22 Captured US War of 1812 Officers Exchanged

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The 22 released U.S. officers taken as British War of 1812 prisoners include Gen. William Hull, who had surrendered Detroit, and his three regimental commanders.

The captured British fighters were not primarily commissioned officers, but also NCOs, drummers and privates. They were captured on board the British ship Samuel and Sarah” on July 1, 1812.

Brigadier General William Hull

Brig. Gen. Hull (1753-1825), a Yale graduate studying law, joined a militia unit at the outbreak of the American Revolution and was swiftly promoted to captain, then major and lieutenant colonel. He served in eight major battles and is the friend who publicized spy Nathan Hale’s last words: “I only regret that I have one life to lose for my country.”

In 1805, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Revolutionary War veteran Hull governor of the newly acquired Michigan Territory. Hull, knowing how strategic the Fort Detroit and Fort Mackinac locations were, advised Gen. Henry Dearborn to build a naval fleet on the Great Lakes to protect United States interests. It didn’t happen.

Gen. Hull Court-Martialed

Early in 1812 President Madison asked Hull to become a brigadier general in command of a new Army of the Northwest. Hull, now 60, declined. The person selected became ill before taking command and Hull was asked again. He accepted during the spring of 1812 and war against Great Britain was declared in Mid-June. Fort Mackinac was taken in early July and Gen. Hull surrendered Detroit in mid August, feeling that he was greatly outnumbered.

Col. Lewis Cass, one of his regimental commanders, blamed Hull for the loss of Detroit. Hull was court martialed, Subordinate Robert Lucas (future governor of Ohio) testified against him. Hull was ordered shot, but reprieved by President Madison.

There are three ironies: Dearborn, who could have formed a fleet to protect Detroit, was the sentencing judge, Hull had first declined to serve in the War of 1812, but did so upon a second request, and Col. Cass took his place as Michigan governor.

U.S. Prisoners of War

Below are listed the 22 American officers exchanged for British prisoners on Jan. 18, 1813. Cass, Findlay and McArthur were Gen. Hull’s regimental commanders. Lucas testified against him at the court-martial.

Arranged alphabetically instead of by rank, the U. S. officers were as follows:

Capt. Henry B. Brevoort, Capt. Return B. Brown, Col. Lewis Cass, Lt. Col. John Christie, Capt. Joel Cook, 2nd Lt. James Dalliba, Lt. Col. John R. Fenwick, Col. James Findlay, Capt. Nathan Heald, 2nd Lt. Daniel Hugunin, Capt. Abraham F. Hull, Brig. Gen. William Hull, Capt. William King, 1st Lt. Charles Larrabee, Capt. Robert Lucas, Col. Duncan McArthur, Lt. Col. James Miller, Capt. Peter Ogilvie, Lt. Col. Winfield Scott, Capt.Josiah Snelling, Maj. James Taylor and Capt. John Whistler.

The Young Winfield Scott

On this list of prisoners is a name that would make history. The young Lt. Col. Winfield Scott had to surrender when some of his troops refused to leave American soil for the Canadian Battle of Queenston Heights. Scott, a presidential candidate in 1852, became the longest active duty general in his nation’s history and rose to the very top, serving as Commanding General of the U. S. Army for two decades.

Sources:

  1. March 18, 1813 edition of The New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, New Brunswick (for list of captured officers)
  2. Campbell, Maria (Gen. Hull‘s daughter); Clarke, James F. (Gen. Hull’s grandson), Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York: 1848)