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During the War of 1812, 63-year-old Kentucky Governor Isaac Shelby personally led the Kentucky militia into battle against the British and their Indian allies.
Early in the war, Kentuckians had suffered a great defeat and massacre at the hands of the British and Indians on the banks of the Raisin River.
Seeking revenge and shouting the battle cry of “Remember the Raisin,” thousands of Kentuckians volunteered to join Shelby. Five brigades of Kentucky militia and 1,000 volunteer cavalry met at Newport in July of 1813.
The year 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
Many may not be aware that some historians have dubbed this war as America’s second revolution. After the Revolutionary War, there was still a major British presence in America which continued to supply the Indians with arms, urging them to resist the expansion of America.
War was declared by President James Madison for several reasons including trade restrictions, impressments of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, and the continued attacks by Indians on American citizens.
Almost 64 percent of the American fatalities in the War of 1812 were from Kentucky. The remains of many of the 1,200 Kentuckians who died were never recovered; and their final resting places were not properly marked.
Not only did Kentucky provide the bulk of men who fought the war, but caves in the state, particularly Mammoth Cave, were nearly the only source of nitrate used to make gunpowder for the war after England placed an embargo on the United States.
Bourbon Iron Works in Bath county made cannon balls for the navy, and the Newport Barracks in Campbell county was the site of an arsenal that became the major rendezvous point and supply center for the Kentucky troops.
Col. Abraham Owen, for whom Owen County was named, was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe (near Lafayette, Ind.) on Nov. 7, 1811.
While the Battle of Tippecanoe is not officially considered part of the War of 1812, it is often grouped with it and cited as one of a chain of events that directly led to the declaration of war. It was waged against members of Tecumseh’s confederation.
Although Owen County was not formed until 1819, there were many from this area who fought in the War of 1812.
Some listed in Mariam Houchens’ book, “History of Owen County, Kentucky” include: William Haddon, Thomas Redding, Edward Stivers, George S. Gravitt, John Karsner, James McHatton, John J. Mahanah, Joseph Reeves, Thomas Wood, and Ray Sidebottom.
I and several other historical society members are planning to produce a booklet to recognize and honor Owen countians who served their country in this war. If anyone has information about an ancestor who served in the War of 1812, and would like to include them in this book, please send your information to the Historical Society Museum, 206 North Main St., Owenton, Ky., 40359 or to Bonnie Strassell, 670 Roberts Lane, Glencoe, Ky., 41046. Copies will be available at the historical society museum in early summer.
The Owen County Historical Society board is meeting in January to discuss exciting possibilities for 2012. We are not only looking forward to perhaps being part of a national celebration commemorating the War of 1812, we are also looking ahead to a new year of innovative ideas to celebrate and preserve the history of Owen County.