Tuesday, August 18, 2015

War of 1812

The War of 1812 was waged between Great Britain and the United States. British impressment of American sailors [capturing US sailors and forcing them into British naval service], trade restrictions and British support of Indians in opposition of westward expansion.

American forces burned York [Toronto], Canada. In retaliation British forces invading the US capital and burned the White House, Treasury and Capitol. The Navy Yard was also damaged. Torrential rains from a hurricane saved the buildings from total destruction.

The failed British siege of Fort McHenry [Baltimore harbor] in 1814 gave birth to our National Anthem, as lawyer Francis Scott Key watched the bombardment from the British ship where he was being detained.

The final battle of the war at New Orleans in January 1815 gave the Americans an overwhelming victory, but ironically took place after peace had been declared. It made General Andrew Jackson a national hero.

For further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_1812

Family connections: Willis Gulley and Martin Cawby Sr. both enlisted in the Kentucky militia. The Kentucky regiment was assigned to the Invasion of Canada. When the troops reached Urbana, Ohio, word came that the war had ended. The Kentuckians marched back to Georgetown, KY, then went home. Willis received a pension for his service. Martin's widow filed an application, but it was misfiled with Revolutionary War applications.

Martin Cawby Jr. and Lucinda Gulley married in 1858.

William Simmons, eldest son of John and Catherine [Daly] Simmons was with the Treasury Dept. under Washington and with the War Dept. under Adams and Madison. He was not a favorite of his boss, Secretary of War John Armstrong, who managed to get Simmons fired. William became an unsung hero of the war. He followed British troop movements on the road to Bladensburg. He rode to warn US troops and encountered President Madison and his party. The warning to Madison prevented the President's capture. Simmons then acted as a forward artillery observer on the outskirts of Washington. He informed Brig. Gen. Winder that the cannon fire was ineffective, but was dismissed because he was not a soldier. Simmons then rode into Washington and managed to convince soldiers guarding the President's House to save at least one of the two cannons there and get it out of town.

Armstrong was blamed for the Bladensburg defeat and the burning of Washington. Winder was singled out for his inept handling the defense of the capital. Family lore holds that President Madison offered Simmons any job he wanted. William retired to his bounty land in Ohio in 1820. He reportedly left government service in 1815.

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