Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Whirlwind Tour of a Tour of Duty

Thanks to the details of an article abstracted from the September 28, 1876, issue of the New Lexington Tribune, we have a general idea of John Jackson’s service in the army during and after the War of 1812. Admittedly, there are conflicting reports, even within this article—but for now, we’ll focus on the timeline of John Jackson’s service.

Here’s what the tour of duty looked like for John Jackson, based on an excerpt from the book, Pioneers of Perry County Ohio by 1830:
            Mr. Jackson was in active service in the [Pennsylvania] Militia when it was first called on at Erie in 1812.
            On May 3, 1813, he enlisted in the regular Army in the 4th U.S. Rifles. On October 20th, he embarked with his company on keel boats at Pittsburgh to descend the Ohio and ascend the Mississippi bound for Prairie Du Chien. Arriving at Bellefontaine, three miles from the mouth of the Missouri River, on they went to camp for the winter….
            They left Bellefontaine about May 16, 1815, and landed June 19 at Prairie Du Chien…. He assisted in building Fort Crawford, which commenced work on July 4, 1816. On May 31, 1817, he was ordered to Bellefontaine where he remained until he was honorably discharged on May 31, 1818.
John Jackson evidently started out with the militia in the state where he resided. Thanks to his father’s decision to move from his native New York in 1804, John’s early adult years were spent in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Like many of those serving during the outbreak of the War of 1812, he originally participated as part of his state’s militia, rather than in the United States Army.

John’s travels, while in the army, can easily be traced on the map I referred to yesterday—one in which several of the forts of that era were labeled. It is interesting to review the information on the fort he helped build, Fort Crawford in the old settlement town of Prairie du Chien in Wisconsin.

It is quite possible that the timing of the mission to which John Jackson was assigned was influenced by the aftermath of the British siege of Prairie du Chien, since the British did not abandon their position until having received word, in the spring of 1815, of the Treaty of Ghent.

One of the most helpful details of this narrative is that of the time John Jackson spent building Fort Crawford. It appears he remained in that Wisconsin location until the end of May, 1817. If that report is correct, the notes I’ve found online about John’s marriage to Sarah Howard Ijams in 1816 could only mean one thing: she would have had to be with him in Wisconsin, not Missouri! Since I’ve found absolutely no mention of any possibility of marriage in Prairie du Chien, I suspect that 1816 wedding date would not apply to John and Sarah.

It might, however, have something to do with Sarah’s mother.

Above left: Map of the Upper Mississippi River During the War of 1812. Number key:
   1: Fort Bellefontaine, site of original stop of John Jackson's company
   2: Fort Osage
   3: Fort Madison
   4: Fort Shelby (taken by British and renamed Fort McKay; replaced by Fort Crawford)
   5. Battles of Rock Island Rapids and and Credit Island
   6. Fort Johnson
   7. Fort Cap au Gris
Map attributed to Bill Whitaker at en.wikipedia, courtesy of Wikipedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


  1. OK, I think I need to go back and reread because I'm confused: is the marriage potentially in Wisconsin a GOOD thing (for you) or a setback in your quest?

    1. Actually, Wendy, it becomes a handy secondary source to refute any claim that John and Sarah were married in 1816. Since I cannot locate any actual documentation of their marriage at this point--neither in the Saint Louis area nor the county of Sarah's origin in Ohio--the only thing I've found regarding the marriage is online sources making the statement. For those which give the date as 1816 (and the location as Bellefontaine), it seems quite improbable that this would be correct, as John was not there from mid-May 1815 to end of May 1817. None of these online mentions give the location of the marriage as Wisconsin, but Missouri. And, as we have already discovered, man cannot be in two places at the same time :)

      I'm thinking this is a GOOD thing.

      Of course, it doesn't explain where they actually were when they got married, nor when, but at least it seems safe to eliminate that 1816 date.

  2. I know so little about the War of 1812-1815!


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