Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Order of Battle for General Green Clay's Kentucky Militia


I recently received a copy of the 1891 Adjutant General's report of Soldiers of the War of 1812 (reprinted for genealogists under the title Kentucky Soldiers of the War of 1812 in 1969). One of the quirks of War of 1812 research is that neither the federal or state governments have complete records of who enlisted and fought for the United States during the war. Late in the 19th Century many state governments released compilations of what records they had, but this makes for a very incomplete picture. However, balancing out the mass of old muster rolls with other historical sources can provide us with a better picture of the organizations that marched to war in the Old Northwest. 

Of particular interest are the two Regiments of Kentucky Volunteer Militia commanded by General Green Clay. These 1500 men marched to the relief of Fort Meigs in April 1813, and over 700 of them met capture or death in the process. However, up until now no one has reconciled the units as mustered with their combat organization. Doing this allowed me to note that:
  • The establishment strengths of companies could vary widely, from 178 men to 40.
  • The Regiments were numbered: Boswell's was the 10th and Dudley's was the (lucky) 13th. The number of Dudley's Regiment was thought to be lost until I discovered it in a finding aid for the University of Michigan Library's Green Clay Papers.
  • Two companies, Thomas' and Arthur's, are listed in both regiments. The rolls show the same officers, but Arthur's company is listed at two  different strengths. In Thomas' case, it's just because he landed on the wrong side of the river and fought with Dudley's men.
  • The established strength of both regiments is far in excess of the authorized strength of 1500 men. Two other regiments of KY militia were called up at the same time in March, which would have presumably given Gov. Shelby a 3,000 man KY Division of 2 Brigades, 4 Regiments, and 8 5-company battalions if he was following French 0rganization.
  • The rolls include completely seperate lists of men from prisoner of war returns from the War Department, which may account for the strength inflation.
  • Boswell's Regiment had 11 or 12 companies, and Dudley's had 9 or 10. 10 companies and 1000 men was the established strength for United States regiments during the War, and the War Department encouraged state militias to raise regiments according to these guidelines.
  • Descending the Maumee River, General Clay's 1200 men were loaded onto 18 flatboats, which gives us an average of 67 men per flat. This is borne out by accounts that state Clay himself got stranded with 50 men of Peter Dudley's Company.
  • McAfee's history states that the first three companies to rendezvous were given pack horses and sent express to relieve Fort Meigs. These were approx. 300 men under Major Johnson of Boswell's Regiment, including the 87 officers and men of Sebree's Company.
  • Letters reveal that all or nearly all the men were equipped with US muskets. The two spy companies were issued 1803 Harpers Ferry rifles from Federal stores.
  • Despite the Volunteer terminology, most of these men were draftees, although William Johnson (a substitute in Boswell's Regiment) states that morale was extremely high.Many of the survivors volunteered to stay past their enlistments and march into Canada with Harrison.

This list should be pretty interesting to wargamers setting up scenarios for the Battle of May 5th, as well as genealogists wondering what their ancestor's units got mixed up in. I'll probably follow up with a post concerning the other American units of the Northwest army. I'll include an overview of the 17th/19th/26th/27th/28th Regiment of Infantry, which was a smelting down of two brigades' worth of regular infantry outfits to make one small battalion, which in turn was absorbed into the 3rd Infantry Regiment after the war!

Brigadier General Green Clay's Brigade, Kentucky Volunteer Militia
Staff:

10th Regiment, Kentucky Volunteer Light Infantry
Lt. Colonel William E. Boswell
Field and Staff: unknown, about 12 officers and NCOs.
Strength on paper: 37 company officers, 903 rank and file
Est. Strength on May 5:
Johnson's Battalion (detached, at Fort Meigs): 300 men.
Boswell's Regiment: 400 men.
minus:
--Dudley's Company (separated with General Clay): 50 men
--Thomas' Company (landed with Col. Dudley): 68 men
--Galbraith's Company (ditto): about 12

Company of Spies (about 12 picked men)
Captain John Galbraith 

1st Company  (4 officers, 114 men)
Captain Peter Dudley

2nd Company (3 officers, 77 men)
Captain Ambrose Arthur* [also listed in Dudley's Regt]

3rd Company (3 officers, 61 men)
Captain John Philips

4th Company (3 officers, 93 men)
Captain Thomas Metcalfe

5th Company (3 officers, 85 men)
Captain John Baker

6th Company (3 officers, 71 men)
Captain John Duvall

7th Company (3 officers, 72 men)
Captain Thomas Evans

8th Company (3 officers, 83 men)
Captain William Sebree

9th Company (3 officers, 65 men)
Captain John Thomas

10th Company (3 officers, 82 men)
Captain Manson Seamonds

11th Company (3 officers, 60 men)
Captain Isaac Gray

12th Company (3 officers, 40 men)
Captain Edmond Bacon

13th Regiment, Kentucky Volunteer Militia
Lt. Colonel William Dudley
Field and Staff: 2 Majors, 1 Adjutant, 1 Quartermaster, 1 Paymaster, 2 Surgeons, 1 Quartermaster Sergeant, 1 Sergeant Major, 2 Private Servants.
Total Staff: 12.
Strength on paper: 30 company officers, 1192 men.
Est. Strength May 5: 800 men,
plus Allied Indian Scouts (7 warriors)
Captain Samuel Price's Company, 1st US Light Artillery (30 men)

Company of Spies (Captain Leslie Combs and 12 picked men)

1st Company (3 officers, 108 men)
Captain Armstrong Kier

2nd Company (3 officers, 132 men)
Captain James Dyametto

3rd Company (3 officers, 120 men)
Captain John Yantis

4th Company (3 officers, 178 men)
Captain Archibald Morrison

5th Company (3 officers, 122 men)
Captain Joseph Clark

6th Company (3 officers, 127 men)
Captain Dudley Farris

7th Company (3 officers, 113 men)
Captain Ambrose Arthur* [also listed in Boswell's Regt]

8th Company (3 officers, 74 men)
Captain Joel Henry

9th Company (3 officers, 128 men)
Captain Thomas Lewis

10th Company (3 officers, 90 men)
Captain John C. Morrison
From the above strengths, compiled from muster rolls contained within the 1891 Kentucky State Adjutant General's Report and "Kentucky Troops in the War of 1812" by A.C. Quisenberry we get a very interesting view  of the two regiments which marched to the aid of General William Henry Harrison. Robert B. McAfee and most other sources state that the brigade set out with only 1500 men, and that Green Clay had only 1200 present before the battle. One possible explanation may be that the muster rolls in the Adjutant General's office were different from prisoner returns submitted by the war department. There's some haunting things listed on these returns ("killed in the slaughter-pen, May 5 1813" and "Never heard of after the battle", for instance), but the names from War Department archives are different from those in the Kentucky records.

The answer may lie in how militia units were recruited. The sedentary militia during the 1812 period was a list of all the able bodied men in the county. The muster rolls for the sedentary militia companies were similar, but different, than rolls for the companies that actually mustered into Federal service. Many men who were unwilling to go hired substitutes, like William Johnson of Delaware, Ohio who joined Thomas' Company of Boswell's Regiment. General Clay was in a hurry to reach and relieve the garrison of Fort Meigs, which at the beginning of April was reduced to about 500 effectives.