Wednesday, February 8, 2017

James Bentley, a British veteran who fought for the US in the War of 1812

From Find-A-Grave
I was poking around local and genealogical websites looking for clues as to whether Lt. John Anderson of the 19th Infantry in 1812 was related in some way to Colonel John Anderson of the 2nd Michigan Regiment of Militia. Since Lt. Anderson, a West Point graduate whom I featured in my last "people of 1812" post, had settled in the Detroit area before being called back to the flag, I thought it possible he might be the son or nephew of the other Anderson. Such family connections were not uncommon during the war, and formed an important social tapestry underlying many events.

At any rate, I found this entry for a Monroe County veteran, Private James Bentley very interesting. Seems Bentley was a British deserter from the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801, who found himself caught up once again in the tides of war in 1812. He is listed as a Private in Captain Richard Smyth's Company of Cavalry, Legionary Corps of Michigan. Part of this unit, under Cornet Isaac Lee, was stationed in Frenchtown (Monroe) Michigan and fled south to Urbana, Ohio instead of surrendering. The distinction between the Legionary Corps and the Militia is important. The Corps was made up of volunteers, and Bentley may well have armed and equipped himself as a cavalryman for the war with Britain out of his own funds.

(From "Veterans Buried in Monroe County" Monroe Evening News, Saturday, April 17, 1951 [contributed to Genealogy Trails by Don King] accessed 2/7/2017)

James Bentley . Born Nov. 5, 1784 in England, he died Aug. 13, 1864. He married Amanda Barker, born Dec. 12, 1800, on Jan. 31, 1816. She died Apr. 18, 1889, in Monroe. They are buried in St. Paul's Cemetery in Monroetown. Mr. Bentley served as a non-commissioned officer under Gen. James Winchester and his wife was a witness to the war. As a British soldier at the ill-famed Battle of Copenhagen, Mr. Bentley deserted, as did many of his comrades, and in 1803 came to the River Raisin. He joined the militia company here of Capt. Issac Lee. After Winchester was defeated here, Bentley and 16 others from Frenchtown joined Gen. W.H. Harrison's force at Maumee and fought in the two sieges of Ft. Meigs. He frequently ran the gauntlet of British and Indian fire to bring water from the river. Harrison sent him to carry messages from the besieged fort to other posts. After the war he carried the mail from Maumee to Detroit, on horseback or, in wet weather, by canoe. With James Knaggs and Medard Labadie, both of Frenchtown, he was in the Battle of the Thames and all three witnessed the death of Tecumseh at the hands of Col. Richard M. Johnson of Kentucky. His wife came to Frenchtown with her stepfather, H. Brooks, and Stephen Downing in 1815. The Bentley and Downing farms adjoined.
Here is the roll of Cornet Lee's troopers. They would have been attached to Major James V. Ball's Squadron of Light Dragoons and fought in most of the engagements and skirmishes of the 1813 campaign in the Northwest.
(From Diane Wolford Sheppard "Michigan Militia Members Serving in the War of 1812 – Part 2" in Michigan’s Habitant Heritage, Vol. 34, #2, April 2013, accessed 2/7/2017)

Detachment of Richard Smith’s Cavalry Troops attached to The Legionary Corps of Michigan Militia commanded by Isaac Lee, p. 62 [This detachment was stationed at River Raisin and fled to Urbana, Ohio, after Hull surrendered Detroit. They participated in the fall expeditions against the Native-American villages in Indiana Territory]
 Isaac Lee, Cornet, 1 May 1812
John Ruland, Corporal, 1 May 1812
James Bently, Private, 1 May 1812 
Scott Robb, Private, 1 May 1812
James Robb, Private, 1 May 1812
Robert Glays, Private, 1 May 1812
Saml Dibble, Private, 1 May 1812
William Hunter, Private, 1 May 1812
John Murphy, Private, 1 May 1812
Michael McDarmid, Private, 1 May 1812
Louis Hunter, Private, 1 May 1812
Samuel Young, Private, 1 May 1812
 Francis Moffett, Private, 1 May 1812
Silas Leviton? Private, 1 May 1812
Orin Roades, Private, 1 May 1812
James Knaggs, Private, 1 May 1812
Louis Drouillard, Private, 1 May 1812