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The War of 1812

The War of 1812

The War of 1812

The War of 1812 left an indelible mark on our nation's history, and Kentuckians played a vital role. From Michigan to New Orleans, Kentucky Life follows the trail of Kentucky's soldiers who fought in America's 'forgotten war.'
S21 E3 Length 27:21 Premiere: 1.16.16

The War of 1812 and Kentucky’s Role

Often called the United States’ “forgotten war,” the War of 1812 left an indelible mark on our nation’s history. Kentuckians played a vital role and paid dearly for it: 64 percent of Americans killed in the war were Kentuckians.

Kentucky Life followed the trail of Kentucky’s soldiers who fought in the war, from Michigan to New Orleans.

What prompted so many Kentuckians to join the fight?

“The big thing here was…the history between the Indian nations and the British and the citizens of the commonwealth of Kentucky,” explained John Trowbridge, command historian of the Kentucky National Guard. Kentucky was the site of continuing warfare between settlers and the Native Americans, who were backed by the British.

Kentuckians were eager to fight, and Lexington’s Henry Clay was a leader of the War Hawks in Congress.

Six congressmen from Kentucky fought in the war. “People who voted for the war actually followed up their votes and fought in the war, and some of them died in the war,” said James C. Klotter, Ph.D., state historian of Kentucky.

Leading men into battle were William Henry Harrison, governor of Indiana territory, as well as Isaac Shelby, who was serving his second term as governor of Kentucky.

Another faction in the conflict was a confederation of numerous Native American tribes formed to block American expansion. Leading this alliance was the Shawnee leader Tecumseh. “Tecumseh is quite an incredible figure,” said John Bowes, Ph.D., associate professor history at Eastern Kentucky University. “Tecumseh is seen as the leader of this movement, this unique movement seeking to develop this pan-Indian confederacy that is bringing all these different tribes together.”

The First Nations confederacy had as its spiritual leader Tecumseh’s half-brother, known as the Prophet. “What is so often marginalized and put to the side is the very spiritual foundation for that confederacy,” Bowes said.

The Militia and the Long Rifle

When it came time to go to war, men of the commonwealth brought with them their Kentucky long rifles. Harold Edwards, historian and gunsmith at the William Whitley House in Crab Orchard, said the rifle was used every day by the settlers for hunting and protecting the family as well as for sport.

“It was their pastime, and they became very proficient with it. You know, the average range was probably a hundred yards,” Edwards said.

The British were still fighting in Napoleonic style, marching en masse with muskets, which had a range of 50-60 yards, Edwards said. “It was an old style of warfare dying fast, and unfortunately they learned it a little too late,” said Edwards.

What kind of soldiers were these Kentuckians? There is debate about that, Klotter said.

“Were they good soldiers or bad soldiers? They were a little of both,” said Klotter. “They were really good fighters, when they fought. But the militiamen of Kentucky were not trained. They wanted a quick fight, and then go home. They weren’t particularly good in following orders sometimes.”

This reputation led the British to compare the Native Americans with the undisciplined Kentucky fighters, said Trowbridge.

“The warfare in the West was viewed as a bit more savage,” said Bowes. “For the Americans it’s because of the presence of all these Indian allies. And for the British, it’s in part because of the Kentuckians.”

Remember the Raisin

On Aug. 12, 1812, more than a thousand Kentuckians headed north toward Michigan in summer clothing for what they expected to be a short war.

“After fighting their way up here…they arrived here in the winter of 1813, January, when Michigan was experiencing a very cold winter,” said Dan Downing, chief of interpretation at the River Raisin Battlefield National Park in Michigan.

Historians believe about 100 men died from starvation and exposure to the elements. Even so, the Americans won a victory at Frenchtown over the British. Then they set up for the next battle in haste.

“They don’t fortify the position,” said Klotter. “They know the British are on their way, but they put people in open fields, without any trenches or any kind of earthworks to protect them.”

The British and their Native American allies attacked at 6 in the morning on Jan. 22, 1813. One wing of the American forces was massacred, Klotter said. The other wing fought well but ran out of ammunition and was surrounded. The Americans surrendered, with 500 captured, 400 dead, and 100 who got away, Klotter said.

The captured, wounded men who could not travel stayed behind in cabins. “The great controversy is whether or not the British did all they could to protect those who were unable to travel back to Fort Malden in Canada,” said Downing.

The Native Americans, remembering the Kentuckians’ previous attacks on their villages, sought vengeance. “When an opportunity came to exact revenge, they took the opportunity,” said Downing.

The Native Americans went from cabin to cabin, killing 65 men, in what became known as the massacre of the River Raisin.

The Battle of the River Thames

More defeats that year lowered morale among the Americans, but the tide turned in the fall of 1813 when Americans won control of Lake Erie.

The British and their allies were retreating from Detroit into Canada. “From that moment forward, Tecumseh’s angry,” said Bowes. “Tecumseh cannot believe that the British are essentially surrendering that territory.”

On Oct. 5, 1813, the Kentuckians met the British and their allies again, this time in Ontario, at the Battle of the River Thames.

Twenty mounted Kentuckians, commanded by 64-year-old William Whitley of Kentucky, charged the Native American lines in what was called “Forlorn Hope.” The strategy was to draw fire, then send on the American infantry before the Native Americans could reload. “Only a couple of guys actually survived that charge,” said Trowbridge.

The British pulled back, and Tecumseh was killed. Whitley also was killed, and is buried on the battlefield in an unmarked grave.

The End of the War

After the victories in the West, the flashpoint of the war shifted eastward, to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The United States was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy because of the British naval blockade. Britain was war weary with its battles in North America and in Europe with Napoleon.

Negotiations to end the war began, and both sides tried to secure as much territory as possible.

All eyes turned to the port of New Orleans. The British sent a fleet of 8,000 men to take the city. Kentuckians were called to defend the port.

“The people of Kentucky were warmly welcomed here to New Orleans in anticipation of the battle,” said April Antonellis, the War of 1812 Bicentennial Coordinator for the National Park Service.

Andrew Jackson assembled a force of 5,000 to defend the city against the British. On Jan. 8, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans was waged on an old sugar plantation just outside the city limits.

The British, again relying on tactics used in the Napoleonic wars, were slaughtered by the Americans firing long rifles from behind earthworks. In a little more than 25 minutes, the British lost 2,600 men. The Americans lost 71.

“There were errors on the part of the British, leaving some supplies behind, most notably scaling ladders that they were supposed to use to come up over this rampart that the Americans had created,” Antonellis said.

The War of 1812 is often called the Second American Revolution.

“If the British had won this battle, New Orleans certainly would have become a British colony or a British territory,” she said. “I think it’s easy to say that much of the United States could have easily fallen to the British as well. Anywhere west of the Appalachian Mountains that had to trade on the Mississippi River, they would have to pass through the port of New Orleans. If that’s a British city, then it would be very difficult to maintain American control in that area.”

Who won the war? Strategists say it was a draw. In the end, Native Americans paid the ultimate price.

The treaty ending the War of 1812 was negotiated without their participation, and the Native American alliance lost territory it had hoped to hold. In the years after the war’s end, Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, and Mississippi became states.

“The floodgates opened in the aftermath of the war of 1812,” said Bowes.

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  • Monday October 19, 2020 3:00 am CT on KET
  • Monday October 19, 2020 7:00 pm ET on KET2
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  • Thursday October 22, 2020 3:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday October 22, 2020 2:30 am CT on KETKY

Hopkinsville Eclipse; Eclipse at Franklin; Man o' War Anniversary; Lost John - S23 E2

The community of Hopkinsville came together to support thousands coming to view 2017's Great American Eclipse; learn more about the science courtesy of the Franklin drive-in and the scientists and eclipse enthusiasts who came to Simpson County to view it; Doug and the Kentucky Horse Park celebrate the birthday of Man o'War as 2017 is the 100th anniversary of his birth; and before European settlement, native peoples made extensive use of Mammoth Cave.

  • Monday October 19, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday October 19, 2020 2:30 pm CT on KETKY

Latitude Arts Community; Kayaking Bourbon Co; Webster Co. Coal Mine Disaster; Camp Zachary Taylor - S23 E3

Disability does not mean inability at Lexington's Latitude Artist Community, Doug canoes Bourbon County streams and stops by downtown Paris, Kentucky's largest coal mine disaster took place in Webster County, and Camp Zachary Taylor in Louisville trained thousands of soldiers destined for the fields and trenches of World War I.

  • Tuesday October 20, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:30 pm CT on KETKY

Thomas Noble; Downtown Mt. Sterling; Three Toads Farm; Bread of Life Cafe - S23 E4

Nineteenth-century artist Thomas Noble was a Confederate Army veteran whose art is famed for opposing slavery, Doug takes in the sights in Mt. Sterling, it's 'farm-to-vase' for the locally grown flowers at Three Toads Farm in Winchester, and good works and good food go hand-in-hand at Bread of Life Cafe in Liberty.

  • Wednesday October 21, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday October 21, 2020 2:30 pm CT on KETKY
Jump to Upcoming Airdates

Recent

Kentucky Ferries; Memory-Idlewild; Sneaker Culture; Pickleball - S25 E17

  • Sunday September 20, 2020 7:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday September 20, 2020 6:00 am CT on KETKY
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Speed Museum; Kentucky Gateway Museum Center; Lake Cumberland; Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese - S22 E1

  • Friday September 18, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Luthiers - Frank Neat, Bryan England, Neil Kendrick; Warren May - S21 E20

  • Thursday September 17, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Paducah Moonshine; Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial; Wald's Bicycles - S21 E19

  • Wednesday September 16, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Baby Animals at Cincinnati Zoo; Swift Silver Mine; Horseshoeing School with Doug - S21 E18

  • Tuesday September 15, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Firefighter Family; Mennonite Knife Maker; Striper Fishing - S21 E17

  • Monday September 14, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Women's History - S25 E16

  • Thursday September 17, 2020 11:30 pm ET on KET
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PhbeaD; Doug's Baseball Highlights; Luthier Neil Kendrick - S21 E16

  • Friday September 11, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Ken Grayson's Horse Memorabilia; Triple Crown Hopefuls - Old Friends; Gallopalooza - S21 E15

  • Thursday September 10, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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The Crittenden Watch; Minor E Clark Fish Hatchery; Home Cafe & Marketplace; Elwyn Berlekamp - S21 E14

  • Wednesday September 9, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Mammoth Cave; Vaulting at Life Adventure Center; The Parklands of Floyds Fork - S21 E12

  • Monday September 7, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Elijah Craig; Mill Creek Lake; Hurricane Mine Disaster; Artist Vian Sora; Ducks - S25 E3

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Eminence Speaker; Luthiers - Frank Neat; Tee Dee's Blues Club - S21 E11

  • Friday September 4, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday September 4, 2020 2:30 pm CT on KETKY

David Domine and Old Louisville's Haunted Places - S21 E10

  • Thursday September 3, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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SEKRI; Save A Warrior; Kentucky Museum; Haunted Louisville - Part 3 - S21 E9

  • Wednesday September 2, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Sculptor William M. Duffy; Lord of the Fork; Kentucky's Underground Railroad - S21 E8

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Wildcat Service Dogs; Corvette Production; Steamboat Travel - S21 E7

  • Monday August 31, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Kentucky Music Hall of Fame; Old Friends, Old Foes; Louisville Select Boxing; Newport Aquarium - S25 E2

  • Saturday September 5, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Sparta Speedway; The Blue Raven Restaurant & Pub; Life Adventure Center; 'Wild Bill' Gordon - S21 E6

  • Friday August 28, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Haunted Louisville - Part 2; Doe-Anderson; Merle Travis; Justin Roberts - Walk the Willow - S21 E5

  • Thursday August 27, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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The War of 1812 - S21 E3

  • Tuesday August 25, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Covington Bicentennial; Daviess Co. Anniversary; Marty Brown; Suplex Tacos - S21 E2

  • Monday August 24, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Shaker Village Singer; Marsha Weinstein & the Votes for Women Trail; Memory-Hoop Fest; George C. Wolfe Honored - S25 E15

  • Saturday August 29, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Kentucky River Boating; Kentucky Vietnam Veterans; Haunted Louisville (Part 1) - S21 E1

  • Friday August 21, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Today's Special - Dixie Chili and Diner; Coal Camps; Our Town - Columbia; Josh Samples - S20 E19

  • Thursday August 20, 2020 3:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Princess Alice Gurielli & Dimitrie Berea; Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Intl. Airport; Todd Co. Marker; Lighthouse Landing - S20 E18

  • Wednesday August 19, 2020 3:52 pm ET on KETKY
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Indoor Rock Climbing; Memory-Dwight Yoakam;Chained Rock; Dafford River Murals; Maysville Murals - S25 E23

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  • Wednesday August 19, 2020 1:51 pm ET on KETKY
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Top

Season 21

Halloween in Old Louisville

S21 E21 Length 25:34 Premiere Date 10.29.16

Kentucky's Stringed Instruments

S21 E20 Length 27:10 Premiere Date 9.24.16

Moonshine; Vietnam Memorial; Wald Cycle Company

S21 E19 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 5.28.16

Zoo Animal Babies; Swift's Silver Mine; Horseshoeing

S21 E18 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 5.21.16

Mennonite Knife Making; Stripertime; and More

S21 E17 Length 28:27 Premiere Date 5.14.16

Baseball Memories; Insect Jewelry; and More

S21 E16 Length 27:46 Premiere Date 5.7.16

Old Friends; Gallopalooza; and More

S21 E15 Length 25:52 Premiere Date 4.30.16

Morehead Fish Hatchery; Bowling Green Café; Elwyn Berlekamp

S21 E14 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 4.23.16

Bryan England; Pigeon Racing; Weavers Bottom Craft Studio

S21 E13 Length 27:11 Premiere Date 4.16.16

Mammoth Cave; Vaulting; and More

S21 E12 Length 25:02 Premiere Date 4.1.16

Luthier Frank Neat; Eminence Speaker; Lexington Blues

S21 E11 Length 26:51 Premiere Date 3.26.16

David Domine; Old Louisville's Haunted Places

S21 E10 Length 25:35 Premiere Date 10.29.16

Serving Veterans; Haunted Louisville; Kentucky Museum

S21 E9 Length 28:43 Premiere Date 2.27.16

Sculptor William Duffy; Kayaking; and More

S21 E8 Length 26:56 Premiere Date 2.20.16

Service Dogs; Corvettes; Steamboats

S21 E7 Length 26:06 Premiere Date 2.13.16

Kentucky Speedway; Pub-style Appalachian Cuisine; and More

S21 E6 Length 26:12 Premiere Date 2.6.16

Haunted Louisville 2; Doe-Anderson; Merle Travis

S21 E5 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 1.30.16

Martin's Fork; Dragon Boat Races; Tewes Poultry Farm

S21 E4 Length 25:49 Premiere Date 1.23.16

The War of 1812

S21 E3 Length 27:21 Premiere Date 1.16.16

Covington's Bicentennial; Singer Marty Brown; Suplex Tacos

S21 E2 Length 28:12 Premiere Date 11.21.15

Locks of the Kentucky; Vietnam Veterans' Stories; and More

S21 E1 Length 26:24 Premiere Date 11.14.15

Hosts

Our Current Host, Doug Flynn

Doug Flynn, former Major League Baseball player and current Cincinnati Reds broadcaster, began as the host of Kentucky Life in the 21st season.

During an 11-year MLB career, Flynn won two world championships with the Reds and a Gold Glove award at second base for the New York Mets.

Doug was born and raised in Lexington and is involved with numerous civic and charitable organizations, including Hope for the Warriors and the American Association for the Prevention of Substance Abuse in Athletics. He is a graduate of Somerset Community College, and a member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.

Dave Shuffett, Host for Seasons 6 – 20

As host of Kentucky Life from 1999 to 2015, Dave Shuffett received nine Emmy nominations for on-camera performance and producing.

Shuffett is a native of Greensburg and a graduate of Murray State University. From 1989 to 1995, he served as both host and producer of Kentucky Afield.

Dave joined Kentucky Life for the series’ sixth season, replacing former host Byron Crawford. Shuffett was always accompanied by one of his dogs and they frequently appeared as “co-hosts.”

Dave lives in rural Central Kentucky and is the author of “My Kentucky Life,” a collection of his photos and stories of people and places throughout the state.

Byron Crawford, Host for Seasons 1 – 5

Kentucky native Byron Crawford hosted the program from its debut in September 1995 through the summer of 1999.

He studied speech and broadcasting at Murray State University, then worked as a radio and television news reporter in Cincinnati and Louisville before beginning a newspaper career.

Byron wrote his “Kentucky Column” for the (Louisville) Courier-Journal from 1979 until 2008. Today he writes the back page column for Kentucky Living magazine.

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