The War of 1812 took place between 1812 and 1815. Fought on both land and sea, the war was the result of Britain’s confiscating American ships and forcing the sailors into forced recruitment. Massachusetts citizens were largely against America’s declaring war on Britain. Britain, at first, spared Massachusetts of attacks, hoping the commonwealth might join them in the fight. President Monroe, angered at Massachusetts’ resistance to enter the war, refused to send soldiers to defend the state. Although the war officially began in June 1812, the British had been attacking American ships for years and impressing Americans.
During the War of 1812, Massachusetts suppled 43,321 infantry men, 446 cavalry men, 2,714 artillery men and 200 men in miscellaneous troops for a total of 46, 681 men. The document offered here represents the general orders for the Massachusetts Militia’s providing troops from several brigades, including the Barnstable Brigade.
At one point, during the war, the British blockade ship, H.M.S. Spencer demanded a ransom of $6,000 from Barnstable. The local Committee of Safety requested arms from Boston to thwart the British. In response, four cast-iron cannons were sent to Barnstable. A stand-off occurred and the British left empty handed.
One of the highlights in the document offered here are two diagrams of troop offerings. While these offerings were made a month before the official war declaration occurred, they were undoubtedly aimed at protecting Massachusetts.
2 pp, 6 ¼ x 7 ¾, Headquarters, Plymouth, 4th, May 1812, Division Orders, “The Major General directs that the general orders of the 25th April last for detaching 692 men, officers included from the 5th Division be carried into effect and returns made of the detached troops without delay. The First Brigade will furnish two Mayors of Infantry and 321 men including company commissioned and non-commissioned officers. Also one Captain of Artillery and 23 non-commissioned officers…The Barnstable Brigade will furnish one Colonel of Infantry and 328 men including company commissioned & non-commissioned officers. Also two Lieutenants of Artillery & 114 non-commissioned officers…One field piece will be assigned from the detached captain’s company of artillery.
“By order of the Major General 5 Divisions.
“Signed N. Haywood aid de camp to Maj. Gen
“Headquarters, Bridgewater, 11th May 1822
“In compliance with the foregoing orders three hundred and twenty-three men, officers, including will be detached from the Infantry Brigade agreeable to the following detail.
[Diagram of details appears.]
“One captain and twenty-three non-commissioned officers…from the artillery of said Brigade. In conformity to the Annexed Division Orders, one field piece will be assigned from the detached Captain’s Company.
“Battalion of Artillery [Diagram of details appears.]
“Adjutants of the several Regiments & Battalions will be punctual to transmit a list of the drafted men without delay.
“By order of the Brig. Genl, 1 Brig, 5 Divi.
“Signed Jn M. Goodwin, Mass[achusetts] Brigade.”
Folds and expected toning. But a great example of the war that helped solidify America’s independence from Britain and probably one of the most understated wars in American history.
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