“The defenders resolved, like the heroes of the Alamo in a similar emergency, to rely on their own stalwart arms and unerring aim, rather than on the word of a treacherous enemy, choosing to perish, if death must be their fate, in the noble effort to defend their flag, and not unresistingly under the scalping knife and tomahawk of the savage.”
The War of 1812 didn't produce a bumper crop of heroes on the American side, but young George Croghan was the real deal. His heroics continued throughout his life. During the Mexican War, when a Tennessee regiment shook under a tremendous fire, Croghan, rushed to the front, and taking off his hat, the wind tossing his grey hairs, chanelling Braveheart's Robert the Bruce shouted: "Men of Tennessee, your fathers conquered with Jackson at New Orleans—follow me!"
“In this by-place of nature, there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane; who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, ‘tarried,’ in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity.” --From Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Far from being the tall, exceedingly lank, narrow-shouldered, small-eared, spindle-necked character of Washington Irving’s story, the real Ichabod Crane was a robust and energetic career soldier, eventually a 48-year veteran of the United States Officer Corps. He began his career as a Marine in 1809, resigning that commission to join the Army as a captain of artillery in 1812, and he spent the next 46 years in military assignments from coast to coast.
"The fame of the first admiral of the American Navy has suffered an eclipse almost total, while other men who were materially helped to do what they did through his exertions, have filled much larger places in the Naval history of the Revolution."
Esek Hopkins was a successful merchant who, at the Revolution’s beginning, held the same rank as Washington, but was destroyed by his former friends and business associates who did not share his sense of honor and unselfish love of country.
“Never before or since, in the dark annals of human sufferings, has so small a space enclosed such a heavy weight of misery. No other prison has destroyed so many human beings in so short a space of time.”
Purposely brutalized by their British captors, between 11,000 and 13,000 American prisoners of war died from disease and starvation on the Jersey, seventy-five percent of the total number imprisoned. King George III considered them traitors, and as such, without rights. More Americans died in British prison ships in New York Harbor than in all the battles of the Revolutionary War.
"When they came to a halt, it was to consult and agree in what manner they should inflict the greatest torture on my poor son, in retaliation for the death of the savage who had fallen by his hands. The mode finally agreed upon was to burn him alive, at a stake, after their usual manner of putting to death a great portion of their prisoners."
An entire family taken from a father by events common on the frontier. The edge of civilization was a violent place, where cultures collided for the future of a continent.