The War of 1812

Our second war with England (the war of 1812) began with a disgraceful surrender, but ended with a brilliant victory. The surrender of Hull and his army in Detroit at the very inception of the fight, with the attendant loss of the fair Territory of Michigan, was very discouraging, and cast a gloom over the whole country. The loss of Michigan entailed necessarily upon the country the loss of control of all the Northwestern tribes of Indians, and soon they poured down in great numbers upon our exposed frontiers. When the tocsin of war was sounded, Kentucky, with her sister States, sprang to the rescue with all the might and chivalry of her trained veterans. It is said that she and Virginia supplied more than twice as many volunteers as all the rest of the States. Christian County also, though comparatively a new county, supplied her full quota of men and material. When, after the disaster to Hull, the call was made for 1,500 men to join Gen. Hopkins at the rendezvous at Louisville, Capt. Allsbury promptly responded with a company from Christian, and afterward followed the fortunes of that gallant officer in his campaign against the Indians. Others had previously joined the gallant Daviess, and were with him’ at Tippecanoe, while some had joined themselves to Gen. Harrison, then Governor of the Indiana Territory. The names of these gallant heroes have long since faded from the memory of man, and the only definite chronicle of Christian County in this Northwestern campaign was some time after, when Perry with his little fleet engaged the enemy on Lake Erie. A call was made for 150 picked Kentucky volunteers to man the fleet. Among these were three men known to be from Christian, Ezra Younglove, John Anderson and Washington Dunkerson, who were assigned to the ship Niagara. It is related of one of them, perhaps Dunkerson, that in the hottest of the fight, and when the colors had been shot away, he climbed into the rigging and re-nailed them to the mast, in the face of a murderous fire from the enemy. Years afterward, and while Col. George Poindexter was a member, the Legislature of Kentucky voted a gold medal to each of these heroes. On the obverse of this medal was the name of one of the soldiers, and on the reverse the ship Niagara in action, and the date of the engagement.

This decisive victory, preceded as it had been by the successful defense of Fort Stephenson by Croghan, and followed by the crushing defeat of Proctor and his Indian allies at the battle of the Thames, virtually put an end to the campaign, if not the war. There was some desultory fighting along the Eastern and Southern borders of the Union, but in these Kentucky was not a participant.

Just before the final battle at New Orleans in 1814, Col. Posey, who is supposed to have been an officer in the regular army, camped with his command on Judge Ben Shackelford’s place, near the town of Hopkinsville. While here he was joined by Maj. Reuben Harrison, with perhaps a battalion of Christian County troops. Among these was a company commanded by an eccentric old Dutchman named Chrisman, who lived close by the camp, and when the orders came to move was at home with his family and in bed. Not being able to read the language of his adopted country, or perhaps any other, when the note was received he jumped out of bed, and, not waiting to dress himself, rushed over to his nearest neighbor, Malcolm McNeil, in his shirt and drawers. Learning its import, he rushed back home in breathless haste, and when within hailing distance began calling out in broken English: “Vife! vife! Pe quig! pe quig! vy don’t you? Maig haste! maig haste, and maig some piskit mit a haf pushel! Der Kurnel zends vord mit dem ledder vat I shall pe in New Orleans py taylite mit my gumperny! Maig haste, Katrina ! vy don’t you maig haste? ” The bellicose old Teuton led his command to New Orleans under Maj. Harrison, not ” py taylite,” however, and there, with his “gumperny ” contributed much to the success of the battle.

While camped on Judge Shackelford’s place, two of Col. Posey’s men died with the measles and were buried near by. Among others who were at the battle of New Orleans may be mentioned Dr. John McCarroll, grandfather of Judge Joe McCarroll, who was a surgeon on the staff of Gen. Jackson and had been with him through most of his Indian campaigns, and Roger Thompson, father-in-law to Mr. George O. Thompson of Hopkinsville. There were doubtless many others, but their names have not been obtained, and no mention of them is to be found in the official records.

Thus, as we have said, the war that opened with the disgrace of Hull’s surrender closed in a blaze of glory at New Orleans under Gen. Jackson. It is not known just how many men went from Christian County, but it is pleasant to think that she was fully and ably represented upon almost every field, from the beginning of hostilities to the conclusion of peace.

Kentucky as a State was well represented in the Black Hawk war, but we have heard of but one man from Christian County who participated in it, and he fell a victim to the fortunes of war. Green Robinson, the youngest son of James Robinson, the old Revolutionary soldier, was killed in this war. The event is mentioned in a preceding chapter of this work.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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