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Fayette County Kentucky in the War of 1812

Source: History of Lexington Kentucky: Its Early Annals and Recent Progress, George W. Ranck, Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co., 1872, pages 246-252.


War with England--Rolls of Lexington and Fayette Volunteers--The Meeting and Parting at Lexington--The Review and the March--Russell's Expedition--Trotter's Fight with the Indians--The Barracks.

The commencement of the year 1812 found Lexington full of excitement. The frequent and long-continued outrages of England on American rights and property on the ocean were denounced in the strongest terms by the Democrats, and palliated by the Federalists. while the parties hurled at each other the epithets of "Jacobin" and "Tory," a war with England was openly threatened, and on May 2d, General James Winchester, an old officer of the Revolution, established a recruiting office in Lexington. Early in June, an immense war-meeting was held in the court-house yard, and deafening shouts of applause greeted one of the sentiments proposed: "May the legs of every Tory be made into drumsticks with which to beat Jefferson's march."+

War was declared by the United States on the 18th of June, and Lexington greeted the news with a brilliant illumination and great rejoicing, and as soon as it was known that a requisition had been made upon Kentucky for troops, and even before the governor's orders reached Lexington, a company of volunteers had been formed and its services tendered to the state.* Six companies in all were quickly raised in the city and county, and it is a matter of the greatest regret that complete rolls of them are not to be had, either in the state military office or in the war department at Washington. Of one company, Captain Arnold's riflemen, we could obtain no list whatever, and the following rolls, with the exception of that of Captain Hart's company, are meager, confused, and unsatisfactory. The subjoined fragments are all that could be gathered, viz:


Officers.--Captain, N.G.S. Hart; Lieutenant, L. Comstock; Second Lieutenant, Geo. G. Ross; Ensign, J.L. Herron; Sergeants, Levi L. Todd, John Whitney, Chas. F. Allen, Thos. Smith, Fielding Gosney, Thos. Chamberlain; Corporals, William O. Butler, Chas. Bradford, Isaac L. Baker, Jacob Schwing, Alex. Crawford.

Privates.--Andrew Allison, F.J. Allen, Francis Allen, Hugh Allen, Thomas Anderson, T.J. Anderson, Daniel Adams, Wm. Adams, James E. Blythe, Henry Beard, I.L. Baker, Wm. C. Bell, John Beckley, Robt. Campbell. R.T. Campbell, Lewis Charless, Hiram Clines, Elisha Collins, R.H. Chinn, Samuel Cox, Jesse Cock, Lawrence Daily, William Davis, Phillip Dunn, Benj. Davis, Samuel Elder, Edward Elder, Thos. Fant, A. Ferguson, E. Francis, K.M. Goodloe, R.W. Gilpin, James Huston, Jas. L. Hickman, Bennett Hines, Samuel Holding, James Higgins, James Johnston, Robert Kelley, Thomas King, S. Kalker, J.E. Kelley, John Kay, Charles Lewis, John Linginfelter, Adam Lake, D. Lingenfelter, John Maxwell, Jr., Thomas Monks, Jno. A. Moon, Peter Messmore, J.W. McChesney, Robt. Mather, James Maxwell, James Neale, Chas. Neil, Jas. P. Parker, W. Pritchard, James Reiley, Robert Rolling, George Rogers, Geo. Rolls, Charles Searls, Armstrong Stewart, Stephen Smith, Thomas Smith, Valentine Shally, Geo. Shindlebower, B. Stephens, V. Shawley, Daniel Talbott, J. Templeman, Sam'l B. Todd, R.S. Todd, ___ Townsend, Joseph Vance, Derrick Vanpelt, T. Verden, Zephanial Williams, John Whitney.


Officers--Captain, Stewart W. Megowan; Lieutenant, Martin Wymore; Ensign, Levi Todd; Sergeants, Richard Roach, Barnet Harvey; Corporals, T.H. Blackburn, John McMakin.

Page 248
.--Alexander Alsop, John Brown, Ezra Bowyer, James Cummins, John Eaves, James Fear, Bernard Giltner, T.R. Gatewood, ___ Griffin, John P. Hogan, John M. Hogan, Hiram Jeter, Bernard Jeter, Richie Jerrett, John P. Kinkead, Solomon Kolker, Zach. Kirby, Joseph Lankhart, John Litteral, John Moon, John P. Miller, Wm. Mitchell, Richard Masterson, Jr., S McMakin, James Napper, Tom Petty, Lewis Pilcher, Beverly Pilcher, Geo. W. Shivery, Green Spyers, John Shivel, James Schooley, David Weigert, Hiram Worthen, Simon Waters.


Captain, James McDowell; First Lieutenant, Michael Fishel; Second Lieutenant, J.G. Trotter.

Privates.--W.W. Ater, Patterson Bain, W.P. Bryant, T.M. Bryant, George Bowman, John Dishman, John Gist, George Hooker, William Long, Joseph Lemmon, William Montgomery, James McConnell, William McConnell, F. McConnell, Samuel McDowell, Salem Piatt, Alexander Pogue, Henry Riddle, William Royal, Thomas Royal, Byrd Smith, David Steel, William Tanner.


Captain, John Edmonson.
Privates.--Richard Bledsoe, Walter Carr, Jr., R.P. Kinney, Robinson Prewitt, W.D. Parrish, Dudley Shipp.


Captain, John Hamilton; Lieutenant, William Moore; Sergeants, Tobias Pennington, R. McCullough; Corporals, Ira Barbee, Thomas Parker, Thomas Hamilton.

Privates.--Willis Calvert, Geo, Corman, Nathan Chinn, Alfred Chinn, William Doyle, Luke Field, Michael Goodnight, James Gregg, Samuel Hicks, Philip Jones, Hartwell Long, Wm. Musgrove, Andrew Mefford, Jonathan McLain, W.D. Patterson, Wm. Patterson, Thomas A. Russell, Jas. Sanderson, William Sanderson, George Sanderson, Anderson Simpson, Andrew Simson, Nelson Tapp, Linton Tandy, Willis Tandy, Thomas Venard, Absalom Venard, John Wilhoite.

In addition to these participants in the war, the following persons also went from Lexington or Fayette, viz: William O. Butler, afterward general; Major Ben. Graves, on the staff of Colonel Lewis; James Overton, aid to General Winchester; Chas. Carr, paymaster of Dudley's regiment; Charles S. Todd, then a young lawyer in Lexington, but subsequently minister to Russia; Thomas Bodley, deputy quartermaster-general, who died June 11, 1833, aged sixty-one; and Adjutant, afterward General, John McCalla, who was reported by his commander as "distinguished" in the actions of the 18th and 22d of January, 1813. General Calla, now a venerable and highly esteemed citizen of Washington, D.C., is a native of Lexington, and a graduate of Transylvania University. He practiced law in this city for many years prior to his removal to his present residence, and was well known for his bold and skillful support of the Democratic party. He was a clear, astute, and efficient political debater, and is well remembered for the earnestness, energy and integrity. General McCalla erected and lived in the house now owned by Mr. Benjamin Gratz, and situated on Mill street, opposite the college lawn.

The Kentucky quota was rapidly organized for the field, and the Fifth regiment, commanded by Col. William Lewis, and composed of the companies of Capts. Hart, Hamilton, and Megowan, from Fayette; Capts. Gray and Price, from Jessamine; Capt. Williams from Montgomery, and Capts. Martin and Brassfield, of Clark, in obedience to orders, assembled in Lexington on the 14th of August, to march to the general rendezvous at Georgetown, at which place it was to join the other regiments, and be put in motion with them for the frontier.~ It was a soul-stirring occasion, and thousands of citizens assembled from all quarters to witness the novel sight of a band of citizen soldiers marching to the battle-field. Gray-haired veterans of the Revolution and their matron companions, came to behold again what they often saw in former days; the youth of both sexes, the generation which had grown up since the storm of the Revolution had passed away, were eager to behold the unwonted spectacle, and all classes came to bid an agitated adieu to friends, to sons, to brothers, to lovers, to those whom they might never again behold. Many doubted whether the youth and effeminacy of some of the troops were not unequal to the fatigues of the campaign; all felt for them the deepest interest, the keenest anxiety. As the regiment took up the line of march from the "common" (Water street), where it was formed, and wheeled in to Main street, at Postlethwaite's corner, such a spectacle was there exhibited as Lexington had never seen before, and probably may never behold again. The moving mass of people filling the street; the windows, doors, and even roofs of houses crowded; weeping females waving their parting adieus from the windows; an occasional shout from the crown below; the nodding plumes and inspiring music; the proud military step, and glancing eye of the marching soldier as he caught the last view of the girl he left behind him, or looked his last farewell to his tender mother or affectionate sister--neither language nor painting can portray the scene.

The troops marched a few miles that evening and encamped, and the next day reached Georgetown, where, with Scott's and Allen's regiments, they were formed into a brigade under General Payne. On the following Sunday they were reviewed by Governor Scott and Generals Payne and Winchester, accompanied by all the field officers. The field was covered with the friends and relatives of our brave soldiers who went to take their parting farewell. The spectators, it is supposed by some, amounted to twenty thousand persons.*

After the review was finished, the army and spectators formed a compact body and listened to an eloquent address from Henry Clay, and an animated sermon from President Blythe, of Transylvania University. Mr. Clay adverted to the causes of the war, the orders in council, the previous aggressions on American commerce, the impressment of seamen, and the incitement of the savages to hostilities. He concluded with a stirring appeal to the troops to remember that much was expected of them from abroad, that Kentucky was famed for her brave men, and that they had the double character of Americans and Kentuckians to support.

A few days after the review, the brigade was ordered to Cincinnati to receive arms, ammunition, and camp-equipage. Hardships commenced at once, for heavy rains continued from the time the troops left Georgetown until they reached Cincinnati. That was, however, but a trifle to the labors which were awaiting them, when, having crossed the Ohio under the gloom of Hull's surrender, and pressed forward to Saint Mary's, they were ordered to leave their heavy baggage, take six days' provision, and a supply of ammunition, and by forced marches, to push on to relieve Fort Wayne, then besieged by an allied Indian and British force. Here en route, we leave them for the present.

On the 29th of September, General W.H. Harrison, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Western army, left Lexington for the seat of war.

Little was done by the American forces during the year 1812, after Hull's surrender; but what was done, was largely participated in by the volunteers from Lexington. In October,* Colonel William Russell, with four hundred men, marched rapidly up the Illinois river until he got within a mile of one of the Peoria towns. A brisk charge was made upon the town defended by about one hundred and fifty Indian warriors, who were put to flight, with the loss of twenty-five found dead, besides a number carried off. The women and children fled to a swamp at the first approach of the men, and the warriors soon took shelter under the same cover. Colonel Russell had only three men wounded. Four prisoners were taken, and about sixty horses prepared to remove the women and children, with all their plunder, fell into his hands. The Indians of the neighboring towns had heard of General Hopkins crossing the Wabash, and seven hundred warriors marched to meet him, leaving one hundred and fifty in charge of the woman and children, who were preparing to move off when Colonel Russell arrived. He destroyed everything in the town which he could not bring away, and left it on the same evening.

Captain George Trotter's company (McDowell Calvary) was in Campbell's expedition* against the Mississinawa towns at the head of the Wabash, and was in the heat of the action of the 18th of December, in which the Indians were defeated. Two members of the company, viz: Corporal Henry Riddle and Salem Piatt were killed, and Captain Trotter, Sergeant Byrd Smith and David Steel were wounded. When this company returned to Lexington after the expiration of its term of enlistment, it was given a public dinner.

Recruiting for the regular army was kept up in Lexington during the entire war. A rope-walk which was on the "Woodlands" property, and which ran parallel with the Richmond turnpike, was converted into a barracks,# and used by the regular soldiers until the end of the struggle, At this place, a deserter was shot and buried.

+Old Gazette
*Observer and Reporter
#T.B. Megowan
~General J.M. McCalla

Transcribed by pb, October 1999