Kentucky in the War of 1812
During the War of 1812, Kentucky supplied numerous troops and supplies to the war effort. Because Kentucky did not have to commit manpower to defending fortifications, most Kentucky troops campaigned actively against the enemy. This led to Kentucky seeing more battle casualties than all other states combined.
With the impending onset of hostilities, the governor of the Indiana Territory, future United States President William Henry Harrison sought military assistance from neighboring Kentucky. After being appointed brigadier general of the Kentucky militia on August 22, Harrison went to attain the force in order to defend the Indiana territorial government at Vincennes, Indiana. Harrison had resigned his military commission in December 1811, but with the help of Kentucky governor Charles Scott, he was able to recruit Kentucky citizens to help defend Indiana; citizens in Ohio and Indiana had heard of the lack of camp provisions and chose not to be burdened by such hardships. As a result, most of Kentucky's militia during the war fought in what was the old Northwest Territory.
A total of 25,010 Kentuckians fought in war, with five out of six men of military age fighting the British and/or the Indians; they were in 36 regiments, four battalions, and twelve independent companies.
|Counties named for fallen River Raisin officers|
|Allen County||John Allen|
|Ballard County||Bland Ballard|
|Edmonson County||John Edmonson|
|Graves County||Benjamin Franklin Graves|
|Hart County||Nathaniel G. S. Hart|
|Hickman County||Paschal Hickman|
|McCracken County||Virgil McCracken|
|Meade County||James Meade|
|Simpson County||John Simpson|
A former gubernatorial candidate and state legislator of Kentucky's, John Allen, on June 5, 1812 was made colonel of the first raised militia in Kentucky to fight in the War of 1812, the 1st Rifle Regiment. At the Battle of River Raisin, Allen was killed while rallying his troops. He was later buried at Frankfort Cemetery, with the states of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio later naming counties in his honor. Eight other officers from Kentucky died at the battle, and had counties named for them. Also among the River Raisin casualties were 400 Kentuckians killed in battle, and eighty who were tomahawked by the Indians after already being wounded from the battle.
Kentucky helped supply the war. A major supply depot for the war was at Newport, Kentucky. Dubbed Newport Barracks, the staging area would later serve as a supply depot for conflicts with Mexico later in the century. Saltpeter was heavily mined in Carter County and at the Great Saltpeter Cave in Rockcastle County. But the most notable mining was at Mammoth Cave, whose saltpeter, considered exceptional quality, was numbered at 570,000 pounds produced during the war.
The war also affected the state's economy. Due to the inability to trade during the war with Britain, "rudimentary manufacturing" was spurred during the timeframe. To help pay for the war, a distilled spirits excise tax was levied during the war, and would not end until 1817. The next such tax would not be levied until the Civil War in 1862.
The War of 1812 had a lasting effect on Kentucky. One consequence was that the Shawnee never again challenged white control of the state. Also, a number of Kentucky's future leaders served in the war. Counting Isaac Shelby's second term, which began just after the outbreak of hostilities, six consecutive governors of Kentucky were veterans of the war. Later governors Charles A. Wickliffe and John J. Crittenden also served as aides-de-camp in the war. Twenty-two of Kentucky's one hundred twenty counties are named for participants in the War of 1812, including nine that were named after soldiers killed at the Battle of River Raisin.
Isaac Shelby, Kentucky's 1st and 5th Governor and Revolutionary war hero, helped lead the Kentucky militia in the War of 1812 to the liberation of Fort Detroit in his 60's, thus leading to the renaming of the fort as Fort Shelby. Shelby also traveled with General Harrison into Canada chasing British Troops led by Major General Sir Isaac Brock and the Indian leader Tecumseh at the battle of Moraviantown or as the Americans called it, The Battle of the Thames.
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