Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2nd Lt. James Dalliba, US Regiment of Artillery

Second Lieutenant James Dalliba, who would later serve in the elite Ordnance Department of the US Army, was a first-hand witness to the debacle of General William Hull's 1812 campaign on the Detroit River. He took part in the Battle of Brownstown on 9 August 1812, as the officer in charge of one of two artillery pieces that Colonel James Miller took along with his column, a 5.5 inch howitzer. The gun crew assigned to the howitzer was composed of a squad from the First United States Infantry-- but more on that later.

A brief summary of his career:



Here's a biographical sketch from:
Cutter, William Richard. New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial; A Record of the Achievements of Her People in the Making of Commonwealths and the Founding of a Nation. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co, 1913.
Born 1785 in Granby Connecticut, James Dalliba was appointed as a West Point cadet in 1808. He graduated 1811, 9th in his class and was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the First Regiment of Artillery in March of that year.  In 1813 (after being paroled and exchanged by the British) he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant, then transferred to Ordnance where he was quickly promoted to Captain and Major, with the staff appointments of deputy commissary of ordnance and then assistant commissary general of the department. 

He served as commander of the US Arsenal at Watervliet, New York-- an important facility for the casting of artillery pieces during the war. When Congress abolished the Ordnance Department in 1821, he was returned to the First Regiment of Artillery (itself reformed from the 1814 Corps of Artillery) as a Captain. 

Edit: According to its wikipedia.org page, Watervliet did not produce cannon barrels until the 1880s. It remains an active Federal arsenal, and still produces large caliber guns. In the early 19th century it produced carriages, drag ropes and accouterments for field guns--but more research is needed.

In 1824 he resigned his commission and went into the iron business: he is credited with building the first iron furnace in Port Henry, New York, which became an important iron mining and foundry center in the 1820s. Here's the text from a NY State Historical Marker:
Major James Dalliba and John Dickerson, two industrialists based in Troy, specialized in the manufacture of ordnance. Receiving shipments of Cheever ore, they had the opportunity to test its merits at their furnace operations. Impressed with its quality, Dalliba and Dickerson purchased 4,000 acres of land in the northern part of Port Henry in 1824. Dalliba then constructed Moriah's first blast furnace on the property, a short distance from the lakeshore. Although this charcoal-powered furnace produced only 15 to 18 tons of iron per week, it signalled the beginning of serious iron mining and processing in Moriah. (Warner and Hall, pg. 153) The ore itself was taken from the Dalliba Mine located about three-quarters of a mile from the furnace on the Dalliba property. The pig iron produced in his furnace was shipped to Troy. Dalliba's presence at what would become known at "Port Henry" inspired a new phase of settlement in the northern village area.

In 1827, the Dalliba furnace was converted to a stove and hollow works - the first foundry in northern New York State. Following the death of James Dalliba in 1832, the complex was sold to Stephen Keyes and then passed on to Lansing and Powell, who upgraded the stove plant and established a new furnace closer to the lake shore. The earliest iron industry-related building in Moriah, an altered stone casting house (not eligible for listing due to loss of integrity), located at the north end of Tunnel Avenue, is from this period.
--From Waymarking.com
The technical officer turned industrialist died in 1832.