing plans for the future. Read more here…

Gilles Boissard ~ heroic playboy?

English: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, ...

English: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trying to find a suitable opportunity over the last thirteen years to interview Gilles Boissard has not been easy since he is a busy man. But he has taken time out from his hectic lifestyle to grant us this glimpse at his major role in ‘Spiral of Hooves’, or rather into what he knows as the tale opens.

First let me say, Monsieur Boissard that this is a belated pleasure.

Call me Gilles, Monsieur Boissard is my father, Roman. But we can ignore him.

Very well, but I need to ask what your life was like growing up in Canada?

Difficult in the sense that my father believed that he had all the answers having served in the Canadian Army. Fortunately my grandfather was wiser and ensured that I had what I required from a proper education to the means to ensure life was pleasurable.

So your family has money and….

Of course. The Boissards are a highly-respected family in the Province of Québec, with a very successful pharmaceutical business. We hold the patent on a number of medical advances, you know. Of course, I have concentrated on building up our equestrian enterprises, Boissard Équestre, despite my father’s interference.

I believe that you have had some success as a horseman.

Among various sports that I have devoted my time to including downhill racing in the winter. It’s been hard to excel at more than one sport but I can claim to have succeeded. Horses, of course, are my primary focus and I am always looking for new breeding stock. Recently I spent some months in Europe where I competed successfully at the same time.

Before the story in ‘Spiral of Hooves’ began, what were your hopes for the future?

I was committed to making Boissard Équestre a crucial part of Canadian eventing, primarily as breeders of medal-winning horses. It would have been satisfying to be a member of the Canadian team, and we had the horses.

What changed that?

Roman, as usual. He formed a crazy idea to involve Boissard Équestre in genetically modified feed trials, which failed miserably. Calisse, he nearly destroyed the business. But we are putting that behind us and the future is brighter.

We? Do you mean you and your friends?

Of course. We are a team. Our nutritionist, Lina Jardero and I were good friends at McGill University and I can rely on her advice, and on others. We try to help Armand Sabatier, who we met while at university as he’s a total book-worm, poor guy. But he means well, unlike Roman. My father wants to destroy everything.

English: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, ...

English: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you hate him. Would you want him dead?

Criss, that’s a personal question. Let’s just say that I might have dreamed of it but I could never commit patricide. That’s not me. I’ll just stick to ignoring him.

Then how would you describe your personality?

Personable, good-hearted and generous. I am always ready to help my friends, and love giving people gifts when they deserve it.

And how would you describe your looks?

The women always tell me I’m tall, dark and handsome and who am I to argue.

So does that mean that there isn’t one special love? Would I be wrong to call you a playboy?

Playboy with serious ambitions, but why not enjoy life at the same time as buying horses. You know what they say about women and horses. And if there is someone special it’s remaining a secret – unless you’re implying I’m fated to meet some gorgeous woman in the first few chapters.

What’s your greatest ability?

As if that wasn’t obvious, spotting great talent whether it be equine or human and female. A great female rider on a superb horse would be the ultimate prize.

Do you see yourself as heroic?

Of course. Does that mean I am the hero of my own story? I deserve to be. Who’s the heroine? Bet she falls for my charm and I stop the villain, probably Roman. He’s more than qualified. What else can he do properly?

I’m guessing that Roman’s your bête noire. What do you like about other people?

Papa is merely a nuisance. With a few notable exceptions, people know what their role in life is and don’t try to step outside the confines of their situation. As such they can be fantastic company, especially when they appreciate the finest food and drink.

What do you think is going to happen next?

I meet the woman of my dreams and find the horse that can win me medals. I fear though that Roman will ruin everything as usual. He knows I’ve bought a stud in England and will try everything to stop us. Probably murder one of the team to spite me. Then I save the day.


Other ‘Spiral of Hooves’ interview: Carly Tanner ~ Leading Lady & Athlete