Sunday, January 7, 2018

Riverhead, New York Soldiers in the War of 1812

While I was researching recently at the Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead, New York I came across the following rather unusual record in the Ackerly record set of notebooks, Volume 15, pages 142-144.  Mr. Ackerly went around the area and copied legal documents of the time before the County or State kept a copy of them.  Several of my ancestors are listed in this rather unusual and interesting document.  The document is dated 1813 and 1814, so, I am guessing this had to do with the War of 1812?  Time to do some historical research since I don’t remember anything about it except that this was a War with England and it was when the White House was burned.

1812 musket
                                                                                                                   musket photo from Military Heritage
The War of 1812- a few highlights for perspective:
  • James Madison was President
  • The President signed a declaration of War against Great Britain on June 18, 1812
  • The House and the Senate were bitterly divided on the issue of War
  • One issue was trade restrictions with countries such as France imposed by the British (Naval superpower at the time)
  • There were issues with Canada (a British Colony) and the Native Americans (who were seeking help from the British to fight the American colony expansion)
  • The War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1815
I am not a historian and as in any conflict there are so many more issues than what I have listed above.  I can understand how towns along/near the waterways were at danger since this was a major Naval battle of the time.
                                                                                               (click on images to enlarge)
1812 page 11812 page 21812 page 3          

Know all Men by these Presents that Zacharias Hallock, James Gardiner, Richard Brown, David Horton, Abraham Luce, Phinehas Benjamin, Jedediah Corwin, Nathaniel Wells, Joseph Wiggins, Jason Aldrich, Benjamin Youngs, Isaac Reeve, David Williamson, John Jennings, James Terry Jr., Thomas Wiggins, Samuel T. Raynor, Jacob Benjamin, Chapman David, Higby Raynor, David Edwards, Henry Conkling, Luther Tuthill, Calvin Cook, Daniel Terry Jr., John C. Terry, Barthalomew Collins, Jonathon Dimon, John Clark Jr., Nathan Corwin, David Howell, Daniel Edwards Jr., Richard Skidmore, William Horton, Thomas Corwin, Israel Wells, Christopher Youngs, Luther Youngs, Thomas Youngs, Selah Corwin, William Hallock, Benjamin Horton, William Horton and Hezekiah Skidmore all of the Town of Riverhead in the County of Suffolk in the State of New York are held and firmly bound unto Daniel Youngs Jr., Benjamin Edwards, Josiah Reeve, David Warner, David Brown and Ezra Hallock of said Town in the sum of One Thousand Dollars lawful money of said State for which payment well and truly to be made and done we bind ourselves our heirs, executors and administrators Jointly and severally firmly by these presents.  Sealed with our Seals and dated the tenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirteen.

Whereas Richard Platt Esquire Commissary of the Military stores of the State of New York by and with the consent of the Governor of said State, hath through his deputy Henry P. Dering Esquire delivered to the above named Daniel Youngs Jr., Benjamin Edwards, Josiah Reeve, David Warner, David Brown and Ezra Hallock, the following arms, ammunition and Military stores belonging to said State-That is to say, Fifty muskets, Fifty Bayonets, Fifty Cartridge boxes, Fifty Bayonet belts, Fifty gun slings, one hundred and fifty flints, Fifty prickers & five gun screws with six boxes containing the said munitions of War and fifteen hundred fixed musket cartridges and we the above named Daniel Youngs Jr., Benjamin Edwards, Josiah Reeve, David Warner, David Brown and Ezra Hallock have delivered to the above named Obligors the above said Arms, Ammunition and Military Stores.  Now the condition of the above obligation is such, That if the above bounden obligors shall Keep the said Articles above mentioned securely and without damage and shall upon the request of the said Daniel Youngs Jr., Benjamin Edwards, Josiah Reeve, David Warner, David Brown and Ezra Hallock return or cause to be returned to them the above enumerated Military Stores in as good order as the same now are (excepting the loss or damage thereof by the inhabitants in actual service in case of invasion or other emergency without the fault or neglect of the dais Obligors or either of them) then the preceding Obligation to be void and of no effect, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.
Signed Sealed and delivered in the presence of
  • Nathaniel Warner
  • Joshua Terry
(Legal Signatures of 50 men listed above)

These are to certain that I Josiah Reeve captain of the exempt company have demanded and received of Joseph Wiggins the Gun and Accoutrements that were drawn from the Arsenal at Sag Harbor within mentioned.
Witness my hand February tenth A. D. 1814
Josiah Reeve

I was able to find a website entitled 1812 History with additional information and great pictures of muskets, prickers, etc. from the time period.  I learned that a ‘pricker’ was a Y shaped musket tool that could be used as a screwdriver and to prick vent holes in the cartridge.

I believe the men whose names are in green lettering are my ancestors.  I am proud that they were ready to protect their families, the area of Riverhead and this relatively new country called America. It was interesting to learn what the men were given and how they were expected to care for their equipment.  I guess I should now check to see if any of them received pensions as a result of the War of 1812.  What an interesting document and an amazing find!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,



  1. So many of these people are my ancestors. Also, reflecting on that time period, there is an historical marker about an attack on Long Island by British troops. The memorial is located at the corner of Church Lane and Sound Ave. There is also an exhibit at the Nagles house @ Hallockville of two cannonballs, from that skirmish, that were loaned by my father.

    1. Thank you Geoff for the information about the Memorial. I never heard about that. I will need to check that out the next time I am back there.

  2. There were three skirmishes - one in Wading River, one at Pennys Landing in Northville, and the one at Luces Landing, now Iron Pier, Jamesport. The one at Pennys Landing, I think, involved some thirty-seven British causalities. There are also the stories of Joshua Penny, who tried to blow up a British ship with a submarine "turtle." It's interesting.

    1. Thank-you for sharing! Great information. I would love to hear the story about Joshua Penny. Do you have more info on the skirmishes?

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  4. Samuel Terry Hudson, of Riverhead, wrote an account of the skirmishes at Penny's and Luce's landings. I don't know if I've ever seen a copy of it or not, but off the top of my head I can't recall the details. Suffolk Historical probably has a copy.

    Joshua Penny was the son of Edward Penny, Jr. of Indian Head, Cutchogue, and related to those of Pennys Landing. He wrote an autobiography which used to be available online. I just googled it though and, again, I can't find it. His turtle ran aground off Arshamomaque beach and was destroyed by the British. One man drowned, and Joshua Penny was arrested and transported to Halifax, later to be released in a prisoner exchange. Following that event the British fired on Sag Harbor. In terms of the blockade, though, the War of 1812 was a significant event. It was written that if not for the sea many would have starved.

    (Trying this a second time because I couldn't find an edit button. Hopefully this one is a little better.)

    1. Thank-you for the information! I will have to do some more research. Wish we'd learned more of the local stories in school. That would have made History more exciting for a lot of people.

  5. So well presented
    John Jacobs

    1. Thank-you Jake! It was such an amazing find when I was looking for something else.

  6. My booklet, "Defense of the Eagle: New Discoveries about this Coast Guard Legend" is a full account of the War of 1812 battles that took place in Riverhead. It was published in 2018 by the Hallockville Museum Farm and it available from the museum. The booklet incudes a discussion of this document.