Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Horse Mystery at Fort Meigs in Ohio

From the January 3, 2016, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch "Archaeology:  Fort dig uncovered War of 1812 horse mystery."

Excavations in 2001 at Fort Meigs in Ohio found the bones of  a large draft horse and a smaller cavalry horse.  They were found together in a shallow grave southwest of the fort.  The area is being tested for a new museum.

The draft horse was wearing horseshoes.  The smaller one had just one and the other three were gone.

The larger horse had a broken neck and leg and might have been injured.  The smaller horse had a load of buckshot in its chest.  Was the buckshot from the British or perhaps used to kill the injured horse?

General William Henry Harrison wrote the Secretary of War that the army's horses suffered considerably during the British siege of Fort Meigs.  "Many were killed."


Monday, February 27, 2017

Pieces of Fort Gratiot History

From the December 27, 2015, Lansing State Journal "From dorm site, pieces of Fort Gratiot history."

Baker College of Port Huron is planning a new dorm south of Blue Water Bridge on St. Clair Street, the fort's ditch.

The fort was erected in 1814 and used intermittently through the years until the 1870s.

Many artifacts have been recovered from the site, including uniform buttons of an 1854 artillery pattern, and 1834 infantry pattern and 1812 light artillery pattern.

Also an 1825 large cent and two complete clay bowls were found.

The moat was dug out for use on the fort's ramparts and was actually a dry moat.  The ramparts were topped with a wooden palisade.

Fort Gratiot was regarrisoned during the Black Hawk War in 1832 over concerns of a possible Indian attack.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Burial Places of William Hull and Isaac Hull

From Find-A-Grave.

William Hull was put on court martial after his surrender of Fort Detroit and convicted of cowardice, neglect of duty and unofficerlike conduct.  President Madison commuted the sentence, though.

William Hull was born June 24, 1753 in Derby, Connecticut.  He died November 29, 1825 and is buried at East Parish Burying ground in Newton, Massachusetts.

Isaac Hull was born March 9, 1773 in Derby, Connecticut and died February 13, 1843, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

What the Hull?-- Part 2: Court Martialed and Sentenced to Death

William Hull, his uncle, was also born in Derby, but in 1753.  He fought in the American Revolution.  In the War of 1812, he was a brigadier general commanding Fort Detroit and given the mission of invading Canada by President Madison.

He was defeated in this effort and even forced to surrender Fort Detroit on August 16, 1812.

For the disgrace, many felt the surrender was not necessary, William Hull was court martialed and condemned to death by a military President Madison who later commuted it.

William died in 1825 and Isaac 18 years later.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

What the Hull?-- Part 1: "Fame and Infamy

From the December15, 2015, Valley Independent Sentinel by Patricia Villers.

The War of 1812 was a mixed bag for the Hulls of the Valley.

Derby native Commodore Isaac Hull became famous as the commander of the frigate USS Constitution, but a campaign led by his uncle William Hull to take Canada from the British culminated in debacle and nearly got him hanged.

A presentation was made at the Derby Historical Society by Carolyn Ivanoff titled "Fame and Infamy for the Hulls of Derby in 1812."

Isaac Hull was born in Derby in 1773 on Commerce Street.  He received great acclaim for his battle with the British frigate HMS Guerriere.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Fort Washington-- Part 4: Use in World War II

A concrete platform in front of the fort directed the fire of cannons built on disappearing carriages.  Many of these were later removed and shipped to France to be used as railroad artillery during World War I.

In 1939, Fort Washington was classified as obsolete without guns.  It was transferred to the Department of the Interior to be developed as a park.  But during World War II the fort was temporarily put back into military service.

In 1946, the temporary World War II-era administrative buildings were torn down and visitor facilities expanded.


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fort Washington-- Part 3: Mines and Mortars

Due to ironclad battleship design in the 1870s and 1880s, Secretary of War William Endicott lobbied for a new system of coastal defense.  In 1890, a casemate was added alongside the fort.  Technicians in this reinforced bunker could electronically fire off underwater mines strung across the Potomac.

New offensive armament was also installed.  New 12-inch mortars were installed at Battery Meigs which could direct a plunging fire at the thinly protected decks of the new warships.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Fort Washington-- Part 2: A Progression of Fort Architecture

It was quickly rebuilt after the war at the request of President Monroe.

Famed architect Pierre L'Enfant oversaw construction of the new brick and masonry fort in the shape of a star.  It had two layers of triangular bastions for overlapping cannon and musket fire.   Its guns were either inside the walls or on the top of the parapet.

The fort remained that way through the Civil War.

It was continually expanded upon in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Looking at the fort, one can see the continuous progression of generations of military fort defensive architecture.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fort Washington-- Part 1: Defender of Washington, D.C.

From the December 30, 2016, Atlas Obscura.

Built on the Potomac River downriver from Washington, D.C. to guard the southern approaches to the U.S. capital city.  At one time, it was the only defensive fort for that city.

In the War of 1812, 4,000 British soldiers (so-called Waterloo Men for their recent service against Napoleon) landed on the Patuxent River and marched in a wide arc around Fort Washington.

Three days later, British warships bombarded the fort.  Its commander, Captain Dyson and his small garrison retreated and blew up the fort's magazine thus destroying the fort.  He later received a court martial for this action.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 9: "The Ballad of Ephraim Brank"

Ephraim McLean Brank

Even though the British officer evidently took Ephraim Brank to be a man of the frontier, and one used to hard living, Brank actually lived in a very comfortable house in Greenville.

He was promoted to lieutenant after the battle.  The very spot he stood upon at the Battle of New Orleans is not known as Line Jackson was completely dismantled.

"The Ballad of Ephrain Brank" was composed in his honor.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Anniversary of Isaac Hull's Death Today

While doing research of William Hull and Isaac Hull today, I found that War of 1812 American hero Isaac Hull died on February 13, 1843, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

He was the commander of the USS Constitution in her famous battle with the HMS Guerriere.


Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 8: That British Killer

As the British soldiers got closer to Line Jackson, the battlefield increasingly became shrouded with smoke and they felt great pleasure in knowing at least they were also could not be seen by Brank.

One of their officers described Ephrain Brank as "...a tall man standing on the breastworks, dressed in linsey-woolsey, with buckskin leggings and a broad-brimmed hat that fell around his face almost concealing his features.

"He was standing in one of those picturesque graceful attitudes peculiar in those natural men dwelling in forests."


Saturday, February 11, 2017

Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 7: "Some Great Spirit of Death"

It is not known how many of the British casualties were the result of Ephraim Brank's deadly rifle fire.

After the battle, a British officer said that Brank was clearly visible, standing alone on the American breastworks where, "He seemed to grown, phantom-like, higher and higher, assuming, through the smoke, the supernatural appearance of some great spirit of death.

"Again did he reload and discharge and reload and discharge his rifle, with the same unfailing unfailing aim, and the same unfailing result."

A British Soldiers' Worst Nightmare.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, February 10, 2017

Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 6: A British Disaster

Five thousand British soldiers charged the American line with fixed bayonets and were mowed down by fire.  they regrouped, charged again and again were mowed down.

In just 30 minutes, the British lost 285 killed, 1,265 wounded and 484 captured or missing.

The British commander, General Sir Edward Pakenham was among the dead.  His body was sealed in a barrel of rum and transported to London for burial at St. Paul's Cathedral.

Meanwhile, American losses were 13 dead, 30 wounded and 19 captured or missing.


The Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 5: Standing at "Line Jackson"

Ephraim Brank was one of several Kentukians in Andrew Jackson's hodge-podge army made up of Louisiana, Tennessee and Kentucky militiamen, frontiersmen, regular soldiers, sailors, Marines, free blacks, Indians, local volunteers, inmates from city jails and pirates, who stood to fight a larger force of trained British soldiers intent on capturing New Orleans in January 1815.

They dug in behind the 15-foot wide, 8 feet deep, 3,010 foot long Rodriguez Canal running from a swamp to the Mississippi River at Chalmette.

From this line, Jackson's men had a clear line of fire and called their position Line Jackson.  Their works consisted of dirt, barrels of sugar, cotton bales and timbers.


The Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 4: Greatly Honored in Greenville, Kentucky

There is a Brank Historic Exhibit at the county public Genealogy and Local History Annex.   There is a historically accurate Kentucky long rifle and powder horn as well as a cardboard cutout of Brank.

He is buried on an honored spot at the Old Greenville Cemetery, close to city hall and the state has a historic marker there.  In addition, there is a "Lt. Ephraim Brank Memorial Trail."

Brank was born in North Carolina in 1791 and settled in Muhlenberg County about 1808 and was regarded as a crack shot.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 3

After the battle, Ephraim Brank returned to Greenville, the county seat of Muhlenberg, Kentucky.  His comrades from the battle told of him standing atop the battlements of Chalmette plantation, southeast of New Orleans and gunning down the British as calmly as if he were bagging squirrels in western Kentucky.

Two soldiers kept loading and reloading rifles and handing them to the 24-year-old soldier.  He never missed, or so it is told.

Branl later became a lawyer, land surveyor and a farmer.

There is a Brank Street in Greenville and a live-sized bronze statue at the veterans Mall at the court.  His rifle reportedly used that day outside of New Orleans is also there.

His statue is the only War of 1812 one in Kentucky.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 2: War Hawks

Even though the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war, had been signed near the end of 1814, the war wasn't officially over until the United States Senate ratified it and it was signed by President Madison.  Because of the slowness of travel, that didn't happen until February 16, when the Senate ratified it.  President Madison signed it the next day.

The war ended, essentially, in a tie.  Both sides were where they were at the beginning.

But, it was over.

Kentucky's Henry Clay was a leader of Congress's War Hawks, meaning those pushing for a war with Britain.  They were especially strong on the western states where the British stood in the way of expansion plans with their backing of the Indian resistance.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Battle of New Orleans' Ephraim Brank-- Part 1: The War Is Over, Or Was It?

From the January 9, 2017, Ky Forward "Old Time Kentucky: Bluegrass sharpshooter Ephraim Brank hero of New Orleans, never missed his mark" by Berry Craig.

This is another War of 1812 person I'd never heard of before.

Ephraim Brank, from Muhlenberg County, Kentucky was a hero to the Americans at the Battle of New Orleans.  But to the British, he was "Some Great Spirit of Death."

A British officer recalled:  "We lost the battle, and to my mind, that Kentucky rifleman contributed more to our defeat than anything else."

The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815.  The bloodiest battle in the war and fought even after it was over.  The Treaty of Ghent had been signed on Christmas Eve, 1814, in Belgium and Henry Clay of Kentucky had been a part of it.


War of 1812 Battlesite Cleared

From the January 24, 2017, Fort Madison (Iowa) Daily democrat "Volunteers move earth at War of 1812 battlefield site" by Jeff Hunt.

Right now, volunteers are hauling asphalt, but eventually, the cost of the project is expected to be $500,000.  This is the second phase of the North Lee County Historical Society's plan to restore Old Fort Madison.

Trucking firms have volunteered to remove the asphalt from the site.  After that, a lot of dirt will be needed.


Monday, February 6, 2017

Five Things About President Andrew Jackson-- Part 2: For "The Common Man"

1.  The Battle of New Orleans made him famous.

2.  He preached about helping "the common man."  He also rode a populist wave into office.

3.  Wasn't interested in helping Indians.  he was ruthless against them and caused the Indian Removal Act.

4.  He was very much against a national banking system.

5.  He was lucky to be alive, often injured in duels and had many diseases.


Andrew Jackson to Come Off $20 Bill, But Goes Up in Oval Office-- Part 1

From the January 25, 2017, Time "5 Things to Know About the President Whose Portrait Donald Trump Chose for the Oval Office" by Olivia B. Waxman.

On January 21, 2017, President Donald Trump picked the portrait of Andrew Jackson to be hung in the Oval Office in the White House.  President Trump has expressed an admiration for the 7th president whom he has called "an amazing figure in American history, very unique in so many ways."

Jackson is the only president to have served in both the American Revolution and War of 1812.  He is a military hero, slave owner, lawyer, judge and planter.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hull's Trail


There is another marker a half mile away from the one I mentioned in the last post.

"This Tablet Marks Hull's Trail, 1812."

"On-half mile south of this site is the site of Old Fort McArthur.  Built in 1812 on yonder hillside.  General Tupper and 1,000 men camped the entire winter of 1812-1813.

"At the foot  of the hill is their "Spring of Good Water."  near here are buried sixteen soldiers who died in camp."

This marker was constructed by the Fort McArthur Daughters of the American Revolution.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fort McArthur, Ohio

From HMdb. org.

Marker:  "Approximately 1000 feet east of this marker lles the graves of sixteen soldiers from Fort McArthur who gave their lives during the War of 1812.  The fort, a one-half acre timber stockade containing huts, was built in the summer of 1812 to guard the Scioto River crossing of General Hull's "Trace" to Detroit.

"Construction of the fort was under command of future Ohio governor, Colonel Duncan McArthur."


Friday, February 3, 2017

When New York City's Castle Clinton Was An Island

From the December 29, 2016 Tribeca Citizen "In the News:  When Castle Clinton Was an Island."

Castle Clinton was originally in New York Harbor, built on an artificial island and connected to the Battery by a small bridge.  It was built 1808-1811 in anticipation of a war with Britain.  Originally known as West Battery and intended to compliment the East Battery (Castle Williams) on Governors Island.

Neither fortress had any action against the British in the War of 1812, but there are those who believed the two served to deter the British from attacking New York City.

After the war, the West Battery water between the island and the mainland was absorbed by landfill and incorporated into the mainland of Manhattan Island and Battery Park.

It was renamed Castle Clinton in honor of New York's Governor DeWitt Clinton.


Fort McArthur, Ohio

From North America's Forts.

Fort McArthur (1812-1815) near Kenton, Ohio.

A stockade with two blockhouses built by troops under General Hull, it guarded a main supply road.

A stone marker is at the site, three miles west of town.


Wreath-Laying for 16 War of 1812 Soldiers at Fort McArthur Cemetery

From the December 17, 2015, CNW Ohio "Kiwanians participate in wreath-laying project."

The Kiwanis Club of Find placed wreaths on the graves of 16 War of 1812 soldiers at Fort McArthur Cemetery in Hardin County on Saturday.

It is part of the 2015 Wreaths Across America project.

Fort McArthur was constructed to support General William Hull's failed campaign to recapture Detroit in the early part of the war.  It was later garrisoned to protect the military road.

During the winter of 1812-1813, General Tupper commanded a force of about 1,000 men at the fort.  The soldiers whose graves were decorated likely died of exposure during this time.

A penny was left on each gravestone, a tradition that began during the Vietnam War.  A penny means that the grave has been visited.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

"Old Jordan's Crypt

From Wikipedia Commons.

There is a picture of Jordan Noble's crypt under the category "St. Louis Cemetery 2.

There is a photo of the plaque at Jordan B. Noble "Old Jordan" crypt at the Larry Shapiro Photography site.


Some More On Jordan Noble-- Part 2: Death "The Familiar Face of 'Old Jordan'"

He kept a steady beat with Major Louis D'Auin as he led his company against British on the night of December 23, 1814.

Then, there was role at the Battle of New Orleans.

At his death, June 20, 1890, at age 90, the New Orleans Picayune reported the "death of 'the Drummer Boy of Chalmette'" and ran a woodcut picture of the "Colored Veteran of Four Wars," and encouraged all to attend his Saturday afternoon funeral so they could look on the "familiar face of 'Old Jordan'" one last time.

He was buried at the city's St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, Square 3.

Again, this man would make the subject of a great movie.  Hear that Hollywood.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Some More On Jordan Noble-- Part 1: Born a Slave, Became a Free Man and Drummer

NPS "The rattle of his drum was heard [even] amidst the din of battle ... in the hottest hell of fire."  Gene Allen Smith, TCU.

During the War of 1812, more than 4,800 slaves fled their masters.  Some became British Colonial Marines.  Jordan Bankston Noble was born a mulatto slave in Augusta, Georgia, in October 1800.  He arrived in New Orleans in 1811.

In 1812, he became the drummer of the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment.


Battle of New Orleans Interesting Facts-- Part 4: Fought After the War Was Over?

**  The Treaty of Ghent ended the war several weeks before the Battle of New Orleans was fought and for years school children have been taught that it was a needless one.

But, "It Ain't Over Till It's Over."  That's is when all the (i)s are dotted and (t)s crossed and signatures applied.  The U.S. government did not ratify it until February.

In addition, now historians have theorized that had the British won the battle and captured New Orleans they would have extended control to the whole Mississippi River and much of the Louisiana Purchase.

In other words, they would have torn up the treaty.