Was Your Ancestor A United States Sea Fencible?
As a life long student of history, the first time I came across the term “sea fencible” I was shocked to learn that this British naval militia term for the men who were in a naval militia to provide defense in times of war between France and Britain — also applied to the seafaring men who protected the cities of Baltimore, Boston, New York, Norfolk, and Philadelphia between 1813 and 1815. This little known Congressional Act passed by Congress on July 26, 1813 during the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain allowed for ten separate companies to protect the ports and harbors of the United States. The officers received monthly pay, rations, and uniforms. The pay ranged from $23 on the low end to $40 for Captains. The enlisted sea-fencibles who were generally boatswains, gunners, and privates received pay that ranged from $12 for privates up to $20 for a boatswain. The United States sea fencibles only existed from July 26, 1813 to February 27, 1815 when Congress repealed the act and then replaced it with the Corps of Sea Fencibles.
Oddly, the commanding officers were under the direction of the army while the rest of these Sea Fencible company was under the direction of the Navy. Typically, a company consisted of a total of 107 men, officers and enlisted combined. Currently, there is a push to establish a comprehensive list of War of 1812 ancestors made possible by the War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files at Fold3.com. Because there are over 7.2 million pages within 180,000 files that are in extremely poor condition restoration efforts are a huge undertaking. Donations are being sought: Preserve The Pensions for this very worthy cause of making these pension records free and available to all historians, genealogists, and public seeking to know this little known part of history during the War of 1812.
In the meantime, it might be fun to contribute to the preservation of knowing who severed as a sea fencible under the officers listed below from other sources that a bound to exist in books, documents, and hidden away in historical society collections. Was one of your ancestors one of them? If so we’d love to hear from you, please include any document citations.
Alphabetical List of Known Sea Fencible Officers That Served in the War of 1812
*Note: Dates are date of rank.
Adams, William P. 1st Lieutenant, Massachusetts, June 21, 1814
Addison, William H, Captain. Maryland – April 27, 1814
Barker, Peleg, Captain, New York, July 11, 1814
Bayner, Richard, 1st Lieutenant, North Carolina, August 7, 1813
Boner, John, 3rd Lieutenant, North Carolina, August 7, 1813
Brooks, Frederick, Captain, North Carolina, August 7, 1813
Bunbury, M. Simmons, Captain, Maryland, October 1, 1813
Contourier, John J., 1st Lieutenant, South Carolina, August 4, 1813
Cummings, James J., 1st Lieutenant, North Carolina, August 1, 1813
Davis, John S., Captain, New Hampshire, June 27, 1814
Du Bose, John, Captain, August 1, 1813
Dubose, John , Captain, South Carolina, August 4, 1813
Foy, Gregory, 1st Lieutenant, Maryland
Gill, John, Captain, Maryland, November 25, 1813
Gorsuch, Gerard, 3rd Lieutenant, Maryland
Green, George W., 1st Lieutenant, Maryland
Hardwick, John, 3rd Lieutenant, August 1, 1813
Isaacs, John M., 3rd Lieutenant, New York, July 2, 1814
Kalm, John, 1st Lieutenant, Delaware, July 22, 1814
Lytke, William, 2nd Lieutenant, North Carolina, August 1, 1813
McNair, George, 3rd Lieutenant, Maryland
Mitchell, Bird B., 2nd Lieutenant, North Carolina, August 7, 1813
Morris, Lemuel, Captain, New York, August 4, 1813
Newell, Thomas M., Captain, Georgia, August 1, 1813
Newman, James, 2nd Lieutenant, Maryland
Nicols, Abraham, 1st Lieutenant, Georgia, August 1, 1813
O’Neal, Ferdinand A., 2nd Lieutenant, Georgia, August 1, 1813
Robinson, Caleb P., 2nd Lieutenant, Maryland
Russell, William, 1st Lieutenant, New York, June 4, 1814
Tabor, Pardonr, 2nd Lieutenant, New York, June 18, 1814
Terry, Noah, Captain, New York – June 18, 1814
Williamson, John M., 1st Lieutenant, New York – June 18, 1814