Saturday, October 29, 2016

The War of 1812

War of 1812

        The War of 1812 has ties to Ohio County, Kentucky, in that some of our first settlers were directly involved in the fighting and some land grants resulted from service in the War.

       It is a great understatement to say that the War of 1812 is difficult to understand and it is dangerous to try to explain it in a few words, but I’ll try to give a short explanation:

• Basically, the war was between the USA and Great Britain (including allies of Great Britain). 

• The war started in June 1812 and ended February 1815. 

• The war was fought at sea and in the United States – partly in the US & Canadian border area and partly in the southern United States.

• Prior to the war, Great Britain was locked in a long and bitter conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte’s France. In an attempt to cut off supplies from reaching the enemy, both sides attempted to block the United States from trading with the other.

• Prior to the war, the British Navy outraged Americans by its practice of impressment, or removing seamen from U.S. merchant vessels and forcing them to serve on behalf of the British.

• Also, the British were encouraging the Native American Indians to resist American expansion in the West. This factor had been going on since 1811 and was largely related to the attempted expansion of the Indiana Territory and the battle of Tippecanoe.

• Although the USA had almost no Navy or Army (still recovering from the Revolutionary War) the US government finally decided to stand up against the British and declared war in June 1812.

• The US forces attacked Canada (British colony) and suffered a humiliating defeat in August 1812.

• Other battles in the Northwest Territory (Lake Erie, Detroit, etc.) continued over 1812 and 1813. After Britain finally defeated Napoleon in April 1814 it gave its full attention to the war effort in North America.

• On August 24, 1814 the British captured and burned Washington, DC, including the Capitol and the White House. There is a wonderful book about this that everyone should read: Through the Perilous Fight: From the Burning of Washington to the Star-Spangled Banner: The Six Weeks That Saved the Nationby Vogel, Steve

• Peace talks were ongoing at Ghent (modern Belgium) in late 1814 and a treaty was signed December 24, 1814.  But unaware of the treaty British forces attacked New Orleans January 8, 1815 and were soundly defeated by the US Army led by future president Andrew Jackson.

            Kentucky's Sacrifice: approximately 60 percent of the war's total casualties were Kentuckians. Kentucky suffered more casualties than any other state combined. Of the 1,876 Americans killed during the war some 1,200, or 64 per cent, were from Kentucky. Furthermore, nearly 25,000 Kentuckians, about one in six, had some type of military service. Therefore, the war also greatly impacted the Kentucky home front.

            With the impending onset of hostilities, the governor of the Indiana Territory, future President William Henry Harrison sought military assistance from neighboring Kentucky. After being appointed brigadier general of the Kentucky militia on August 22, Harrison went to attain the force in order to defend the Indiana territorial government at Vincennes, Indiana. Harrison had resigned his military commission in December 1811, but with the help of Kentucky governor Charles Scott, he was able to recruit Kentucky citizens to help defend Indiana; citizens in Ohio and Indiana had heard of the lack of camp provisions and chose not to be burdened by such hardships. As a result, most of Kentucky's militia during the war fought in what was the old Northwest territory.
            A total of 25,010 Kentuckians fought in war, with five out of six men of military age fighting the British and/or the Indians; they were in 36 regiments, four battalions, and twelve independent companies.

            Note:  There is a chapter about the War of 1812 in Ohio County, Kentucky in the Olden Days, by Harrison.  Here is a partial quote from the book:  “The people of Ohio County held mass meetings at which speeches were made and resolutions were adopted teeming with devotion to Kentucky and their country, no matter what the cost in self-sacrifice. It was resolved that the people should wear nothing but homespun, and even recommended that the ladies should use thorns as a substitute for pins, and otherwise abstain from every article of English manufacture.  The ladies of every neighborhood were ready to join together and knie socks and gloves and make hunting shirts and other garments for every new recruit. Certain individuals would go around and collect such articles to send off to supply their friends and other soldiers in the army. Thus, by the patriotism of the people, especially the women, Kentucky soldiers were equipped and sent to the field without a dollar’s expense to the government.  Few, if any, of these soldiers received a dollar of pay until after the close of the war, and then it was at the pitiful rate of eight dollars a month.”  “Besides several small parties and companies who joined the cavalry expeditions into the Indian territory, Ohio County raised three companies during the war. One accompanied General Samuel Hopkins up the Wabash River, the other Governor Isaac Shelby to the Battle of the Thames, and another was under General Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans.” 

            It is not known to me the names of those from Ohio County who served. Perhaps we can find those names and publish them in the future. We do know (from Harrison’s book) that James Tyler, Philip Thompson and Reuben Bennett served with honor and as leaders.

Added:  Source - Kentucky, Soldiers of the War of 1812; published by The Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky 1891.

         This book is indexed by name of soldier but not by city or county, so I am unable to determine the names of those soldiers from Ohio County; however, I did find a page that included the two names from the Harrison book, i.e. James Tyler and Philip Thompson, so I think we can conclude that the soldiers on this list are from Ohio County.  The page follows:

     We can also conclude that the above list is only the one "Company" from Ohio County and we know (from the Harrison book) that there were two other companies.

Added:  In 1840 there was a census of Pensioners for Revolutionary War or (Other) Military Services.  This census most likely included those soldiers, or their widows, that were injured during the War of 1812.  Here is the list for Ohio County, KY (there is no way to distinguish which war the soldier served in except to interpret by age and all of these gentlemen would have been about 20 years old for the Revolutionary War and 45 - 50 years old for the War of 1812; so they probably served in the Revolutionary War):

Name of Soldier        Age          Head of family (with whom residing)

Ohio County

Zebra Arnold  83 Bayliss Axton
William L. Barnard 81 William L. Barnard
William Campbell 87 William Campbell
William Carter, sen. 80 William Carter, sen.
John Maddox, sen. 78 John Maddox, sen.
Francis Petty  87 Pinkney Petty
Peter Parks  81 Peter Parks
Diadama Shutts  78 Joseph Shutts
Chesley Calloway 81 William Simmons

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