Tuesday, September 11, 2018

John Brown Remember's Petersburg's War of 1812 Volunteers

After president James Madison referred to Petersburg as the Cockade City of the Union for their volunteer service in the War of 1812, the name stuck. Apparently the city's volunteer militia wore cockade badges on their hats as a distinctive marker, thus prompting the president's remark.

Madison was not the only American who found the Petersburg Volunteers extraordinary. Sent to the Old Northwest (present day northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan) to fight the British and their American Indian allies, Capt. Richard McRae and his volunteers fought with valor at the Siege of Fort Meigs in May 1813.

Meeting the Petersburg Volunteers during their service in the Old Northwest was a 12 or 13 year old John Brown. Brown, born in Connecticut in 1800, moved with his family to northern Ohio when he was a boy. During the War of 1812, Brown assisted his father Owen, who provided the United States forces in the area with beef. While working in this role Brown came into contact with the Petersburg men.

During Brown's incarceration for his leading role in the Harper's Ferry raid Brown was visited by some of the Virginia militia guarding the jail. His remarks were reported in the New York Herald on October 31, 1859. The correspondent wrote:
"As the men of the Continentals kept together, they crowded somewhat on him, but Old Brown shook hands with them and said, 'Gentleman, I will shake hands with all of you,' which he did. He continued, 'I am very glad to see you gentlemen, indeed. I once served, though not enrolled, with a company of yours. It was in the late war with England, as it is called, in 1812. But very few of the poor fellows ever returned to their homes. They were a picked body of men, and I remained near them for a time on the Northwest frontier, and it was my happiness on several occasions to render them aid and assistance in their sufferings. They were mostly all of them from Petersburg, in this State, and they were so equal sized that when any small party of them were together I could recognize them at any distance.The Virginian companies were then the finest that I had ever seen."

The mentioned Continentals were the Continental Morgan Guard, a militia unit from nearby Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia. Their name came in honor of Revolutionary War general Daniel Morgan. Founded in 1855, their uniforms modeled those of their Continental Army ancestors. They were depicted in Thomas Satterwhite Noble's famous 1867 print of Brown exiting the Charles Town jail and blessing slave baby which is pictured below, yet likely never happened.

No comments:

Post a Comment