I’ve taken to reading some really old magazines put out by the “Firelands Historical Society”. I started out just for some research into a pet project of mine, “The Skirmish on the Peninsula”. The first land battle of the War of 1812, it happened right here where I live on the Marblehead Peninsula in the northwest corner of Ohio. Go figure, the very same war where England burned Washington D.C.to the ground and yet the 1st battle took place way out here in the boonies. This then was the wild frontier. The lands of the western reserve this far west had been given to survivors of yet another English atrocity, ‘”Tyron’s Raid on Danbury” that happened during the Revolution of 1776. Where (some ancestors of mine) citizens of Danbury Connecticut were burned out of their homes and murdered by the English and these “Firelands” (so appropriately named) out here were given to the survivors by the state of Connecticut. Lovely but highly dangerous lands as they abutted Indian Lands at what was then the Portage on the Peninsula, Fulton Rd. in Port Clinton. That was the treaty boundry of Indian Lands along with English Claims, to the same lands. It wasn’t until after the war of 1812 was over before England got her nose out of our butt.
But in the course of playing amongst the old magazines and books on History I’ve met some wonderful people and been transported back in time. I’ve found that whole armies marched right by my Sister’s house in Harpersfield. They were the boys from Canfield and Trumball going off to fight this war in 1812 and they marched all the way up to Ashtabula and then out on a old ridge that ran through Harperfield (Where they met General Perkins) onto Unionville and on into Cleveland. (Rt. 84) That old lake ridge went onto become a Indian trail to a frontier road and is now state route 84. And long before that old farmhouse (built with money from the goldrush of 1849) was built, a McCombs ancestor would march right by that very land on what would become “South Ridge West” or route 84 where his great great great great nieces would live and raise their families , and he would march right past in 1812 all the way to Cleveland and then onto Upper Sandusky (Fremont) and Ft. Avery (3 miles about Huron, Ohio) only to die out there during this Military Campaign. And therein lies the difficulty in finishing the story of the “Skirmish of the Marblehead Peninsula”. I keep running full force into bodies. Atrocities,scalpings , massacres again and again. This is some really bloody ground. I could never figure out before why it wasn’t covered more fully in junior high when you learn Ohio History. But now I know, it is just to damn nightmarish for those young minds. Too many many bodies. And now family members, granted I wasn’t even aware of them until I read of their deaths and researched some family history but this spector keeps hanging over this research. I have found with each and every generation a terrible pox on our families. All our families. War. Always War.
1st I had trouble with the whole scenario…It seems that a General had some salt stored out here in the boonies, quite a bit of it acually and didn’ t want to lose it. So he sent the army out here to “protect the locals” who in all fairness had asked for help, (a large landowner named Bull who was in the process of bugging out and heading back east where he would die and leave his wealth to his heirs) but really the General sent those boys out here to die because he wanted HIS salt back. They did get it too, but not from some Indians or English marauders, no …but from the very locals who knew a good thing when they saw it and when the tensions had heated up and everybody fled the area they swung into action and came back and removed that salt from where it was stored out on Ramsdall place between the Two Harbors. And then almost came to blows with Allen and his state Militia when they wanted it. The salt and its travels and eventual return are barely mentioned in history but they are there. Here’s a quote from a Lieutenant Allen letters to his wife (Firelands Pioneer-July 1878 page 80-86). “I was called in the afternoon to attend a disagreeable piece of business. Not to go against Indians, but against those who in justice ought to receive us as brothers with open arms. The outline of the business runs thus. Some of the inhabitants who fled from this part of the country had left a large quantity of salt stored, and a party of those that yet remained took possession of the salt with the intention of appropriating it to their own use, which our officers did not think justifiable, and accordingly sent a small party of men to take possession of it. But the inhabitants refused to let them have it, and threatened the whole detachment with destruction if they interfered. On the return of the men, Captain Burnham and myself took command of twenty volunteers and marched to the place, about eight miles, and there such profanity and abuse both of their Maker and our officers and soldiers I never before heard, and God grant I never may again, However, finding us determined to do our duty and not frightened, they came to terms, and the business was accomplished without bloodshed.”
At first when I started researching this battle I couldn’t understand why the skirmish happened at all. The locals had all bugged out fairly soon after General Hull surrendered Detroit August 15,1812…by September 15 most of the locals had fled. Then I found reference to the General’s salt. Enough said. 8 men dead later many wounded and some major acts of military idiocy. This was not a battle that should have ever happened. It was greed pure and simple. Just like every other war, it’s not the principle of the thing…it’s somebody’s greed hiding behind a thick curtain of Patriotism.