Friday, January 18, 2019

Henry A Burchstead, Class of 1811, Killed in Creek Campaign

From "For What They Gave On Saturday Afternoon."


Born New York.  Appointed USMA from New York.

Cadet of Military Academy, Feb. 16, 1809, to Mar. 1, 1811, when he graduated and was promoted to the Army as Ensign, 2nd Infantry, Mar. 1, 1811.

Served:  on the Northwestern Frontier, 1811; in General Harrison's (2nd Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry, March 13, 1811) Campaign of 1811 in Indiana Territory, being engaged in the Battle of Tippecanoe, Nov. 7, 1811, where he was wounded; on frontier duty in the Gulf States, 1811-1812;  and in the War of 1812-1815 with Great Britain, (First Lieutenant, 2nd Infantry, May 5, 1813) being engaged in the Campaign of 1813 against the Creek Indians, in which he was killed, November 30, 1813, on the Alabama River.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

1st Lt. Vincent Marie Boisaubin-- Part 2: Gravestone Etched in French

Two graveyards on the American side of the Niagara River have some interesting grave markers.

In the military graveyard at Fort Niagara which has an eventful history, having at times been in the hands of the French, British, Indians and Americans there is a singular  trace of the American occupation if Fort George in 1813.

A young Frenchman, perhaps a son of those of that nationality helped the 13 Colonies to gain their independence is buried there.  His gravestone is written entirely in French.

Translation:  Here lies Boisaubin Marie Vincent, Lieutenant and Adjutant in the light artillery regiment  of US, who died at Fort George August 13, 1813, at age 22 years, faithful friend, tender and  sincere son..."

I haven't been able to find any further information on him.


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

1st Lt. Vincent Marie Boisaubin-- Part 1: Graduated West Point Class of 1811

From Find-A-Grave.

Born 1791 in Guadalupe.  Died 10 August 1813 Niagara-On-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada.

Burial Old Fort Niagara Cemetery, Niagara Falls, New York.

From Heitman's Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army:

Boisaubin, Marie V.  Mo. NJ, Cadet Military Academy  14 April 1809, two years.  .  1st Lt. Light Artillery 1 March 1811.

Died 10 August  1813.

From U.S. School Catalogs 1811:

Marie V. Boisaubin.  Died August 10, 1813, at Fort George, Upper Canada.


Monday, January 14, 2019

West Point Class of 1811: Five Died in the War of 1812

From the Civil War in the East site.

Four other members of the West Point Class of 1811 besides George Ronan were killed during the War of 1812.

Marie V. Boisaubin   First Lt.  Died in 1813 in the capture of Fort George, Upper Canada.

Henry Burchstead   First Lt.     Killed 1813 in Alabama in Creek Indian campaign.

Henry A. Hobart   First Lt.  Killed 1813, Capture of Fort George, Upper Canada.

Alexander J. Williams    Captain     Killed 1814 in defense of Fort Erie, Upper Canada

George Ronan   Ensign    Killed 1812 in Fort Dearborn massacre.  First West Point graduate to be killed in action.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

West Point Class of 1811 Members Who Served in the Civil War

From the Civil War in the East site.

Hard to believe, but two members of George Ronan's West Point Class of 1811 were still serving in the U.S. Army at the time of the Civil War.

They were John James Abert who headed the Corps of Topographical Engineers for 32 years and Gustavus Loomis who is considered the oldest soldier to serve in the Civil War.

I will definitely be writing about these two men in my Saw the Elephant:  Civil War blog.


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

War of 1812 Naval Officers in My Cooter's History Thing Blog:

The last two days, I have written about three naval officers from the War of 1812 who got their experience in the First Barbary War.  They are Thomas Macdonough, Charles Morris and James Lawrence.

Check it out by clicking on the Cooter's History Thing blog in the My Blogs section to the right of this.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

George Ronan-- Part 15: "At Least He Dies Like A Soldier"

Evidently, there was another soldier with the Americans who was afraid to die and the author of "The Chicago Massacre of 1812" related this story.

"Oh, I cannot die!" exclaimed he.  "O am not fit to die -- if I had but a short time to prepare -- death is awful."

I pointed to Ensign Ronan, who, though mortally wounded and nearly down, was still fighting with desperation on one knee.

"Look at this man," said I; "at least he dies like a soldier."


Monday, January 7, 2019

George Ronan-- Part 14: Perhaps This Clarifies What Ronan Said To His Commanding Officer

From  the Together We Served site.  All of these entries of late have been coming from this site

From the book "The Chicago Massacre."

I well remember a remark made by Ensign Ronan as the attack began, he turned to me and said:  "Such is to be our fate -- to be shot down like Beasts.

The commanding officer, Captain Nathan Heald overheard him say this  and said, "Well, sir, are you afraid?"

"No," replied the high-spirited young man, "I can march up to the enemy where you dare not show your face!"

And, his subsequent brave behavior showed this to be no idle boast.

So, That Must Have Been The Insult.  --Brock-Perry

George Ronan-- Part 13: Chicago's Ronan Park

The park district  soon signed a lease for 7.5 acres of water district land, and by the mid-1960s, playgrounds and green spaces lined both shores of the North Shore Channel.  In the 1990s the park district began leasing additional water district land, bringing the park's total acreage to nearly 13 acres.

The entire park was  rehabilitated and a bike path added as a larger plan to create a recreational corridor along the river.

The park is located at  3000 Argyle Street in Chicago, Illinois.


Friday, January 4, 2019

George Ronan-- Part 12: Ronan Park in Chicago

Ronan Park, part of the Chicago Park District, honors the life of the young Ensign Ronan, who died in the Fort Dearborn Massacre on August 12, 1812.

In 1929, the City of Chicago built a new pumping station east of the channelized North Branch of the  the Chicago River to meet the increasing need for water in the neighboring Lincoln Square and Albany Park neighborhoods.  Just over thirty years later, the Metropolitan  Water reclamation District and the Chicago Park District began working together to create recreational space adjoining the pumping station.

This became Ronan Park.


Thursday, January 3, 2019

George Ronan-- Part 11: Died A Hero, First West Pointer Killed in the War

The massacre happened on August 12, 1812,  and a very interesting fact is coming out about that bloody day and that is the connection between West Point and Chicago.

"Ensign George Ronan, a West Point graduate of 1811, was killed here in 1812 according to West Point records.  he's the first West Pointer killed in action," says Victorio Giustino.

And survivors of the battle say he died a hero.  He was fatally wounded but fought on trying to protect the others.

There is a small patch of land set aside to honor George Ronan.


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Eighth Year of This Blog

I started this blog in 2012 to mark the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.  I figured on keeping it going until 2015 to mark the 200th anniversary of the end of the war.  As you can see, it didn't stop then.

I knew more about the war than most Americans, but I have learned a whole lot about the war.  For instance, from today's earlier post, I didn't know the first star in Chicago's flag represented the Fort Dearborn Massacre.  Now I know.

Anyway, today's posts mark the beginning of the blog's eighth year and this is the 2897th post.


George Ronan-- Part 10: The First Star On the Chicago Flag Represents the Tragedy

According to Chicago historian Victorio Giustino:

"This is where it took place, August 15, 1812, when the troops leaving Fort Dearborn were attacked by the Indians.

"There is little left now of that terrible day during the War of 1812.  A painting hangs in City Hall in the council chambers, and gives us some idea of what happened.  On the Chicago flag, the first star represents the tragedy. And at Michigan Avenue and Wacker, the site of Fort Dearborn is clearly outlined.

"And a giant sculpture does a very distant replay of the hand-to-hand combat."


Monday, December 31, 2018

George Ronan-- Part 9: George Ronan and the Fort Dearborn Massacre

From the Together We Served site.

From August 19, 2009, WLS AM  "Historian wants recognition for forgotten hero."  Frank Mathie.

Almost all Chicagoans have heard about the Fort Dearborn Massacre.  But very few of us have ever heard of Ensign George Ronan.

Ronan was a hero of that battle in the War of 1812, and now a Chicago historian, Victor Giustino, wants recognition for that forgotten man.

In this age of political correctness, the Fort Dearborn Massacre is now referred to as the Battle of Fort Dearborn.  And at 18th and Prairie along the lakefront, a new historical marker tells the story of how 91 people - soldiers, men, women and children - who were fleeing Fort Dearborn were attacked by 500 Potawatomi Indians.  More than half the Americans were killed.


Saturday, December 29, 2018

George Ronan-- Part 8: Did He Insult Captain Heald?

From the Together We Served Site.

From the book "Checagou:  From Indian Wigwam to Modern City 1673-1835.

In March 1811, George Ronan, a young cadet direct from West Point, was given the rank of ensign and ordered to repair at once to Fort Dearborn.  Practically our only estimate of him  is one recorded by Mr. Kinzie.

At the height of the panic over the murders at the Lee farm, Ronan volunteered to lead a squad of soldiers to the rescue of the Burns family, which was believed to be in imminent danger of slaughter.

On the fateful day of the evacuation [from Fort Dearborn] four months later, Ronan is pictured as uttering an impudent taunt to Captain Heald.  If he actually committed this fault, he offered the best possible atonement a little later, when "mortally wounded and nearly down"  he continued to fight desperately to the end.


Friday, December 28, 2018

George Ronan-- Part 7: His Legacy

George Ronan is usually considered the first West Point-educated officer to die in the War of 1812.  He was an ensign, which made him the lowest rank of officer in the U.S. Army at the time.  That rank has been abolished and today would be a second lieutenant.

Sculptor Henry Hering, in his 1928 "Defense" bas relief mounted on the Michigan Avenue Bridge, adjacent to the site of Fort Dearborn, centered it on an unnamed junior officer depicted as protecting women and children civilians.  That was probably Ronan.

Ronan Park, a 3-acre unit of the Chicago Park District is located at 3000 West Argyle Street on the Chicago River and named in his honor.


George Ronan-- Part 6: His Death

On the morning of August 15, 1812,  Nathan Heald and George Ronan led their force and civilians out of Fort Dearborn, 93 persons in all.  And, they ran into the Potawatomi ambush.  It quickly turned into a massacre.

Witnesses said they saw Ronan continuing to fight even after he was mortally wounded.  They say he killed two warriors before he died.

Survivors believe the spot where he was struck down was at or close to what is now  the intersection of 21st Street and Indiana Avenue in the Prairie Avenue neighborhood of Chicago's Near South Side.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

George Ronan-- Part 5: Ronan and His Commander Did Not Get Along

Although he didn't know it at the time, George Ronan had been posted to one of the hottest spots on the frontier.

Ronan was described by survivors of the massacre as a high-spirited young man who did not get along well with the fort's commander, Captain Nathaniel Heald.  It is thought this was the reason Heald kept assigning Ronan increasingly dangerous operations outside the fort's walls.

One of the things Ronan was to do was to try to knit the diverse inhabitants of the area into a group, but some were French-speaking, others English-speaking and still others  were Indians.

When war broke out, Nathaniel Heald received orders to evacuate the post and move to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  News of this evacuation, scheduled for August 15, 1812,  emboldened the Chicago "British" band of Potawatomi who took a position two miles south of the fort along the shore of Lake Michigan where they planned to attack  the Americans.


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Rank of U.S. Army Ensign

In the last four posts about George Ronan I have mentioned his rank as an ensign.  Now, before I started this blog I knew of the Navy rank of Ensign, which is the lowest of the officer grades, but I'd never heard of an ensign.  I know that the lowest Army officer rank is 2nd lieutenant.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has three meanings for ensign:

1.  A flag that is flown (as if by a ship) as a symbol of its nationality.

2.  An infantry officer  of what formerly was the lowest commissioned rank.

3.  A commissioned officer in the Navy or Coast Guard ranking above a chief warrant officer and below a lieutenant junior grade.

Wikipedia says the ranks of ensign and cornet were abolished by the United States Army in the Army Organization Act of 1815.

So, George Ronan would be the second definition.  Today, he would have been a 2nd lieutenant.

In Case You're Wondering.  --Brock-Perry

George Ronan-- Part 4: Setting the Stage for the Fort Dearborn Massacre

One of the most threatened American forts on the Frontier  was a small stockaded fort associated with a fur-trading post near the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  Although the Chicago River and the area is flowed through was officially a part of the United States, the Fort Dearborn soldiers and fur traders were tremendously outnumbered by adjacent bands of Indians.

The predominant Indian group in the area was the Potawatomi nation, who remained allied with the British though their land had been ceded to the United States at the end of the American Revolution at the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

On the Great Lakes, the years before the War of 1812 saw increasingly embittered competition between British-Canadian fur traders and American merchants and fur traders, many of whom were in alliance with the interests of the powerful John Jacob Astor and his American Fur Company.