Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fort Harrison, the Aftermath

Fort Harrison is considered the first American victory of the War of 1812, coming after some disastrous and embarrassing losses.Shortly afterwards, Fort Wayne was also relieved and thus ended the last Indian threat to Indiana Territory.

In retaliation for the attack on the fort and the Pigeon Roost massacre, Colonel Russell continued into Illinois with the Indiana Rangers where they fought the Kickapoo Indians at Peoria Lake.

Fort Harrison's beleaguered commander, Captain Zachary Taylor, was breveted to major.

Since both Taylor and William Henry Harrison went on to become president, Fort Harrison is sometimes referred to as "The Fort of the Two Presidents."

Many years after the Attack At the Narrows, Lt. (Sgt) Fairbanks' sword was found stuck in a log and given to the Indiana State Museum where it is today.

In 1908, the Indiana Society of the Sons of the American Revolution attempted to make the site of Fort Harrison, long gone by then, a national historic park, but failed.

More to Indiana's War of 1812 Role Than I Knew.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fairbanks, Indiana

Yesterday, I wrote that this town was named after Lt. Fairbanks, leader of the first group to be ambushed at the Attack of the Narrows.  I looked up the town, and didn't find much about it other than it is unincorporated and has a population of about 100.  It is in the Terre Haute Metropolitan Statistical Area, in Fairbanks Township in Sullivan County.

Plus, Fairbanks might also have been a sergeant and his first name was Nathan.

I did come across plenty of stuff about Fairbanks, Alaska, though.  Also, there was no mention of who the Fairbanks in Indiana was named, but I'm fairly sure it must have been the lieutenant.

According to IMDB, an Indiana State Historical Marker was erected in Fairbanks in 1989 that reads:

A War of 1812 military action occurred in September 1812 three miles west of here.  While escorting supplies from Fort Knox near Vincennes to Fort Harrison at Terre Haute, Sergeant Nathan Fairbanks and approximately a dozen soldiers were ambushed--and most killed-- by Indians."

I definitely Will Have to Do a War of 1812 Tour the Next Time I'm On US-41 Driving Through There.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two Attacks At the Narrows

From Wikipedia.

While not a huge fight, it was part of the overall action at Fort Harrison in Terre Haute, Indiana.

A group of 13 soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Fairbanks of the 7th Infantry escorted a supply wagon with flour and meat from Vincennes' Fort Knox to Colonel Russell at Fort Harrison. 

On September 13th, they were ambushed by the Pottawatomi at a part of the trail called the Narrows near present-day Fairbanks, Indiana (named after the lieutenant), which had many ravines from the tributaries of Prairie Creek.

The draft horses panicked and ran away with the wagon.  Only two Americans, wagoneer John B. Cook and Private Edward Perdue, managed to escape back to Fort Knox alive, but Perdue was later discharged because of severe wounds.  Fortunately, the Pottawatomi had elected to pursue the wagon instead of them.

Eleven soldiers were killed and all provisions lost.  Several Indians were killed or wounded as well.

Two days after the first relief wagon left, a second group also headed for Fort Harrison.  Lt. Richardson had 15 soldiers and two wagons and followed the same trail, unaware of the fate of the first group.  The Pottawatomi ambushed them September 15th and the Americans retreated, losing the wagons, seven men were killed and one wounded.

Beware the Narrows.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Siege of Fort Harrison-- Part 2

Captain Zachary Taylor, future U.S. president, was ordered to Fort Harrison and had a garrison of 50 men, but only 15 were fit for duty.

On September 4th, a group of 600 Indians arrived at the fort.  It was agreed that the two sides have a parley the next day, but that night, an Indian warrior crawled up to the fort's blockhouse and set it on fire.  Taylor's men fought the blaze and managed to put it out, but it left a huge hole in the outer walls.

News of the attack reached Vincennes and Colonel Russell and 1000 militia and regulars, who happened to be marching through the town on their way to Illinois, responded and rushed to Fort Harrison.  In the meantime, Taylor's men gamely held on to the fort despite the overwhelming odds.

Russell's force arrived September 12th and the Indians retreated.

Then Came the Attack on the Narrows.  --Brock-Perry

The Siege of Fort Harrison-- Part 1

I came across this other War of 1812 that took place this month, 200 years ago.

From Wikipedia.

The Siege of Fort Harrison took place September 4th to 15th, 1812 and is regarded as the first American land victory of the war even though U.S. forces were greatly outnumbered.  This was great for morale, especially after the fall of forts Mackinac, Detroit and Dearborn.

Fort Harrison was located near Terre Haute, Indiana.

In 1811, Gen. William Henry Harrison marched from Vincennes and met the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe.  His army encamped on high grounds at Terre Haute overlooking the Wabash River and there he constructed a fort to protect his army's supply line and to protect Vincennes, the capital of Indiana Territory.

The site was located in present-day Vigo County at the northern edge of Terre Haute, just two miles from a Wea Indian village.

The fort was finished October 28, 1811, with a 150-foot stockade encircling the post and named for Harrison.

Captain Josiah Snelling was in command Nov. 11, 1811, to May 1812 when he was transferred to Fort Detroit.

And, I've Driven By It Many Times, But Knew Nothing About It.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

And Then, There Was "Carrot Top": William Wells-- Part 4

In 1812, Wells led a group of Miami Indians to Fort Dearborn.  Among the Americans in the fort was his niece, Rebekah Wells, the wife of the fort's commander, Captain Nathan Heald.  Both Nathan and Rebekkah were wounded in the massacre, but managed to escape and later surrender to the British.

Wells was not so fortunate,  Dressed in Indian fashion with his face also painted black in anticipation of death, he was shot and killed.  The Pottawatomi, considering him a traitor, reportedly ate his heart to gain some of his courage.

Wells Street in Chicago is named for him.  Wells County in Indiana also is named for him as is Wells Street in Fort Wayne.

William Wells played a major role in Indian-American relations in the Old Northwest Territory.  Sadly, his body was lost.

Quite a Person.  --Brock-Perry

And Then There Was "Carrot Top": William Wells-- Part 3

William Wells married a Wea woman (a member of a Miami-Illinois tribe) and had a child.  His wife and child were captured in a raid by US General James Wilkinson.  Enraged, Wells organized a 300-man suicide squad that fought with distinction at St. Clare's defeat, the Battle of the Wabash, Nov. 4, 1791.

His fighting attracted the attention of Miami War Chief Little Turtle and Wells eventually married his daughter and had four children and served as a scout in his father-in-law's wars with the United States.

In 1793, at Vincennes, Indiana Territory, he met his older brother Samuel, and traveled to Fort Nelson and met General Rufus Putnam and warned him that the British were inciting Indians to fight in the Northwest Territory.

Little Turtle gave Wells permission to join the Legion of the United States, a subgroup of the U.S. Army.  he was wounded at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.  After the Treaty of Greenville, Little Turtle asked that Wells be appointed Indian Agent to the Miami and he moved to Fort Wayne where he pressed to government to establish a trading post there.  His wife died in 1805.

In 1809, he married his third wife, and first white woman, Mary Geiger, daughter of Col. Frederick Geiger.

William Wells Certainly Had Important Connections With Both Sides..  --Brock-Perry

Monday, September 24, 2012

And, Then, There Was "Carrot Top," William Wells-- Part 2

Again, I've hard of Wells Street in Chicago many times and been on it as well, but I never knew the name was connected to the Fort Dearborn Massacre as one who died that day.

And, this William Wells led quite an interesting life. 

From Wikipedia

WILLIAM WELLS (c1770-Aug. 15, 1812)

Also known by his Indian name, "Apekonit," meaning "Carrot Top."  (I imagine because he had red hair.)  He was the son-in-law of Chief Little Turtle of the Miami tribe (who were escorting the people from Fort Dearborn).  Though a white man, Wells fought for the Miami Indians in the Northwest Indian War.

Wells was born at Jacob's Creek in Pennsylvania, son of Samuel Wells, a captain in the Virginia militia during the American Revolution.  As a young child, his family moved to Kentucky where his father was killed in an Indian raid near Louisville.  He was then sent to live with a family friend, but captured by the Miami at age 12.

Wells was adopted by the chief and raised as a son, getting the name Apekonit.  He adapted to Indian life very well and often accompanied war parties, sometimes as a decoy.  Sometime between 1788-89, he was located by his brothers and William visited them in Louisville, but chose to remain with the Miami.

An Indian Life for a White Man. --Brock-Perry

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pretty Nasty War in Southern Maryland

From the September 21, 2012, SoMdNews.com "War returns to Jefferson Park" by Joseph Morris.

"There's something a little macabre about celebrating the 200th anniversary of an event as devastating as the War of 1812 in Southern Maryland.  We're not talking about 'Finding Nemo' here, more like 'Reservoir Dogs.'"

On their way to Washington, DC, the "Brititsh left a swath of destruction from St. George's Island to Chaptico, burning plantations, carrying off livestock, property and slaves, smashing up the tombstones in the cemetery at King and Queen Parish in Chaptico and using the church to stable their horses."

"Chaptico citizens were forced to stand naked in the hot August sun in 1814 while Redcoats threw candlesticks and other ossessions down the town well.  Many of the region's oldest homes were lost to flames as Admr. George Cockburn oversaw the destruction of as many plantations as he could lay fire to."

The populations of St. Mary's and Charles counties diminished after that as many left.  Entire communities left to settle in Kentucky and Indiana.  A lot of those heading for Kentucky went on the Ohio Trail and settled in what became Bardstown.  Some even went as far as Missouri and even Texas.

The article writer's mother's great grandmother and father died along the way to Kentucky and her grandfather was returned to Maryland with some of those who gave up the new life.

Jeffersn Patterson Park and Museum at 10515 Mackall Rd. in St. Leonard has been hosting a War of 1812 reenactment for 14 years and will have another one this weekend.

I Believe the Proper Word Is Commemoration.  All War Is Nasty.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, September 21, 2012

The 200th Anniversary of the Raid on Gananoque, Ontario

From good old Wikipedia.

On this date, about 200 American regulars and militia under Captain Benjamin Forsyth, attacked Gananoque, Ontario, an important forwarding point for supplies moving up the St. Lawrence River from Montreal to Kingston. 

It was garrisoned by a detachment of the 2nd Leeds Militia under Colonel Joel Stone.  After a brisk fight, the Canadians withdrew.  The Americans seizd the military stores and burned the government depot down and withdrew back across the river.

A month later, work began on a blockhouse which was completed in 1813.

Joel Stone established the settlement in 1789.  During the American Revolution, he served with the loyalist militia.

The Bicentennial.  --Brock-Perry

And, Then, There Was "Carrot Top", William Wells-- Part 1

Growing up around the Chicagoland area, I was very aware of one particular street in Chicago that was famous.  It is Wells Street. I had no knowledge of for whom it was named, it was just Wells Street, a great place to party and eat even back in the 60s and continuing into today.

As it turns out, it was named for William Wells who died at the Fort Dearborn Massacre on August 15, 1812.  And, this guy had a very interesting life before his untimely death, which I will get to tomorrow.

Wells Street is a major north-south road in Chicago with Comiskey Park (in Chicago,we don't call it by that "other" name) to the south and a whole lot of restaurants and bars north of the Loop.  For several blocks downtown, Wells Street is under the famous Chicago "L" elevated train tracks.  This would be where Jackson and Adams cross under it for you Route 66 fans.

If I recall right, during the old hippie days, Wells Street to the north of downtown was considered the Haight-Asbury of Chicago.  Lots of hippie folk, head shops and people looking at them hanging around.

A man and his road.

Like I Said, Wells Had a Very Varied Life.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ceremony to Commemorate War of 1812 Veterans in Fayetteville, NC

From the Sept. 15th Fayetteville (NC) Observer.

Bronze markers will be unveiled September 22nd at Cross Creek Cemetery No. 1 in downtown Fayetteville.  They will be placed at the graves of four War of 1812 veterans including General Thomas Davis, Lt. John Eccles, Sgt. John Huske II and a private.

Afterwards, there will be a tour of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum's War of 1812 exhibit.

I was able to find out that Davis was a brigadier general of militia.

Remembering the War of 1812.  --Brock-Perry

Fort Dearborn-- Part 5: The American Column

From the August 12th Chicago Tribune Chicago Flashback Page.  Well worth looking at it for the draeing of Fort Dearborn,  map of the area in 1812 and diagram of the column.  Kyle Bentle and Rick Tuma did an excellent job on the page.

MAKE UP OF THE COLUMN:  HOW THE SETTLERS FLED

It is unclear exactly how the column was ordered, but enough information is available to show the groupings within the procession.


INDIAN ESCORTS  Of the 30 Miami Indians (led to Fort Dearborn fom Fort Wayne by William Wells), 15 were at the head of the column and 15 at the rear.  Nothing has been said whether the Indians were mounted or on foot.  Some accounts have Captain Wells on a horse with the Miami in front.  (He had a very long and close relationship with these Indians.)  I'll have an entry on Wells soon.  Quite a story.


U.S. SOLDIERS

Following the Miami in front were about 56 U.S. soldiers, led by Captain Nathan Heald.  The exact marching formation used is not known.

WAGONS

Following the soldiers were 12 civilian militiamen, 9 women and 18 children and two wagons with supplies, guns and ammunition.  Some of the women may have walked alongside the wagons.  There is no information about who was driving the wagons, whether militiamen or one or more women.  John Kinzie is said to have ridden with the wagons.

Outstanding Job and Much More Than I Ever Knew Before of the Massacre.  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fort Dearborn: Part 5: The Aftermath

The battle was short, most of it taking place in 15 minutes and was over within an hour.


THE SURVIVORS

Twenty-nine soldiers, seven women and six children were taken prisoner.  Most of the survivors were freed through ransom, though several died during captivity.


THE DEAD

In the end, 68 out of roughly 100 people who evacuated Fort Dearborn on Aug. 15th, died. Captain Heald later reported that only 15 Pottawatomi attackers had been killed.


THE FORT

The Pottawatomi burned Fort Dearborn the day after the battle.  It was rebuilt in 1816 but by 1840 was no longer used.  It was torn down in 1857.


THE RETALIATION

News of the battle reached Indiana Territory Gov. William Henry Harrison in late Auust.  Believing the entire column to have been killed, he launched retaliatort attacks on the Pottawatomi instead of sending out a search party.

Brock-Perry

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Fort Dearborn-- Part 4: Day of Battle

THE FIGHT SPLITS

The charge had scattered the Pottawatomi, but it cut the soldiers off from the poorly defended wagons.  Here the action split into two parts: the soldiers at the sandbank and the militiamen, women and children at the wagons.


MASSACRE AT THE WAGONS

At the wagons, the defending Americans had time to fire off only a single volley before the Indians overran them.  Several women found swords and fought with the men, and two were killed.  At one point, a young warrior named Benac climbed into a wagon containing the younger children and killed 12 with his tomahawk.  The two soldiers at the wagons were killed, and every member of the civilian militia was mortally wounded.


AMERICANS SURRENDER

Back at the sandbank, the Indians offered to meet with the American soldiers, and Heald surrendered.  The soldiers were marched back to the wagons and were shocked by the scene.  The Indians had beheaded many of the men, women and children at the wagons.

Definitely a Massacre.  --Brock- Perry

Fort Dearborn-- Part 3: August 15, 1862: The Day of the Battle

The evacuation began at 9 AM.  The previusly agreed-upon Pottawatomi escort is nowhere to be seen.

MARCH ALONG THE LAKE

The column proceeds south along the lakeshore, close to what is today Michigan Avenue (back then, the shore line was considerably to the west).  Somewhere between a half-mile and two miles, those in the column become aware they were surrounded by Pottawatomi.


INITIAL CONFLICT

The Indians, armed with muskets, had been concealed by a sandbank to the column's right.  Wells orders his troops to charge the sandbank.  The Indians fired an initial volley at the Americans, but after that the fighting was hand-to-hand.  Within 15 minutes, only 10 to 20 American soldiers were still able to fight.

Both Hald and Lt. Linai Helm, who was transferred to Fort Dearborn and had married John Kinzie's stepdaughter, were wounded, and Heald led the surviving soldiers further west, away from the hostile Indians.

The Miami Indian escort fled after the first shot was fired.  Captain Wells fought with the US soldiers at first, but later broke away and rode to the wagons to defend the women and children, where he was killed.

Still Fighting.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fort Dearborn-- Part 2: Lead-up to the Battle

AUGUST 8, 1812  Captain Nathan Heald, commander of Fort Dearborn, receives order from General William Hull, directing him to evacuate the fort. Nearby Indians, mostly Pottawatomi, heard the orders before Heald did and crowded around the fort seeking goods.  Must have been a spy around somewhere.

AUGUST 13TH

Captain William Wells, a famous frontiersman, arrives from Fort Wayne, bringing a sergeant and 30 Miami Indians.  He and Heald meet with Pottawatomi leaders and arrange for safe passage to Fort Wayne from 600 to 700 warriors.


AUGUST 14TH

With Indians amassing around Fort Dearbrn, accounts have Americans and Indians getting ready for fighting.

Next, the Battle.  --Brock-Perry

Fort Dearborn-- Part 1

From the August 12th Chicago Tribune Flashback page "Fort Dearborn: How events unfolded" by Kyle Bentle and Rick Tuma.

There was a nice diagram/drawing of what the fort looked like with outer and inner walls and two nlockhouses.  the blockhouse away from the river was fitted for cannons.  The outside fence was a double stockade.  Inside the inner wall were three barracks, a hospital, guardhouse, weapons storehouse and store.  Of interest, there was a tunnel to the Chicago River to allow defenders to get water during an attack.

Fort Dearborn was built at the mouth of the Chicago River in 1803 by Captain John Whistler and named after Henry Dearborn, Thomas Jefferson's secretary of war.  It was one of the US's westernmost outposts and located in the heart of present-day Chicago, at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

The garrison had been ordered to evacuate the fort and head southeast to Fort Wayne and that led into the trap set by the Pottawatomie Indians.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Freeport's Dash Made a Splash

From the May 1st Forecaster "History lesson: Freeport's Dash made a Splash in War of 1812" by David Harry.

The Dash was a Freeport, Maine-built schooner commissioned as a privateer by President James Madison and crewed, in part, by Freeport sailors.

In the later part ofthe war, it evaded the British blockade off Maine and delivered supplies and captured British ships.

It was built for speed in 1813 at Porter's Landing and made three voyages before becoming a privateer in September 1814, three weeks after Washington, DC, was captured and burned.

Yet Another Privateer.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, September 14, 2012

War Hero Rests in Pauper's Grave-- Part 1

From the May 17th Hamilton (Can) Spectator by Gail Douglas.

James Fitzgimmon was an Irish-born British soldier who risked his life as a spy to bring essential information that led to the British victory at  the Battle of Stoney Creek, considered a turning point in the defense of Upper Canada.

Today, his body is in a pauper's grave on the grounds of England's Windsor Castle.

In 1813, American forces held Fort George and Queenstown on the Niagara Peninsula.  From there, there were constant raids on Canadian farms and villages. 

Lt. James Fitzgibbon of the British 42nd Regt. asked to pick 50 men to harass the enemy, carry out reconnaisaance missions and chase down raiders

An Irishman...In the British Army?  --Brock-Perry

After the Siege of Fort Wayne

Yesterday in the timeline, I mentioned about British Major A.C. Muir's expedition to capture Fort Wayne beginning September 14th, today,  200 years ago.

It turns out that operations in and around the fort were still underway.

Thank you, again, Wikipedia.

After the Fort Wayne siege was lifted, William Henry Harrison was relieved of command at the fort by General James Winchester and then took his militia force to Piqua, Ohio, where he joined with another 1000 Kentucky militia.  Here he received word that he was the commander of the Northwestern Army.

He next set out on punitive expeditions to destroy Indian villages, this time along the St. Joseph River.

Meanwhile, General Winchester departed Fort Wayne September 22nd with the aim of recapturing Fort Detroit, but along the way, received news that British Major Muir was enroute to Fort Wayne with a force of British regulars, Canadian militia and thousands of Indians.

He reversed his march and the two sides' scouting parties met near Defiance, Ohio, and the Americans were captured.  The five men were marched back to camp and killed.  Their bodies were later recovered.

Harrison learned of the British advance and rushed to join Winchester.  The two American forces joined October 2, 1812, and Muir withdrew to Canada.

Later, Harrison continued his operations against the Miami tribe, which ended at the Battle of Mississinewa December 1812.

Just Stuff You Didn't Know.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, September 13, 2012

War of 1812 Timeline: September 1812

SEPTEMBER 14TH

Britsh Major A.C. Muir's expedition to attack Fort Wayne, Indiana, departs.


SEPTEMBER 21ST 

Raid on Gananoque, Ontario.

I'll be Doing This On a Monthly Basis Starting in in October.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fort Ontario

From the May 20th Oswego County (NY) Today "Fort Ontario Hosts Memorial Day Ceremony and 1814 Battlefield Tour"

There will be a May 28th Memorial Day program held at the Fort Ontario Post cemtery put on by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of 1812, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War and Friends of Fort Ontario.

There will also be a tour of the May 5-6, 1814 battlefield.

The fort's cemetery has 77 graves of men and women who fought or served at the fort from 1759 to 1943.  That includes French and Indian War, Revolutionary War. War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars, Philippines Insurrection and both world wars.

Fort Ontario is located in the city of Oswego.

Brock-Perry

The Siege of Fort Wayne-- Part 2

The fort's commander, James Rhea, a habitual drunk, then became completely so and took to his quarters for the duration of the attack and siege.  Indian Agent Benjamin Stickney took command.  That night, the Indians tried to set the fort's walls afire and the 70-man garrison spent the hours fighting both the fires and enemy.  This fight lasted until 3 PM the next day

William Henry Harrison had been appointed major general of the Kentucky militia and was ordered to relieve Fort Wayne with his 2,200 troops.  Word was received that Tecumseh had a force on its way to the fort so Harrison quickly set off.

The fighting had continued off and on and on the 11th, the Indians had made one last attack and then withdrew.  Harrison's approach to the fort was completely uncontested.  He immediately relieved Rhea from command and later had him stand trial but allowed him to resign.

On September 14th, Harrison sent out punitive expeditions and destroyed two Indian villages.

Total Indian force was estimated at 500.  The fort's garrison consisted of 100 and there were 2,200 in the relief force.  Indian losses were about 25 and American unknowm.

Another Fort Saved.  --Brock-Perry

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Siege of Fort Wayne-- Part 1

This past September 6th marked the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the siege of Fort Wayne, Indiana.  It was part of a highly successful British and Indian campaign to push Americans out of the Northwest Territory which led to the capture of Fort Mackinac and Detroit in Michigan, Fort Dearborn in Illinois and attack on Fort Madison in Iowa.

From Wikipedia.

The Siege of Fort Wayne lasted from September 5th to September 12th, 1812.

Since the loss at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Indians tribes in the Northwest Territory had been bitter at the increasing presence of Americans.

Fort Wayne, in northeast Indiana had fallen in disrepair, troop morale was low and apparently, the commander, Captain James Rhea, was a drunk.

The fort learned at the fall of Fort Dearborn August 28th when Corporal Jordan arrived after escaping the massacre.  On the 28th, Stephen Johnston, assistant fur trader at the fort, was killed by Indians about a mile away from the fort.  The fort's women and children were evacuated.

In early September, Pottawatomi and Miami tribes began gathering around the fort.

Negotiations were carried out but to no avail.

On the morning of September 5th, two soldiers were attacked returning from an outhouse and then the Indians began an assault on the fort's east side.  Nearby houses were burned.  The Indians constructed two wooden cannons and tricked the garrison into believing they were real.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fort Dearborn Was Pivotal

From the August 12th Chicago Sun-Times "Chicago's War of 1812 battle was pivotal in war, history" by Maudlyne Ihejinika.

Back in June, the Chicago City Council passed a resolution calling for a "Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation" for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Dearborn.  Kind of a politically correct approach if you ask me.

The Illinois Society of the U.S. Daughters of 1812 call the action a massacre with 500 Indians versus 100 Americans.

The fort was built in 1803 by U.S. Army Captain John Whistler.

The article called the 500 Potawatomi Indians that attacked the column an escort that turned onthe Americans.

Still a Massacre.  --Brock-Perry

Fort Madison, Iowa

Yesterday, in the War of 1812 Timeline, I wrote about the first siege of Fort Madison beginning September 5th.  I'd never heard of a Fort Madison, so, Wikipedia here I come.

Fort Madison is a town of  11,000 in the southeast corner of Iowa.  It got its name from the firstUS military fort in the Upper Mississippi region, built in 1808.  It was the site of Black Hawk's first battle with the United States.  A replica of the fort sits near the original site.  It is also the site of the only real War of 1812 battle fought west of the Mississippi River.

Fort Madison was one of three posts built to establish control over land gotten from the Louisiana Purchase.  The other two were Fort Belle Fontaine near St. Louis and Fort Osage near Kansas City.

Fort Madison was poorly sited, with bluffs located near it.  It was attacked by Indians in March 1812 and in September of that year had an intense siege.  The fort was nearly captured with significant damage done to it.  It only escaped capture when a fortified Indian position was destroyed by cannon fire.

Black Hawk was there and said he personally shot down the fort's flag.

That Black Hawk!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

War of 1812 Timeline

From Wikipedia

September 5, 1812--  First siege of Fort Madison (Iowa) begins

Sept. 6th--  Siege of Fort Wayne (Indiana)

Sept. 12th--  US General William Henry Harrison reinforces Fort Wayne.

Brock-Perry

Michigan Commemorates the War

From the September 6th Michigan Radio (NPR) "Stateside: It's the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812."

Michigan was the site of the first major battles of the war around Detroit and Mackinac Island.  Both were very embarrassing for the United States, showing how ill-prepared we were for the war.  According to historian Jim McConnell, Mackinac, July 17, 1812, "wasn't really a battle because the British caught the fort by surprise and the fort surrendered without firing a shot."  That British General Issac Brock was brilliant.

Then, August 16, 1812, came the fall of Detroit and the fort there, a shock to President madison and the country "it certainly broke the spirit of Americans at the start of the war."  Again, great generalship by Isaac Brock.  (I'd never heard of him until I started this blog.)

From September 5-10th, US and Canadian Naval ships, the US Coast Guard and the replica brig of the USS Niagara from the Battle of Lake Erie, are docked and open to the public at Detroit.

Detroit's Commemoration.  --Brock-Perry

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Days of Yore and Days of War

From the May 17th Hamilton (Canada) Spectator by Mark McNeil.

In 1812, Hamilton was not a town.  George Hamilton, though, was living there and was having bad times due to American raids.

Back then, the area was known as Head of the Lake.  Just 1000-1500 people lived in the whole area.

They had mills working, but most people were farmers. 

Not only were the Americans a problem, but they were always fearing the next time British soldiers would show up wanting livestock to feed the troops or firewood to keep warm.

As such, support for the British was lukewarm at best.

After the war, a War Losses Claims Commission was set up to handle numerous cases filed against the British Army.

Who You Gonna Call?  --Brock-Perry

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Canadians Still Not Aware of the War

From the August 28th Globe and Mail "War of 1812 tough to recognize, recall for Canadians:survey" by Murray Brewster.

According to a comprehensive survey for  National Defence conducted  annually regarding civilian impresion of the military, few people in Canada are aware of the anniversary of the war this year and fewer could even identify the war by name.

Typically, no more than 1 or 2 participants in each group were aware of the bicentennial. in the telephone poll of 1520 people.  They did note that there was better recognition in areas like Niagara which are closer to where the action took place.

Canada's government has invested $28 million for the war's commemoration.

I would figure that next year's poll will show a better understanding.

Not So Forgotten.  --Brock-Perry

It Wasn't the Fort Dearborn Massacre-- Part 3

In 1812, there were three visions for the future of Indian Country:

**  INDIANS wanted to keep their wide-open land.

**  AMERICAN PRESIDENTS wanted to take the Indian land and "turn it into real estate" so land could be bought, sold and developed.

**  Trader John Kinzie and Europeans and Americans living on the edge wanted to keep it as it was.

The real story of this whole episode was about three groups of people with drastically different visions of the future.  None of the three was "righter" than the others.  "The real story of Fort Dearborn is a collision of those visions.

My take on all this was that the Indian vision was "righter" as it was their land originally.  I do not blame them for fighting to keep the land.  What happened to the Americans was massacre if any of the people surrendered and were still killed.

Hey, horrible things happen in war and this was war.

They're Right and It Was a Massacre.  --Brock-Perry

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It Wasn't the Fort Dearborn Massacre-- Part 2

Anne Keating doesn't see it as a massacre as do many historians and Native-Americans.  But the effort to rid the action of the name "Massacre" has prompted many to call it "political correctness" and "historical revisionism."

Words have power and "massacre" has a particularly bad connotation for the side "guilty" of it.  It "demonized" the Indians.  At the dedication of the Fort Dearborn sculpture in 1893, the director of the Chicago Historical Society called the Indians "invaders" and "barbarians."

The word "Massacre" was used by Americans after the battle to rally the troops and led to attacks by U.S. forces on Indian villages.  The battle itself was partly in revenge for an attack by Americans on the Indian village of Tippecanoe ten months earlier.

According to Keating, the real invaders were the Americans.

More to Come.  --Brock-Perry

It Wasn't the Fort Dearborn Massacre-- Part 1

From the August 12th Chicago Tribune by Patrick T. Reardon.

"What happened two centuries ago on August 15, 1812, on the Lake Michigan shore near what is now 18th Street has long been called the Fort Dearborn Massacre.

But it wasn't a massacre.

It was a battle in two simultaneous wars."

Some 500 Indians surrounded 110 men, women and children who had marched out of Fort Dearborn at the mouth of the Chicago River that morning and heading for Fort Wayne in Indiana Territory.  When the Indians were spotted,the soldiers formed a line and advanced.

Sixty-eight of the Americans died as did 15 of the enemy.

It was part of a series attacks planned by the Indians on U.S. forts in Indian territory in late summer 1812 to pushh back white settlers.

It was also one of the early battles in the American-declared War of 1812 against Britain.  The British found natural allies among the Indians.  After the war, they even gave Blackbird, who ked the Fort Dearborn attack, a gold medal.

All this is put forth in Anne Durkin Keating's new book "Rising Up From Infian Territory: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago."

Brock-Perry

Monday, September 3, 2012

Coast Guard Roots Found in War of 1812

From the August 28th Elizabeth City (NC) Daily Advance.

The war was a major event for the U.S. Department of Treasury Revenue Cutter Service which eventually became the Coast Cuard.  These ships essentially provided the only coastal defense as the Navy had been disbanded.  (I beg to contradict that there was no Navy.)

Revenue cutters engaged Royal Navy ships on many occasions.  One of the first times was the Commodore Barry fighting off a British ship.  It was escorting five ships it had caught smuggling when word reached the ship that the British had captured an American ship. 

The crew beached the Commodore Barry at Little River in Maine and set up a shore battery, but the British prevailed and the crew taken prisoner to Canada.

The Norfolk-based cutter Thomas Jefferson engaged the British in Hampton Roads in the Chesapeake Bay in April 1813 and also saw action in the James River.

In May 1813, cutter Mercury anchored with other American vessels at Ocracoke, NC when a British privateer attempted an attack on the village after being warned by locals.  Another attack on the same place was thwarted in July of that year.

Later, 15 armed British barges with 1000 troops tried to capture the Mercury, but it escaped to New Bern and warned the citizens of an impending attack.  The local militia was called up and the British called off the attack.

I recently posted about the revenue cutter Louisiana that was sunk in the August 1812 hurricane at New Orleans.

Birth of the Coast Guard.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Navy Playing Football in Dublin, Ireland: A Commemoration

It just ended, but the Naval Academy played Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland, to kick-off both teams' season.  Sadly, it was a blow-out in favor of the Fighting Irish.  Even though Navy was the home team, guess who was the fans' favorite of those in Dublin?

This is anpther commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 of sorts.  It was in this war that the U.S. Navy came of age with victories over British ships.  I heard that an American warship visited Dublin as well.

I imagine the Irish were pulling for the Americans during the war.  You know, anything to cause problems for their dear friends in England.

It Was a 50-10 Shellacking.  --Brock-Perry

Titus Greer Simons' Jacket-- Part 2

Titus Greer Simons (1765-1829) was born in Enfield, Connecticut, one of ten children.  In 1781, his family moved to Canada as Loyalists.  They lived in Montreal, Kingston and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Simons worked as aditor and publisher of the Upper Canada Gazette in Niagara and Toronto until 1801.  He then began farming in West Flamborough and became involved in the local militia.

He recovered from the wounds received at the Battle of Lundy's Lane and eventually became colonel of the 2nd Regiment.  In 1816, he was appointed 1st sheriff of the Gore District which later became Hamilton.

So, A Loyalist.  And Then Fought the Country in Which he Was Born.  --Brock-Perry

Titus Greer Simons' Jacket-- Part 1

From the May 17th Hamilton (Canada) Spectator "War of 1812: Blood ties DNA testing aims to link blood on 200-year-old jacket to modern-day descendant" by Mark McNeil.

Titus Greer Simons took three musket shots in his body at the July 25, 1814, Battle of Lundy's Lane and most of the right side of his coat was soaked with blood.  The tightly fitting jacket likely contained his injuries as he survived.

The red Canadian militia coat is on permanent display at the Hamilton Military Museum and will have DNA analysis run on it to see if a modern-day descendant can be found.  It is believed that this is the first time War of 1812 biological material has been used for DNA analysis.

The museum has an exhibit called Blood Ties which connects the War of 1812 to today.

Martha Hemphill is Simons' 3rd great granddaughter and will take part in the testing.

His 1812 militia jacket is extremely rare.

Blood On the Coat.  --Brock-Perry