— “In 18 and 14 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’,
“We took a little bacon and we took a little beans, and we met the bloody British near the town of New Orleans.”
If you’re like me, you started singing that little song, at least in your mind, as soon as you read those lyrics. If you’re from my generation, you probably moved right along to the chorus. The catchy tune called the “Battle of New Orleans,” was written by a high school history teacher/storyteller named Jimmy Driftwood.
It brought the War of 1812 to the nation’s attention through transistor radios, jukeboxes and sing-alongs of the 1960s.
The song came out around the time of the 150th anniversary of the war, and now with the 200th anniversary year already over, we have heard very little mentioned about the confrontation that took place between England and its former colonists, barely two decades after the end of the American Revolution. Another even more famous song emerged from the War of 1812 — and that is our National Anthem.
Francis Scott Key watched the British bombardment of Baltimore Harbor from on board a ship when he was inspired to pen those words. The now-famous flag he wrote about featured 15 stars and 15 stripes, and while battered, it seemed to still be flying proudly, after the incessant shelling overnight. The words to his poem, “The Defence of Fort McHenry,” were written on the back of an envelope, and when music was added, the “Star Spangled Banner” was born.
‘War hawks’ rule
War against England was declared in 1812 as the newly elected “War Hawks” in the U.S. Congress felt that fighting was necessary, and they pushed their agenda forward. A number of reasons were cited, including the fact that the British had captured more than 10,000 Americans and forced them to serve in the Royal Navy. That process started as early as 1803. There were also a lot of leftover items that had not been fully addressed after the Revolution, along with various trade restrictions.
The Americans wanted to move the new nation into the West and Canada, too, but the British, by supporting the Native Americans, were halting what many felt was a natural national expansion. The Battle of Tippecanoe near Lafayette, Ind., in 1811 was part of what was known as Tecumseh’s War, and that continued into the War of 1812, as the Indian Confederation fought against Americans moving into the lower Great Lakes states. That land was viewed by the Native Americans and the British as their own territory, or a neutral zone.
The “War of 1812,” lasted until early 1815 when Andrew Jackson and his ragtag band of frontiersmen defeated the best of the British Army near New Orleans.
Battle ends war
Actually, the Treaty of Ghent, which brought peace, had already been signed by the time the battle started, but communication in those days was such that getting the word to the forces on either side in the foggy bayous of Louisiana wasn’t just a phone call, e-mail or video conference away. So, the forces faced off, the Americans miraculously won and the war was ended by a battle instead of just a treaty. Andrew Jackson became an immediate hero, and a couple of decades later he would be the first Democrat to live in the White House.
For those who fought, came land bounties. With no veterans’ programs in those days, but with a lot of land “out west” in places like Illinois, the government was pleased to parcel out property that had been “purchased” from the Native American tribes. Other veterans didn’t participate in the bounty program, but moved west anyway to raise their families. Of those, many settled here in Vermilion County. While we seem to hear a lot about ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and those that followed, not much is said about those who participated in the War of 1812.
List of soldiers
So when Roberta Allen at the Danville Public Library asked if I’d be interested in seeing a list of soldiers from the War of 1812 who are buried in Vermilion County, I said yes, and we agreed that a story should be done. I also looked up the names of soldiers buried in adjacent Indiana counties to add to that Roll of Honor.
Some people may ask, “Why is it that we focus so much of our history on the wars that were fought, and not peacetime activities?” That’s a good question, but I think the periods of time that our nation was at war help define our country, and at the least we should honor those who were willing to shed their blood in the defense of this “noble experiment” started by America’s founders.
Those who served
The following men served in the War of 1812 and are buried in Illinois cemeteries:
Thomas Beers — Middlefork near Potomac
John Casseday — Georgetown
Asa Elliot — God’s Acre near Catlin
Hiram Filbreath — Middlefork
Peter Frazier — Dougherty near Potomac
Anthony Gebhart — Mount Pisgah near Georgetown
Reuben Golliday — Middlefork
Noah Guymon — God’s Acre near Catlin
William Kidd — Georgetown
John Lamon — Greenview near Fairmount
Harvey Luddington — Spring Hill in Danville
Henry Martin — Mount Pisgah
Douglas Moore — Middlefork
David Morrison — Davis near Fairmount
Anthony Noble — Stearns near Fithian
Allen Poage — Davis
Elijah Potter — Johnson at Danville
Joseph Ramey — Georgetown
Isaac Sandusky —Sandusky near Westville
Jacob Stewart — Middlefork
John Vance — God’s Acre
The following men served in the War of 1812 and are buried in Fountain, Warren and Vermillion counties in Indiana:
Andrew Ainsworth — Prescott Grove near Covington
Isaac Coleman — Riverside near Attica
John Cox — Hillside near Williamsport
Isaac Gooding — Jacksonville near Wallace
Peter Hall — Mound near Covington
Daniel Helt — Helt’s Prairie near Hillsdale
Ezra Kellogg — Old Baptist near Mellott
Perrin Kent — Gopher Hill near State Line
Silas Lathrop — Bear Creek near Fountain
John Martin — Davis near Covington
James McCord — James near Winthrop
Andrew Pearce — Pine Village
George Redenbaugh — Centennial near Yeddo
Jacob Schnorff — Davis near Covington
Solomon Shoemaker — near Newtown
Hezekiah Van Dorn — Cooper’s Chapel near Veedersburg.