An Overdue Obituary 1778

By Daniel B. O’Connell

The reader may or may not be familiar with Governor Henry Hamilton’s ill fated Campaign against Vincennes (Detroit to Fort Sackville) but it set out from Detroit in late September of 1778 with the aim of securing Vincennes against George Rogers Clark’s intrusions into the Illinois country a perceived threat against the British Post of Detroit and quite possibly Fort Michilimackinac although the later was quite a logistical stretch. It was on cause of Clark’s delivered letter to Hamilton to capture Detroit that eventually brought about Captain Henry Bird of the King’s 8th Regiment to be appointed acting engineer and to construct a proper earthen work fort on a rise above the picketed town of Detroit in defense against any modern army with artillery and etc.

Governor Hamilton being the overall commander of the expedition had with him Detroit Militia under the command of Captain La Mothe. The Military commander at Detroit was Captain Lernout and as Hamilton writes in his accounts of the expedition: “Capt. Lernout who at that time commanded the Detachment of the King’s (8th) Regiment assisted me greatly in forwarding everything necessary to be provided, and gave permission to Lieutenant Howe (Shourd?), two Sergeants and thirty rank & File who were all Volunteers to accompany me.” This Lieutenant, two Sergeants and thirty rank & File were of the King’s (8th) Regiment.

Possible likeness of Lieutenant Showrd

Reading into several historic accounts we find that Lieut Howe (Showrd?) was indeed a young man in the King’s Regiment by the name of Daniel Showrd. To be redundant in Hamilton’s own account of the Expedition “The Hamilton Journal” page 108, Hamilton goes on with his entry of October 10th with: “Lieutt. Showrd of the King’s Regt 1 Sergent. 1 Corp 30 private arrived 1/2 past 4 in the afternoon – Lt. Duvernet got the 6 pounder out of the boat mounted and haled (hauled) up a steep bank in 10 minutes.

The steep bank Hamilton refers to was up the Maumee River near present day Toledo Ohio to a place still referred to as “Pointe Aux Chenes. Hamilton mentions they started fires and got their arms in order. He also goes on to describe Some Ottawas at this place informed us Mr de Celoron had been on both sides of the River at the Indian cabins.

On October 11th Hamilton writes: directed the detachment of the King’s to pitch their tents in the Oaks something advanced. Embarked about 7 o’clock.

Hamilton writes on the 12th of October: Lieutt. Showrd’s piece going off accidentally as he was getting out of this tent before Sunrise this morning shattered his leg – he was got into the boat as expeditiously as possible & sent off for Detroit – with the Surgeon and six men. Gave the command of the King’s detachment divided into two platoons to Serjeants Parkinson and Chapman of the King’s…

The book “British Officers Serving in the American Revolution 1774-1783 lists in the Regular Army *Showrd, Daniel, Ensign in the 8th Regiment 27 May 1771 and as Lieut in the 8th Regiment 6 May 1777. Daniel Showrd purchased his Ensign commission from John Appreece on 27 May as aforementioned and purchased his Lieutenant commission from Samuel Willoe as also indicated before. (Willoe was an officer in the King’s 8th Regiment.)

Possible Showrd residence in London

Sometime later in October while at Detroit Lieutenant Daniel Showrd of the King’s (8th) Regiment died of his wound. Despite Showrd’s death he remained on the Army Lists until January 1780 an explanation unaccounted for. It is a sad remark to be made that unlike so many other United States cities and regions that were occupied by the British that no grave yards exist in Detroit no doubt swept away by the downtown development of the early 19th century. This writer however will in time search the Windsor, Sandwich and Amherstburg Ontario cemeteries in hopes that perhaps Lieutenant Daniel Showrd’s fellow Kingsmen found a proper resting place for a young man so unfortunate to die so early on the onset of such a great Expedition against Vincennes. D.O.


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