Yesterday, the main topic of concern was unanswered questions on the St Clair Boys aka the Hunting Shirt Rifle Company during the War of 1812. Why is there so little on the PA Militia group that comprised this band of patriotic boys? Their fathers had mostly fought during the American Revolution and had instilled those wonderful stories of glory and honor as the colonists declared independence and followed up with a war of lasting several years.
Our schoolbooks barely mention the War of 1812. The war lasted over three years with no land exchanging hands. The Americans opposed Britain impressing American sailors in to the British Navy. In addition, America opposed the trade restrictions brought by the Brits fighting the French. Another reason for this war is the British support of the American Indians as the Indians opposed western expansion beyond the original 13 colonies. If you want to learn more about this conflict that shaped our early country, our patriotism, and our presidents, be sure to check out the History Channel.
The part of the early War of 1812 that intrigues me most is the history of the war in Pennsylvania.
John C. Fredriksen, in his informative article, demonstrates the deficiency of the United States forces. He tells us that Pennsylvania Governor Snyder enlisted close to 100,000 men by the fall of 1812. This is my area of interest as the local Butler Co and Allegheny Co Regiments were formed at this time. I know an uncle of mine, Thomas McMillen HENRY enlisted at a local tavern as documented in his Pension File.
The call went out that men were needed to protect against the forces of British troops and Indians who were rumored to be marching to the area. While the rumor proved to be just that, the general panic resulted in local men volunteering to protect the new nation and their homes in Pennsylvania. The St. Clair Boys led by James Turbett enlisted September 12, 1812. They joined other regiments as they marched north from Pittsburgh to Meadville, the point of rendezvous.
Unfortunately, over three thousand other men were camped there with insufficient arms, ammunition, provisions and housing. The lack of coordination between the state and the federal government is demonstrated in Pennsylvania during this time. While the men faithfully volunteered, the federal government refused to pay or equip the men. Turbett's men were part of the group whose arms were over half defective, thus forcing them to stay in Meadville for over six weeks. No wonder the men were frustrated. No pay, no training, not enough provisions. These men finally did leave Meadville to march to Buffalo. To date, I have not determined what they did while there. Alas, these brave men who were willing to fight for the new country were told they could go home in December 1812. Some of them were sent out west to General William Henry Harrison (yes, that one, the 9th President of the United States and War of 1812 hero), and the rest just went home without ever firing a shot. Of course, it can be tough to fire a shot with no working gun. Some of them deserted. Of course, they were sitting in a winter encampment to what purpose?
What happened to St Clair boys? I reckon they went home and continued their lives. Their tales of their short tenure in the military must have been rather boring. Lucky for us, their sons and grandsons still felt patriotic when it came to the next big test this country had, The War of Northern Aggression, oops, I mean the War Between the States.
Ahhh, genealogy. One great thing came out of the War of 1812. It's a little song we all know--The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key. Oh, say can you see.........
Fredriksen, John C. The Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of 1812: An Anonymous Journal of Service for the Year 1814, https://journals.psu.edu/wph/article/viewFile/4054/3871
War of 1812, History Channel, http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812
Fold3 1812 Pension Files, Thomas M Henry
Sapio, Victor. Pennsylvania and the War of 1812, pg 183-185. https://books.google.com/books?id=FuQeBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA185&dq=meadville+war+of+1812&hl=en&sa=X&ei=gIfwVOGpN4KRyQTuv4CoCw&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=meadville%20war%20of%201812&f=false