McAfees and Kin in the War of 1812

A post from

The pioneer McAfees have been well documented. The lives and exploits of James Jr., George, Robert, Samuel, and William are well known to us all, but after that very little is known of the clan outside of your own line.

Throughout our history, every generation has it's own defining moment. In my grandfather's day it was the First World War. For my dad and his brothers it was WWII and Korea, and as a child I can recall the thrill of watching the television as the Apollo missions blasted off for the moon.

It was no different for the children and grandchildren of the pioneer generation. As they came of age, so did America itself. The patriot generation had made a stand, and fairly won our independence, and set us on a course of creating an infant nation. Just like an infant child falls many times before it finally walks, the new country faced many stumbling blocks on it's path to prosperity. One of the first obstacles on this path was the War of 1812.

Thanks to George Rogers Clark's campaign to conquer the northwest territory of what is now Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio. The end of the Revolution gave the United States ownership of this vast frontier. However, decades later, the British had failed to abandon their forts on the northern fringes of this territory. The powers that be, believed that the British still had some designs on reclaiming this area, and maybe even the whole country. Although careful not to openly engage in armed conflicts, the British maintained a presence among their former Indian allies, and constantly incited them to attack the isolated frontier settlements. On the east coast of America and on the high seas, American shipping was often preyed upon as American sailors were kidnapped and pressed into British service.

From all corners of the nation came the cry of outrage, and it was apparent the time was near to (excuse my terminology) pea or get off the pot. The final straw came in 1811, when General William Henry Harrison defeated a confederated Indian army at a place called Tippecanoe, and found dozens of brand new British made muskets among the fallen warriors, and in June 1812 in response to these outrages, President Madison petitioned Congress to declare war.

Of course a general history of this war can be found very easily, and every middle school history book gives the details of how Washington D.C. was captured and burned, How Francis Scott Key pinned the Star Spangled Banner as watched from a distance the bombing of Fort McHenry, and how Andrew Jackson pushed back an invading army at New Orleans, but little justice is given to the important role the state of Kentucky had during the war.

It should noted here that although the United States initiated the conflict, the British had anticipated it, and were more prepared to facilitate a war. Therefore, it is no surprise that the early days of the war had not gone well for the American. By August, Fort Mackinac had fallen, the garrison at Fort Dearborn was massacred by Indians, and the biggest blow of all, Fort Detroit was surrendered without so much as a cannon shot.

For those who might not understand the dire situation of these events, save the few garrison troops that manned a handful of scattered forts in the region, there was no army left. The 2500 man U.S. regular troops, along with the state militias of Ohio and the Indiana Territory became POW's when Detroit fell. The Indians waged an all out war on the settlements, and the heart of the country was open to invasion from Canada. The only military presence available to counter this threat was the Kentucky militia.

From this time forward until the British were soundly defeated at the Battle of the Thames, and the Indian alliance reduced to insignificance, every battle fought on this front, the Americans were almost entirely represented by the citizen soldiers of the Kentucky militia, or Regular U.S. Army units recruited from Kentucky.

It should further be noted, that while battles in the east were carried out by conventional armies and maintained some degree of civility as certain "rules of engagement” were adhered to, and prisoners of war were provided for as well as circumstances allowed, but on the frontier no such civility could be found. Most of the Indian tribes aligned themselves with the British. Over 40 years of conflict with Kentuckians had fueled a great fire of hatred between the two. These battles were highly contested on both sides and falling into enemy hands often meant a cruel death for the entertainment of the captors. It is no wonder that this hatred resulted in very high casualty rates, and in fact out of all the American battlefield deaths suffered during the war, 69% were from Kentucky.

Here are some company muster rolls that contain some names I'm sure you might recognize, accompanied by my own research of unit histories.

Captain Peter Jordan's company of Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Barbee's regiment Kentucky Militia.

Enlisted August 23, 1812 for a six month duration.

Officers Privates
Peter Jordan Capt.
John R. Cardwell Lt.
Hugh Evens Ensign
John Jordan Orderly Sergeant
James Watson Sergeant
John Moore "
John Sharp "
Benjamin Hawkins Corp.
John Cardwell "
Garrett Jordan "
David Foreman "
  Armstrong, William
Adams, Samuel
Akins, Wells
Adams, Andrew
Agon, William
Burton, John
Buntain, Andrew
Barnes, Richard
Bright, William
Bishop, Dan
Davis, William
Evans, Nathaniel
Gilkerson, William J.
Green, Thomas
Higgins, Thomas
Hughes, Rueben
Jordan, Garrett Jr.
Lewis, John
Lyon, James
Lillard, John
Mann, Thomas
McGarn, William
McGatheridge, William
McIntire, John
Neal, Robert
Noel, Joel
Passmore, Elias
Slaughter, William B.
Slaughter, Francis T.
Slaughter, Edmond
Server, Christopher
Sall, Benjamin
Sennett, John
Sale, Clayton
Wicoff, John


Captain James Ray's company Kentucky Mounted Volunteer Militia under regimental command of Colonel Samuel South. Enlisted September 18, 1812 - October 30, 1812 (No known service details)

Officers Privates
James Ray Capt
Samuel McCoun Capt
George McAfee Lt.
Samuel McAfee Ensign
James McAfee sergeant
Joseph Blackwell "
Clark McAfee "
John Kennedy "
Francis Cunningham Corp.
John Curry "
John Armstrong "
William Riley "
  Adams, John
Adams, Samuel
Allison, Samuel
Allen, John
Booker, Nicholas
Meaux, Nathaniel B.
Bingham, John
Hybarger, Joseph
Kennedy, James
Kirkpatrick, James
Kencer, John
Lowery, Joseph
McDonald, John A.
McAfee, John
McAfee, Robert
McClary, Robert
McKamey, Robert
Nivens, James
Rynerson, Isaac
Rynerson, Barney
Robinson, Israel
Smock, John
Slaughter, William H.
Sniddy, Robert
Thompson, George C.
Wilson, John
Wilson, Samuel


Capt. Robert B. McAfee's Company of Colonel Richard M. Johnson's Regiment Kentucky Mounted Infantry. Enlisted May 20, 1813 - November 20, 1813.

In response to orders of Colonel Richard Johnson his regiment of mounted militia rendezvoused near Great Crossing in Scott County, and proceeded north to the theater of operations against the enemy. After reaching their post, Johnson's men were engaged in various duties , including scouting for enemy activity in the area, re-supply of outposts, and marched against enemy Indian towns which were found to be abandoned. In the late summer of 1813 Johnson‘s regiment passed over the battlefield of the River Raisin and while camped here recovered and buried the remains of a good number of Kentuckians massacred here nine months before. Over the next few days Johnson led his men through Detroit and into Canada in pursuit of General Proctor's army. In Early October, the mounted regiment was joined by General Harrison and Governor Shelby in command of over 3000 Kentuckians and on the 5 of that month met the British and their Indian allies in a decisive battle on the River Thames where over 600 British regulars were captured and the great war chief Tecumseh was killed, breaking the alliance and effectively ending all hostile activity in that sector. . In response to orders of Colonel Richard Johnson his regiment of mounted militia rendezvoused near Great Crossing in Scott County, and proceeded north to the theater of operations against the enemy. After reaching their post, Johnson's men were engaged in various duties , including scouting for enemy activity in the area, re-supply of outposts, and marched against enemy Indian towns which were found to be abandoned. In the late summer of 1813 Johnson‘s regiment passed over the battlefield of the River Raisin and while camped here recovered and buried the remains of a good number of Kentuckians massacred here nine months before. Over the next few days Johnson led his men through Detroit and into Canada in pursuit of General Proctor's army. In Early October, the mounted regiment was joined by General Harrison and Governor Shelby in command of over 3000 Kentuckians and on the 5th of that month met the British and their Indian allies in a decisive battle on the River Thames where over 600 British regulars were captured and the great war chief Tecumseh was killed, breaking the alliance and effectively ending all hostile activity in that sector. According to McAfee's account of the battle, Johnson's mounted men were divided to give support to two advancing columns. His company was attached to the wing opposing the British troops, and after breaking through the enemy lines gave pursuit of General Proctor, who made an escape from the battle. McAfee's company numbering over 100 men was the largest in the regiment, and was given the honor of guarding the captured British officers and men taken prisoners after the battle.

Muster Roll of Robt. B. McAfee's Company (from his Journal)


Capt. Thomas P. Moore's Company of Major Peter Dudley's regiment Kentucky mounted Volunteer Infantry. Enlisted Sept. 20, 1814- November 20, 1814.

Took part in MacArthur's Raid 250 miles behind enemy lines into Canada. This regiment was initially raised in response to threat that Indians around the Great Lakes were once more rumored to be rejoining the British war effort, but upon arriving at the lakes, found no such threat existed, and the British had conceded the Northwest and abandoned the area. However, the war in the east had not been as successful for the Americans. At present an American Army at Fort Erie had been under siege for sometime, and on the verge of falling. General McArthur crossed into Canada and engaged the enemy from the rear. Fought six small battles at Oxford, Burford, Grande River Bridge, Malcolm's Mill, Dover, and Savareen's Mill. Each of these battles were of little consequence, but the raid overall caused great distress among the enemy, captured every militia and garrison post that opposed them, captured countless food stores, and destroyed munitions of war of every sort. The British were forced to respond and immediately diverted troops from the Fort Erie operation to meet the threat. McArthur however had already accomplished what he had set out to do, and was on the way back to friendly territory. The Americans trapped in Fort Erie were able to escape. (Muster Rolls not complete, Only A thru L)

Officers Privates
Thomas P. Moore Capt.
John R. Cardwell Lt.
John Sharp "
Richard Powers Ensign
John Jordan Sergeant
John Singleton "
Joseph Lowery "
James Cardwell "
Samuel Robertson Corp.
Burris Adkins "
Elijah Vorhis "
Reuben Hawkins "
  Adams, John
Adams, Samuel
Barlow, Hastings
Crawford, Hugh
Coulter, Starling
Davenport, Allen (Luther's ancester)
Davis, Briant
Elliott, John
Evans, W.M.
Frazier, Robert
Frazier, James
Guthrie, Robert
Godbey, Robert
Green, Martin
Green, Thomas
Green, Samuel
Hughes, Stephen
Hughes, Reuben
Hawkins, Benjamin
Hawkins, James
Holeman, Robert
Howard, Eppy
Highbarger, Joseph
Hungate, John
Hale, Charles
Jordan, Garrett
James, Robert
Lamb, James
Laferty, Bales
Lillard, John
Lillard, Christopher
Lewis, Thomas
Lewis, William M.
Lockhart, Levi


Capt. George McAfee's Company of Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel Slaughter's regiment Kentucky Detached Militia. Enlisted November 10, 1814 for a 4 month period.

On October 14th, 1814, Governor Shelby issued a call for men for the New Orleans campaign, and in response, Col. Gabriel Slaughter began assembling men to form a regiment for duty, which was mustered into service Nov. 14, 1814. Along with the call for men, came a promise from the U.S. Quarter master of arms, munitions, and transportation down river, but these supplies were slow to materialize. Believing that the promised supplies would catch up, the Kentuckians departed with half rations, few blankets and tents, and no pay, on board boats that were mostly unfit to carry men across the river let alone fifteen hundred miles downstream. The supplies never came, and on January 4, 1815, the Kentucky troops arrived at New Orleans almost destitute of clothing, blankets, and munitions of war. The winter weather of 1814/15 was unusually severe with daily downpours of rain. They entered into camp without tents, blankets, or straw for bedding, on open, miry ground as the temperatures hovered near freezing. The Louisiana legislature and the citizens of New Orleans quickly answered the call and furnished what supplies that could be spared. Nonetheless, just over half the Kentuckians could be adequately armed, and as a result those without arms remained in a reserve position during the battle. About eleven hundred Kentucky boys secured arms and Slaughter's regiment took it's place among them on the firing line to await the British advance. The details of the battle of January 8, 1815 are well documented and will not be repeated here, but it should not be forgotten that these men from Kentucky who bore the brunt of the assault, were not professional soldiers. They were family men, farmers, and tradesmen whose pride in country had called them away from a plow to travel fifteen hundred miles from home and hearth to confront an enemy army covered in glory from European battlefields of the Napoleonic Wars. After the battle the troops remained at New Orleans until March 18, 1815. On this date the militias of Kentucky and Tennessee were released to return home. It was a long hard journey along the Natchez Trail, and the sufferings of disease and hardships claimed more men than the battle itself. They arrived back in Central Kentucky about May 1, 1815.

Officers Privates
George McAfee Capt.
William Bohon Lt.
John M. Jordan Ensign
John Lewis Orderly Sergeant
Julius Rucker 1st Sergeant
James Pierson Sergeant
Samuel Trouer "
John Cochran "
Anderson Powers Corp.
Daniel Bohon "
Daniel Hay "
Thomas Robards "
  Adams, Alexander
Barnes, Zachariah
Brim, Landy
Brown, Thomas
Buntain, Samuel
Bradshaw, James L.
Berns, Phillip
Bryant, Daniel
Bradley, Jacob
Barclay, David
Cummings, Alexander
Curry, Thomas
Combs, Joseph
Cummings, Abraham
Coovert, Simon
Curry, James
Cooney, Daniel
Davis, George
Dean, William
Dodson, George
Duncan, William
Ellis, Daniel
Foreman, Jacob
Goodnight, Alexander
Green, William
Gilmore, Joseph
Gabbert, James
Harlow, Thomas
Haley, Edmund
Hulton, John
Horn, John
Horn, Phillip
Hall, Barnet
Johnston, William
Jones, William
Jones, Thornton
Kirkham, Joseph
Knox, George C.
Kirkpatrick, James
Lytle, Lewis
Lockhart, Lwvi
Lewis, Elijah
Lister, Cornelius
Lister, Stephen
McAfee, Samuel
McDonald, Clement
McCoy, Joseph
Mcminney, William
Mulikin, John
Montfort, Jacob
Mitchel, Jacob
Napier, William
Poulter, Joseph
Pierson, Joseph
Phillips, Aaron
Preston, George
Quigley, John
Ray, William
Rynerson, Jacob
Rains, Allen
Roberts, William
Ruby, Jacob
Robertson, Samuel
Roberts, James
Silyers, John
Short, James
Short, William
Shields, William
Sams, Russell
Sample, James
Short, Coleman
Sallee, Rany
Stone, Levi
Thomas, Thompson
Towner, Samuel
Thompson, George
Toomy, Isaac
Thomas, Edmund G.
Voris, John
Violet, Sinclair
Walker, John
Wilson, John H.
Wells, John sr.
Wells, John Jr.
Wilson, Anthony
Whitberry, Jacob
Weathers, Thomas
Yeast, Jacob