This application is sponsored by the City of Fredericton, New Brunswick.
A War of 1812 Hero Returns Home
By Robert Dallison, 20 March 2013
Captain John Jenkins returned to Fredericton a crippled war hero of great acclaim. From a respected Loyalist family, he was born in 1786 in New Brunswick. He was described “as a tall, fine looking young man,” one of six siblings, two of which were half brothers. He developed a close attachment to his Kingsclear family home and to the neighbors, the Winslows. Judge Edward Winslow noted in a letter that Jenkins was “as usual” a constant visitor. Although Edward Winslow Junior was a close personal friend, young Penelope Winslow held a particular attraction.
His father, John Hatch Jenkins, had served as a lieutenant in the Third Battalion New Jersey Volunteers during the American Revolutionary War, having seen combat in Savannah, Georgia, and receiving the appointment of Deputy Muster Master General. After the war, he received a land grant in Kingsclear, near his mentor Edward Winslow, the Muster Master General of the Provincial Corps. Jenkins Senior obtained a lieutenant’s commission in the King’s New Brunswick Regiment and commanded the military post on the St. John River at Presqu’Ile. Jenkins Senior died at Kingsclear on 25 March 1804 at age 74.
In September 1804, John Jenkins Junior was commissioned ensign in the New Brunswick Regiment of Fencible Infantry. He was one of only a very few officers to be recruited from New Brunswick, undoubtedly due to his father’s long faithful service and the need to support his widowed mother. Four years later he was promoted lieutenant. He continued to serve with the regiment after it had been placed on the British army establishment and renamed the 104th Regiment of Foot.
Just prior to the declaration of the War of 1812, the British authorities approved the establishment of a new regiment in Upper Canada called the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles. In March 1812 a beating warrant was issued to commence recruiting. Officers who were serving in regular regiments in British North America and were eligible for promotion were encouraged to join. Lieutenant Jenkins took advantage of this opportunity and obtained a captain’s commission. He must have been well regarded as he was placed in command of the light company, one of the two elite flank companies of the regiment. Recruiting progressed quickly, with Jenkins recruiting in the Loyalist communities around Kingston. By October 1812 the Glengarry Light Infantry had taken its place in the defense of Upper Canada, manning key locations along the St. Lawrence River. The headquarters and the two flank companies were stationed at Prescott, an important staging point along the river.
Across the St. Lawrence River from Prescott was Ogdensburg, New York, where the Americans had established a fortified post garrisoned by about 800 men, mainly militia from the surrounding area, strengthened by Captain Benjamin L. Forsyth’s company of riflemen. On 22 February 1813, Lieutenant Colonel Red George Macdonell conducted a brilliant surprise attack on Ogdensburg, during which Jenkins displayed great courage and leadership.
The 600 British raiders crossed the river ice in two columns, Captain Jenkins commanded the right column consisting of his light company supported by seventy militiamen. His column was directed against a fort and barracks located at the western edge of Ogdensburg. The main column under command of Colonel Macdonell crossed the St. Lawrence further up and attacked the enemy from the flank.
Jenkins’ column came under heavy fire from entrenched cannons defended by Forsyth’s 200 riflemen. Despite the deep snow, Jenkins attempted to carry the enemy position with a spirited bayonet charge. He had only gone several paces when his left arm was shattered by a blaster of canister from one of the cannons. Undaunted, he continued to lead the charge when his right arm was struck by a cannon ball. Disregarding his wounds, he cheered his men on, leading the way, until he collapsed, exhausted by pain and the loss of blood. Inspired by his leadership, his subordinate Lieutenant James B. MacAuley took over the assault; however, the enemy position could not be carried. With their attention focused on Jenkins’ attack, Macdonell’s column turned the American right, drove them from the village, and assaulted the barracks from the rear. The victory was complete.
The British suffered ten killed and sixty-four wounded, while the Americans had twenty killed and seventy captured. After burning two armed schooners, two large gunboats, and the barracks, the victors carried off much needed supplies including 1,500 barrels of pork, two tons of munitions, one ton of ball, 672 muskets, 400 rifles, and eleven cannons. For the remainder of the war the Americans left Ogdensburg unoccupied.
Miraculously, Captain Jenkins survived his grievous wounds, although the Ogdensburg Raid put an end to his active military service. His shattered left arm was amputated, use of his right arm remained severely restricted, and he never fully recovered his health. He was awarded a disability pension of £100 per annum. In a letter to her brother, Penelope Winslow wrote…
“he has received universal and unbounded applause, but you will think my dear Edward that he has paid very dearly for it”
In recognition for his courageous service, Jenkins was appointed to the administrative position of Town Major of Fredericton effective August 1813.
As long predicted, on 10 January 1814, John Jenkins married his childhood sweetheart Penelope Winslow. In a letter to her brother, she wrote…
“we have a very comfortable home in town and Jenkins’ situation of course is a very eligible one , we have had a very gay winter; my reign as bride has been a brilliant one. I have had a regular round of Gregorys or dances from every decent family in the territory.” Edward responded with “I can’t at all tell you how happy I am my dear Penelope, at your union with Jenkins’ I lament that he has met with so many hard rubs. He is a happy fellow my dear Sister in having such a nurse, tell him I say so.”
From this union there was one child, Mary Caroline.
Jenkins never recovered his health, as Penelope reported his wounds “remain very troublesome.” Friends continued to be concerned and his old comrade-in-arms and one time subordinate, Judge James MacAuley wrote…
“I am sorry to say I have not heard from my friend Jenkins for a very long timer, but I suppose he has suffered too much from his unfortunate wounds to find pleasure in writing. He is one of the best fellows ever I knew and I should be sorry to forget him.”
Jenkins died at his beloved family home in Kingsclear on 16 February 1819 at age thirty-two. He is buried in an unmarked grave in the Old Burying Ground in Fredericton.
Unpublished article by Robert Dallison dated 20 March 2013 written for publication in The Officers’ Quarters of the York-Sunbury Historical Society.
UEL Selective List of Loyalists, accessed 14 August 2013.
Based on an article written by Rev. W.O. Raymond which was originally published in Woodstock, New Brunswick’s Dispatch on November 6, 1895.
Veteran SummaryJohn Jenkins
Captain, Glengarry Light Infantry
Place of Birth
Kingsclear, NB, CAN
Place of Death
Kingsclear, NB, CAN
Died on: 16 FEB 1819
Reason: War wounds
Location of Grave
The Old Burying Ground, 500 Brunswick Street
Fredericton, NB, CAN
Latitude: 45.960011N Longitude: -66.64273