One of the US’s fears during the War of 1812 was that the British would invade the Great Lakes region and move down through Ohio to the Mississippi River, thus gaining easy access to much of the mid-west. After Fort Detroit fell to the British, General (later President) William Henry Harrison ordered the building of Fort Meigs on the Miami River in Ohio, as a defense against further British incursions.
My 3rd great-grandfather George Jordan fought in the War of 1812, along with his brothers Henry, John and Nathaniel. Henry was a member of the Mercer Blues, a volunteer company led by John Junkin of Mercer County, Pennsylvania. The Mercer Blues arrived in Ohio, via Lake Erie, in January of 1813. Construction of Fort Meigs was completed in 3 months, from February to April, despite difficult winter conditions; at times the mud was knee deep. An army captain at the site wrote in his diary:
“… the weather was extremely severe, and the ground so hard frozen, that it was almost impossible to open it with a spade and pick-axe.”
Very soon after the fort was completed, in May 1813, 1000 British troops attacked with about 1000 American Indian allies led by Shawnee leader Tecumseh. While the British hit the fort with artillery from across the Miami River, the Indians fighters kept up steady rifle fire from the surrounding woods. Although the Americans suffered casualties during the 10-day siege, the fort was held. The British and Tecumseh’s warriors returned in July for a second attempt. This time, Tecumseh staged a mock battle in the nearby woods, hoping to draw the Americans out of the fort and into an ambush. The Americans stayed within the fort walls and held fast, and after about a week the British abandoned the siege.
Despite casualties, the successes at Fort Meigs stopped the English army from advancing into the interior of the United States, and is considered one of the turning points in the War of 1812.
Henry Jordan returned to Washington Township, in Lawrence County Pennsylvania. He lived to the age of 92, and was the last surviving member of the original Mercer Blues company. Interestingly, his father Henry Jordan Sr. also lived to 92, and was the last surviving Revolutionary War veteran in Washington Township. But that’s another story.
- ohiohistory.org Seige of Fort Meigs, 2013; details on fort construction and seiges
- usgwararchives.net 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens, Washington Township, Aaron L. Hazen 1908; War of 1812 history of the Jordan brothers of Washington Township
- frontierfamiles.net The Mercer Blue in the War of 1812, 2010; information on Joseph Junkin and the Mercer Blues
- A History of Fort Meigs: the fort’s reconstruction as reflection of sense of place in Northwest Ohio, Ashley A. Johnson, The University of Toledo Digital Repository, 2011 Theses and Dissertation; conditions during construction of Fort Meigs
- historicperrysburg.org The Battle of Fort Meigs, 2012; battle details
- fortmeigs.org A History of Fort Meigs, 2015; description of the 2nd siege of Fort Miegs