Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Orders Issued from Pelham During the War of 1812

Recently, while preparing for a workshop presentation on using the Web to find "primary" sources to support historical research, I ran across a couple of fascinating Pelham-related items in the "Witness to Early American Experience" collection developed jointly by the New-York Historical Society and New York University. One of them contains orders issued from Pelham during the War of 1812. The material is a laid paper fragment containing orders issued by Samuel M. Richardson on June 23, 1812 from Pelham. It is from The Richard Maass Collection, Fales Library, NYU (Identifier 055-002-A-0759).

Below is a link to the image of the item, followed immediately by a transcription of the order:


"Pelham 23. June 1812

Pursuant to orders from Colonel Miltinow [sp. ?] Capt. John P. White will detach from the 7th Company, now under his command (in any way he may think proper) five privates and one Seargeant, for the service of the United States. The number of men to be taken from the 2d Battallion is forty seven Officers included, which is to form one Company. You will make out a list of the names & hand them to the subscriber without loss of time

Per Order

Saml M. Richardson

{ Major 2d Bat. 8th Regiment

To Capt. J. P. White"

To provide a little context, following a number of actions by the British in the early 19th century, Americans were seething at British slights including Britain's refusal to reverse decrees imposed during the Napoleonic Wars that continued to interfere with American shipping. With American trade in shambles and the young nation's economy at serious risk, many began to beat the drums of war. On June 18, 12, President James Madison singed into law a Congressional declaration of war against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

It would seem that the above-quoted order issued five days later was part of the effort by the young United States to federalize portions of the New York State militia for the defense of coastal New York. It was not until September 1813 -- more than a year later -- that the war reached Pelham's doorstep in a brief naval battle off its shores.

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