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Firelands militia Companies (Ohio)
Posted by: ted reising-derby (ID *****3991) Date: July 05, 2013 at 11:30:30
  of 6349

Last Fall (2012) was the 200th Anniversary of the "Skirmish on the Peninsula" (Marblehead, Ohio). That story has been thoroughly told in local history, but the following related information will hopefully also correct some former, erroneous, "facts" about the Firelands' local-militia involvement of Lieut. David Barrett, (Major?) Hiram Russell, and Capt. Wm. Sprague.
In Fall of 1811, a group of Firelands men met at Hiram Russell's tavern near the mouth of the Huron River, and they discussed organizing a local militia. [Some historians later nicknamed this militia group the "Huron Rangers"; but the nickname "Fire-Lands Rangers" would be more accurate. Prior to the War of 1812, "the Fire Lands" is the term that the settlers here preferred to call their own residency. ]
In April 1812, this local-militia officially mustered, and at that time, either David Barrett or William Sprague is said to have been elected their Captain. [See note about multiple Firelands militia Companies, below.]
But, on that day of official first muster, two additional men, Buel and Gibbs, who were due to muster with the unit, did not show up. The reason was quickly discovered...the two missing men had been brutally murdered. There was evidence that the crime was committed by two local Native-Americans; and so this newly-formed Firelands militia Company went out on the manhunt to capture them.
After a few days search, both perpetrators of the crime were caught and confessed their bloody deed. One of them, named Omick* was eventually hung on the gallows in Cleveland. The other, named Semo, had managed to commit suicide in the interim. [*-Omick was also known as "Devil Poc-con", technically he was Omick Jr.; his father was said to be Chief Omick.]
That seems to end the brief story of this "first" Firelands independent local-militia Company. Within a few months, this specific Company of "Firelands Rangers" essentially disbanded around the time that most of these settlers were evacuating the Firelands in June 1812.
Actually there were multiple local-militia Companies organized within the Firelands during 1811/1812.
Another proven "Firelands Rangers" militia Company was Capt. Charles Parker's Company (not to be confused with his brother Capt. Clark Parker's Company of Geauga Co. which aided to build Capt. Charles Parker's own blockhouse about two miles west of present Milan village). [There were presumably additional local-militia Companies formed in each of the other Firelands settlements/townships, and collectively they all could be called "Firelands Rangers", but officially each separate Company would have been known by the name of their Captain. All able-bodied adult males were required to be a part of their local-militia, and each local-militia Company would have been responsible for protecting their own neighborhoods/blockhouses. The militia captains of other additional Firelands area Companies have not as yet been identified. ]
But when Hull surrendered Detroit in Aug. of 1812, some of the few remaining Firelands men who were evacuating easterly, decided instead to form a new militia Company, and to return to a central point in the Firelands where they might provide some defense until other Ohio militia reinforcements would arrive.
A new Captain, Joseph Quigley of Black River area, was elected by the men of this new Company.
One eye-witness also says that David Barrett was elected as their Lieutenant; however, it may actually have been Daniel Perry (also of the Black River area) who was elected the Lieut. of Capt.Quigley's Company. [On that date, David Barrett is alternately said to have fled southerly with his wife and children to Knox Co. Ohio; if so, Barrett would not have been present near the Black River with those men who were heading easterly. Daniel Perry, however, was indeed present there.]
This new militia Company of Capt. Joseph Quigley immediately returned to the mouth of the Huron River area, and there they provided their intended defense within the Firelands.
After about two weeks, they were relieved by reinforcements from Ohio state-militia Companies commanded by Gen. Perkins, and Perkins dispersed them back to their own farms, but with orders to remain available if needed. [It may be their own encampment/blockhouse near the Lake shore east of the Huron River, where Gen. Perkins shorty later briefly established 'Camp Huron'(a.k.a. "Fort Nonsense"), prior to his establishing 'Camp Avery' on the old "Detroit Rd." next to the present Ohio Turnpike north of Milan vil.]
But about Sept.29th, upon hearing the news about the other Ohio militiamen still trapped on Danbury/Marblehead during the Skirmish on the Peninsula, the members of Capt. Quigley's Company (including Daniel Perry and John S. Reid of Black River) immediately hurried to their assistance. Their quick independent response is said to have kept many of the wounded and starving troops, alive.
The entire Company of Capt. Joseph Quigley was later honored by the U.S. Congress, for their bravery and service to the United States.
[The muster-roll of Capt.Joseph Quigley's militia Company would still exist among Congressional records of 1858/1859, as well as in the official papers of Representative John Sherman. Capt. Joseph Quigley's Company was composed of many of the same men that had mustered in the prior "first" Firelands militia Company/Companies. Additional information might be obtained in any pension records of the members of Capt. Joseph Quigley's Company. ]
In regard to David Barrett's proven military career, he shortly later enlisted in the regular army under Maj. Wm. Cotgreave (of the Battle of Mackinaw).
It was while under the command of Cotgreave, when Barrett officially became a Lieutenant; and Barrett's further combat history might prove very interesting.
So although it is possible that, for a very few months, David Barrett was perhaps the "Captain" of a Firelands independent local-militia Company; however, it was Barrett's proven official army service as Lieutenant under Cotgreave, that is certainly much more noteworthy. Especially if Lieut. Barrett fought with Cotgreave at the Battle of Mackinaw (Michimilimac), perhaps even being killed there. Some sources say that Lieut. David Barrett died in 1814 (the same year as the Battle of Mackinaw); other sources say he died 1815. {However, in the 1930's, the local D.A.R. erected their own memorial monument "faux-headstone" for him, on River Rd. in Milan Twp., but Barrett's actual place of death/burial is not known. Nor does this D.A.R. "faux-headstone" mention his status of U.S. Army Lieut.}
In regard to (Major?) Hiram Russell... a later published local-history had slandered him badly by accusing him of building ships for the British, during the War of 1812. Although it may be true that these ships got into the hands of the British (probably captured by them), but Russell was actually assisting Capt. Wm. Sprague and others, to build ships for the United States army, secretly on the Huron River. These ships were undoubtedly intended for Commodore Perry's fleet, but were apparently captured before being put into U.S. military service; the British were in complete control of all Lake Erie traffic at that time. (A couple other Lake Erie ships of Perry's fleet were secretly built on the Cuyahoga River, as well as near Erie, Pa.). Hiram Russell should be commended/honored for his service to the U.S., instead of having been slandered for supposedly helping the British. (But it still needs to be determined if, and when, Russell actually acquired the title of 'Major'.)
Capt. William Sprague, “Master boat builder for the U.S. Army”, should also be honored for his own service in helping to build these ships on the Huron River. Unfortunately, historians had later mistaken this Capt. William Sprague (of "Sprague's Landing" on the Huron River), instead for a Jonathan Sprague of near Bloomingville Ohio. Although Jonathan Sprague may have been one of the many assistant workmen shipbuilders, but it was Capt. Wm. Sprague who was mainly in charge of the operation here. [These two men don't seem to have been closely related to each other, despite their same surnames.]
By mid-1813, Capt. Wm. Sprague was later transferred to "Fort Findley" in Ohio, perhaps again supervising the building of military boats on the Blanchard River. His further history is not currently known.

===(c)2012/2013 T.A.Reising-Derby=======

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