War of 1812

Thomas Kirk


Ralph Lucas’ Militia Company

in the

War of 1812

Notes by Edgar C. Smith

The author of this note has in his possession a small snuff box which was reported to have been taken by his great-great-grandfather, Thomas Kirk, from the British in an action in the War of 1812. The box is about three inches high, made of dark green tortoise shell, and has on its lid the initials F. M. V. inlaid in silver. This note summarizes an effort to determine in which military action Kirk obtained the box and to whom the initials pertain. The search has been unsuccessful, but a considerable amount of information has been collected concerning the militia unit to which Kirk belonged and the conduct of the war in the Chesapeake Bay when that unit was active.

Thomas Kirk

In the mid 1780’s, John and Elizabeth O’Briant Kirk settled in Green Valley , Montgomery County, Virginia, in an area that later became part of Giles county. They lived there the rest of their lives. Thomas Kirk, their eldest son, was born there on March 18, 1791. He served as a Private on active duty in a local militia company from September 15, 1813, to March 10, 1814. After he came back from the war, on New Years Day, 1816, he married Rutha Howe, daughter of Daniel and Nancy Haven Howe, and continued to serve in the local (inactive) militia, as noted in a sketch written by a granddaughter, Lena E. Anderson, in 1924:

“So Ruth was wooed and won by Captain Thomas Kirk, who had charge of several counties of what is known today as the Reserves. Being known for his wonderful voice which could be heard a great distance away in giving orders to his companies.”

Thomas and Rutha Kirk took their family from Virginia to Livingston County, Missouri, in 1843. Following the California Gold Rush, he and two sons went to live in California, while Rutha stayed in Missouri with three daughters and another son. He died in Sutter County, California, on April 27, 1875; the name on his tombstone in Knights Landing Cemetery, Yolo County, reads: Major Thomas Kirk.

In A History of New River Settlements, 1906, David E. Johnston says on page 426, “He [John Kirk] had a son, Thomas, who was also an American soldier, and had received, in one of the battles of the War of 1812, a severe wound in the hand.”

Thomas Kirk applied and received a War of 1812 Bounty Land Warrant, #78051-160-55, for 160 acres by his application #SO29833 dated 26 December, 1857. He stated that he was aged 66, was a resident of California, and was a private in the company commanded by Captain Kemp in the fourth regiment of Virginia Volunteers commanded by Col. Koontz in the war against Great Britain Ireland in 1812 – and that he was drafted at Giles Court House in the State of Virginia on or about the 19th day of September 1813, for the term of six months… and discharged at Norfolk Virginia on or about the 13th day of March, AD 1814. His residence at the time was Yolo County, California.

On 4 April, 1874, he filed for a pension by application #SC21495: —aged eighty three, resident of Rome, Sutter County,— he was married and his wife’s name was Rutha Howe Kirk to whom he was married at Montgomery County, Virginia on — January 1816. —-“Captain Kemp received our company and that was all I ever saw of him. Major Washington signed our discharges on account of Colonel Koontz being under arrest. I lost my discharge, the last I remember seeing it was after I moved to Missouri in 1843. Was a private.”

His pay and muster records show:

15 Sept. to 15 Oct. 1813, roll dated at Norfolk; in Lieut. Ralph Lucas’ Company of Infantry, 4th Reg’t Virginia Militia.

15 Oct. to 30 Nov. 1813, Roll dated camp on east side of Lyn Haven Bay Inlet Dec. 18, 1813, Capt. George W. Camp’s Company of Militia Infantry, detached from 86 and 72 Reg’ts Virginia Militia and now attached to 4 Reg’t Virginia Militia.

30 Nov. 1813 to 10 March 1814, roll dated rear of Fort Norfolk, Va., Capt. George W. Camp’s Company of Infantry of the Line, 4 Reg’t Virginia Militia.

Distance from place of discharge home, 400 miles.

All of the pay and muster cards also indicate, Lt. Col. McDowell, Lt. Col. Koontz, Lt. Col. Chilton.

Lt. Ralph Lucas’ Company of Infantry, 4th Regiment, Virginia Militia:

Lieut Ralph Lucas’ biography is on page 19 of Giles County, Virginia, History – Families, 1982. He was born in 1788, son of William and Elizabeth (Price) Lucas, and he died in 1854. He was married in Giles County to Agnes Marshall, daughter of Thomas and Sallie (Johnston) Marshall, on March 1, 1810. Ralph was a school teacher and sheriff of Giles Co. Ralph and Thomas remained close for a number of years, as Thomas Kirk’s letter to his father, John, dated February 9, 1846 states in part: Notes I left in the hands of Joseph are John Henderson, Ralph Lucas and son and perhaps some others. I wish him to take steps to collect them immediately.

On June 29, 1995, at the National Archives the author saw the original muster rolls of Capt. Camp’s company and the original pension application files of several of the members of that company. There were about six muster rolls; they consisted of a list of all the men in the company, their signatures and countersignatures of an officer, possibly used to give out pay. Next to some of the names there were miscellaneous notes, such as in hospital or when they joined the company. 124 names were copied from the roll dated October 30, 1813; the names varied very little from roll to roll, possibly not more than 6 or 8 different.

The company was in existence only six months, from mid-September, 1813, to mid March, 1814. It was formed in Giles County, and under Lieut. Lucas they marched over 200 miles to Norfolk. It appears that they camped in Fort Norfolk or in the Peach Orchard at its rear for the entire term of the enlistment except for 40 days Lynnhaven Bay. The company was discharged at Fort Norfolk; the men apparently then walked home. All the muster rolls identifed the company as Capt. George W. Camp’s Company, 4th Regiment, Virginia Militia. The note beside Camp’s name (listed first) was that he was detached to be Regimental Inspector, which accounts for Kirk’s note that he did not see Camp after the first day, and several men identified Lieut. Ralph Lucas as their commander. Lieut. Andrew Caldwell was listed second, followed by Ensign John Peters.

The winter of 1813/1814, the time the company existed, was unusually cold so that military activity was minor. A pitched battle had occured the previous June at Craney Island across the Elizabeth estuary from Norfolk, and several significant engagements culminating in the sack of Washington would occur the following summer. That winter, however, things were at a stand-off in the Chesapeake. The British fleet maintained ships throughout that time in Lynnhaven Bay and in Hampton Roads and only a few American ships were able to run the blockade. The British frequently came ashore in small boats to obtain fresh water and provisions and to harrass the populace in general. It is likely that Lucas’ company met the British in one of these excursions, but the precise action has not been identified.

The muster rolls of the 4th Regiment at the National Archives were grouped together by Company. There was also a group for headquarters staff. On one of those there was a note by the name of Lt. Col. James McDowell which indicated that he was discharged on 18 January, 1814. Similarly, it was noted that Lt. Col. Thomas Chilton was discharged on 12 January, 1814, and that Lt. Col. John Koontz was Dismissed the service by sentence of a general court martial 21 March, 1814.

Muster Roll, October 30, 1813Capt. George W. Camp’s Company, 4th Regiment, Virginia Militia
Lieutenant Ralph Lucas
Lieutenant Andrew Caldwell
Ensign John Peters
Sergeants: Corporals:
John Beckley Jeremiah Jones
Jeremiah Coburn Isaac Law
Chrispi Anos Walker Isaac Kirk
William Beckley Nimrod Taylor
James Waddle Thomas Clark
William Carter Davis Murphy
Charles Hull John Spangler
Bartholomew Adam Fred Albert
Parker Athim William Aldredge
Isam Allen Andrew Brown
Hilvy Blankenship John Black
Arthur Blankenship John Boyle
Noah Blankenship John Berry
Edmund Balden James Burk
Moses Ball Bird Collins
Henry Clay Charles Collins
Henry Curry James Coplea
Jacob Collins James Cox
Jacob Caldwell Randal Collins
Levi Cox Thomas Crumpton
John Cole Charles Caes
Joshua Davis Jesse Diamond
Lawson Duncan William Duncan
John Duncan Edmund Dickenson
Henry Davis Michael Elliot
Daniel Fry Roland Fletcher
John Fry Adam Ferrel
Benjamin Fugate Reuben Fraley
Isaac Garnes Jesse Gilliam
Samuel Gentry Abraham Harless
John Hughes Thomas Hughes
Joseph Hetherton John Harris
William Hinckle Charles Hicks
James Huff John Hicks
James Johnston Hiram Jackson
Sam James Isaac Jackson
Joseph Kirk Thomas Kirk
Isaac Keen John Keen
Ephriam Kiser William Lucas
Samuel Lane William Manning
Denis McGrady Samuel McDavid
James McDavid Alexander Montgomery
John May John Montgomery
Samuel Montgomery David McClanahan
Thomas McClaland William McMillan
George Marchal Jacob Manor
Joshua Martin James Osburn
Samuel Porter William Prince
Samuel Porter Jr. Thomas Rock
Alexander Ropberson Ezekiel Smith
George Scott John Straley
Joseph Stafford Ralph Stafford
Ralph Stafford Ralph Stafford
William Stafford Peter Shaver
Henry Sterns John Smith
Nathan Swinney Samuel Sage
James Todd Thomas Vermillion
David Williams John Walker
Julius Walker William Walker
John Watson

Among the members of Capt. Camp’s Company were Thomas, Isaac and Joseph Kirk. Thomas had a brother, Joseph, who was born October 4, 1800, so it is unlikely that he was the soldier. The soldier Joseph was probably the father of Isaac. [See below.] There were also three men named Ralph Stafford, one of whom later married Alcey Duncan, first cousin of Thomas Kirk. The name Andrew Brown also appeared and is probably the man who later married Alcey’s sister, Judith Duncan.

Bounty Land Warrant and Pension Applications

In an attempt to learn more about the activities of the company and to identify some of the men named above, the author looked at and abstracted the pension application files of ten other members of the company. Only a few of the members of this company have pension applications on file, probably because of their age. Bounty Land Warrants for this service were issued under acts of Congress dated 1851 and March 3, 1855, and pensions under an act dated February 14, 1871. After passage of such time, it is not surprising to find that some of the names and dates in the files are inaccurate.

RALPH “KENTUCKY” STAFFORD; SO 23215, SC 19383; WO 36218, WC 26741.

Note says that he used the “Kentucky” to distinguish himself from the others when they applied for a pension in 1871; he had lived some in KY after the War of 1812. He said that the other two used the middle intial C or S, but didn’t say which was which. He married (i) Alcey Duncan. A note dated 22 June 1879, signed by Judith Brown and witnessed by C. F. Brown and John H. Ducham[?] says, ..he was married to Alcey Duncan, a sister of this affiant, about May, 1822, and that her said sister died on or about the 29th day of December, 1832. He married (ii) Mary “Polly” Terpin in Garrard County, KY, in April, 1835. Their marriage bond is quoted and the name James Terpin is on it. Ralph was a resident of Staffordsville, Giles County, VA, in 1871 when he applied for the pension.

[Alcey Duncan was a first cousin of Thomas Kirk. Her sister, Judith Duncan, had married Andrew Brown, who appears on the muster roll. Alcey and Judith were daughters of Charles and Margaret Kirk Duncan. The marriage bond for Alcey and Ralph was dated 15 May 1822; consent Charles Duncan, father; wit. Epram Emmons, Blueford Duncan, Ezekiel Duncan and Thomas Kirk. This Ralph was son of Ralph and Jane (Kane) Stafford.]

RALPH STAFFORD; SO 19460, SC 12255; WO 37478, WC 27343.

His original application noted that he was sent to defend Lynnhaven during the blockade and was there for 40 days. Also, …..rendered assistance in securing two valuable prizes consisting of the cargo of two vessels. He married Margaret Orr at Kimberling Church on 15 Sept. 1815. The marriage bond is quoted and includes the names Alexander Orr and John Orr. This Ralph was born in Montgomery Co., VA, and was 18 when drafted. He lived later at Mechanicsburg, Bland Co., where he died 24 Jan. 1879. The name William G. Stafford is on the widow’s application. The file contains an affidavit by Ralph “Kentucky” Stafford to distinguish them, and says that there were three men with the same name and who served identical times; one was deceased (1871).

[Born 1793, this Ralph was the son of John and Elizabeth (Brown) Stafford who was born about 1760 in Ireland. This John and the elder Ralph Stafford above were brothers, sons of John and Margaret (Brunt) Stafford of Staffordshire, England.]

ISAAC KIRK; SO 22623 and SC 20512.

He was a corporal in Capt. George W. Camp’s and Lt. Lucas Co. His wife was Sarah Hunter. Drafted Oct. 1 1813; discharged at Norfolk April 1, 1814. Age 65 on 13 Aug. 1853 and 85 on 5 July 1871 [so born 1786-1788]. Residence in 1853 and 1871: Peytona, Boone Co., WVA. Letter 1875 to Isaac Kirk Jr., Charlestown, Kanawha Co. Pension test. 1871 by Frederick G. Kirk. Died before 22 April 1875. ….was under Lucas, marched to Norfolk….

[Note Giles County marriage bond dated 25 June 1811 – Isaac Kirk and Sarah Hunter; bond John Tawney; parents Robert and Milly Hunter; wit. Thomas Hunter and Michael Harless. Believe that Isaac was a son of Joseph and Martha (Harless) Kirk; their relationship to Thomas Kirk is not known. but clearly not close. Thomas is from Green Valley; Isaac and Joseph are of the Kirks of the Sinking Creek area.]

ABRAHAM HARLESS; SO 8667, SC 8825, WO 21075, WC 27221.

He was married to Lucy Davenport by Rev. William Necessary on 5 May 1816 in Russell County, per affidavit Wesley Gilmer and Charles Gilmer. In 1871 was a resident of Carter Depot, Carter Co., TN. Died 26 May 1877 at Stickleyville, Lee Co. His widow filed her claim in 1879 and a mother’s claim 1887. Son Alfred P. Harless was captured at Mt. Sterling, KY, 4 Dec. 1863; taken to Andersonville, GA, where he died on 1 April 1864. Other sons named: Philip Harless of Sullivan Co., TN, William P. Harless of Bristol, TN, and John Harless. Also 1902 letter from Abram Harless of Craig Mills, VA.

WILLIAM LUCAS; SO 13160, SC 16276.

He married Kezia Fry on 17 Oct. 1815 in Giles Co. He was drafted at Sinking Creek, Giles Co., and was discharged at Peach Orchard Camp. He was of age 57 in 1851, and died 30 Oct. 1884. He was a resident of Kanawha Co, VA (WVA) in 1851, 1855 and 1871.

JOSHUA DAVIS; WO 26818, WC 24570.

He was married by Landon Duncan to Sarah French on 19 Dec. 1822 at Wolf Creek, Giles Co. She was a sister of John L. French, who testified to her marriage in the file. An affidavit regarding the marriage was provided by Mary Williams, age 79 in 1879, with test. by John H. Williams. The marriage bond was posted by John French and Joshua Davis. He was born about 1793 in Buckingham Co., VA, and moved to East River, Mercer Co., in 1852, where he died 28 Nov. 1861. Children named were Hiram Davis, born 7 April 1824, and Green Davis, born 3 March 1826.

JACOB COLLINS; WO 15770, WC 20567.

He said that he marched from Giles to Norfolk; on arrival company divided to Capt. Camp and Capt. Hogue. Spent first two months at Peach Orchard. 18 years old when drafted. Married Elizabeth Fisher in 1825 in Miami Co., OH. He died 21 April 1859. Had a brother Charles Collins.

CHRISPI ANOS WALKER; SO 13325, SC 17747, WO 27163, WC 21980.

Born Rockingham Co.; died 28 Feb. 1877 (in Mercer Co., WVA?) Married ca 1810 Frances Peters. She was 78 years old in an 1878 letter; resident of Flat Top, Mercer Co. in 1879. Son Neuma(?) Walker.

HENRY CLAY; WO 38949, WC 30364.

He married his second wife, Martha Miller, 9 Jan. 1838 in Logan Co. Widow filed in 1880 from Pineville, Wyoming Co., WVA. Was 70 years old when made BLW claim 27 Jan. 1851; born ca 1780.

ISAM ALLEN; WO 30577, WC 26289.

He married Martha Montgomery on 22 Oct. 1816 in Scott Co., VA. He died 23 Feb. 1862; she filed a claim 24 July 1879 from Forest Home, Powesheik Co., IA. The file named children Samuel A. Allen, Isaac Allen and Sarah A. Allen.

The three Duncans in this company may be identified:

Lawson; probably John Lawson Duncan b. 1789; wife Hannah Tillet. Note deed 24 April 1821 for land on Sinking Creek, William Duncan Sr. to John Lawson Duncan.

William; probably Lawson’s father, William Sr.

John; probably John K. Duncan, born 1789, son of Charles and Margaret (Kirk) Duncan. He would then be a first cousin of Thomas Kirk.

4th Regiment, Virginia Militia

Commanders and companies of this regiment are listed on pages 231-235 of A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 by Stuart Lee Butler, 1988. This regiment was formed under authority of General Orders issued by the Adjutant General on March 24, 1813, and continued as a unit until February, 1815, under six successive regimental commanders. General Orders issued by the 5th Military District on May 5, 1815, organized the regiment at Portsmouth. The unit later was removed to Norfolk. Later, units were stationed at Fort Norfolk in March, 1814, and at the Peach Orchard in the rear of Fort Norfolk in June, 1814. General Orders of August, 1814, directed that the 4th Regiment occupy the lines from Lindsay’s Garden to the Peach Orchard and the nearby bridge. It occupied Armistead’s Rope Walk when the 9th Regiment was discharged.

The 4th Regiment reported to Brigadier General Robert Taylor, commander of the Norfolk Military District. Regimental commanders were:

Lt. Col. Henry Beatty (Frederick), April – October 1813.

Lt. Col. James McDowell (Rockbridge) October 1813 – January 1814.

Lt. Col. Thomas Chilton (Fauquier) January – April 1814.

Lt. Col. John Koontz (Rockingham) April 1814.

Lt. Col. Elisha Boyd (Berkeley) April – August 1814.

Lt. Col. George Huston (Rockingham) August – September 1814.

Lt. Col. Thomas H. Wooding (Pittsylvania) September 1814 – March 1815.

The Captains (or Lieutenants) of 80 companies are listed, along with the names of the counties from which they came. Companies generally served for only three or six months. There were 37 companies in the 4th Regiment during the six month period that Ralph Lucas’ company served. Captains from counties near Giles who served then included:

William Pepper, Henry Wysor (Montgomery Co.)

Joseph Hannah, Griffin Lampkin, Andrew Lewis (Botetourt Co.)

Rees B. Thompson (Tazewell Co.)

Samuel Graham, Joseph Steffey (Wythe Co.)

An interesting sidelight is that John Kirk, the father of Thomas Kirk, grew up in Fauquier County and had migrated from there to Montgomery County in the 1780’s. He served two years in the Revolutionary War in a company commanded by Capt. John Chilton, who became the father of Lt. Col. Thomas Chilton.

As noted above, Thomas Kirk said that, Major Washington signed our discharges on account of Colonel Koontz being under arrest. On March 23, 1814, the Norfolk Gazette reported the results of the court martial of Col. John Koontz. Charges were:

1. For exciting discontent among the troops.

2. For unofficerlike conduct in exciting jealousies among the officers.

3. For disrespect to his commander.

He was acquited on #1, convicted of #2 and #3 and sentenced to be dismissed from the service. His second in command, Major Washington J. Washington, signed the discharges. (He was a distant cousin of Gen. George Washington as both descended from Rev. Lawrence Washington.)

9 Responses to War of 1812

  1. Max Ervin says:

    Attn: Edgar C. Smith

    Reference your discussion and muster list of Capt. Lucas’ Company that contained two Captains. I have some info on Capt. Andrew Caldwell. He commanded a large company from Russell Co. The muster roll for Sept 15, 1813 to Oct 21 1813 (immediately prior to your narrative) shows 66 men including 2 Lieutenants, 3 Ensigns, 5 Sergeants and 4 Corporals. His company was split with part of the company detailed to serve with an artillery company on Craney Island. Apparently, that left him with too few men to be effective as a unit, and the remainder of the company was merged with Capt Lucas’ company. Incidentally, the first muster roll above was certified by

  2. Max Ervin says:

    Attn: Edgar Smith
    Are you still there? I have additional info on Capt. Lucas’ company muster roll. A portion of the Russell Co. company commanded by Capt Andrew Caldwell was merged with Lucas’ company, including my gggrandfather Edmund Dickenson. Email me if interested in further info.

    • Bud Conn says:

      A half brother of my 3rd great grandfather was Levi Conn.
      We have his muster roll and pay stubs. He served from
      Oct 1813-Mar 1814 at Norfolk, in Caldwell’s Co. His name
      is wrong on the Roll shown above, it is Levi Conn, not Cox.

      Any additional info you have would surely be welcome.
      Also, anything on Jesse Conn, served a bit later, but
      also from Russell Co. Tks

      • admin says:

        Thank you for the correction and connection. I have not changed it in the original paper by Edgar C. Smith, but your comment will stand here as a correction for all to see.

  3. Debbie Deem says:

    Any information on Russell County 72 nd Infantry, commanded by Capt. George Kindrick (Kendrick). Especially looking for info on Joseph Elkins, William Elkins, and Absolam Elkins. I have the muster role for Jan. 2015. All these Elkins known to have lived in Giles County too before moving to Boone and Logan County, like Thomas Kirk. Supposedly Joseph Elkins died in War of 1812 but I can find no record of death and only this muster role. His widow remarried his best friend in Boone County (now wv).

    • admin says:

      Compiled Military Service Records for War of 1812 soldiers are held at the National Archives and have not been microfilmed, but as you know the regiment you would be able to make a search yourself or order the file. If his widow did not marry right away she may have applied for a widow’s pension and if she outlived her second husband and he also served you might find a widow’s pension application under his name that outlines her first marriage and death of Joseph Elkins.

  4. Ginger Lilly says:

    Chrispi Anos Walker was my ggg grandfather, John Walker listed was his brother. Thank you for a bit of info to add to my collection.

  5. Lisa Lucas Swope says:

    I am a direct descendant of Lt. Ralph Lucas (his son Samuel to Jocephus to Robert to Ralph David Lucas, born in 1927 and died in 1992). Thank you for this research.

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