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Batteal Harrison (1780 - 1857)

Sweetbryer Co.VA ; Fayette Co.OH


Repository ID #3468 - extensive ancestry available in our online database.

Batteal Harrison Soldier of the War of 1812

By Jeremy F. Elliot

(Read before a meeting of The Daughters Of The War Of 1812 at Cook Cemetery, Fayette County, Ohio, May 1988)

Records at the Ohio Adjutant General's Office indicate Batteal Harrison's birth date as 1780. Batteal lived as a small child in the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near what is now Connellsville Pennsylvania. He lived with his parents Benjamin Harrison and Mary Newell Harrison. By 1785 many situations had occurred that may have helped the decision to move west:

For whatever reason, Batteal's family moved to Kentucky in 1785.

Batteal did not make it to Kentucky. Since he was sick when the flat boat was near Wheeling, Batteal was left temporarily at Wheeling with an aunt and uncle, Jane Newell Vance and William Vance. It was a few years until Benjamin returned for Batteal and by this time, Batteal no longer remembered his father. Batteal resisted his father so strongly that Aunt Jane suggested that Batteal be allowed to remain with the Vances. Benjamin returned to Kentucky alone and may never have seen his son again. Sometime after 1800, Batteal set out to his parent's new home in what is now Missouri. By the time he reached Chillicothe, Ohio, he learned that his mother had died. Batteal remained in Chillicothe and found work as a teamster. It was in Chillicothe that he met his future wife Elizabeth Scott.

On June 18, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain. Since the British had a strong presence in Southern Canada and Detroit, this necessitated an American military presence in Ohio. The Army in Ohio was to consist mainly of Militia from Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. There were also to be mustered two regiments for federal service in Ohio; the 18th & 19th US Infantry. On March 12, 1812, Batteal Harrison was commissioned an Ensign in the US Army. On July 23, he was appointed as Ensign in the 19th Infantry.

In the Summer of 1812, General William Hull moved against Detroit with militia. Detroit was taken quickly but fortunes reversed and Hull surrendered Detroit and his entire command. After this setback, command of the Northwestern Army was assigned jointly to General Winchester and General William Henry Harrison. General Harrison planned an attack on several Indian villages in Eastern Indiana. This included an assortment of militia units and one Company of federal soldiers. The army numbering about 600 mounted soldiers started from Franklinton, the Northwest Army Headquarters. On November 25, they camped and accumulated supplies at Greenville and arrived near the Indian villages at 4:00 a.m. December 17. The Indians were attacked immediately and several warriors were killed. The remaining men, women and children were captured. Livestock was destroyed, and all grain found was immediately fed to the soldier's horses. All huts were burned except one. In the afternoon two more villages were burned. That night the soldiers deployed into a large square formation for defense. Before dawn on the 18th the Indians counter attacked. The daylight seemed to favor the American marksmen and the Indian losses were heavy. When the Indians retired with their casualties the Americans buried their dead beneath the floor of the remaining hut and burned it. The Army then returned to Franklinton. On Jan 2, 1813, General Harrison issued a general order commending several officers including Ensign Harrison of the 19th Infantry.

General Winchester did not fare so well in the North. He was defeated by British and Indians under General Henry Proctor at the river Raisin near present day Monroe, Michigan. After this defeat, Proctor permitted the Indians to massacre their captives. William Henry Harrison was then promoted to Major General and appointed Commander-In-Chief of the Army in the Northwest.

His first moved was to establish a stronghold in Northwestern Ohio. The location was the South Bank of the Maumee River near present day Toledo. It was well positioned, strongly built, and of very large size. This was Fort Meigs, named for Ohio Governor Jonathan Meigs. The fort was built in the Winter of 1813 and during the Winter and Spring, troops, supplies and cannon poured in. On February 18, Batteal Harrison arrived with the 19th Infantry.

In April warm weather permitted the British to sail across Lake Erie and up the Maumee River. They unloaded cannons and set up a battery on the North side of the Maumee. By Saturday afternoon May 1, 1813 the battery was ready. The British commenced firing on Fort Meigs and continued day and night till the following Tuesday. During Sunday night the British established a second battery on the South side of the river and down stream from the fort. At one time a British officer approached under a flag of truce to accept surrender. General Harrison had caused trenches to be dug within the fort to protect the soldiers from the cannon fire. Since casualties in the fort were slight, the British officer was dismissed without a surrender.

At midnight Tuesday a messenger reached Ft. Meigs. 1200 Kentucky Militia were upriver only hours away. General Harrison ordered part of this force to attack the first British battery at dawn and the remainder to enter the fort. At the moment the Kentuckians attacked the North battery, the 19th US Regiment charged out of the fort toward the South battery. The British and Indians were completely surprised. At the South battery, 2 British Grenadiers and 2 officers were captured. The cannons were spiked and the prisoners taken into the fort.

On the North side, the Kentucky militia drove the British from the battery and spiked the cannons. But instead of returning to the fort, the militia pursued the Indians into the woods. Here the Indians were in their element. Of 700 militia attacking the North battery, all but 150 were captured. Very many of the captured were promptly murdered. It is said that Tecumseh stopped the murdering of captives when he learned of it.

The siege of Fort Meigs ended in a draw and, after a prisoner exchange, the British and Indians withdrew.

On the following Sunday, General Harrison again issued a general order commending several officers and men, including Ensign Harrison, for their conduct in attacking the South battery.

During the next two months, preparations continued for defense of the fort and for invasion of Canada. The British did return in July and laid siege for a week but did not use their cannons. They left Fort Meigs and after a futile attempt to take the very small Fort Stephenson, left American soil permanently.

In August of 1813 Commodore Oliver Perry captured the British fleet on Lake Erie and the British could only wait for General Harrison to move when he was ready. In September the Americans sailed into Fort Maldeh, the British headquarters in Southern Canada and found it abandoned. The British and Indians were overtaken at the Thames River. After a brief intense battle, Tecumseh was shot dead, after which all British and Indian resistance evaporated. British soldiers threw down their arms and surrendered, the Indians vanished. The infamous British Commander Henry Proctor fled in his carriage. Pursuing Americans found the abandoned carriage with Proctor's personal possessions. Proctor himself escaped on foot.

No record has been found of Batteal Harrison's presence or the presence of the 19th Regiment in Canada. Military records do show that Batteal Harrison was present with the Army at Detroit at some time after the Battle of the River Thames.

During the remainder of the War of 1812, Batteal Harrison was stationed at Fort George, St. Clairsville, and Chillicothe.

Harrison was promoted to First Lt. on August 15, 1813 and on March 17, 1814 was promoted to Captain. The War of 1812 ended in May 1814 and Batteal Harrison was discharged from the Army at Detroit, July 9, 1815.

Batteal married Elizabeth Scott February 3, 1814. After discharge from the Army, Batteal and Elizabeth moved with baby Benjamin to Northern Fayette County, Ohio and built a cabin along the North Fork of Paint Creek. Since Batteal's father served in the Continental Army in a Virginia Regiment, Batteal and his brothers and sisters had the right to exercise a federal land warrant for 4000 acres in Central Ohio. About 1600 acres of this were sold immediately. The brothers and sisters (all living in Missouri) waived their rights to the land and Batteal had surveyors select land for the 2400 acre balance in several parcels in Fayette, Pickaway, and Pike Counties. Most was in the vicinity of Madison Mills, Fayette County. Batteal and Elizabeth lived to see all of their six children grow into adulthood, marry and have children of their own.

Batteal was a farmer and stock-raiser after his army career. In the 1820's he was an Associate Judge of Fayette County. From 1836 to 1840 he was State Representative. During most of Batteal's life, State law required all able bodied men to participate in militia training. Batteal was elected Brigadier General of Militia but was not Adjutant General of Ohio as has been reported elsewhere.

Batteal and Elizabeth did not live to learn of the capture and death of their son John Joseph at the siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Elizabeth died in 1851 and Batteal in 1857.

1 HARRISON, Benjamin b: 1750 in Orange County, Virginia
     d: 1808 in Washington County, Missouri
    +NEWELL, Mary b: Unknown m: in Virginia d: 1812
  .. 2 HARRISON, Batteal b: 1780 in Sweetbryer County, Virginia
       d: October 30, 1857 in White Oak, Fayette County, Ohio
  ..  +SCOTT, Elizabeth Thompson b: 1782 m: February
       03, 1814 in Chillicothe d: March 27, 1851 in White Oak,
       Fayette County, Ohio
  .... 3 HARRISON, Benjamin b: February 08, 1815 in Rpss County, Ohio
         d: August 24, 1902 in Madison County, Ohio
  ....  +REEVES, Martha Margaret b: October 30, 1815 in Range Township
         Madison County, OH m: March 09, 1837
         d: August 25, 1903 in Madison County, Ohio
  ...... 4 HARRISON, Batteal b: November 06, 1839 in Madison / Fayette
           County, Ohio d: January 19, 1890 in Range Township, Ohio
  ......  +RODGERS, Lydia Ann b: January 17, 1841 in Ross County, Ohio
           m: December 24, 1861 in Fayette County, Ohio d: February 07,
           1922 in Madison County, Ohio
  ........ 5 HARRISON, Benjamin Rodgers b: March 08, 1869 in Range
             Township, Madison County, Ohio d: August 13, 1936 in
             Columbus, Ohio
  ........  +CLARK, Cuie M. b: May 04, 1869 in Madison County, Ohio
             m: December 18, 1890 in Mt.  Sterling, Ohio
             d: December 15, 1961 in Columbus, Ohio
  .......... 6 HARRISON, Clark Rodgers b: November 20, 1891 in Range
               Township, near Mt.  Sterling, Ohio d: October 27, 1957
               in Columbus, Ohio
  ..........  +HARDIN, Lulu Belle b: September 09, 1894
               in Liberty Township, Highland County, Ohio m: November
               22, 1914 in Her parents in McKenzie, Tennessee, Carroll
               County d: March 08, 1952 in Columbis, Ohio

Original article by Jeremy F Elliot printed here with permission.
Submitted by Dan Harrison.

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Last Updated: 14 June 1998
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