War of 1812


Portrait of Pushmataha by Charles Bird King, Washington, D.C., 1824. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pushmataha_high_resolution.jpg.

Pushmataha (c1764-1824) was born near Macon, Mississippi into the Choctaw tribe, who were at war with the Creeks for the first thirteen years of his life. Raised as a warrior, Pushmataha proved to be a skilled fighter but also a skilled diplomat. He became a leading chief of his tribe and early on was involved in formal negotiations with the Americans. The resulting 1802 Treaty of Fort Confederation resulted in the redrawing of the Choctaw boundaries to the gain of the United States.

In 1813 a faction of the Creeks, the Red Sticks, sought to repel American influence on their culture and sovereignty. After acquiring guns from the Spanish settlement at Pensacola, Florida, the Red Sticks where attacked by members of their own Creek tribe. The faction then retaliated by charging Fort Mims in Alabama where Creeks and white settlers had fled for protection. After defeating the American militia posted at the fort, the Red Sticks killed every person inside the fort.

The War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain was underway and the general public became convinced that the British had armed the Red Sticks, even though it was the Spanish who had provided the weapons. The United States Army sought out Chief Pushmataha’s help.

The National Parks Service recounts Pushmataha’s Army service:

In the aftermath of the 1813 Red Stick attack on Fort Mims, Pushmataha met with U.S. General Thomas Flournoy in Mobile and gained recognition as a Captain in the U.S. Army. Pushmataha led a grand council meeting of several thousand Choctaws in September 1813 to unite the Choctaws and call for volunteers to fight against their old Creek enemies. By October, Pushmataha commanded a battalion of four companies and enjoyed the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The Choctaws experienced significant fighting alongside their American allies during the battle at the Creek village of Econachaca (the “Holy Ground”) on December 23-24, 1813. For this success, Pushmataha and his warriors returned to their homes to great acclaim. Pushmataha led additional Choctaw fighting forces against the Redsticks along the Tombigbee River in the spring of 1814. Promoted to the rank of brigadier general, he and his men then joined Major Uriah Blue’s detachment that patrolled the Gulf Coast that fall and captured Pensacola in November.

After the War of 1812, Pushmataha no longer participated in war but continued to represent his people in diplomatic meetings with the United States.


Washington Bowker

Washington Bowker, Pine Grove Cemetery, Brunswick, ME
Photo of Washington Bowker’s tombstone, Pine Grove Cemetery, Brunswick, ME courtesy of Barbara A. Desmarais, May 22, 2019.

Washington Bowker (1781-1858) was born toward the end of the American War for Independence in Georgetown, Maine (now Phippsburg), where his parents, Joseph and Elizabeth (Cowing) Bowker had settled from Scituate, Massachusetts. They named their son, born in the newly formed United States, for the American commander-in-chief and future first president, Gen. George Washington.

The 1810 census shows Bowker was a farmer living in Brunswick. From 1812 to 1814, he served as a wagoner in Lt. Col. Charles Thomas’s regiment, out of Bath. As a farmer, Bowker would have been adept at his role as wagoner, which was to transport supplies needed by the soldiers, everything from food to weapons. Bowker not only had to drive the wagon, but maintain it and the mule or horse team that pulled it.

After the war he returned to his Brunswick farm. Over his lifetime he was widowed three times, but was survived by his 4th wife and at least three children. He is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick.


William Burrows, Jr.

Enterprise & Boxer by Abel Bowen_1838
USS Enterprise and HMS Boxer by Abel Bowen, 1838

Lieutenant William Ward Burrows, Jr. (1785-1813) was born near Philadelphia, the son of the commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Burrows joined the Navy as mid-shipman in 1799, serving aboard the USS Portsmouth in France, then the USS Constitution, where he was made acting lieutenant during the war in Tripoli. His next post was the command of a small gun-boat on the Delaware River, enforcing the embargo law. After a year-long furlough to India and back, he was given command of the brig USS Enterprise. Sept. 1, 1813, the ship sailed from Portsmouth, N. H., up the Maine coast to patrol for British ships which had been actively harassing American vessels.

On Sept. 5th, not far from Portland, the Enterprise encountered the British brig HMS Boxer, commanded by Capt. Samuel Blyth. The ensuing canon-fire resounded in Portland whose citizens watched from shore. When the 45-minute battle was over, Capt. Blyth was dead; Capt. Burrows, also shot, lived just long enough to receive the enemy’s surrender, then succumbed to his wounds.

Both ships docked at Portland where the American and British wounded were treated. On Sept. 9th, the people of Portland buried both captains, side by side, in Evergreen Cemetery.

For more about the battle between the Boxer and the Enterprise go to Maine Military Museum.


Kervin Waters

Kervin Waters tombstone from Findagrave.com, submitted by Maxine Kravitz.
Kervin Waters tombstone from Findagrave.com, submitted by Maxine Kravitz.

Kervin Waters (1795-1813) was a midshipman on the USS Enterprise during the Sept. 5, 1813, battle off the Portland coast between the Enterprise and the HMS Boxer that killed both ship captains.

The epitaph on his tombstone tells the rest of his story:

Beneath this marble
by the side of his gallant commander
rest the remains of
a native of Georgetown, District of
Columbia, who received a mortal
wound, Sept. 5, 1813
while a midshipman on board the
U. S. Brig Enterprise
in an action with his B(ritish) M(ajesty’s) Brig Boxer
which terminated in the capture
of the latter.
He languished in severe pain
which he endured with fortitude
until Sept. 25, 1813
when he died with christian
calmness and resignation.
Aged 18
The young men of Portland
erect this stone
as a testimony of their respect
for his valor and virtues.

To learn more about the battle and see the graves of Kervin Waters, William Burrows, Jr., and Samuel Blyth go to Eastern Cemetery.


Seth Wilson

1822 Cumberland County deed from James Wilson and Abraham Toothaker to Seth Wilson, Yeoman of Harpswell.

Private Seth Wilson (?-1848) of Harpswell was a veteran of the Revolutionary War who also served during the War of 1812. A member of Thomas’s 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Militia, he was charged with guarding the newly built fort at the mouth of the New Meadows River. Tradition maintains his orders were to sink any vessels, British or otherwise, that refused to stop and report. When a local fisherman ignored the guard, Wilson fired into the fishing boat, sinking it. Thereafter all ships stopped to report.

Seth Wilson survived the War of 1812 and seems to have returned to farming. Maine Revolutionary War Pensioners records indicate he had been receiving his pension since 1843. When he died in 1848, the pension then went to his wife, Ruth Sterling.

A search through military records lists veterans named Seth Wilson in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.

For locations of three existing War of 1812 forts and batteries go to Road 1812.