Category Archives: War of 1812

Stories about the War of 1812 including important battles, dates and people who helped fight America’s Second Revolution.

Summer of Decision 1814

It is the third year of the War of 1812, and in early April 1814, the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte has been defeated by a coalition of European Nations headed by Great Britain. He is forced to unconditionally abdicate the throne of France and is sent into exile to Elba. This frees a considerable number of highly experienced regiments for duty against the United States. Soon the British Navy is shifting these regiments to the war in North America. The stage is now set for the regiments of the United States Army to “come into their own” or to wither under the pressure of superior forces from this time forward!

The first opportunity to prove their “metal” comes on July 5th when United States forces defeated the British at the Battle of Chippawa (located in Ontario, Canada). Not only did the United States Army defeat the British; but they proved that when properly trained and led, they could take on the best in the world and hold their own! The 6th United States Infantry Regiment adopted their motto “Regulars, by God” from this battle, and continues its use even today! Later on 25 July 1814, the two armies meet again at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, Ontario (also known as the battle of Niagara Falls). Even though the battle was very indecisive, it again proved that the United States Army could hold its own against highly experienced veterans from any country in the world. The Battle of Lundy’s Lane is considered the bloodiest battle of the war, and the deadliest fought on Canadian soil.

These battles and the earlier success of the USS Wasp sinking the HMS Reindeer in the English Channel (also considered one of the hardest-fought naval battles of the war) helped to bring both the United States and Great Britain to Ghent, Belgium to start peace negotiations on 8 August 1814. However, the war would drag on for at least another six months before coming to a satisfactory conclusion. Events later in the summer would darken American hopes somewhat before the dawning of a new day in New Orleans on 8 January 1815. But that is another story yet to be told – stay tuned!

Today we once again face the dark clouds of anguish as the Federation of Genealogical Societies is helping to raise funds to digitize the pension records of many of the heroes of The War of 1812. The need is greater than ever to raise these funds, as the time grows shorter to do so. Let us “come into our own” and not wither under the pressure of apathy to show not only the descendants of these valiant men; but to the nation as a whole that we can successfully complete a cause that is vital to the preservation of the records of our great nation!

With the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) initiated the PRESERVE THE PENSIONS-WAR OF 1812 PENSION PROJECT. FGS is proud to be leading this national effort to support this project and is actively seeking donations from genealogical, lineage, historical, patriotic and military heritage societies, as well as interested corporations and individuals. Ancestry.com is providing a dollar-for-dollar match of each donation through a provision of services. To learn more and to contribute to the Preserve the Pensions project, visit www.preservethepensions.org.

This multi-year project consists of scanning the pension files at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington D.C. and creating a searchable index to the digital images. FGS and NARA have targeted the War of 1812 Pension Applications as a high priority project based on the value of the content for genealogists and historians as well as the importance of preserving these fragile records. At present two digital cameras are in operation with a third camera anticipated shortly.  You can help support this third camera to digitize the files even faster.

The files contain documentation submitted to support a claim, such as the original application form, affidavits, and statements from witnesses.

 

Preserve the Pensions, War of 1812, genealogy, history, war, military, file, pension, certificate, Conley, Battle of Chippawa, FGS, Federation of Genealogical Societies

Pension Certificate, John Conley

 

The above is an example of a certificate found in the pension papers of John Conley, a member of the 25th United States Infantry Regiment which fought at The Battle of Chippawa. Note all the information contained in just this one piece of paper: Date of enlistment, reason for wound, place of birth, occupation, and physical description.[1] There are seventy-four additional documents contained in this pension file. In order to get an idea of the amazing potential that these files have hidden within them, please take the time to discover for yourself the value that the pension files of the War of 1812 pensioners have for furthering the research for your ancestors.

The collection will always be available for FREE as a digital collection on Fold3’s website:  www.fold3.com/title_761/war_of_1812_pension_files/.

FGS is calling upon all concerned Americans to assist in generating enough donations to employ more cameras at the National Archives to help digitize and preserve the pension files of the military corps heroes who fought, were wounded and died in such battles as the Battle of Chippawa, the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, and the victory of the USS Wasp over HMS Reindeer. Let us show the world that we have proved our “metal” and can stand against the best that others can throw at us!

Donate NOW! www.preservethepensions.org

 

 

[1] “War of 1812 Pension Files,” digital images, fold3.com (http://www.fold3.com/image/247/305561871/: accessed 3 June 2014); Conly, John (25th United States Infantry) pension file; imaged from War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, compiled ca. 1871 – ca. 1900 documenting the period 1812-ca. 1900, RG 15 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives [n.d.]), no roll number cited.

Victory at the Thames – War of 1812

Death of Tecumseh

Two hundred years ago on 5 October 1813, the Battle of the Thames was fought near present-day Chatham, Ontario, Upper Canada. The United States Army under the leadership of future U.S. President William Henry Harrison defeated a combined force of British and Indians led by Sir Henry Procter and Tecumseh. The Indian forces were led by the Shawnee Leader Tecumseh, who was killed during the engagement. With the death of Tecumseh the Native American coalition was destroyed, and its power in the Northwest was greatly diminished!  This American victory re-established American control over the Northwest frontier, which remained relativity uneventful for the remainder of the war.

This battle combined with the surprising victory of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry one month earlier, 10 September 1813 at the Battle of Lake Erie enabled the United States to not only seize control of Lake Erie for the remainder of the war; but, also ensured the recapture of Detroit.

Let’s not forget the soldiers who fought, bled, and died in this engagement, like William Whitley of Crab Orchard, Kentucky who died during the attack. He was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War.  Approximately 3,500 U.S. Military consisting of Regulars, Militia, and Volunteers participated in the battle, of which 27 were killed, and 57 were wounded. Let us not forget the valiant courage and faith of these American Patriots.

Even though the Battle of the Thames was a huge victory for the United States; the battle continues to this day. Instead of facing the volley of shot from the “thin red line”, and the cannonading of round and grape shot; the pension records of the Soldiers are being pounded with excessive exposure to light, air pollution, high humidity, and deterioration, thus making the papers yellow and brittle with age. Thus even today a similar battle is being fought to preserve the pension records of these great men! So what can you do?

With the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has initiated the Preserve the Pensions – War of 1812 Pension Records Project. FGS is proud to be leading the national fundraising effort to support this project and is actively seeking donations from genealogical and historical societies, patriotic and military heritage societies, as well as interested corporations and individuals. Ancestry.com and Fold3 are providing a dollar-for-dollar match of each donation through a provision of services. To learn more and contribute to the Preserve the Pensions project, visit www.preservethepensions.org.

This multi-year project consists of scanning the pension files at the National Archives in
Washington D.C. and creating a searchable index to the digital images. FGS has targeted the War of 1812 Pension Applications as a high priority project based on the value of the content for genealogists and historians as well as the importance of preserving the fragile records. At present two digital cameras are in operation with only three percent of the files digitized. The files contain documentation submitted in support of a claim, such as the original application form, affidavits, and statements from witnesses.

The collection is available for FREE as a digital collection on Fold3’s website www.fold3.com/title_761/war_of_1812_pension_files/.

We are calling upon the Armed Forces community as well as all others to help lead the charge to generate enough donations to employ more cameras at the National Archives to help in this effort to digitize and preserve the pension files of the heroes’ who fought and often bled in such battles as the Battle of the Thames. Let us show the nation that we can trounce the enemy as did William Henry Harrison on 5 October 1813, and proudly preserve the pensions of these American Heroes.

Photo: Wikipedia, “FILE: Death of Tecumseh.JPG,” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Death_of_Tecumseh.JPG : accessed 31 July 2013, Image of Death of Tecumseh; reprinted from Library of Congress, lithograph by Nathaniel Currier (c. 1843)

Defenders’ Day – The Star-Spangled Banner Weekend!

Defenders Day 2013

Preserve the Pensions was recently represented by Rebecca Koford at the Defenders’ Day event held at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland on September 14th. Dressed in period costume, she spent the day handing out pamphlets and telling everyone she met about the community effort to Preserve the Pensions of the War of 1812.

These are some of the questions we asked her about participating in this historical event:

What is “Defenders’ Day”?

Defenders’ Day is Fort McHenry’s flagship event! It is a three-day encampment and extravaganza which is celebrated with over 100 War of 1812 re-enactors, parades, military bands, fireworks, a symbolic ship-to-shore bombardment and much more!

It is a celebration of the defense of Baltimore on September 12th, 1814 from British attack.  This monumental defense is remembered in our National Anthem.  After being taken prisoner temporarily, Francis Scott Key watched the 25 hour bombardment from the deck of an English ship.  After the guns had stopped, he looked anxiously across the dawn through the haze of gunpowder smoke.  A British flag would indicate that the ground troops had taken the fort, but an American flag would declare the fort was secure. Key was amazed to see the fort’s largest flag, personally commissioned by General George Armistead and created by Mary Pickersgill and an army of seamstresses, waving triumphantly in the morning light.  This momentous event led Key to write the poem, “The Star-Spangled Banner”, which later became a symbol of our country.

At the Defenders’ Day celebration the fort grounds were full with people: picnicking, watching costumed troops parade, enjoying the children’s game areas, and watching recreated encampments.  Towards the evening, the lovingly recreated Pickersgill flag was hoisted and the evening ended with fireworks displays over the water.

Rebecca, what did you do and what was the response of your table there?

Summer 2013 185

It was a beautiful, mild day at the fort, crawling with Historical Interpreters (costumed re-enactors), members of lineage groups such as the Society of the War of 182, and history-loving families. I set up in a room at the Visitors Center, with authors of 1812 histories, the Star-Spangled Banner Committee of the Maryland Historical Society, and others.  An estimated 300 people came to the table (I know I personally gave out about 200 brochures, and there were more than that who stopped to talk).

Why do you think people were so enthusiastic about the Preserve the Pensions campaign?

Many people, there to celebrate the history of Fort McHenry, stopped by the table to learn more about the Pension Project, and were surprised to learn that such valuable documents still existed at the National Archives and how they represented the individual lives of many of the soldiers who fought in the War of 1812.  People commented favorably on the variety of information available in these documents. Some copies had been downloaded that week from the www.fold3.com  website and printed as examples: Letters to the Office of Pensions with original signatures, marriage certificates, and service histories.  It was commented how alike these soldiers were to us – first they fought for their country, then, when disabled, they still had to struggle to provide for their families.

* * *

Rebecca Whitman Koford commented about the framed photo on her table: He is her 4th great grandfather, James Wescott Whitman and was reported to have served in the War of 1812 from New York.  He lived through the Civil War period, which is about when this photo was taken.  The interesting bit of information is that his son, Edward, served with the 8th NY Heavy Artillery who was stationed at Fort McHenry during the Civil War.  This was something she pointed out to people there because, 1) it was interesting to note the connections between the War of 1812 and the Civil War, and 2) since this ancestor did not receive a pension, she is hopeful that with the every-name indexing of the 1812 pensions, Rebecca will be able to find out about his service, if he signed an affidavit for a fellow soldier.

Thanks, Rebecca, for representing well the War of 1812 Preserve the Pensions campaign. We hope everyone who participated in historical events such as Defenders’ Day will contribute to the campaign so that these documents will be preserved and accessed online for FREE!

Photographs used by permission of Rebecca Whitman Koford.