War of 1812
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Culpeppers in the
War of 1812

The so-called War of 1812 actually spanned several years, with skirmishes starting as early as 1807 and not ending until 1815. But in so far as involvement by Culpeppers is concerned, most were not involved until 1813 when a new theater of operations opened in the south.

The narrative that follows was taken from a much larger work on the War of 1812, published by the Center for Military History. We have included descriptions of only those campaigns that probably involved Culpeppers.

Mississippi Territory (Alabama)

Andrew Jackson, an ardent expansionist and commander of the Tennessee militia, wrote the Secretary of War that he would "rejoice at the opportunity of placing the American eagle on the ramparts of Mobile, Pensacola, and Fort St. Augustine." (Map 17) For this purpose Tennessee had raised a force of 2,000 men to be under Jackson's command. Congress, after much debate, approved only an expedition into that part of the gulf coast in dispute between the United States and Spain, and refused to entrust the venture to the Tennesseans. Just before he went north to take part in the Montreal expedition, General Wilkinson led his Regulars into the disputed part of West Florida and, without meeting any resistance, occupied Mobile, while the Tennessee army was left cooling its heels in Natchez.

Map 17: The Southern Frontier in the War of 1812
Map 17

An Indian uprising in that part of the Mississippi Territory soon to become Alabama saved General Jackson's military career. Inspired by Tecumseh's earlier successes, the Creek Indians took to the warpath in the summer of 1813 with a series of outrages culminating in the massacre of more than 500 men, women, and children at Fort Mims (Baldwin County, Alabama, north of Mobile). Jackson, with characteristic energy, reassembled his army, which had been dismissed after Congress rejected its services for an attack on Florida, and moved into the Mississippi Territory. His own energy added to his problems, for he completely outran his primitive supply system and dangerously extended his line of communications. The hardships of the campaign and one near defeat at the hands of the Indians destroyed any enthusiasm the militia might have had for continuing in service. Jackson was compelled to entrench at Fort Strother on the Coosa River (Calhoun County, Alabama), and remain there for several months until the arrival of a regiment of the Regular Army gave him the means to deal with the mutinous militia. At the end of March 1814 he decided that he had sufficient strength for a decisive blow against the Indians, who had gathered a force of about 900 warriors and many women and children in a fortified camp at the Horseshoe Bend of the Tallapoosa River (Tallapoosa County, Alabama). Jackson had about 2,000 militia and volunteers, nearly 600 Regulars, several hundred friendly Indians, and a few pieces of artillery. The attack was completely successful. A bayonet charge led by the Regulars routed the Indians, who were ruthlessly hunted down and all but a hundred or so of the warriors were killed. "I lament that two or three women and children were killed by accident," Jackson later reported. The remaining hostile tribes fled into Spanish territory. As one result of the campaign Jackson was appointed a major general in the Regular Army.

Presumably, the Culpeppers in the militias of Georgia and Mississippi, and possibly South Carolina, were involved in these conflicts:

Virginia and Maryland

Fighting also broke out during 1813 along the east coast where a British fleet blockaded the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, bottling up the American frigates Constellation at Norfolk and Adams in the Potomac. (Map 18) Opposed only by small American gunboats, the British under Admiral Sir John Warren sought "to chastise the Americans into submission," and at the same time to relieve the pressure on Prevost's forces in Canada. With a flotilla, which at times numbered fifteen ships, Rear Adm. Sir George Cockburn, Warren's second-in-command, roamed the Chesapeake during the spring of 1813, burning and looting the prosperous countryside. Reinforced in June by 2,600 Regulars, Warren decided to attack Norfolk, its navy yard and the anchored Constellation providing the tempting targets. Norfolk's defenses rested chiefly on Craney Island, which guarded the narrow channel of the Elizabeth River. The island had a 7-gun fortification and was manned by 580 Regulars and militia in addition to 150 sailors and marines from the Constellation. The British planned to land an 800-man force on the mainland and, when low tide permitted, march onto the island in a flanking movement. As the tide rose, another 500 men would be rowed across the shoals for a frontal assault. On June 22 the landing party debarked four miles northwest of the island, but the flanking move was countered by the highly accurate marksmanship of the Constellation's gunners and was forced to pull back. The frontal assault also suffered from well-directed American fire, which sank three barges and threw the rest into confusion. After taking 81 casualties, the British sailed off in disorder. The defenders counted no casualties.

Map 18: Chesapeake Bay Area 1812-1814
Map 18

Frustrated at Norfolk, Warren crossed the Roads to Hampton where he overwhelmed the 450 militia defenders and pillaged the town. A portion of the fleet remained in the bay for the rest of the year, blockading and marauding, but the operation was not an unalloyed success. It failed to cause a diversion of American troops from the northern border and, by strengthening popular resentment (Cockburn was vilified throughout the country), helped unite Americans behind the war effort.

Presumably, the Culpeppers in the militias of Maryland, Virginia and possibly North Carolina were involved in these conflicts:

New Orleans: The Final Battle

In late 1814 and early 1815, the Battle of New Orleans occurred. However, less than 4,000 US troops were involved, and it appears that they probably were not from any Militias that the Culpeppers were in.

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015

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