Although this is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, it is also the 200th anniversary of the end of the War of 1812. The war made a small impact on Madison County, which had only been created two years before, however there was participation.
War was declared on June 18, 1812 on the Canadian border. The war ended on Dec. 24, 1814, with the Treaty of Ghent. The famous battle of New Orleans was actually fought after the war was over. The Ohio command was given to Gen. William Henry Harrison.
On April 6, 1812, Ohio Gov. Return Meigs, was ordered by the President to assemble the Ohio Militia at Dayton, Ohio to be drilled and prepared to march to Detroit. Gov. Hull of Michigan was commissioned as a Brigadier General, he arrived at Dayton on May 25, and left with the troops on June 1, he was defeated at Detroit on Aug. 16, 1812.
Ohio furnished 1,759 officers and 24,521 enlisted men. During the war, Captains John Moore and Elias Langham were the recruiting officers at London. All able bodied men between the ages of 18 to 45 years old were required to respond. A company of 70 men was raised soon after the war broke out and was sent to Mill Creek in what is now the southern part of Union County and a block house was built. Jonathan Alder was in this company and after remaining there about four weeks he and John Johnston concocted a scheme to break up the camp and return to their homes. They were sent out scouting and after making many moccasin tracks in the vicinity of a mud hole, returned to camp and reported that Indian signs were numerous.
This news created consternation among the men and Alder, Johnson and Andrew Clerno were detailed on picket duty that night. Clerno was informed of the plot, and about 11 o’clock, while the camp was in sleep, all three fired off their guns at an imaginary foe, and rushed back to the fort. A general stampede ensued, the men running like a frightened herd of cattle. The shouts of the officers calling upon them to halt were all in vain. Many ludicrous scenes took place, as well as a few accidents through coming in contact with the trees, while two brave boys plunged across Mill Creek irrespective of danger by drowning. The ruse succeeded, for by 10 o’clock the following morning, all of the men were discharged. Much sport has been made of this event, and many of the worthy pioneer fathers were the butt of jokes throughout their lives.
During the siege of Fort Meigs in May 1813, runners were sent urging the male inhabitants to assemble at certain points. The militia from Madison County hurried to Urbana where a large force was organized. It started for Fort Meigs but after four days forced march they received information that the siege had been abandoned. They were then discharged. Soon afterwards they were called out and marched to Sandusky where they remained a short while. Some were then discharged and the balance returned to Franklinton and then sent home.
The records kept on those participating from Madison County are sketchy, but the official records list the following.
Privates from Jefferson Township: Abraham Johnston, Nehemiah Gates and Thomas Springer.
Others were: David Watson, Nickolas Moore, Reason Francis, Elias Langham, Caldwaller Wallace and Jonathan Alder.
The following men from Madison County have been listed in various places as having served in the War of 1812: John Arbuckle, Frederick Sager, Jacob Johnson, John Johnston, Peter Paugh, Frederick Loyd, Andrew Clerno and David Sidner.
After the war the militia was reorganized. The county was divided into military divisions and certain points were set up for the military to meet and receive instructions in the art of war. Several companies of this class were organized in the county. They were required to perform military duty for seven years, which exempted them from poll tax. Training days among all classes were looked upon with much favor, they were days of recreation, social joys and friendly greeting.
Charlie Miller is the former mayor of West Jefferson and local historian. He can be reached at Charlie_m_miller@yahoo.com.