The Mercer Blues
In the War of 1812

An Account taken from a
"History of the Junkin Family"
By Joseph Junkin III

C5 John Junkin [brother to Joseph Junkin III] was born September 12th 1786. He was married to Martha Findley his cousin April 1804. They had one daughter Eleanor who married Mr. [William Miller] Francis, to him she had five children.

In May 1812 when the trouble between the U, S. and England begin to assume a serious aspect, he, being then Captain of a volunteer company called the Mercer Blues, volunteered his services with the company to take the field in defense of our rights, to which they stopped their ears to the plainest and soundest of reasoning, and on September 1812 at the time news reached us of Hull's surrender of Detroit he marched with his company to Erie where he stayed until the fright the country had got in consequence of the surrender had subsided and returned home, and shortly after he got marching orders to rendevous and Pittsburgh on the fifth of October, but did not arrive until the eighth, three days after the field officers had been chosen. Thence he marched through Lisbon, Canton, Wooster, Mansfield, Upper Sandusky. Thence to Fort Meggs where he arrived in January 1813 shortly after Winchester's defeat at the river Raisin.

However, I must state a secret expedition that he commanded which was to go and burn the Queen Charlot, a British vessel that was icebound below [Fort] Malden about one mile. After preparing sleds, scaling ladders, bending pikes and torches, he left Fort Meggs, came to Sandusky Bay, then took the lake on the ice along through the three hands that lye in the course to Malden, reaching the one nearest where they lay until dark. Then with their guide and sleds drawn by hand, they set out and when they got within about 3/4 of a mile of the vessel to their utter astonishment the ice was broken up by the wind that became very violent, and then for a retreat which was very difficult to make the ice being all in floating cakes and they had to take the boards off the sleds to bridge from one cake to another, and by this way made good their retreat to terifirme.

In February 1813 while in camp Intelligence reached him of the death of his wife [Martha Findley] and mother [Elinor Cochran]. After returning home and on private business in Philadelphia, he received a Captains commission in the 43 regiment of the Army, and on returning home to Mercer opened a recruiting rendevous, recruited a number of men, with them he marched to Erie in the Spring of 1814 shortly before Perry's Victory. and remained there until after the battle on the lake. His man being transferred, he returned to Mercer, and on Saturday April 25 he felt somewhat unwell, and took an emetic, and on Monday 27th, 1814 he died of what was then termed Black Rock Fever.

The wartime experiences of Joseph Junkin III

In the spring of 1812 the U S got into a scrape with England and in May of that year, I volunteered as one to go and whip them for their rascally conduct in stopping our ships on the high seas. If they found an Irishman on board, they took him out and made him work in John Bull's service. I thought with a great many others that this would not do. It made my Irish blood boil, and so I concluded to and help whip them - and so we did.

Uniforms & Weapons

In September of this year [1812] Hull surrendered Detroit and we all thought that the British were just coming over Lake Erie to sweep the country before them, so Davy Mead of Deadville [Meadville?] told us. So we buckled on our armour, which was composed of a Good Rifle gun, shot Pouch, powder horn, tomahawk, butcher knife, and our uniform at this time was yellow hunting shirts and leggings trimmed with fringe of the same which was made of good strong tow cloth dyed with hickory bark. The head dress was a black hat with a strip of bear skin - the width of the crown passed from the rim in front to the rim behind, with the longest deer's tail we could get, a stick stuck in it which was fastened to the right side of the hat, the but of which was covered with Cockade of blue and white ribbon, with an eagle in the center. With this uniform and thus equipt, seventy five of us with our officers went to Erie, but the Britishers did not come so we came home (on my rout home I walked sixty miles in one day carrying my blankets with my other uniform).

This company was organized in 1807, and called the Mercer Blues. The uniform first adopted was coates and pants homemade of cotton filling and linen work, white vests, with the above described head dress. This company still stands organized under the same name until this day March 1857, being half a century old, and a number of them still lives that were in the first organization - I for one.

After my return home in September [1812], marching orders were there for us to march to Pittsburgh, there to rendezvous on the 5th of October, but we did not arrive until the 8th. This company commanded by my brother John as Captain. Walter Oliver my brother-in-law as first Lieutenant, Brown McCune of 2nd, and Peter Rambo, my wife's brother, as Ensign. I had two brother-in-laws, Thomas and James Rambo, in the company.

There was seventy five of us rank and file when we landed at Pittsburgh. There we had to elect an orderly sergeant. Numbers of the company wanted me in that office but by persuasion I got them to elect Andrew Clark which none better. A few days after Major David Nehor of the fifth battalion to which our company was attached called on me and gave me the appointment of sergeant Major. Then I got a furlough and returned home to get a horse and uniform, Pistols, [and] sword in order to serve in that capacity, and joined the brigade at Lisbon, Ohio.

Our brigade was commanded by General Crook of Pogeion Creek, Washington County Pa., a man no way qualified for a command of any kind. From Lisbon we marched to Canton, Wooster, Greentown, [and] Mansfield. There we lay for some time. At that place brigade quarter master Reed appointed me Forriage Master. When the army was ready to move, I with four others as guards left for Upper Sandusky. That day I remember well - it was raining a little and as we entered the plain, we had to cross a small stream, the head water of the Siota [Scioto River]. My horse was not willing to step in - I gave him the spur - in he jumped. I sunk to the middle in the water. The next plunge he was on the bank with me wet and cold. It began to snow [and] we pursued the trail.

Just about sundown we came to the Sandusky River full to the bank and snow one foot deep. We stuck a fire (for there was no 100 foca matches then) beside a large tree, scraped the snow away, got some pieces of old bark, made a bed and lay down after tying up our horses and eating supper which was a piece of cake baked in a skillet. We ate half we had, and the balance dine for breakfast.

We slept sound until the sun was up, then started down the river about two o'clock. I spied an Indian out hunting, called him and he took us to where we procured a guide to take us to upper Sandusky that could talk English. In the Indian camp they gave us some boiled venison and honey to eat. The honey they had in a Deerskin (those were friendly Indians of the Sandusky tribe). That day I reached Sandusky where we afterwards built Fort Free. Returned part of way next day. Lodged at an Indian camp all night that had three little papooses who fed on the shoulder of a deer that was roasting at the fire on a stick stuck in the ground sharpened at the top upon which the meat was put, and when one side was roasted they would turn it, and then when cool the little fellows would creep up and know [gnaw?] it off while the other was roasting. They gave us some corn boiled in a camp Kettle into which they had put a deer's head just as the skin had been pulled off with the ears and long hair about the mought (I ________ the corn eat well) for which we gave them some powder and lead for which they were very thankful for.

He [We?] had but two loads of powder, and could not got any short of forty miles. The next day we met the fifth battalion and on the next Major Nelso sent me as an express to inform General Harrison (whose head quarters were at Delaware with General Leftwitches Brigade of Virginia Militia) that the artillery had arrived, the distance was forty miles. I called on General Harrison have [gave?] him the Information. He then ordered the troops to prepare for marching next morning which they did. I lodged that night in camp with General Connell. I was getting cold. As we were always more ready to remember evil things than good, I have never forgot a prayer I heard that night when the men were going to bed which was this made by one of the men:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
for if I die before I wake,
the devil himself can't make me straight.
The next night I stayed at Norton, a small village ten miles from Delaware. I must here relate a circumstance that took place in camp the night after Leftwiche's brigade marched to show what care will do towards preserving health. The snow was about one foot deep, and when halted for the night, a number of those Virginia troops, instead of clearing away the snow out of their tents, spread some blankets on the snow, then lay down covering themselves with the balance (there are always six men to a tent). The consequence was that the heat of their bodys melted the snow, and it then froze so that some could not rise until they had other[s] cut off their hair with a knife, it being frozen fast to the ground. The consequence was sickness and death thinned their ranks, whereas the Mercer Blues took care of themselves and every man lived to return home honorably discharged.

I return[ed] to Fort Free where the troops all concentrated, and where we had to remain until in January 1813 for the want of foliage and Commissary stores, I made a report to the quarter General Piatt of the amount that corn cost us. I took 6 wagon loads, the amount that each delivered, counted the cost, and reported fifty two dollars fifty cents per bushel. This opened his eyes and the consequence was that we sent runners and reported through the settlements of Columbus out beating Zanesville that we would give two dollars per bushel for all the corn and oats delivered at Upper Sandusky. Then it came in abundance. I took in one day 2,250 bushels. We kept on taking in until we had about 7000 bushels.

In January the army was ordered to march after a stay of about a month, but I remained behind having the care of all the stores then collected on my hands during the time we stayed. There was many curious things transpired which I might but think it unnecessary to relate - one observance however I will relate.

About the time the army was ordered to march, it became warm and rained some so as to take all the snow off, when orders to march were given. Orders for double rations of at least whiskey were given also. There was two men where I was busy measuring up oats that had brought some butter from the oats merchants, I think about one pound each, and says to the Major we want something to eat with our butter which they had in their hands. I told them I had nothing but oats. Give us that they said so I poured out on their butter until they eat it all up. They then started. That night it froze about one inch thick of ice. Next morning some horsemen were coming into fort and when within about half a mile in passing over some low ground, they espied a man's leg sticking up through the ice as if the owner was lying on his back, and had drawn it up in turning aside. They found he was alive, and all under the ice frozen fast - this leg and his face only sticking out, the head having fallen on a tussock that just kept his face out. They broke the ice and brought him in and who should it be but one of the men who had eated the oats and butter. Afterwards in the fall of 1813, I seen this same man march to Erie under Major James Dunlapp.

Some ten days after the troops had left, I got a public horse and started for Fort Meggs leaving the stores all in the hands of Captain Heaton, who had been sent on for that purpose to get him out of the way at Washington. I do not intend to write the history of that company that I remained there to the first of April at which time all discharged, When I left the camp I weighed 187 lbs. After my return home I was attacked with Diora and in two weeks was reduced to 148 lbs.

The Joseph Junkin Family Tree is a collection of information gathered by Eric & Liz Davis, Mary Eleanor Bell, Alice Erma Bell, Margaret A. Killian, Laura Gayle Junkin, Winston Ray Norris, Joyce Ann Junkin, Barbara Ann Millner, and many others. The html version was initiated by Eric and Elizabeth Fisher-Davis in 1998 .
Tree Outline of Junkin Generations | Joseph Junkin Home Page