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As many of you have probably guessed, the War of 1812 actually occurred in 1814.
Although Congress officially declared war on the British in 1812–for conspiring to block America’s westward expansion and behaving in a generally aggressive manner toward sailors, ships, and cargo that weren’t theirs–the Brits took little notice. Busy battling Napoleon in Europe, it was only after defeating his forces in April 1814 that “the colonies” popped into view as the next logical target.
As it turns out, much like that nagging issue of taxation without representation, this conclusion turned out to be a critical misstep. Britain was in for yet another loss at the hands of the upstart nation. What’s more– Wake Forest’s very own Calvin Jones played a hero’s role in the outcome of the historic conflict.
In recognition of the achievements of Calvin Jones in the defense of American soil, we will mark his 239th birthday this year with a battle reenactment taking place on the grounds of the Wake Forest Historical Museum on Saturday, March 29th.
Originally from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Calvin Jones arrived in Raleigh in 1803 as a pioneer in the fields of medicine, politics, and military life. By 1807, he’d organized the Wake Troop of Cavalry and begun training soldiers for the inevitable British conflict. Promoted to the rank of North Carolina Adjutant General in 1808, he served as the state’s chief military officer until accepting a commission to command the Seventh North Carolina Division of Militia, a territory covering eight counties.
Now known as Major General Calvin Jones, in 1813 Jones distinguished himself by moving his troops east to block the British who’d landed at Ocracoke and Portsmouth. The British fleet was enormous–consisting of a 74-gun man-of-war, six frigates, two privateers, two schooners, and up to 70 smaller vessels. But Jones, who had assumed command of all U.S. troops mobilized in the vicinity, made a show of force formidable enough to keep the invaders from attempting to move inland. The British fleet set sail after five days of “numerous depradations and robberies,” and for the duration of the war never returned to the North Carolina coast.
In recognition of the bicentennial of the War of 1812’s most eventful year– and the mighty role played by Major General Calvin Jones– the Wake Forest Historical Museum will host a Living History Reenactment on the grounds.
This event, featuring fully costumed reenactors, will take place in front of the Calvin Jones House on Saturday, March 29th from 10am to 5pm. It is free and open to the public.