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Upper Mississippi Brigade articles; photo is UMB at Ft. Osage

The Regulars at Prairie

by David M. Grabitske

Historian David C. Bennett discovered after a brief perusal of army enlistments in the Seventh Regiment that some of the soldiers listed in Peter Scanlan's book, Prairie du Chien: French, British, American, were in Late Captain Posey's Company, and some were in Captain Zachary Taylor's Company. This revelation led him to believe that some mixing occurred between the two companies. The account in Scanlan by Lt. Joseph Perkins makes clear that Perkins is the subaltern for Walter Wilkinson's Company of the 24th Infantry, but is somewhat ambiguous whether the men under his command at Prairie du Chien were in fact those of Taylor's Company or not. Perkins only reported that it was Taylor who ordered him to take command of 61 regulars in the Gov. William Clark expedition to Prairie du Chien. Therefore it was assumed that regulars were Taylor's own company, thus when evidence surfaced in 1998 that some were Posey's men, the scratching of heads began.

American defenders at Prairie du Chien In February 2001 I had the opportunity to spend a week in the National Archives. I made it my task to discover just who the men at Prairie were. After some searching, the muster rolls and pay rolls for the Seventh Regiment were brought to me. As Bennett thought, the men listed in Scanlan are indeed from both companies. To discover the reason why this might be, a survey of all the rolls from 1810 to 1814 was begun. Some of the results were printed in my article on the Seventh in the Midwest, Mudduck volume 5, number 1.

The muster roll for Taylor's Company covering the months from March 31, when last mustered, until August 31, 1814 shows Taylor's Third Lieutenant John Weaver in command while Brevet Major Zachary Taylor was on extra duty commanding the recruiting district. The following men are listed as prisoners of war: Fifer Lott Foster; Privates Anthony W. Byard, William Bennett, Henry Barnhart, Edward Bruner, Booker Davis, Samuel Gray, John Hall, Henry Hall, Jacob Hall, Edward Hollomon, John Iford, James Kennedy, Joseph Knapp, Samuel McBride, James McBride, William Marsh, John Page, and Hugh Trainor. Thus nineteen men of Taylor's appear as prisoners. Jacob Hall and Joseph Knapp are the only two not on the list in Scanlan. Other discrepancies are that Edward Hollomon is listed as a corporal in Scanlan, but not on the muster roll. He may have been acting in this capacity since he was a corporal at other times in his enlistment. Scanlan also lists a second John Hall, and indeed there was a second one. However, the second John Hall was reported on the muster roll as being left at Ft. Knox in Vincennes. Thomas Marshall, likewise listed in Scanlan, is reported to be on command. That does not mean he was not at Prairie, just that he is not listed as a prisoner on this return.

The muster roll for Thornton Posey's Company covering the months from March 31, when last mustered, until August 31, 1814 shows Lt. Joseph Perkins in command and no other officer assigned to the company. The following men are listed as prisoners of war: Sergeant John McKensey; and Privates Peter Bennum, John R. Bean, David Brown, Henry Brusher, David Bigger, Benjamin Corp, James Devourix, James Dougherty, Daniel Fink, John Gamblin, William Howell, William Hiers, Henry Hopkins, Thomas M. Jefferson, James Johnston, James Kearns, Thomas Moore, Thomas McClaine, Lewis McCarrie, John Martin, James Murphy, Eaton Nance, Pleasant Phillips, James Robertson, Henry Rees, John Runnels, Harmon Seers, Gustavus Smith, Elisha Trader, Elisha Tuel, Thurston Vaughn, Ephraim Richardson and John Byarly. Thus 34 men of Posey's are listed as prisoners. Scanlan lists Ely Anderson, Greenberry Baker and Ezekiel Gibbs at the end of the list, but according to the muster roll all three men were discharged prior to the campaign. Of note, each of the three was not discharged until after the expedition left Fort Independence. Does this mean they continued to serve until an opportunity to send them home occurred? Or, were they left behind and only carried on the rolls to be subsequently enumerated by the British as prisoners? Or, did they enlist for the war, accompany the expedition, were captured, but then left off further rolls? The last seems least likely of all. Interestingly Robert Morrison, listed by Scanlan as a sergeant in the 24th is listed on Posey's rolls as a sergeant and discharged July 1, 1814.

Perkins reported in Scanlan that two further men, unnamed, were detained by the British. Private Francis Scikier of Posey's was claimed as a British subject. From his name one could surmise he was therefore a French Canadian, and likely involved in the fur trade, somehow having found himself near Vincennes. Taylor's Lt. Thomas H. Richardson enrolled him for the term of the war on May 24, 1813. Richardson was at that time in command of Posey's Company at Fort Knox. It should be noted that the British did not recognize the process of naturalization. According to their law, if you were born in territory belonging to the crown of England, you were therefore subject to service and not allowed to serve under foreign flags against the crown. This was treason. The other man detained was Private John Brown of Taylor's company as a deserter from the British Army, though exactly what unit is not shown. Brown enlisted in Taylor's on July 12, 1811, and saw service in Taylor's ever since. What became of the two men is not clear. Scikier never does appear on Posey's muster rolls thereafter, while Brown does on the rolls for Taylor's, though without comment on his disposition. One might assume Brown was released and returned to the ranks. However, the tradition in Taylor's was to show men on the rolls that were not actually there. Several instances show that men dead as long as a year were still enumerated, though consistently listed with a date of death. Brown shows no note of detention by the British other than the roll ending August 31.

This is a curious development which merits further investigation. Perhaps on my next visit to the National Archives the company order books for those left in St. Louis and Ft. Knox can be examined. Also, the captured papers would be helpful to look at carefully.

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