Dr. Calvin Jones and the War of 1812

The War of 1812 is one of America’s forgotten wars, remembered mostly because in 1814 the British, who had already burned the president’s house (the name White House came later) and much of official Washington, D.C., was repulsed at Fort McHenry near Baltimore, leading Francis Scott Key to write the verses to The Star-Spangled Banner.

Saturday, March 29, we can learn a lot more about it when the official North Carolina Bicentennial War of 1812 Reenactors muster at an encampment on the grounds of the Wake Forest Historical Museum on North Main Street with their knapsacks, muskets, tents and cannons and invite everyone to come listen to their stories, see how their fire their weapons and experience a bit of war 200 years ago. It is all free and open to everyone.

There will be a battle reenactment that will also mark the 239th birthday of Dr. Calvin Jones and his part in the defense of American soil. An actor who loves to portray Jones will be on hand throughout the day.

After training as a doctor in 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.