The War of 1812 is referred to by many as our Second War for
the genealogist it provides another source for family history information
during a period of time in our country’s early history that generally lacks
As the western edge of civilization at this time,
Ohio was the site of
many important battles. Recent settlers defended their land against both Native
American and British forces. Survival skills gained by early settlers—fighting
a harsh environment and wielding a gun—played an important role in minimizing the
duration of the war.
Northeast Ohio and the area around
Cincinnati were important areas for
recruitment for militia. Soldiers were organized by the U.S. government
from local units originally created to defend against the local native
population. Service tended to be short term and men had several short stints of
service. They were called up when a threat was apparent or a campaign was being
organized. Men were also organized into federal units that primarily occupied the
forts that were created during this period.
A series of trails and forts were created in the state to help defend the frontier. The trails would become important routes of migration and trade in later years. For example, a trail ran from
down through Fremont and then to Perrysburg,
where was located. This was a very big
fort for its day and played an important part in the war. From here you could
go further west down the Maumee River to Ft. Meigs Ft.
Wayne or directly north along the
western half of Lake Erie to Detroit.
The route between Cleveland and Perrysburg would become Route 20 in Ohio and the northern route followed closely I-75 up to Detroit from Toledo.
Cincinnati a trail was
made that reached all the way to , a
major trading post at the time. All along this trail, a series of blockhouses were
built that would provide protection for troops during potential Native American
attacks. The locations of many of these outposts would later become towns. Ft.
acted as a barrier from the east and the south. Troop movement in this area was
difficult. There was really no good time of the year to travel through this
area. In the rainy season you had to travel through several feet of water along
with large swarms of mosquitoes. In the winter, a solid sheet of ice ran for
miles. This was a major reason for the direction of the trails created during
this time. The Black Swamp also created a need
for very hardy soldiers. Black
Finding Your Solider
How can you determine whether your ancestor served in the War of 1812? This war tended to accept a much larger age group for service. Check for those who lived in the area that were between the age of 18 and 50. Remember men were in short supply in the frontier so everyone was needed.
A microfilmed index to service records for soldiers and sailors can be found at the National Archives Records Administration (NARA) (M-602, 234 rolls). This listing is for volunteers. Actual service records are currently in the process of being filmed. The records for the Regular army are in “Registers of Enlistment in the US Army 1798-1914” (NARA M223, 81 rolls). In the index, you will find name, rank, organization of unit, dates he was mustered in and out and the state from which he served. Editor’s note: Some muster rolls and other records of
Ohio military activity are
repositories. See related article, “Selected War of 1812 Resources in Ohio .” Ohio
Pension records can be found in two places:
· The “Old Wars” series covers death and disability claims (covered under special Congressional acts) for service during the entire period. The records are organized alphabetically and there is an index (
T-316, 7 rolls). Included is the name, rank, military or naval unit and period
of service. If the person applied for a pension, it will include age or date of
birth, residence and sometimes place of birth. When a widow applied for a
pension it shows her age, place of marriage to the veteran and maiden name. If
the veteran left orphans, the names of the children, ages, and place of their
residence will be listed.
· The “The War of 1812 series” (
NARA, M-602, 234 rolls) resulted from
Congressional acts passed in 1871 and 1878. Due to the late passage of these
benefits, most the people affected had passed on. Included in these records is
a subseries that includes death and disability claims as well as bounty land
warrants. This makes this source a valuable item due to the increased amount of
soldiers covered and closeness to the actual war. The soldier’s information
included in this file shows name, age, place of residence, if married, maiden
name of wife, place and date of marriage, rank, military or naval unit, date
and place of entering the service and date and place of discharge. The widow’s
declaration includes name, age and place of residence of the widow, date and place
of marriage, name of official conducting the ceremony, date and place of the
veteran’s death, his rank, his military or naval unit, the date and place of
his entering the service, and the date and place of discharge. This series is
indexed on Ancestry .
Bounty land records are the final piece of War of 1812 documentation. For those who may have had family that relocated to the territories of
where the bounty land was given, this information is very important. The normal
amount was 160 acres. Unlike other wars, land grants awarded from War of 1812
service could not be sold. This will help in understanding the migration
pattern and hopefully will move you on to your next step in your genealogical
Find War of 1812 Military Bounty Land Warrants, 1815-1858 (NARA M-848, 14 rolls) indexed on Ancestry.