WAR OF 1812 SERVICE
HENRY WILLIS was born October 5, 1793 in Willistown, South Carolina and died January 1, 1874 in Grayson County, Kentucky. He married SARAH MOORE about 1814 after migrating from South Carolina in 1809 where he lived with his sister and brother-in-law who were already in Pulaski County, Kentucky . Sarah was born March 5, 1798 in Kentucky and died 1830 in Edmondson County, Kentucky. Henry joined with the 7th Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia under Colonel Micah Taul's command, and captained by Captain Samuel Tate in the War of 1812. He enlisted at the Somerset, Pulaski County courthouse August 13. 1813. Henry and Sarah are buried at Caney Creek Cemetery four miles outside of Caneyville in Grayson County, Kentucky. This is my husbands line and goes: Henry Willis, Greenville Willis, Elige Covington Willis, Leona Willis Lawrence, Gladys Lawrence Johnson, Glynn Tracy Johnson, and my husband Tracy Lee Johnson. Henry Willis is his 4th great grandfather. Henry was in the Battle of Thames, which happened on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, and was in the battle in which the Indian leader Tecumseh was killed.
BATTLE OF THE THAMES (Also called the Battle of Moraviantown)Oct. 5, 1813. In the War of 1812, decisive U.S. victory over British and Indian forces in Ontario, Canada, enabling the United States to consolidate its control over the Northwest.. After the U.S. naval triumph in the Battle of Lake Erie in September 1813, the British commander at Detroit, Brigadier General Henry A. Procter, found his position untenable and began a hasty retreat across the Ontario peninsula. He was pursued by about 3,500 U.S. troops under Major General William Henry Harrison, who was supported by the U.S. fleet in command of Lake Erie. The forces met near Moraviantown on the Thames River, a few miles east of what is now Thamesville. The British, with about 600 regulars and 1,000 Indian allies under Tecumseh, the Shawnee leader, were greatly outnumbered and quickly defeated. Many British troops were captured and Tecumseh was killed, destroying his Indian alliance and breaking the Indian power in the Ohio and Indiana territories. After this battle, most of the tribes abandoned their association with the British. The Battle of the Thames was the final battle of the War of 1812 in the Northwest. General Harrison and his troops had defeated the Indians of the Ohio valley once and for all.
After destroying Moraviantown, a village of Christian Indians, the U.S. troops returned to Detroit. The U.S. victory helped catapult Harrison into the national limelight and eventually the presidency.
DAVID RICHARDSON-Was born 1768 in Kentucky. He married POLLY KINDRED in Jessamine County, Kentucky in 1802. His connection to my line is: David Richardson, Jonus Richardson, Richard Richardson, George Richardson, Bertha Richardson Davis, Doris Davis Kassinger, and Holly Kassinger Johnson. He is my 4th great grandfather. David was a sergeant in Captain James C. Price's Company of Kentucky Militia, and in the regiment of Colonel William Lewis. He enlisted on August 14, 1812 in Nicholasville, Kentucky and was honorably discharged at Urbona, Ohio December 31, 1812. In 1871 he lived in the poor house in Glasgow in Barren County, Kentucky. He service was for 140 days and his pension was $8.00 a month. He was 112 years old on December 6, 1871 when he filed for pension. He was regimented in Georgetown, Kentucky under Winchester in the Northeastern Campaign against the British and Indians. He was taken prisoner of war at Winchester's defeat during the Battle of River Raisin on January 22, 1813...
THE BATTLE OF RIVER RAISIN
William Henry Harrison planned to gather an army near the rapids of the Maumee River and move against Detroit from there. In January 1813 one of his subordinate commanders, General James Winchester, arrived at the rapids and began to build an armed camp. Soon after his arrival two Frenchmen from the village of Raisin River, also called Frenchtown because of the background of it's inhabitants, a settlement half way between the mouth of the Maumee and Detroit, came to Winchester and told him that A small group of Indians and British soldiers at that place guarded 3000 barrels of flour and a considerable amount of corn and wheat intended for the British Garrison at Fort Malden. On the heels of these men came others to say that the British had discovered their friendship for the Americans and were going to destroy the village.
Winchester had orders from General Harrison to stay at his camp until the full army was assembled and ready to move on to Detroit, but he felt he had to act now. He sent about 700 men toward the Raisin River under Colonel William Lewis, who handily defeated the British and Indians there and sent back to Winchester asking for reinforcements to hold the place. Winchester sent 300 regulars under Colonel Samuel Wells, and also proceeded by carriage himself, arriving at the village even before the enforcements got there. Wells then arrived and pointed out to Winchester that the troops were in a highly exposed position, and suggested that scouts be sent out to learn what the British were doing. Winchester, no doubt weary from his long carriage ride over bad roads, said that tomorrow there would be enough time to take care of these things, and went off to stay in the comfortable home of one of the community leaders, more than a mile away from his soldiers.
Colonel Henry Proctor, who had suceeded General Brock as the British commander at Detroit, that night led 600 soldiers and 600 Indians against the Americans, attacking before dawn. Well's regulars formed behind a picket fence and were able to kill or wound 185 of the attackers. The American Militia, however, were taken by surprise in the open and quickly overcome. In the general confusion, Winchester was captured by Chief Roundhead, who took him to Colonel Proctor. The British commander persuaded the shaken Winchester that he should order his regulars to surrender, supposedly to avoid a massacre by the Indians. The fighting over, Proctor withdrew to Fort Malden, taking his prisoners with him, except 64 wounded Americans he left at River Raisin, intending to send sleds the next day. That night the Indians returned and massacres about 30 of the wounded men.
Harrison, his campaign against Detroit aborted by Winchester's blunderings, then began to build Fort Meig, named after Governor Return Meig of Ohio.
THOMAS CROWDER was born 1796 in Virginia and died 1849 in Ohio County, Kentucky. He married MARY ELIZABETH NIMMO on September 18, 1816 in Sumner County, Tennessee. Mary is the daughter of John Robert Nimmo and Jane Orr and was born 1800 in Sumner County, Tennessee and died between 1870 and 1880 in Ohio County, Kentucky. According to Thomas's military records he was a private of Captain John Wallace's Company of Infantry First Regiment of Tennessee Volunteers under the command of William Hall, from Sumner County. He was there on November 12, 1812 for the roll dated December 16. He was absent on sick furlough from December 10, 1812 to February 13, 0f 1813. The expiration of this service was for February 9, 1813 and his pay for this service was $27.04. He was back on the roll from February 10 to April 22, 1813 with the term of service charged as two months and 13 days and the pay per month was eight dollars. The difference of pay due from January 1 to February 9, 1813 was $3.96 for a total of $23.42 My line goes like this: Thomas Crowder, Lucinda Crowder Daugherty, Martha Daugherty Kessinger, William Netter Kassinger, James Jackson Kassinger, Darrell Kassinger, Roy Thomas Kassinger and Holly Kassinger Johnson. Thomas is my 5th great grandfather. Thomas was a member of the Tennessee Volunteer in Sumner County from December 10, 1812 to February 13, 1813. He was a veteran of the War of 1812 serving with Captain Wallace's Tennessee Militia. Military Record WO-11154. He served in the following regiments:
COLONEL WILLIAM HALL'S REGIMENT
DESIGNATION: 1st Regiment Tennessee Volunteers. DATES: December 1812 - April 1813. MEN MOSTLY FROM: Sumner, Davidson, Giles, Lincoln, Montgomery, Overton, Rutherford, Smith, and Wilson Counties. BRIEF HISTORY: Part of Andrew Jackson's expedition to Natchez, this regiment had a complement of about 620 men (the average company having between fifty and seventy soldiers). Each company was assigned a fife and drummer. There were two rifle companies (Captains Bledsoe and Kennedy) which had buglers instead of the fife and drummer. After the abortive mission at Natchez, this unit was dismissed at Columbia, Tennessee (April 1814) but many of men later re-enlisted under Colonel Edward Bradley and joined Jackson in the first campaign of the Creek War.
COLONEL EDWARD BRADLEY'S REGIMENT
DATES: September 1813 - December 1813. MEN MOSTLY FROM: Sumner, Giles, Lincoln, Montgomery, Overton, Rutherford, Smith, and Wilson Counties. BRIEF HISTORY: This unit was originally under the command of Colonel William Hall during Jackson's excursion to Natchez. Bradley took over the regiment when Hall was promoted to brigadier general. Bradley's regiment then became part of Hall's brigade, along with Colonel William Pillow's Second Regiment of Tennessee Volunteer Infantry. This brigade participated in Jackson's first campaign into the Creek Nation. Bradley's regiment fought at the Battle of Talladega (9 November 1813) and muster rolls show many casualties from that battle, especially in the companies of Captains Abraham Bledsoe and Brice Smith. The line of march for this first campaign followed the route from Fayetteville to Huntsville, then to Fort Deposit and Fort Strother. The troops were dismissed in December 1813. The number of men in each captain's company varied from twenty-nine to seventy-two soldiers.
CAMPAIGN INTO THE CREEK NATION
An Indian uprising in the South brought on the Creek Indian War (1813-1814). Creeks who lived mainly in Alabama and Georgia were alarmed by encroachments on their lands and were convinced by Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief, to unite with many other tribes against the settlers. The leader of the Creeks was William Weatherford, also known as Red Eagle. On August 30, 1813, he led an attack on Fott Mims, a temporary stockade near the confluence of the Tombigbee and Alabama rivers. Although Weatherford attempted to restrain his warriors, they massacred some 500 whites. The U.S. retaliated on November 3 when General John Coffee attacked and destroyed the Indian village Talladega, in Alabama, killing more than 500 warriors. In January 1814, however, Tennessee militiamen were defeated in three minor engagements. The war did not end until the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in March 1814.
The Creek War (1813-1814) ended as General Andrew Jackson defeated the Creeks under Chief Weatherford at the decisive battle of Horseshoe Bend, Alabama, where nearly 900 of 1000 Indians were killed. The Creeks were fought with British troops against the Americans in the War of 1812.
THE BATTLE AT FORT MC HENRY
The Battle at Fort McHenry was when Francis Scott key wrote Star Spangled Banner. It was an important battle in the War of 1812, because it was on the road to Washington, D.C. Fort McHenry is on a peninsula in Baltimore Harbor. It was made in the shape of a star and was named after James McHenry, the Secretary of War for President George Washington. From Fort McHenry the Americans were able to watch for any British ships entering the harbor to attack Baltimore.
The British wanted to capture Baltimore which was between the harbor and Washington, D.C. They had already burned the Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C. on August 24, 1814, but they did not have control over the city or the national government.
The British bombarded Fort McHenry for 25 hours. The bombing from the British ships started at dawn on September 13, 1814. The American weapons were not strong enough to reach the ships that were attacking the fort from the harbor. During the night the British sent 1,000 men on land to try to bring down the fort. American soldiers were able to stop them. When Major General Robert Ross of the British army was killed on September 14th, the British soldiers ran for their ships and American fire chased them. Baltimore was saved!
THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
In late 1814 New Orleans was home to a population of French, Spanish, African, Anglo and Creole peoples dedicated to pursuing economic opportunism and the joys of life. It also occupied a strategic place on the map. Located just 100 miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi River, the Crescent City offered a tempting prize to a British military still buoyant over the burning of Washington, D.C. To capture the city, Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane fitted out a naval flotilla of more than 50 ships to transport 10,000 veteran troops from Jamaica. They were led by Sir Edward Pakenham, the 37-year-old brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington and a much-decorated general officer.
For protection, the citizens of southern Louisiana looked to Major General Andrew Jackson, known to his men as "Old Hickory." Jackson arrived in new Orleans in the late fall of 1814 and quickly prepared defenses along the city's many avenues of approach.
Meanwhile, the British armada scattered a makeshift American fleet in Lake Borgne, a shallow arm of the Gulf of Mexico east of New Orleans, and evaluated their options. Two British officers, disguised as Spanish fishermen, discovered an unguarded waterway, Bayou Bienvenue, that provided access to the east bank of the Mississippi River barely nine miles downstream from New Orleans. On December 23 the British vanguard poled its way through a maze of sluggish streams and traversed marshy land to emerge unchallenged an easy day's march from their goal.
Two American officers, whose plantations had been commandeered by the British, informed Jackson that the enemy was at the gates. "Gentlemen, the British are below, we must fight them tonight," the general declared. He quickly launched a nighttime surprise attack that, although tactically a draw, gained valuable time for the outnumbered Americans. Startled by their opponents' boldness, the British decided to defer their advance toward New Orleans until all their troops could be brought in from the fleet.
Old Hickory used this time well. He retreated three miles to the Chalmette Plantation on the banks of the Rodriguez Canal, a wide, dry ditch that marked the narrowest strip of solid land between the British camps and New Orleans. Here Jackson built a fortified mud rampart, 3/5 mile long and anchored on its right by the Mississippi River and on the left by an impassable cypress swamp.
While the Americans dug in, General Pakenham readied his attack plans. On December 28 the British launched a strong advance that Jackson repulsed with the help of the Louisiana, an American ship that blasted the British left flank with broadsides from the river. Four days later Pakenham tried to bombard the Americans into submission with an artillery barrage, but Jackson's gunners stood their ground.
The arrival of fresh troops during the first week of January 1815 gave the British new hope. Pakenham decided to cross the Mississippi downstream with a strong force and overwhelm Jackson's thin line of defenders on the river bank opposite the Rodriguez Canal. Once these redcoats were in position to pour flank fire across the river, heavy columns would assault each flank of the American line, then pursue the insolent defenders six miles into the heart of New Orleans. Units carrying fascines -- bundled sticks used to construct fortifications -- and ladders to bridge the ditch and scale the ramparts would precede the attack, which would begin at dawn January 8 to take advantage of the early morning fog.
It was a solid plan in conception, but flawed in execution. The force on the west bank was delayed crossing the river and did not reach its goal until well after dawn. Deprived of their misty cover, the main British columns had no choice but to advance across the open fields toward the Americans, who waited expectantly behind their mud and cotton-bale barricades. To make matters worse, the British forgot their ladders and fascines, so they had no easy means to close with the protected Americans.
Never has a more polyglot army fought under the Stars and Stripes than did Jackson's force at the Battle of New Orleans. In addition to his regular U.S. Army units, Jackson counted on dandy New Orleans militia, a sizable contingent of black former Haitian slaves fighting as free men of color, Kentucky and Tennessee frontiersmen armed with deadly long rifles and a colorful band of outlaws led by Jean Lafitte, whose men Jackson had once disdained as "hellish banditti." This hodgepodge of 4,000 soldiers, crammed behind narrow fortifications, faced more than twice their number.
Pakenham's assault was doomed from the beginning. His men made perfect targets as they marched precisely across a quarter mile of open ground. Hardened veterans of the Peninsular Campaign in Spain fell by the score, including nearly 80 percent of a splendid Scottish Highlander unit that tried to march obliquely across the American front. Both of Pakenham's senior generals were shot early in the battle, and the commander himself suffered two wounds before a shell severed an artery in his leg, killing him in minutes. His successor wisely disobeyed Pakenham's dying instructions to continue the attack and pulled the British survivors off the field. More than 2,000 British had been killed or wounded and several hundred more were captured. The American loss was eight killed and 13 wounded.
Jackson's victory had saved New Orleans, but it came after the war was over. The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 but resolved none of the issues that started it, had been signed in Europe weeks before the action on the Chalmette Plantation.
JAMES PHELPS served in (Dudley's) 13th Kentucky Militia during the war of 1812. As a historical note, Dudley's Defeat was a battle in the War of 1812 that occurred near Fort Meigs (Northeast of the present town of Defiance, Ohio). On the American side, in the Spring of 1813, General (later President) HARRISON had about 1,000 soldiers at Fort Meigs. He was opposed by (British) General PROCTOR with 1,000 troops and 1,200 Indians led by TECUMSEH and ROUNDHEAD. At HARRISON's request, Governor SHELBY of Kentucky sent a relief force of 1,200 militiamen under command of General Green CLAY.
By 1 May 1813, the British and Indian forces had set up artillery on both banks of the Maumee River overlooking Fort Meigs while General CLAY's troops were coming down the same river on flatboats. General HARRISON's battle plan was to have 800 of General CLAY's men attack the guns on the North bank while 400 were to land on the South bank and fight their way to the fort. HARRISON's troops were to fight their way to the relief forces on the South bank.
The 800 men on the North bank, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William DUDLEY quickly carried the enemy battery and spiked the guns. However, one of Dudley's details attacked the Indians, and DUDLEY went to their aid by charging the Indians and pursuing them through the woods until they ran into the British forces. The British counterattacked along with the Indians and captured or killed about 600 of DUDLEY's troops (to include the capture of Private Peter TALBOTT). Lt Col Dudley was also captured and tomahawked to death as General PROCTOR "looked on indifferently".
As the Indians were murdering their prisoners, TECUMSEH arrived in a rage and demanded to know why General PROCTOR permitted the killing. Allegedly, TECUMSEH told PROCTOR that he was unfit to command and should "go and put on petticoats". At any rate, TECUMSEH's intervention saved the lives of the remaining prisoners including Peter TALBOTT of Pendleton County.
Dudley's Massacre: It was on the fifth of May that the Americans suffered a particularly bloody and unnecessary defeat known as “Dudley's Defeat.” The defeat, also known as “Dudley's Massacre,” involved military brilliance and bungling, cowardice and bravery, and a manifestation of the violence that often accompanied life in America's early days. It occurred during the first siege of Fort Meigs during the War of 1812.
On the night of May 4, 1,200 reinforcements, consisting mostly of new Kentucky recruits under the command of General Green Clay, neared the fort. Harrison (later president) sent instructions to Clay to send a detachment of 800 men to surprise-attack the British batteries at dawn the following morning. The objective was to spike the cannons, rendering them useless, and hurry to the safety of Fort Meigs before British reinforcements could arrive from Fort Miamis, which was just downriver (about the 1800 block of River Road at Michigan Avenue, today).
The detachment, led by Colonel William Dudley, attacked the British battery at dawn, carrying out their mission successfully. However, the events that followed led ultimately to Dudley's defeat. Instead of returning to the fort as planned, the raw recruits, exhilarated by their success, pursued some straggling Indians into the forest (“every Kentuckian is crazy at the sight of an Indian,” the old history books say). Dudley and his officers tried vainly to stop them but were futile in their efforts and joined in the fray. The trap had been set. For the Americans to pursue them into the forest was exactly what the Indians wanted. Once they had reached an area where the Maumee Library now stands, the British and Indians counterattacked.
A fierce battle ensued, lasting several hours. The Americans attempted to retreat toward the river but found themselves cut off When the battle was over, about 220 of Dudley's men lay dead, while 350 were captured. About 200 managed to make their way across river and back to Fort Meigs. Colonel Dudley was killed during the battle and scalped. All that remains as reminders of the carnage that took place in May of 1813 are the preserved sites of Fort Meigs and Miamis, and a historical marker in front of the Maumee Library on River Road that reads:
It was the winter of 1813 and the United States was losing the war. The invasion of Canada had been turned back, with two American armies destroyed in the Northwest. Brigadier General William Henry Harrison, American commander in the Northwest, desperately tried to pull together the men and supplies needed to stop the British and Indians from capturing Ohio and Territories of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.
Harrison decided to build a fortified camp to protect his men and supplies until he was ready to move north. Harrison planned two expeditions in these early months. In February he sent a detachment to attack a large party of Indians at Maumee Bay, the site of what is now Toledo, but the Indians left before the men got there. An expedition set out in March across frozen Lake Erie to destroy British supplies and ships at Fort Malden.
In the fall of 1812 Harrison worked intensely in preparations for a winter campaign in 1813 in the northwest, which the feelings of the people demanded. To do this he must march a crude and undisciplined army through a savage wilderness, in dark forests and across tangled swamps, wherein lurked wily enemies. At the same time, he had to defend a frontier several hundred miles in extent against the tomahawk and scalping-knife, at all hazards. Block-houses had to be built and garrisoned on the way, and magazines of provisions created and defended. But the good soldiers cheerfully undertook the difficult task. Brave and experienced leaders had rallied to his standard. Kentucky sent swarms of young men from every social rank, led by the veteran Isaac Shelby, whose exploits at King's Mountain in the Revolution were remembered with gratitude. The yeomanry of Ohio and its neighborhood had hastened to the field; and so numerous were the volunteers, that Harrison was compelled to issue orders against further enlistments. He made the vicinity of the Maumee Valley, near the western end of Lake Erie, the place of general rendezvous, whence he intended to fall upon Malden and Detroit and lie designated the brigades from Virginia and Pennsylvania, and one from Ohio, under General Simon Perkins, as the right wing of the army, and the Kentuckians under General Winchester, as the left wing. So arranged, the army pressed forward.
Winchester, with eight hundred young Kentuckians, reached the Maumee Rapids in January, 1813, where he learned that a party of British and Indians were occupying Frenchtown (now Monroe, Michigan), on the River Raisin, twenty miles south of Detroit. He sent a detachment, under Colonels Allen and Lewis, to protect the inhabitants in that region, who drove the enemy out of the hamlet of about thirty families, and held it until the arrival of Winchester, on the 20th, with about three hundred men. At that time General Proctor was at Malden, eighteen miles distant, with a considerable body of British and Indians; and with fifteen hundred of these, he crossed the river and marched stealthily at night to attack the Americans.
Late in the evening of the 21st, intelligence reached Winchester that a foe was approaching. He did not believe it. At midnight the camp was as reposed as if under absolute security from heaven. The sentinels were posted but the weather being intensely cold, pickets were not sent out upon roads leading to the town. Just as the drummer-boy was beating the reveille in the gray of dawn on the 22nd, the sharp crack of a rifle, followed by musketry, awoke the sleepers. Bombshells and canister-shot immediately succeeded in a shower upon the camp. The Americans seized their arms, and opposed force to force. Very soon the soldiers fled to the woods for shelter, where the savages, who swarmed there, hewed them down with gleaming hatchets. The allies made it a war of extermination on that morning.
Winchester was made a prisoner, and he concluded an agreement with Proctor to surrender his troops to that officer on condition that ample protection should be given to them against the fury of the savages. The promise was given and immediately violated. Proctor', knowing Harrison to be near, hastened toward Malden, leaving the sick and wounded Americans behind, without a guard. The Indians followed him awhile, when they turned back, murdered and scalped those who were unable to travel as captives, set fire to houses, and took many prisoners to Detroit to procure exorbitant prices for ransom. The indifference of Proctor and his troops on that occasion, and the dreadful suspicion that they encouraged the savages in their butchery of the defenseless, was keenly felt in all the West, and particularly in Kentucky, for most of the victims were of the flower of society in that State. After that the war-cry of Kentuckians - "Remember the River Raisin" - was often heard.
Harrison had advanced to the Maumee Rapids when he heard of the disaster at Frenchtown, and hearing that Proctor was marching toward Malden, he established a fortified camp there at the beginning of February, and named it Fort Meigs. It was near the site of the present village of Perrysburg, and opposite Maumee City. There Harrison was besieged many weeks afterward by Proctor and Tecumtha, with full two thousand of their allied followers. They came down from Malden and appeared at the British Fort Miami, near Fort Meigs, at the close of April. Although the latter fort was strong, having bastions and many cannon planted, Harrison felt that its garrison was in peril, and he sent a courier to General Greene Clay, who was on his march northward with Kentuckians, urging him to press forward.
Clay was near the Maumee Valley when the courier reached him. He resolved to send Harrison word of the near approach of succor, for Clay was at the head of twelve hundred men. Captain Leslie Combs, a young man then nineteen years of age (yet living), volunteered to be the messenger. With four men of his company and a young Indian, he went down the Maumee in a canoe, and as they approached the Rapids, they heard the roar of artillery at Fort Meigs. It was the first of May, and Proctor had begun the siege. How shall I enter an invested fort was a question that perplexed the gallant captain. But he pushed on, and having passed the Rapids in safety, he rounded a point into view of the fort, over which waved the Stars and Stripes. Suddenly some Indians appeared in the woods on shore. Combs attempted to shoot by them in the canoe on the swift current, but a volley from their guns killed one of his men and badly wounded another. They turned the prow of the canoe toward the opposite shore and escaped.
Clay pressed forward, and on the morning of the 5th of May, was near the fort. A large part of his troops, under Colonel Dudley, were landed near the site of Maumee City, and pressed forward to attack the British battery there. Captain Combs and his riflemen were in the advance. The battery was taken, most of its great guns were spiked, and the British flag was hauled down and trailed on the earth, while huzzahs rang out from the ramparts of Fort Meigs. The troops were signaled to fall back and cross the river; but at that moment some ambushed Indians fell upon Combs and his men and made them prisoners. These savages were attacked by Dudley's troops. The Indians were reinforced, and Dudley was defeated and slain. Of the eight hundred men who followed him from the boats, only one hundred and seventy escaped to Fort Meigs.
Meanwhile Colonel Boswell, with the remainder of Clay's army, had fought his way toward the fort. Meeting a sallying party sent out by Harrison, they all turned upon their assailants and drove them into the woods. Another sortie was made against the besiegers at another point, and more than eight hundred of the motley foe were driven from their batteries and dispersed. The siege of Fort Meigs was then abandoned, and the assailants went back to Malden. Combs and his companions were stripped and taken to old Fort Miami, where, almost naked, they were compelled to run the gauntlet between two rows of savages, armed with war-clubs, tomahawks, scalping-knives, and pistols. Many of the victims were killed or badly maimed by blows from the Indians. When the survivors were all inside the fort, they would have been massacred but for the humanity of Tecumtha, which was greater than that of Proctor, who did not attempt to stay the fury of the Indians. Active military operations in the West were suspended for several weeks after the siege of Fort Meigs was raised.
Let us here take a brief retrospective glance at civil affairs. Congress assembled on the 2nd of November, 1812. Its counsels were divided by fierce party-spirit that boded evil to the public interests. The Democrats had a decided majority in both houses, and the measures of the administration were sustained. Madison was reelected President of the republic. There had been some changes in the cabinet, John Armstrong having taken the place of William Eustis as Secretary of War, in January, 1813, and William Jones that of Paul Hamilton as Secretary of the Navy, at the same time. Mr. Monroe remained Secretary of State, and William Pinckney, Attorney-General. The British government had shown some desire for reconciliation, by a repeal of the Orders in Council, but there were other obstacles which kept the doors of amicable adjustment fast closed. The report of the Committee on Foreign Relations to the House of Representatives, by Mr. Calhoun, their chairman, had taken high ground, which the British government did not approve. "The impressment of our seamen," said that report, being deservedly considered a principal cause of the war, the war ought to be prosecuted until that cause be removed. To appeal to arms in defense of a right, and to lay them down without securing it, or a satisfactory evidence of a good disposition in the opposite party to secure it, would be considered in no other light than a relinquishment of it. War having been declared, and the case of impressment being necessarily included as one of the most important causes, it is evident it must be provided for in the pacification. The omission of it, in a treaty of peace, would not leave it on its former ground it would, in effect, be an absolute relinquishment - an idea at which the feelings of every American must revolt."
Almost simultaneously with the presentation of this report (January, 1813), which recommended negotiations for peace, the Prince Regent (the actual sovereign of Great Britain) issued a manifesto concerning the causes of the war and the subject of blockade and impressment, in which he declared that the war was not the consequence of any fault of Great Britain, but that it had been brought on by the partial conduct of the American government in overlooking the aggressions of the French in their negotiations with them. He alleged that a quarrel with Great Britain had been sought because she had adopted measures solely retaliative as toward France, and that as those measures had been abandoned by a repeal of the Orders in Council, the war was now continued on the question of impressment and search. On this point the Prince Regent took such a decisive position, that the door for negotiation seemed 'to be irrevocably shut. His Royal Highness," said the manifesto, can never admit that the exercise of undoubted and hitherto undisputed right of searching merchant-vessels in time of war, and the impressment of British seamen when found therein, can be deemed any violation of a neutral flag; neither can he admit, the taking of such seamen from on board such vessels can be considered by any neutral state as a hostile measure or a justifiable cause of war." This assertion was not correct, for the right of Great Britain to search and impress had been disputed by all the maritime nations of Europe for many years.
After reaffirming the old English doctrine respecting self-expatriation of a British subject, the manifesto continued But if to the practice of the United States to harbor British seamen, be added their assumed right to transfer the allegiance of British subjects, and thus to cancel the jurisdiction of their legitimate sovereign by acts of naturalization and certificates of citizenship, which they pretend to be as valid out of their own country as within it, it is obvious that to abandon this ancient right of Great Britain and to admit these novel pretensions of the United States, would be to expose the very foundation of our maritime strength." The manifesto charged our government with systematic efforts to inflame the people against Great Britain, and that a hostile temper toward that government, and complete subserviency to the ruler of France," was evident in the official correspondence between the American and French governments. While contending against France in defense not only of the liberties of Great Britain, but also of the world," said the manifesto, His Royal Highness was entitled to look for a far different result. From their common origin - their common interest - from their professed principles of freedom and independence, the United States was the last power in which Great Britain could have expected to find a willing instrument and abettor of French tyranny." The Prince Regent also declared most solemnly, in that manifesto, that the charge of exciting the Indians to offensive measures against the United States, is equally void of foundation." This denial was iterated and reiterated by British statesmen and publicists then, and have been ever since. It is very natural for a civilized and Christian people to repel the charge of complicity with savage pagans in the practice of merciless and barbarous warfare but the fact has been too clearly proved by documentary and other evidence to be doubted.
At this juncture, when reconciliation seemed impossible, a ray of hope came from northern Europe. When the declaration of war reached St. Petersburg, the Russian emperor, Alexander, expressed his reset to the American minister, John Quincy Adams, and suggested the expediency of tendering his mediation for the purpose of effecting a reconciliation. Mr. Adams favored it; but the victorious march of Napoleon toward Moscow, the heart of the Russian empire, delayed the measure for a while. The mediation was finally tendered through the Russian minister at Washington early in March, 1813, a few days after Mr. Madison, in his second inaugural address, had endeavored to excite the feelings of the people in favor of a vigorous prosecution of the war. The offer was accepted by the President, who nominated Albert Gallatin, the Secretary of the Treasury, and James A. Bayard, a member of the Senate, to act jointly with Mr. Adams, as commissioners to negotiate a treaty of peace with Great Britain, at St. Petersburg. The British government refused to accept the mediation of the emperor, and the war went on.
We left General Harrison and his little army at Fort Meigs. When he was assured that Proctor and his allies had returned to Fort Malden, he left General Clay in command of Fort Meigs, and proceeded to Lower Sandusky (now Fremont, on the west bank of Sandusky River,) and the interior, to make preparations for the defence of the Erie frontier against the foiled and exasperated foe. He met Governor Meigs at Lower Sandusky, with a considerable body of Ohio militia, pressing forward to his relief; and he found the Ohio settlements so full of enthusiasm, that he felt sure of aid whenever lie might call for it. Meanwhile Tecumtha had been urging Proctor to renew the siege of Fort Meigs. That timid General hesitated a long time but finally, late in July, he appeared before Fort Meigs with his Indian allies - his own and Tecumtha's followers numbering about four thousand. The tribes of the northwest were fully represented. Satisfied that he could not capture the fort, Proctor and his white troops embarked with their stores, on the 28th of July, for Sandusky Bay, with the intention of attacking Fort Stephenson, at Lower Sandusky, a regular earthwork, with a ditch, circumvalating pickets, bastions, and block-houses. It was garrisoned by one hundred and sixty men under the command of Major George Croghan of the regular army, and then only twenty-one years of age.
Proctor's dusky allies marched across the country to assist in the siege; and when, on the afternoon of the 31st, the British in transports and gunboats appeared at a turn in the river a mile from the fort, it was perceived that the woods near by were swarming with Indians. Tecumtha had concealed about two thousand of them in the forest, to watch the roads along which reinforcements might attempt to reach Fort Stephenson. Proctor at once made a demand for the surrender of the fort, accompanied by the usual couched threat of massacre by the Indians in case of refusal. The demand was met by a defiant refusal. This was immediately followed by a cannonade from the gun-boats and howitzers which the British had landed. All night long the great guns played upon the fort without serious effect, and answered occasionally by the solitary cannon possessed by the garrison, which was shifted from one block-house to another to give the impression that the works were armed with several great guns.
During the night the British dragged three 6-pound cannon to a point higher than the fort, and early in the morning these opened fire on the works. This continued many hours with very little effect, the garrison remaining silent. Proctor became impatient and his savage allies were becoming uneasy, for there were rumors of reinforcements on their way for the men in the fort so he resolved to storm the work. At five o'clock in the afternoon of that hot August day, while the bellowing of distant thunder was heard from an angry tempest-cloud in the western sky, the British marched in two columns to assail the fort. At the same time some British grenadiers made a wide circuit through the woods to make a feigned attack at another point. As the two columns advanced, the artillery played incessantly upon the fort, and under cover of the smoke they had reached a position within fifteen or twenty paces of the strong pickets, before they were discovered. The garrison consisted of Kentucky sharp-shooters, whose rifles now opened a deadly fire upon the foe. The British columns wavered, but soon rallied; and the first, pushing over the glacis, leaped into the ditch to assail the palisades. Cut away the pickets, my brave boys, and show the damned Yankees no quarter! shouted Lieutenant-Colonel Short, their leader. His voice was soon silenced. In a block-house that commanded the ditch in a raking position, the only cannon of the fort was masked. When that ditch was crowded with men, the port flew open and a terrible storm of slugs and grape-shot swept along the living wall with awful effect. The second column, led by Lieutenant Gordon, leaped into the ditch, and met a similar reception, to which was added a volley of rifle balls. Short and Gordon, and many of their followers, were slain in the ditch. A precipitate and confused retreat followed, the British having lost, in killed and wounded, one hundred and twenty men, while only one man of the garrison was killed and several were wounded. The cowardly Indians, always afraid of cannon, had not joined in the fight, but were swift in the flight.
This gallant defense of Fort Stephenson commanded the greatest admiration, and Major Croghan received many honors. Congratulatory letters were sent to him. The ladies of Chillicothe, Ohio, bought and presented to him an elegant sword, and Congress voted him the thanks of the nation. Twenty-two years afterward, that body awarded him a gold medal for his bravery and skill on that occasion. This defense, so unexpected and successful, had a powerful effect upon the Indians. Tecumtha no longer believed in British invincibility, of which Proctor had boasted, and the British abandoned all hope of capturing these western American posts until thee should become masters of Lake Erie.
Littleton Estes was a private on the roll of Isaac Cunningham's Company of Kentucky Mounted Volunteers which was commanded by John Donaldson. His name is miss-spelled on the roll as Middleton. He enlisted in Newport on August 26, 1813 through November 5, 1813. This is according to "The Volunteer Officers & Soldiers from Kentucky in the War of 1812-1815". Isaac Cunningham commanded a company of Kentucky volunteers at the Battles of River Raisin. Visit the River Raisin Battlefield website at http://co.monroe.mi.us/Museum/RiverRaisin.htm
THE BATTLES FOR THE RIVER RAISIN
In the summer of 1812, the River Raisin Militia was called into service to build a military road which linked Detroit with Ohio. In July, General William Hull, Commander of U.S. forces in the Old Northwest, marched several thousand Ohio volunteers over that road to defend Detroit. Hull's plans to capture British Fort Malden in Amherstburg, Ontario, were dropped when the supply road between Detroit and the River Raisin was cut by hostile Indians. General Hull made three unsuccessful attempts to open the road. Confronted with a large army of British soldiers and Indians, Hull surrendered his entire army to the British at Detroit on August 16, 1812, almost without firing a shot.
The local militia on the River Raisin were expecting an Indian attack. They were shocked when a British officer arrived on August 17 with news of the surrender of Detroit and with orders from General Hull for them to surrender. After a brief British occupation, the settlement's fortified blockhouse was burned and the British left.
In November 1812, a small detachment of Canadian militiamen, armed with a small cannon, was stationed here to watch the advance of another American army. The new American army had been recruited in Kentucky in August of 1812, with the elderly Revolutionary War veteran, General James Winchester, in command. This army suffered on their march from the lack of winter clothing and food, yet arrived at Maumee, Ohio, on January 10, 1813, eager for a fight. After messengers from the River Raisin arrived pleading for rescue from the British and Indians, Winchester's army moved to strike at the enemy.
Over six hundred men, under the command of Colonels William Lewis and John Allen, were dispatched. They arrived south of the Raisin in the afternoon of January 18. Facing them were 63 Canadian militiamen and 200 Potawatomi Indians. The Americans were reinforced with 100 men from the River Raisin, and quickly routed the British and Indians and drove them into the woods a mile north of the settlement. The fighting continued, tree to tree, and log to log, until dark. The Americans won at the cost of 13 killed and 54 wounded. The British and Indians retreated north to Brownstown, across the river from the British base at Fort Malden.
The Americans set up camp among the homes on the north side of the river. General Winchester arrived with reinforcements three days later, bringing the number of American troops to 934.
The British counterattacked. On the morning of January 22, 1813, 597 British and Canadian soldiers, six cannons, and 800 Indians launched an attack. As they moved forward in the pre-dawn darkness, they were discovered by an American sentry. Although surprised, the Americans took positions quickly and returned fire.
The fighting had been raging for twenty minutes when the U.S. 17th infantry, camped on the right in an open field, was flanked by Canadian militia and Indians. Orders were given to retreat to the river and make a stand, and 240 more Americans were sent from the center lines to help. The retreat became a disastrous flight for Ohio. Of the 400 Americans who ran, nearly 220 Americans were killed, about 147 including General Winchester, were captured. Only 33 escaped to safety.
At the same time, the left wing of nearly 500 Kentucky militiamen were fighting from behind a puncheon fence. They successfully repulsed three British frontal attacks and drove back the British cannons with their rifles. These Americans, with only five killed and 40 wounded, expected the British to ask for a truce. They saw a British officer with a white flag, but were shocked to find he carried a message from General Winchester advising them to surrender. The Kentuckians reluctantly surrendered, after insisting on terms that the American wounded be protected from the Indians.
The British withdrew hurriedly, due to heavy casualties and news that more Americans under command of General Harrison were nearby. The American wounded were left behind in the homes of the settlers. On the morning of January 23, 1813, all of the British guards, who were supposed to be protecting the wounded, left. Indians returned to the River Raisin. They plundered homes and the wounded for valuables, and then killed and scalped Americans who could not walk. Bodies were tossed into burning houses that the Indians had set aflame. Those able to walk were claimed by the Indians and taken to Detroit where they were ransomed. Over 60 unarmed American wounded were killed. This was later known as the "Massacre of the River Raisin".
Americans in the west rallied to the flag. Eager for revenge, their battle cry became "Remember the Raisin!"
The River Raisin was a desolate, nearly abandoned settlement for eight months following the massacre. American dead lay unburied; many homes were burned and plundered. Most settlers fled to Detroit or to Ohio. Local citizens later supported the Americans at the seiges of Fort Meigs in Ohio, but could not stop Indians from using the River Raisin settlement as a base of operations and supply depot.
The River Raisin was liberated on September 27, 1813, when Colonel Richard M. Johnson's Kentucky cavalry, led by men from the River Raisin, rode into the settlement. Moving on, the Kentuckians quickly pushed the British and Indians deep into Canada and decisively defeated them at the Battle of the Thames on October 5, 1813.
Although the British and hostile Indians could not return, destruction was so severe that the River Raisin settlement remained destroyed and impoverished for five years after the battles.