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Pioneer Life in Dayton and Vicinity
Chapter Six



THE WAR OF 1812.


As early as 1808 "all free, able-bodied citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were enrolled in the militia by company commandants," with the exception of preachers, judges of courts, jail-keepers, customs and post officers, stage drivers, and ferrymen on mail routes. They were required to have a good musket, fusee or rifle, a bayonet, belt and knapsack, two spare flints, a pouch for twenty-four cartridges, or a powder horn, and twenty-four balls. Officers also wore a sword or hanger. In active service the militia were subject to the rules and regulations of the United States Army. Training days and the Fourth of July were the big days for the people. When Colonel Jerome Holt on Saturday, September 18, 1810, called the Fifth Regiment to Dayton for "training purposes," business was suspended, and everybody—men, women, and children—came to see the parade, eat ginger-cake, and drink cider.

"When James Madison was inaugurated President in 1809, he first turned his attention to the troubles with England, and in 1812 war, commonly called the "War of 1812, was declared.  "Benjamin Franklin once heard a person speaking of the Revolution as the 'war of independence,' and reproved him, saying: 'Sir, you mean the Revolution; the war of independence is yet to come. It was a war for independence, but not o/ independence.'"

As early as April, the Indians on the frontier being troublesome, the President issued a call for "one thousand two hundred Ohio militiamen for one year's service." Immediately upon receiving the President's call for the militia of Ohio, Governor Return Jonathan Meigs ordered the major-generals of the Western and Middle divisions to report, with their respective quotas of men, at Dayton on the 29th day of April. Major David Reid ordered the First Regiment, Fifth Brigade, First Division of the Ohio militia to meet at Dayton on the usual parade ground by ten o'clock, on the second Tuesday of April, the 14th, armed and equipped as the law required for battalion muster. At this muster the volunteer bill passed by Congress February 20, 1812, and the President's order calling for volunteers, were read, the officers expecting a sufficient number would volunteer to form a company, but only twenty responded.  General Munger, who had been ordered to raise a company out of this brigade to march to Detroit, then ordered the battalion to assemble on the 16th, at Adams's prairie, at the bend of the river near Alexandersville, and Major Adams was also ordered to report with his battalion at the same time and place. General Munger raised a company of United States Rangers from these two battalions, and gave the command to Captain Perry, who, on the 23d, received marching orders, and left immediately for Laramie.

General Munger, who had emigrated to Marietta from Vermont in 1797, was a typical pioneer general, well loved by his men. At one time, when no one could be found to properly shoe the horses and oxen required to transport the -army stores, he had his own tools and leather apron sent in from his farm and shod them himself.

Early in April of this year Governor Meigs issued an order making Dayton the headquarters of the Western Army, and appointed April 30 as a day of fasting and prayer, on which day religious services were held in the Court-house. On the 14th one thousand four hundred troops were camped here, principally volunteers, under General Gano and Colonel Lewis Cass. On May 1 the first companies began to arrive, and bivouacked on the town common (now Cooper Park), but received what might be called a rather chilly welcome, as no preparations had been made, either by the Government or the citizens, for the comfort of the men. There were no tents, and many were without blankets. By the 18th twenty companies were assembled. Governor Meigs arrived here on the 6th, and was received with a military salute of eighteen guns. On the 7th he reviewed the troops. Soon after his arrival the Governor ordered General Munger to organize troops for the defense of the frontier, and the public stores at Piqua, amounting to upwards of forty thousand dollars, were removed to Dayton.

On May 25 General Hull took command. On the 26th he marched his force of three regiments across and up Mad River about three miles, where "Camp Meigs" was established, and the American standard raised. As the flag un-furled, the troops, forming in a hollow square around it, "expressed their determination not to surrender it but with their lives."

Although war was really not declared until in July, General Hull commenced his march for Detroit on the 1st of June. These being the first soldiers to leave for the seat of war, Governor Meigs and staff, and many people from Kentucky and Cincinnati, as well as almost the entire population of the county, followed to bid good-by to friends. The first word of Hull's surrender, August 15, 1812, was brought to Dayton by one of the teamsters from this town, who, seeing what was being done, took his best horse, made his escape, and hurried to Dayton with the news. When he reached here at noon on August 22, the indignation of the people was great, and there was but little sleep on that Saturday night. By seven o'clock on Sunday morning a complete company of seventy men was enrolled, organized, equipped, and marching under Captain James Steele to the frontier. The only list of names that can be found of those seventy brave men is the payroll while the company was at St. Mary's, and that contains but fifty-two names, just eighteen short of the full number.

On the 26th Governor Meigs ordered Captain William Van Clove's company of Dayton Rifles to march to the frontier west of the Miami, under the direction of Colonel Jerome Holt.

In December great exertions were made to provision the army. Colonel Patterson, forage-master, advertised for fifty ox-sleds and fifty horse-sleds, to be used in transporting supplies, and it was from volunteering, as Curwen says, to drive a team with provisions for the army, when many shrank from the danger, "that our great orator [Tom Corwin], then a lad, afterwards acquired the sobriquet of the 'Wagon. Boy of Ohio.'" In response to a card, dated September 29, 1812, wherein "General Harrison presents his compliments to the ladies of Dayton and its vicinity," the ladies in ten days made about one thousand eight hundred shirts for the army, using the calico furnished by the Indian Department, annuities withheld from the tribes that had taken up arms against the Americans.

The women at home were no less heroic than the husbands, devoting their time while the men were in the army to making the living for the families, which in those days meant, as a rule, much hard work in the fields, as well as in the house. On the day that General Hull moved his troops Lieutenant Gwynne, of the United Slates Army, opened the first recruiting office in Dayton. The soldiers coming and going made a stir, and brought new life, and this was indeed a busy little town.

Peace was declared with England on February 15, 1815, and the Governor of Ohio appointed March 31 as a day of thanksgiving.

Many of the soldiers who had been through this valley for the first time during the war were so impressed with its .rich and beautiful country that they came back to settle. The population increased, new stores were opened, and more houses had to be built. Prices for grain and stock steadily advanced, and the following items from a ledger page in October, 1814, will show some of the current prices in domestic goods:


"Dan'l C. Cooper.

"1.        For ½ Ib. Pepper...............37½

1 oz. Mace .................. 1.00

"10.      1 lb. Y.H. Tea............... 3.00

12 lights Glass............. 1.50

"25.      1 pr Morocco slippers.... 2.75

1 " Stockings............... 1.75

6 Ib. Beeswax.............. 1.50."


            During the war a great deal of money had been made in Dayton, new houses erected, and land platted as far as the Staunton road (the new Troy pike). A ferry was established at the head of Ludlow Street in December, 1814, by Charles Tull, but to cross on it the farmers had to leave their horses and wagons on the north side, and carry their produce. During this year a family by the name of Fairchild came to Dayton. They had one son, Eddy, born in February, 1810, who is still living in Dayton. In 1839 he built the house in which he is now living on Walnut Street, then a forest.

On February 23, 1813, Henderson & Elliott bought of D. C. Cooper the south half of lot 186 (where the Kuhns Building now stands), fifty feet, for fifty dollars, on which they built a one-story frame shop for their business as cabinet-makers. Mr. Henderson lived on Fourth Street near the shop. He afterwards sold his interest to Mr. Elliott and moved to Lafayette, Indiana. Mr. Elliott was a bachelor, and continued to keep the shop until his death. The last few years he did but little work, excepting to turn rolling-pins, on an old foot-lathe in the corner of the shop, as wed-ding presents for his bachelor friends. The one he gave me, made out of cherry, is still in use. That shop was a great place for the boys of forty or more years to congregate at early candle-lighting to discuss politics and play practical jokes on each other. The sketch on the opposite page is from an original drawing of the old shop as it was when Henderson & Elliott occupied it. In 1862 it was partitioned into four small storerooms, and the wooden awning added. When this change was made, and the bunk occupied by James Elliott removed, it was found that quite an impression had been worn in the boards against which his head had rested for so many years. In 1882 the shop was taken down to make room for the present Kuhns Building.


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