It lasted longer than a single year, of course, officially ending on Dec. 24, 1814, with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent that basically left everything the way it was before the shooting started although, communications not being then what they are now, the well-known Battle of New Orleans, about the biggest bragging right American forces had in that conflict, occurred after it was technically all over.
Call the thing a draw, although anytime the enemy (now our dearest friend and ally) can get into Washington and burn the White House that is sort of embarrassing.
Perhaps that is why no big or even little to-do regarding this war appears to be in evidence while many, many events and tourists are wandering around the battlefields of the War Between the States and will through 2015. Most of the local attention will probably arise in 2014 as 1864 was the year the Yankees pushed and burned their way through Georgia ... including Rome.
The point having often been made by this writer regarding how unusually drenched in history this part of the state appears to be, it seems worth noting that yes, indeed, Rome had a role in that one as well.
Actually, not Rome or Floyd County per se, neither existing back in 1812. However, this was then Cherokee territory and most of the emerging nation fought on the side of the American forces in that conflict. The Cherokees also sided with and supported the American revolutionary forces in the conflict that created the United States.
AS SOME may recall, this Cherokee loyalty was very poorly rewarded in the long run what with the nation’s forced removal (the Trail of Tears) to Oklahoma at a later date. Heck, even their loyalty in the War of 1812 wasn’t well-rewarded as, when the Cherokees returned home from giving Gen. Andrew Jackson his biggest victory of the campaign (the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in Alabama against the Creeks in 1814) they found that the American forces left behind had basically looted and pillaged their homes. And, of course, it was Jackson who later, as president, booted his Cherokee allies from their lands while ignoring a U.S. Supreme Court decision that granted them territorial independence.
But, back to the principal point. The leader of those 1812 Cherokees, who raised much of the Native American army fighting on “our” side, was known as The Ridge. Later, because of the military rank conferred upon him by Jackson, he adopted Major as his first name and was forever after known as Major Ridge whose home back in 1812 was a log cabin where what is today known as Chieftains Museum still stands on Riverside Parkway. Indeed, some of that original log cabin is still visible inside the colonial then-mansion that Ridge built around it back about 1828.
As The Ridge lived in what is today Rome, and ease of travel/communication not being then what they are now, it can probably be assumed that much of his force was raised in this general vicinity.
In other words, if there were some big to-do regarding the War of 1812 it seems that Northwest Georgia, and Floyd County, might have quite a bit to talk about. And, if not enough is known by today’s Greater Rome residents and leaders about what happened here that was of great interest and importance during the Civil War, it is probably safe to say there likely isn’t anyone outside a handful of historians and native-lore buffs who are even aware of this 1812 tie.
NOT ONLY that but John Ross, the main rival leader to Ridge and opponent of the ultimate removal, was also involved in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend and held the rank of adjutant, although then still living in what is now Rossville but later becoming a resident of what is today Rome.
While there is much known about Ridge’s life and times (entire books exist on the topic) it is not without dispute. Even today, the website of the Chickamauga Cherokee ancestors (who fought with the Creeks on the side of the British), say things about him quite as nasty as some today still say about Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose statue is exiled to Myrtle Hill Cemetery even though in 1863 he saved Rome from the Yankee “Mule Brigade” of invaders. Indeed, like Forrest, it seems Ridge has been accused of massacring his enemies. Both of them, of course, commanded troops at a time when the International War Crimes Tribunal did not exist to sort such accusations out.
By the way, there is full listing of all those in the Cherokee regiment at Horseshoe Bend to be found inside the cherokeeregistry.com website — all the names, ranks and those killed or wounded in the engagement.
In that battle it is recorded that 26 Americans were killed with 107 wounded, 18 Cherokees killed with 36 wounded — and 557 Creek/Chickamaugans killed with zero wounded.
And, as many know, Ridge was considered the “villain” in the Trail of Tears story for supporting the removal for which he was later, along with much of his family, assassinated by tribal opponents in Oklahoma.
It is probably unlikely that Ridge’s “bad press” in some parts is entirely warranted though he certainly was, by all accounts, a very forceful and even temperamental character in his time. So was Forrest.
IT IS INTERESTING that Ridge gets much of the blame for a massacre at Horseshoe Bend just as Forrest gets it for what happened at Fort Pillow, and Ridge is criticized for treasonous activity regarding the removal and Forrest for helping to start up the Ku Klux Klan. It appears that history, at least when its actors wind up in the vicinity of Rome, comes up with interesting similarities.
Not being other than a casual student of Cherokee history — more because the writer grew up in Oklahoma and spent some time in their new homeland among Native American friends there — no judgments are intended.
Obviously, the local museum stresses the Trail of Tears element more than the 1812 history. There is, after all, an official federal Trail of Tears historical route of which Chieftains is a major part. There are also all sorts of state-designated “Civil War trails” that tourists are encouraged to follow in retracing the steps of history, although Rome is not included in any of them.
Yet, as regards the War of 1812 on its 200th “birthday,” other than a few local commemorative events planned at some places in the U.S. and Canada where major engagements took place, there are no candles being lit.
There is a national military park at Horseshoe Bend now so perhaps something will occur there in 2014, although nothing now shows on the events schedule.
Indeed, the U.S. government has set up no organization or committee to coordinate commemorations of the War of 1812. Congress in 2006 failed to pass the War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission Act. Of course, Congress nowadays fails to pass everything.
Nonetheless, when it comes to Rome/Floyd/Northwest Georgia having made significant contributions to the history of this country across an amazing range of events it is plain that the War of 1812 also should not be forgotten.