Saturday, July 4, 2009

Peter B. Allen in the War of 1812

The tradition in the family was that Peter Buell Allen was a high ranking officer in the War of 1812 and was taken prisoner. Here are the records I've found concerning his service. When I was new to genealogy research, I was told by a person with much experience that it was extremely difficult to find information about Officers from the War of 1812. I will readily admit that I did not find these records overnight but persistence uncovered quite a lot of data about my ancestor and his experience.

Found in History of the Pioneer Settlement: Phelps and Gorham's Purchase and Morris' Reserve - written by a nephew, Orsamus Turner, 1851 - which is likely the source of the family tradition. Peter Allen was a Brigadier General in War of 1812; in command of a regiment at the battle of Queenstown, in which he was taken prisoner. Except for his rank, this proved to be true.

From the Abstracts of Payrolls for the NY State Militia for the War of 1812 [copies from the New York State Archives]
Peter Allen, Lt. Col. in the 20th Regt was paid from June 28 to Sep 28, 1812 $202; and from Sept 29 to Oct 28, 1812 $98.70. In service at Lewiston, NY
Peter Allen, Lt. Col. Paid from Aug 28 to Sep 20, 1814 $46.45 Discharged Sept 20, 1814, by consolidation.
From an online History of the War of 1812:
13 Oct 1812: Gen. Stephen Van Rennsselaer was defeated in the battle of Queenstown Heights, Canada, on the the Niagara frontier by the British and Indians. About 1000 U. S. troops were killed or wounded. [This is an exaggeration - the number is closer to perhaps 500, although no correct count can be obtained. There were close to 1000 captured.

Peter Allen's Service Record obtained from the National Archives, Washington, DC;
Field and Staff Muster Roll
Peter Allen, Lt. Col.; 20 Reg't Detached Milita, State of New York
War of 1812
Appears on roll for Jun 28 to Sep 28, 1812
Commentent of this service or of this settlement: June 28, 1812
Expiration of this settlement: Sep 28, 1812
Present or absent: Present
Field and Staff Pay Roll
[same as above]
Term of service charged: 3 months
Pay per month 60 dollars
Forage per month 11 dollars
Amount of pay, 180 dollars
Amount of forage, 22 dollars
Total, 202 dollars
Remarks: One months forage drawn in kind.
Subsistence Account of Lieut. Col. Peter Allen from the 28th day of June 1812 to 26th day of Septermber 1812.
92 days; 5 rations per day; Total rations: 460
Post or Place where due: Lewiston New York
Price of Rations 20 cents
Amount $92
Requistion is signed by Peter Allen, Lt. Col. Comd.
Receipt: Received of Nathaniel Allen, District Paymaster [name printed on printed form - this is his brother], this 28th day of September the sum of $92 in full of payment for my subsistence from the 28th day of June 1812 to the 28th day of September 1812.
Signed: Peter Allen, Lt. Col. Comd.
Subsistence Account of Lieut. Col. Peter Allen from 29th Sep 1812 to 28th Octo. 1812, inclusive.
30 days rations, 5 per day, total 150 rations at Lewiston.
20 cents per ration, Total $30
Receipt same as above - received $30 on 25th December
Subsistence Account
To Lieut. Col. Peter Allen for his pay from the 29th day of September to the 28th day of October 1812, thirty days at sixty dollars per month - $58.06.
For his forage as Lieut. Col. from the 29th Sept to the 28th day of Octr. 1812, thirty days at eleven dollars per month - $10.64
For his subsistence as per account herewith - $30.00
Total: $98.70
Certified by Peter Allen Lieut. Col. Comd.
Received of Nathanial Allen, Esquire, district-paymaster, the sum of $98.70.
Signed Peter Allen, Lt. Col. Comd. [No date on receipt]
[This payment appears to overlap the rations as listed above, but perhaps the previous account was a regulation itemization of the rations received, as this form was slight different and included only totals.]
Handwritten Note
On back: Colo. Allens Order 2 Bushels of Oats, 14th July
Camp at 5 Mile Meadow [across the Niagara River from Queenstown]
14th July 1812
Quarter Master General
Deliver Alexander Case two bushel oats for Feeding his Horses while Halling boards for the building of Barracks.
Peter Allen, Lieut. Col. Comd.
[in separate handwriting] 5 1/3 Rat. Grain
Handwritten Note
[on back] Conl. Peter Allen order on Mr. Atwater in favour of Capt. Abraham Dox for 33 Muskets, 1 Box of Cartridges. Jul 1, 1812. 34 Muskets delivd. pr. Rect.
Moses Atwater, QM [I think - difficult to read]
Will deliver Thirty three stand of arms and one box ammunition for the men under the Command of Capt. A. Dox in my Regiment.
Peter Allen, Lieut. Col. Comd.

From the book, A Very Brilliant Affair, the Battle of Queenston Heights, 1812, by Robert Malcomson, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2003.

Appendix D, p.247-251 10 Apr 1812 Congress passed an Act to authorize a detachment from the Militia and gave permission for the president to mobilize these troops. 28 May 1812, New York's quota was 13, 500 officer and men and was to consist of eight brigades formed into two divisions. Maj. Gen. Van Renssalaer was appointed to command the First Division, consisting of Brigades Four through Eight, within which new regiments were to be formed. Lt. Col. Peter Allen was appointed to command the 20th Regt of Detached Militia drawn upon the various companies in Ontario Co rather than just his own 22nd Regt of Infantry. The 18th, 19th & 20th Regt formed the 7th Brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. William Wadsworth. Mustered on the Niagara River about the time of the attack on Queenston were the 16th & 17th Regt of the Sixth Brigade and the three units of the Seventh Brigade.
Taken prisoner were Brig. Gen. Wadsworth and his aide-de-camp Maj. William H. Spencer. From the 20th Regt: Lt. Col. Peter Allen, his Pay Master Joshia Robinson, Captains John Brown, Elijah Clarke, and Salma Stanley, Lieutenant Joshua Phillips, and Ensign Jacob Cast. [Enlisted men taken prisoner were not listed. Counts from muster rolls indicated a total of 443 men in the 20th Regt.]

p.59-60 The militia mobilized the week that spanned June and July, 1812. With Gen. Wadsworth leading, about 900 men had advanced to Batavia by 1 July including 300 men from Lt. Col. Peter Allen's 20th. They reached Buffalo on Wednesday, 3 July, and advanced to camps in and around Fort Niagara [Allen was encamped at Five Mile Meadow.] About a week behind the main column, four more companies from Allen's 20th arrived, about 185 additional men.

p.81 In early August, Van Renssalaer concentrated most of the militia units just south of Lewiston; he called in Lt. Col. Peter Allen's 20th Detached from their camps at Ft. Schlosser and Five Mile Meadow, leaving small detachments as guards at those places.

p.164-166 The Battle took place on Tuesday, 13 Oct 1812. The first wave of boats across the Niagara River was intended to include militia from the 18th and 20th Regt but they were pushed aside by Lt. Col. Chrystie's regulars. [There had been great confusion from the organization of the Detached Militia about whether or not they had authority to cross into Canada as they were organized as defense and, indeed, many of the militia did refuse to cross the River.] More than 700 of the militia were eventually able to cross the River - they were the rifle companies and some members of all five of the regiments mustered at the site. Lt. Col. Hugh Dobbin of the 18th was away on leave, but the four Lt. Col.'s of the other regiments helped lead the advance on Queenston and all were captured that day.

p. 191 By about 4 PM on the day of the Battle, William Wadsworth surrendured and presented his sword to British Gen. Roger Sheaffe.

p. 194 The British count of Americans captured was 436 regulars and 489 militia. "They sent the walking wounded back across the river the day after the battle, soon followed by all the militia. Officially, they were on parole and were honour-bound not to take up arms until formally exchanged for British prisoners. Brigadier General William Wadsworth was allso allowed to return because Major General Sheaffe hoped that 'his going with the Militia will ....only tend to ensure a strict execution of the agreement.'"

In History of Onatrio Co., New York With Illustrations; 1788-1876 , by Everts, Ensign & Everts, Ovid, New York: W. E. Morrison & Co, 1876, p.230, are considerably more details about the regiment, mostly from Pittstown [name later changed to Richmond], that served in the War of 1812. The book states the information had come from old soldiers. The regiment of Ontario County was about six hundred strong - four companies had gone from near Geneva. They served from June 1812 to October and were in Buffalo and the frontier. Peter Allen was colonel, Nathaniel Allen, paymaster. There is a partial list of those who served, those taken prisoner, etc. "The regiment lost heavily in killed, wounded, and prisoners at the action in September, 1812, at Queenstown."

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