Sunday, November 4, 2012

1812 Memorial (Eastern Promenade)


A little known cemetery exists on Portland's Eastern Promenade.  It is maintained with care by the City, but the average citizen of Portland has never even heard of it.

The above photo shows the mass grave of 21 American Prisoners of War from the War of 1812.  It's likely that these soldiers have no living descendants or anyone who would visit the cemetery to pay familial respect, but this blog post would seek to remedy that, if it can indeed be done.  200 years is a long time to try and trace descendants of young men who died far from home.

Portland didn't directly participate in the War of 1812.  In fact, New England (and especially Maine) was very much against the War, and almost enacted secession proceedings because of the escalation to this war.  The reason being, it interfered with our lucrative trade deals (both on record and behind the scenes).  Portland privateering, however, did help to increase tensions with the British, ultimately escalating the conflict. 

Of course Portland did serve during the War, as it always had, as a port of entry for ships going to other places for battle.  Our timber export business was thriving at this time, and such timber was used for building a variety of ships, homes, and other structures, all over the eastern colonies, and the motherland in Britain.

But after the Revolution, our obligation to ship timber abroad had ceased, and the new nation could then focus its efforts on building the new Empire.  However, the new United States still participated in timber trade with the English, but now as a financial endeavor.  Several Portland businessmen, like the McLellan brothers, built quite a fortune on the backs of such trade, which dramatically ended when the Embargo Act was passed in 1807, forcing the McLellans and others to close business, sell their properties and default on debts.  The embargo was a response to the British quelling our trade with the French.

Despite the lack of battle seen by Portland during the War, one particular battle still resonates on Portland soil.  The Battle of Queenston Heights, which took place in Canada in October of 1812, was the first major skirmish with the British, and resulted in British victory.  Many American POWs were captured and imprisoned in Quebec.  Upon parole one month later, a group of these soldiers were to be exchanged in Boston, so were placed upon the ship HMS Regulus on November 19.  Several of the soldiers became very ill with malnutrition, dysentery and fever, so the ship took anchor in Portland harbor just before Christmas, under a truce flag, whereby the soldiers could receive care at the Town Hospital (then on the Eastern Promenade) prior to the ship continuing on to Boston.

There were 20 soldiers from the ship who died in passage, and another 26 soldiers who were cared for at the Town Hospital, beginning on 29 December (see image below, referred to later as the "POW List").  One of the soldiers who had died in passage, Barney Freelove (See #18 on the right below), was buried at the 1812 Monument.  I wonder if any of the other DOAs were also buried there?  8 of the 21 soldiers buried at the mass grave were listed as unknown.  I wonder if we can deduce which of these men were of the eight?

SOURCE:  WAR OF 1812:  PRISONER OF WAR RECORDS (NARA)
"THE POW LIST"

21 of these soldiers perished within a month, and were buried at the mass grave on the Promenade (pictured above).





A stone placed in the center of the gravesite in 1887 carries a bronze plaque with the following inscription:

Within this enclosure
were buried 21 soldiers
captured by the English
at the Battle
of Queenston, Canada
in the War of 1812
and died in hospital here
while on their way to
Boston for exchange.

This post will attempt to assemble some information about these soldiers, in the event that other researchers are looking for them:

Unfortunately, eight of these soldiers are listed as unknown in identity, which forced me to focus only on the 13 identified by markers at the burial site.  Some soldiers were found on the NARA file entitled U.S. Army, Registers of Enlistment, 1798-1914 (such file is referred to hereafter as the "NARA File").  After going through all records, I feel that I've been able to successfully identify five of these eight unknown soldiers, and they are listed at the end of this post:

Starting with the 12 marked soldier graves...


Barrows, John
PRIVATE
6 US INFANTRY

No matching records found yet, in a search online and on Ancestry.  A different John Barrows appears in the Captain Eastman's Calvary in Wiscasset, ME in 1814.  The heirs of a "Major John Barrows" of the Revolution sold property to a John Underwood in 1818.  Many other records appear for this rather common name.  None can be definitively tied to this soldier as yet, and nobody of this name appears in the NARA File.  Now, looking closely at the POW List, the only name remotely resembling this would be James Brower.  This name also produces no results in a search of the NARA File.


Curtis, Davie
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

No matching records found yet, in a search online and on Ancestry.  Four different soldiers named David Curtis appear in the NARA File, each with data provided which would conflict with this soldier's story.  Looking closely at the POW List, the only name resembling this would be Daniel Curtis.  This name also produces conflicting results.


Davis, James L.
CORPORAL
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File, with the appropriate data on the Queenston Battle.  However,  he was listed as James L. Davis, here and in the POW List above, yet the City lists him as James P. Davis.  He was the only one of the sick soldiers who was a corporal.  The rest were privates. This soldier is showing on the NARA File as having enlisted in the 13th US Infantry, yet the stone created by the City erroneously lists 23rd.


Goodenow, Ezekiel
(1774-1813) 
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in June of 1812, immediately prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 13th US Infantry.  According to Ancestry records, he was born in 1774, in Princeton, Massachusetts, the third of ten children to Edward Goodnow and Lois Rice.  He married Sophia Harrington in 1801, Salem, Massachusetts.  He died in January of 1813.



Freelove, Barney
(1781-1813) 
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in Auburn, Maine as of May 1812 for a period of 18 months in the 13th US Infantry (yet the City has him listed as having been in the 23rd).  He was born in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and was 5'10 3/4".  He married Sally Pettis in Freetown, Massachusetts in 1802.  He died January 1, 1813, according to the NARA File, but he appears on the POW List above as having died in passage, so he must have died prior to December 29th.


Hewes, Daniel
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

I found a Daniel Hews in the NARA File, but this one had enlisted in February of 1813.  I also found an Ancestry Tree which shows a Daniel Hewes born in 1776, married twice in Boston, with four children born by 1809, and no death date or military record yet attached.  This could be a match. 


Hight, Isaac
PRIVATE
3 US ARTILLERY

I found an Isaac Hight in the NARA File, enlisting for five years in May 1812.   No further information.


Hull, Warren
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

I did find one Warren Hull on the NARA File, who had enlisted in June of 1812, but no further information is attached to him.  Unfortunately, in online searches, this soldier's name has been eclipsed by the more famous Warren Hull who was a young soldier in the Revolution, and fought later in the War of 1812, and died in 1838 at his estate in Western New York.  Now, looking at the POW List, it appears his name was more likely WARNER Hull.  Yet no results found on this name either, when searching the NARA File.


Newton, Asa
(1785-1813)
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in June of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 23rd US Infantry.   He is noted to have died 11 Jan 1813 of "St. McCarby's Ditch", whatever that means.  The NARA File makes reference to a pension file for this soldier, in which there may be further detail.  Ancestry Family Trees show that this soldier was born in Barnard, Vermont, and that he had a son named John T. Newton (1810-1873) who was born in Maryland and died in Missouri, and had three children and four stepchildren.  So far this is the only soldier profiled here who appears to have likely descendants living today.


Sloan, Sylvanus
(1796-1813)
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in June of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 23rd US Infantry.   He is noted to have died 19 Jan 1813, making him one of the last bodies to have been placed in the mass grave.  Reference in the NARA File was made to a pension case.  An Ancestry Family Tree dictates that he was born in 1796 in Rhode Island, and was only 17 when he died.  He likely had no descendants.


Smith, Alexander
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in July of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 13rd US Infantry.   He is noted to have died 15 Jan 1813.  Due to his very common name, I'm unable at this time to find additional information.
 

Smith, Benjamin
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in July of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 23rd US Infantry.   He is noted to have died in Jan 1813.  Due to his very common name, I'm unable at this time to find additional information. I'm not certain whether he is related to Alexander Smith above.


Vandermark, Cornelius
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

This soldier was located in the NARA File.  Now, in looking at the POW List above, it appears the shipmate listed him as Charles Vandermark.  This name produces no results.

***

Now, for some soldiers who are listed in the POW List who are also in the NARA File as having died in Portland, yet don't show on the City's list of buried soldiers.  They are likely of the eight "unknown soldiers".




Lord, Joseph
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in July of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 18 months in the 23rd US Infantry.   He is noted to have died in Portland in Jan 1813. 




Rice, William
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in July of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 13th US Infantry.   He is noted to have died in Portland in Nov, 1812. While the ship didn't dock in Portland until December, the fact that Portland is listed as place of death makes this soldier a likely burial at the Eastern Promenade site.  Note was made of a pension case, so there may be more detail there.



Snow, Daniel G.
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in May of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 13th US Infantry.   He is noted to have died on Jan 1813 in Portland, so it's very likely he's buried at the Eastern Promenade site.  Note was made of a pension case, so there may be more detail there.



Witt, Ira
PRIVATE
23 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in July of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 23rd US Infantry.   He is noted to have died in Portland in Jan 1813.



Wood, Thomas F.
PRIVATE
13 US INFANTRY

This soldier was easily located in the NARA File.  This roster has him enlisted in July of 1812, just  prior to the Battle of Queenston, for a period of 5 years in the 13th US Infantry.   He is noted to have died on Jan 1813.  This was during the time that the ship was docked in Portland so it makes this soldier a likely burial at the Eastern Promenade site.  Note was made of a pension case, so there may be more detail there.

THREE OTHER UNKNOWN SOLDIERS ARE HERE, AND MAYBE AT SOME POINT WE CAN DECIDE WHICH OF THE GENTLEMEN LISTED IN THE POW LIST ABOVE CAN BE LINKED TO THEIR PLAQUES, ONCE AND FOR ALL...





Special thanks to Margaret Colford, who took the photographs featured on this page.

Anyone is welcome to view my FindAGrave Memorial Page for this cemetery.

21 comments:

  1. Scott, this is so awesome !!!
    I'm so proud of you for doing all this for your fellow man.
    Brought a tear to my eye.
    A grateful one tho.

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  2. Found another one from the list. B.R. Blanchard appears to be Benjamin R. Blanchard a farmer from Dutchess County, New York who enrolled in 7 May 1812 in the 15 USI. Notations are that he was paroled as a POW to Charleston, after being captured at Queenston on 13 Oct 1812, and paroled at Charleston 25 March 1813.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, but I think it's clear is not one of the unknown soldiers who died in Dec. 1812.

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  3. Joel Johnson enrolled 27 Jul 1812 in Capt Scott's 23 USI. He is noted as being a Queenstown POW, paroled at Quebec, died December 11 or 12th on board transport. There is reference to a pension case, but I did not find it (I know many pension records are being digitized at the moment).

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  4. Joseph Mills enrolled in the 23rd USI on 13 June 1812 joining Captain Scott. He was born in 1769 in England! He was discharged from the service on 11 Aug 1815 for some sort of disability. He is not one of the unknowns.

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  5. I could not find an enlistment record for Anthony Cromer, but was able to find a death record from New York City for 13 Jun 1815 for that name, having died in the Bowery, and with a date of birth of 1788, which would be within range for a War of 1812 soldier. I could not locate any other records for that name.

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  6. Benjamin Ackley - I was able to find his enlistment record. He enlisted on 3 Aug 1812 in the 13 USI. It is noted that he was paroled at Queenstown, and die on transport in November or December 1812. There is a reference to a pension case. The only pension record I find under that name was an index card that indicated a date of act as 1832, and last date of 1852, out of Albany NY. This may mean he did have a widow or family to claim a pension. I am also wondering if he died in November or early December, would they have brought his body all the way to Portland or bury him at sea?

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  7. Samuel Allen is listed as enlisting on 15 Jul 1812 in the 23rd or 25th USI. He is listed as being on the roll of POWs taken at Queenstown and died during transport in December 1812 (I can't make out the day 19?) There is mention of a pension file, but although there are many pension files with this name, I could not find one that matched this Samuel Allen.

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  8. Found the NARA record for Wm M. Stuart (listed above as Wm M. Stewart). It does not give his enlistment date, but does state that he was in the 15 USI under Captain Mill. He was listed on the roll of POWs taken at Queenston, and paroled at Quebec, died June 1813 at Charleston.

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  9. Elisha Hughes (listed above as Elias Hews) was a laborer from Amsterdam, NY who was born about 1787. He enlisted and joined the 25 Rifles under Capt D. Scott. There is no date of enlistment, but he is listed as being on the role of American Prisoners captured at Queenton. He was paroled 25 Mar 1813. There is an Elias Hews listed in the 1820 Census as living in New York, New York, Ward 10.

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  10. J. Van De Bogart (listed above as J.V. DeBogert) is shown as enlisting in the 6 USI, no date is given. He is listed as being on the roll of POWs taken at Queenton and paroled in Quebec. He died on transport November, 1812.

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  11. The NARA record for Gardner Stratton alias Stratten indicates he enlisted in the 23USI on 23 May 1812 for 5 years. He was born in Bridgehampton, Suffolk County, New York in 1788. He is listed as one of the POWs parolled at Quebec on November 19, 1812, and embarked on the 20th for Boston aboard the Regulus, having died in transport. There is notation to "see pension file." The only pension record I could locate was a bounty land warrant for 160 acres issued to Jeremiah Stratton as "brother of other heirs" of the soldier. Gardner is listed in all these records as a Corporal, not a Private.

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  12. William Green enlisted in the 6 USI. No date is given. He is noted as being taken prisoner at Queentown and paroled at Quebec, dying on board transport in December 1812. No further information was found.

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  13. John Knapp enlisted in the 1 USI on 24 March 1812 for 5 years. He is noted to be present for MR on 31 July 1812 and 31 Oct 1812 as well as 30 Nov 1812 (but see DOD below). Prisoner of War of the English 13 October 1812 taken at Queenstown and paroled at Quebec. Died on transport 28 November 1812 on board transport.

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  14. Joseph Hues alias Joseph Hews, Jr. shown above as Joseph Hews Corporal, enlisted as a Private in the 13 USI on 25 April 1812 for 5 years. He is listed as being on the roll of POWs taken at Queenston and paroled at Quebec. He died on board transport 9 December 1812

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  15. John Harris, shown as J. Harris on the list above, enlisted 30 Oct 1809. He is listed on the M.R. 31 Dec 1812, as a prisoner of the English having been captured at Queenstown 13 Oct 1812, paroled at Charleston 25 March 1813.

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  16. I did find the enlistment record for Daniel Curtis. No date of enlistment, but he enlisted in the 23 USI under Scott. He is noted as being on the list of POWs taken at Queenstown, and is noted to have died January 1812 {sic}

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  17. Oliver Sabin or Sabins enlisted on 14 May 1812 for 5 years. No further military information is available. There is an Oliver Sabin from Chenango County New York who can be found in the 1810-1860 census with his family. He was married to Olive Upham, on 2 Jan 1800. This may be the same Oliver.

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  18. Abner Turner was located in the NARA file as having enlisted on 2 May 1812 for 8 months, assigned to Captain H.B. Armstrong's unit. No further information is noted other than a reference to Book 669 (a pension record?).

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  19. The information that you provided was thorough and helpful. I will have to share your article with others.
    Bronze Plaques

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