Friday, June 15, 2012

War of 1812 Continued

The Militia from Rockingham County

Rockingham County was assigned the 58th and 116th Regiments. Many companies in the Regiments were designated “Riflemen.” The commanders along the Chesapeake often desired riflemen from the mountain areas of Virginia for their weaponry skills. The local Regimental leaders of the 58th were Lt. Col. George Huston and Majors St. Clair Kirtley, William Beard, and Isaac Pleasants. The Regimental leaders of the 116th were initially led by Lt. Col. John Koontz and Majors William Bryan and Archibald Rutherford. Lt. Col. John Koontz (April 1814)[1] and Lt. Col. George Huston (August-September 1814) were assigned to the 4th Virginia Regiment. Only the County companies captained by Daniel Matthews (116th) and Joseph Mauzy (58th) served along side their local leaders. The 4th Virginia Regiment was station in the Norfolk area.

The first call-up for Rockingham County units was March 1813. A detachment of the 116thth Regiment under Captain James Mallory reported to Col. John H. Cocke at Camp Holly, located northwest of Malvern Hills, to provide for the defense of Richmond. Between July and September 1813, British were very active in the lower Chesapeake appearing at the mouth of the Rappahannock, and engaging the Americans at Four Mile Creek, Lower Chipoacks, Jamestown, Isle of Wright, Mattox Creek in Westmoreland County, and in Princess Anne County. During this period five companies of the Rockingham militia were called to the Richmond area. These companies of the riflemen from the 58th and 116th regiments rendezvoused at McDowell’s Flying Camp at Camp Fairfield close to the City of Richmond. In July 1813, companies assigned to the Flying Camps from Rockingham included those captained by Daniel Matthews (116th), Thomas Hopkins (116th), Robert Hooke (58th), and Robert Magill (58th).[2] As commandant of the Flying Camp, McDowell oversaw the preparation of the troops for rapid deployment. The “Flying Camps” were a military strategy used to defend a large amount of territory. The unit was a mobile, strategic reserve of troops centrally located so they could be sent either to south or north along the Chesapeake to engage the British.

A year later in August 1814, the British moved north up the Chesapeake Bay toward the Battle of Bladensburg and an “engagement” at the Capitol and the White House. At this time, four Rockingham County companies were called-up captained by Abraham Hamilton, Adam Harnsberger (58th), Thomas Hopkins (116th) who had been with the Flying Camp the year before, and Henry Welch (116th). Under Lt. Col. Daniel Coleman of 6th Va. Regiment these Companies met at Camp Mitchell near Richmond and in October marched via Tappahannock and across the Potomac to Camp Snowden in Charles County. Later, the Regiment went to Camp Crossroad at Ellicott Mills, Md. where they were discharged having missed the attack on Baltimore and Ft. McHenry on September 13 and 14 and the retreat of the British down the Chesapeake.

Several local companies were not assigned with other county companies. Captain William Harrison’s Company of the 116th served in the last half of 1814 under Lt. Col. William Trueheart at Bottoms Bridge on the Henrico-Charles City line under the State’s Richmond and Northern Neck commands. For most of March 1814, Captain Joseph Mauzy (58th Riflemen) served with militiamen from Bath County at Norfolk under the command of Major Washington J. Washington (4th Virginia Militia). Under the Norfolk Commands, Mauzy also served in the 5th Virginia Militia and under Coleman in the 6th Virginia Militia.

From October 1814 to February 1815, 11,000 troops were stationed around Richmond and 8,000 troops in the Norfolk area which included the Rockingham County companies. Captain Robert Erwin’s Riflemen Company was stationed at Camps Holly and Porterfield, the latter between Richmond and Williamsburg. At the War’s end, Captain Henry Welch’s Company was at Norfolk and Captain William McMahon’s Cavalry Squadron was at Hampton. The last County companies were called-up in September 1814 (to November 1814). These were captained by John Snapp Troop of the Cavalry and Ralph A. Loftus and both served with the 3rd Regiment, 3rd Division at Camp Fairfield in the Richmond area. Another County unit, called up in August 1814, was captained by William Woodward of the Mounted Infantry and served with the 2nd Corps D’Elite under Lt. Col. Moses Green at Charles County and New Kent County Courthouses. Except for Captain Welch’s Company (116th), none of the Companies above were assigned to the Rockingham County Regiments.

One problem encountered by Commanders was the men who “refused to march.” During the War, several court proceedings before the Rockingham County Court were brought by Commandants. In one case, thirty-two men in the 58thth and 116thth regiments were brought before the Court in August and October 1814 for refusing to “obey the orders of the President of the U.S.” The twenty five men of the 58thth Regiment, commanded by George Houston, belonged to the companies captained by McGill, Price*, Harnsberger, Pirkey*, Keplinger*, and Rueben Harrison*. Seventeen of the twenty-five defendants were in Harrison’s Company. The seven men of the 116thth Regiment now commanded by Archibald Rutherford belonged to the companies of Hopkins, Moffett*, Dove*, Bader*, and Taylor*. The guilty privates were fined $8 per month of required service (equal to their monthly salary) and the sergeants $11 per month (equal to their monthly salary). If the defendant refused or neglected to make payment and had no property to confiscate, the defendant would be imprisoned for one month for every five dollars of the fine. The maximum fine assessed in this proceeding was $96 or more than a year in jail if not paid.

Note: The Captains who are starred above do not appear in Wayland or Butler as Company leaders. Why?? Especially someone as prominent as Reuben Harrison; did the record keeper intend William Harrison? This illustrates the confused and incomplete records of whom and how many men served in the War of 1812 from Rockingham County. In 1810 the population of Rockingham County was about 12,750. Wayland, in his Appendix, includes about 380 members in five militia companies he listed. Members of another two County Companies were found on bringing the number to about 525. This accounts for half the number of the fourteen companies Butler’s Guide lists for Rockingham County. As men between the age of 18 and 45 were eligible for militia duty, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that about ten percent of the population performed some kind of service during the War and some men served more than one tour.

Many on the Company rosters are familiar names of families who settled in Rockingham County and some may have even served in the first war for independence. We wish there were more local materials on this subject. The efforts of Butler on the subject of the Virginia Militia and our efforts to filter his material for Rockingham County still does not provide comprehensive or accurate information on the War of 1812. Even realizing that information on the War will be incomplete, we hope more research can be and will be done locally. If you are interested, there is a Shenandoah Chapter of the United States Daughters of 1812 that will welcome your interest and can provide you with a schedule of events relating to the War.

Finally, some of the military issues in the War of 1812 are similar to our time. Two hundred years later, preparedness of the militia, multiple tours of duty, recognition of those who served, and war fought to the status quo antebellum –are the lessons being repeated.

The following is the list of Rockingham County Captains cited in Butler. If a company is starred, it is also included in Wayland’s history.
Robert Erwin, Riflemen: July 1, 1814 – February 6, 1815 (2nd VM – Ballowe)
Abraham B. Hamilton: August 29-December 8, 1814 (6th VM – Coleman)
Adam Harnsberger: (58th) August30-December 8, 1814 (6th VM - Coleman)
William Harrison: (116th) August 29-December 8, 1814 (1st VM – Trueheart)*
Robert Hooke, Riflemen: (58th) July 8-September 28, 1813 (McDowell)*
       September 29, 1813-January 28, 1814
Thomas Hopkins, Riflemen: (116th) July 7-August 26, 1813 (McDowell)*
       August 29-December 8, 1814 (6th VM Coleman)
William McMahon, Cavalry: August 30, 1814-February 28, 1815 (Maj. Woodford)
Robert McGill, Riflemen: (58th) July 8-September 28, 1813 (McDowell)*
James Mallory: (116th) March 26-August 22, 1813 (Col Cocke)
Daniel Matthews: (116th) July 7-September 28, 1813 (McDowell)*
       September 29, 1813-January 10, 1814 (4th VM)
Joseph Mauzy, Riflemen: (58th) March 1-24, 1814 (4th VM)
John Snapp Troop, Cavalry: September 2-November 19, 1814 (3rd Reg, 3rd Div.)
Ralph Loftus: September 2-November 19, 1814 (3rd Reg, 3rd Div.)
Henry Welch: (116th) July 13-August 3, 1814 (6th VM Coleman et. al.)
       August 3 1813-February 11, 1815 (5th VM Mason & Preston)
William Woodward, Mounted Infantry: August 27-October 3, 1814 (2nd Corp D’Elite) 

[1] Butler believes this may be the John Koontz who was convicted in a general court-martial in March 1814, while assigned to the 4th regiment.
[2] Col. James McDowell was a prominent, educator, lawyer and civil servant from Rockbridge County.

1 comment:

  1. One of my great Grandfathers served out of the 4th Regiment of the Virginia Militia under Lt. Colonels Huston and Wooding during the war of 1812. This is confusing to me, he lived in Shelby County, KY, and had no ties to Virginia that I know of. Shelby County was located in the Virginia Military District, could this be the reason for his service to that state?
    MM- KY