In addition to the many books about the War of 1812 written by historians, Pennsylvania is fortunate to have at least eight known journals and diaries kept by Pennsylvania soldiers. These journals and diaries provide first-hand, eye-witness accounts to historic events. The following is our current listing of known journals and diaries kept by Pennsylvanians, but we’re always on the look out for new archival finds.
Links to PDF copies of the scholarly articles written about the journals and diaries (which usually include the full text of the journals and diaries) appear in blue text below.
Should you know of an additional collection of letters, diaries, or journals relating to Pennsylvania and the War of 1812, please let us know: [email protected]
– The Papers of Major Daniel McFarland, A Hawk of 1812” by John Newell Crombie, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Volume 51, April, 1968, Number 2Pages 101 – 125.
– “The Pennsylvania Volunteers in the War of 1812: An Anonymous Journal of Service for the Year 1814” by John C. Fredriksen, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine,
Volume 70, April, 1987, Pages 123 – 157.
– “One of Philadelphia’s Soldiers in the War of 1812” [Lieutenant Patrick McDonough]
by Isabel M. O’Reilly, Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Volume 12, Number 3, September, 1901, Pages 294 – 321
– “Journal of Major Isaac Roach, 1812 – 1824” by Mary Roach Archer, (Part 1) The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 17, Number 2 (1893), Pages 129 – 158; (Part 2) Volume 17, Number 3 (1893), Pages 281 – 315.
– “The Pittsburgh Blues and The War of 1812: The Memoir of Private Nathan Vernon” by John C. Fredriksen, Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, Volume 56, Number 3, July, 1989, Pages 196 – 212.
Historian John C. Fredriksen uncovered and wrote about the memoir that Private Nathan Vernon kept during his year-long enlistment and service with the Pittsburgh Blues, one of the most revered and respected of the Pennsylvania companies that saw service during the War of 1812 and took part in several notable battles. Professor Fredriksen’s historical research often focused upon uncovering and re-discovering journals, diaries and memoirs written by soldiers providing first-hand accounts of their service during the War of 1812. We remain grateful that a significant amount of Professor Fredriksen’s historical writings focused upon Pennsylvanians. It is also worth noting that the reference notes and footnotes provided by Professor Fredriksen are among the best to be found in War of 1812 writings. Professor Fredriksen succeeded in placing the diaries and journals of one soldier in the overall scope and spectrum of the War of 1812.
– “William Wood Thackara, Volunteer in the War of 1812” [Private with the Third Company
of Washington Guards] by Anne Castrodale Golovin [and W. W. T.], The Pennsylvania
Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 91, Number 3, Pages 299 – 325.
– “Chronicle of Valor: The Journal of a Pennsylvania Officer in the War of 1812”
[Lieutenant Colonel George McFeely of the Twenty-Second United States Infantry], edited
by John C. Fredriksen, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Volume 67, July,
1984, Pages 243 – 284.
– “ “A Poor But Honest Sodger:” Colonel Cromwell Pearce The 16th U.S. Infantry, and the War of 1812” by John C. Fredriksen, Pennsylvania History, Volume 52, Number 3, July, 1985, Pages 131 – 161.
Colonel Cromwell Pearce remains one of the unfortunately unrecognized heroes of the War of 1812. He proved himself to be one of the most able commanders of American forces during the battles on the Canadian frontier. When it was the general practice of American commanders to leave their troops when they went into winter encampments, Colonel Pearce not only stayed with his troops, but also insured that appropriate housing was built and that the troops were well fed and nourished and received attentive medical care. There were several instances where Pearces commanding officers took credit for Pearce’s successes, including victorious battles where the commanding officers were not even on the battlefield leading the troops as Pearce was. At the end of the War, Pearce was unfortunately not offered a commission to remain in the permanent armed forces of the country, more of a reflection of the political nature of military appointments of the time than of Pearce’s highly respected accomplishments.
John C. Fredriksen was one of the great War of 1812 historians of recent times. His research has brought to light numerous important historical figures from the War who have not received due recognition. Fredriksen’s books and scholarly articles are not only remarkably well researched, but quite readable and accessible for popular history audiences. Fredriksen had a special interest and notable successes in discovering diaries and journals of soldiers who took part in the War of 1812 and placing them in the overall historical context of the War. We continue to be very grateful for Professor Fredriksen’s work as he has celebrated and recognized the contributions of Pennsylvania soldiers during the War of 1812, including those accomplishments of Colonel Cromwell Pearce.