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This and That - War of 1812 part 2 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:10 AM

Did you know a president of the United States once slept in Fort Jennings? He was Pres. William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of our USA. He was General William Henry Harrison at the time. Harrison was on his way to assist Gen. Winchester at Fort Defiance, when he stopped for overnight at Fort Jennings on the banks of the Auglaize. He was said to have 3000 troops with him.

 

How they all spent the night at that fort is rather puzzling.  Most of them had to camp in the low flat beech bottom.  The famous historian, Knapp, described the camp-over in his writings.  It was October, 1812. “Troops marched as long as there was light.  The ground of the encampment (Ft. Jennings) was on the side of the Auglaize River, in a flat beech bottom, which was nearly covered by the water from the rain, which fell in torrents during the whole night.  The troops had no axes and the tomahawks could not affect the green beech trees.  Those who could find a dry log were lucky; the others were obliged to content themselves with sitting on their saddles at the roots of the trees. Being separated from the baggage, they had nothing to eat or drink.  The men were peevish and the General (William Henry Harrison) seated by a small fire in the rain directed one of his officers to sing an Irish glee. The lyrics of the song and the conduct of the officers soon produced good humor and cheerfulness in the camp.”
Lt. Col. William Jennings was from Kentucky. He came from a long line of military men.  Jennings had served under Gen. Harrison at the battle of Tippicanoe in Indiana Territory. After that battle Col. Jennings returned home, only to be called back to duty in 1812.  He was to command the Second Regiment of the Kentucky Volunteer Militia.  After they were mustered in at Frankfort, Kentucky, the troops rendezvoused at Cincinnati before joining Harrison’s army at Ft. Saint Marys.  On 21 September 1812 Lt. Col. Jennings was ordered to proceed down the Auglaize toward Ft. Defiance, to build an intermediate supply post and escort provisions to Gen. James Winchester on the Maumee River. After advancing about 30 miles, Jennings saw signs of Indians, and his spies reported the enemy was at Ft. Defiance. He then halted on the banks of the Auglaize and began building block houses. During the building of the fort, the men slept in tents.
Some of the correspondence sent from one militia commander to another describes how tough things were, traveling through the Great Black Swamp.  Some are as follows:

22 October 1812…..Harrison to the War Department…. “I am not able to fix any period for advance of troops to Detroit. It is pretty evident, that it cannot be done on proper principles until frost shall become so severe, as to enable us to use rivers and margin of lake, for transportation of baggage on ice. To get supplies forward through a swampy wilderness of near 200 miles in wagons or on packhorses, which are to carry their own provisions, is absolutely impossible.”

While Col. Jennings was ordered to build the fort. (On about an acre of land), Harrison ordered Pogue to construct a road between the Jennings camp and Ft. Defiance. The logs for the walls of the fort were laid horizontally, there being an abundance of beech, elm and other trees nearby. A spring inside the fort enclosure assured water in case of attack and a further provision was a covered passageway to the river’s edge. This was a rather unique feature, and one not noted in other stockades.

The War of 1812 was fought on many fronts, including at sea. Already in August 1812, the Constitution (Old Ironsides) defeated the British ship, the Guerriere.  The Constitution now rests in a place of honor in the bay at Boston. Almost everyone is aware of Commander Oliver Hazard Perry and his command of the victories against the British on Lake Erie.

Then there was the River Raisin Massacre.  This was near what is now Monroe, Michigan.  The first battle of the River Raisin was a victory for the Americans. Then a second battle ensued. The British attacked again. Some men were taken prisoners by the British, while others were taken captive by the Indians. This ended in a massacre of many Americans, including one company of the Kentucky militia, originally stationed at Fort Jennings.

Then there was the time when the Americans, invaded Canada.  Some said it was to free the Canadians from the British rule. At any rate the Americans sacked York (present day Toronto) and burned the government buildings. The British swore to get even by later burning our United States Capitol and The White House. in August of 1814. The red glow of the burning capital was visible as far as Baltimore, 40 miles away. The British fleet’s next target was Baltimore, the fourth largest city in the United States. The British Admiral Cockburn was trying to force Fort McHenry into surrendering. The battle waged for 25 hours.  Francis Scott Key was on a ship in harbor and watched the sight of the mortar bombs and the rockets red glare. When they saw the American flag still waving over Fort McHenry, Key was inspired to write a poem, which was later put to the tune of an old British drinking song and eventually became “The Star Spangled Banner.” While all this was going on, some of the troops back in Fort Jennings were getting bored for lack of activity.  So Col. Jennings, in October of 1812 sent a foraging expedition, under Captain William B. Jones, to the Indian towns of Upper and Lower Tawa on the Blanchard River.  Capt. Jones and members of his Ohio Militia Company, finding the towns deserted, feasted on the Indian food supplies for about a week.  They then burned the Indian towns and all the remaining foodstuffs before returning to Fort Jennings.

The War of 1812 ended with The Treaty of Ghent (Belgium) on 24 December 1814  but word didn’t reach back in the states until much later. So the Battle of New Orleans was still fought on January 8. The Americans did not win the war but they did not lose it either. The Native Americans were the biggest losers. Tecumseh was a great Native American who spoke English.  White settlers who encountered him were struck by his strong features and innate dignity. His brother, often called the “Prophet” believed he had  visions.   His  teachings  were  not  always in the best interest of their people. Tecumseh, the great chief of the Shawnees had been trying to unite the Indian tribes.  He was killed in the battle of The Thames River in October 1813.

The War of 1812 played a big part in the formation of west central and northwestern Ohio. Several soldiers who served in the War of 1812 returned to live or purchase land in the Fort Jennings area Andrew Russell served under Col. Jennings.  He later lived with his family in the block house in the S/E corner of the fort. They later settled at Fort Amanda.  He died at Fort Amanda and his widow married Samuel Washburn.

Several veterans of the war later lived on what is now Road 22-S near Road T. They were Thaddeus Harris (6 in household), James Thatcher (3 in household), William Cochran (7 in household) and Jim Cochran (3 in household). Judy (Feathers) Schroeder discovered that her ancestor, Elias Wallen became a land owner in this part of Putnam County. He acquired 69.5 acres of land on 9 August 1924 and 33.15 acres on 15 August 1927. Wallen was sometimes spelled Walden/Waldron/Walling and Wallan. He had served in the War of 1812 as a corporal in the New York Militia. Jennifer (Laldd) Klir discovered her ancestor, Ellison Ladd was also a War of 1812 veteran. He was a private in Ross County Roll of Ensign Amaziah Morgan’s Company. He came to Jennings Township with his son Edward, in 1834 or 1835.
Judy Schroeder wrote a fictional account of the feelings of Meema, a Native American Woman. This story gives her feelings of all the happenings in the area before lndians were “relocated” out west.  This story can be found on page 6 of the recently published, Bicentennial History of Fort Jennings, 1812 – 2012. This book can be found in the Delphos Public Library and the Putnam County District Library in Ottawa.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, November 06, 2012 3:44 PM
 

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