Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Capt. John GARTH's Letter to His Brother in 1813

Edna OTWELL > Edwin > Maurice > John Franklin > Quintilla GARTH > John GARTH

During the War of 1812, Kentucky supplied troops and food to support the militias.  The War was very important to those living in Kentucky since it affected so many.  A few of John GARTH's sons were in the militia and came home with tales of valor and cowardice.  Here, John writes home to his younger brother (Jesse) in Virginia about the latest news from the front.
First is the corrected text that is easier to read followed by images, research notes and original text.

Corrected Letter (for an easier read)

November 5th 1813
Dr. Brother,
We are well except Thomas.  He has lately returned from the army a little sick.  They have given the British and Indians a good whippen with the loss of all their baggage supposed to be worth a million of money.  You may let Mr. Granger FRETWELL know that the British flag no more waves in upper Canady.  JOHNSON's regiment of mounted militia charged on the British regulars and broke their lines.  They then raised their flag, the brave, with fixed bayonets before.  The Indians is as humble as dogs.  I hope soon to hear good news from WILKINSON and HAMPTON.  I hope the Federalists, as you call them, begin to have their eyes opened and join heart and hand in support of the war.  I pray these few lines will find you and your wife and family in health.  Give my love to Richard GAINS and George CRANK and family and Jefs in Devon Port and ask him if he has found my handkerchief.

PROCTER, as you may call him, left his men on horseback, afraid of his life, knowing his conduct had been bad to our prisoners, left his army in our hands.  This shows what PROCTER is.  Tecumseh is killed by Col. JOHNSON.  In coming up to tomahawk JOHNSON after he was shot down, JOHNSON had five balls through him, he killed Tecumseh with his pistol loaded with buck shot, shot about ten feet at him.  Killed him dead on the spot.  I supposed there never was a instance of militia charging on regulars.

It is supposed that JOHNSON will get over his wounds.  I saw a carriage start after him last Saturday.  I hope he will recover.  He lost about twenty men in his charge.  If he should die, he died with honor. Rhodes GARTH is to be married in a few days to a Miss CARRIGAN of Wayne County and will be with her at my house in a few days on his way to the assembly.  Let me know what has become of brother Elijah and all about his concerns.

Your Brother, John Garth


Research Notes

When this letter was written, John GARTH (1762-1835) was living in Kentucky with his 2nd wife, our ancestor, Sarah.  His younger brother, Jessie Winton GARTH (1774-1865), was living in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Jesse was married to Elizabeth BROWN and had 9 children. Jessie was a farmer.

On page 1, John mentions his son from his first wife, Ann Rhodes HARRIS.  Thomas GARTH (1792 - 1850) had recently returned from the War and it is likely he had supplied the war news contained in this letter.  It is unknown who Mr. FRETWELL was; he may have been a relation to their brother-in-law’s family.  “Upper Canady” is the area just north of the Great Lakes.   “Regulars” refer to British foot soldiers.

On page 2, James WILKINSON, the US Major General, was mentioned.  Richard GAINNES was another brother-in-law.  It is unknown who HAMTON, George CRANK or JEFS were. We think that the latter may be "Jefferson of Davenport".

On page 3, the coward, British officer Henry Patrick PROCTER, retreated on horseback leaving the Indians to finish the fight.  (PROCTER was court martialed in December 1814 for this act –ruined his military career.) This retreat resulted in the legendary death of Shawnee War Chief Tecumseh (1768-1413) on 5 October 1813 at the Battle of Thames.  There are several stories about the death of Tecumseh; many people took credit.  John relates the story that he was killed by a severely wounded Col. Richard Mentor JOHNSON of the Kentucky Militia.  True or not, JOHNSON later used the story to advance his own political career.  He became the 9th US Vice President in 1837.

On page 4, John writes of the impending marriage of his eldest son Rhodes (1784 – 1846) (also from his first wife) to Lucinda CARRIGAN on 14 November 1813.  Rhodes was the first lawyer in Wayne County and had also fought in the War of 1812.  Their youngest brother, Elijah (1772-1817) was a farmer in Virginia.

Uncorrected Version

November 5th 1813
Dr Brother we are well Except Thomas he has laitly returned from the arme a little Sick they have given the british and indians a good whipen with the loss of all ther bageg supposed to be worth a
a million of money you may let mr grainger fretwell know that the british flag no mor waves in upper Canady jonsons regiment of mounted melisha Charged on the british regulars and brock ther lines
they then raised ther flag the Brave with fixed bayonets befor the Indians is an umbl as dogs I hop Soon to her good news from Wilkerson and hamton I hope the federalist as you call them begin to have ther eys opend and join hart and hand In Support of the war I pray thes few lins will find you and your wife and famyly in helth give my love to Richard Gainns and Gerg Crank and famyly and
Jefs in Deven port and axe him if he has found my hankechit

practer, as you may call him left his men on hors back afraid of his lif knowing his conduct had been bad to our prisoners left his armey in our hands this shoes what practer is, Tecomse is kild by Col Jonson In coming up to Tamhok Jonson after he was Shot down, Johnson had five balls throw him, he kild tecom-se with pistoll loaded with buck Shot a bout ten feet at him kild him ded on the spot I Supposd ther never was an instance of Melisha charging on regulars It is suposed that jonson will get over his wounds I Saw a Carig Start after him last Saturday I hope he will recover he lost a bout twenty men in his charge if he shold dy he dyed with Oner  

Rouds Garth is to be married in a few days to a Miss Carrigan of wayne County and will be with her at my house in a few Days on his way to the A Semble.  let me know what has becom of Brother Elijah and all a bout his Conserns your Brother John Garth


Special thanks to the library staff at William & Mary College in Virginia for providing a scan of the original document that is part of their collection GARTH Family Papers 1798-1872 and for permission for use in this private family research project.

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