John Parker Boyd

John Parker Boyd was born 21 December 1764 in Newburyport, Massachusetts and died on October 11, 1830 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a American Army Officer during the War of 1812

John Parker Boyd
Boyd, John Parker
December 21, 1764
Newburyport, Massachusetts
October 11, 1830
Boston, Massachusetts

General John Parker Boyd was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts 21 December 1764, son of James and Susanna (Coffin) Boyd. He entered the army in 1786 as an ensign in the 2nd Regiment. In 1787 he was appointed, by Gov. John Handcock lieutenant of a company in Boston. In 1789 he went to India, raised three battalions of Troops and hired them to the Tippo Sultan. Under Nizan Ali Kahn he was given command in Madras, and at one time had 10,000 men at his disposal. He obtained favor in India in a sort of Guerilla service. He had a natural daughter by Housina at Ponah, (1797) India, who was baptised Frances by a Catholic priest. He had a natural son, Wallace, by Marie Rupell in 1814, cared for by his sister, Frances Little, and for whom he wished a military career. John Parker Boyd returned to America in 1808 and was appointed colonel of the 4th Infantry Regiment, USA. He led this regiment to the Western frontier and encamped first on the Ohio River area of Indiana.

Indian attacks on American settlers along the western frontier prompted President James Madison to authorize William H. Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, to call out the Indiana militia and to request the services of the 4th US Infantry under command of Col. John Parker Boyd to deal with the Indians. Harrison had a conference with Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian chief, but Tecumseh's brother, the Prophet, gathered a force of more than 2,500 Indians at Prophet's Town on the Wabash River. Gov. Harrison issued orders at Vincennes Sept. 22, 1811, placing all the Infantry Regulars and Militia in a small brigade under the command of Col. John P. Boyd, acting Brig. General. The army under Harrison's command numbered about 900 men. It left Vincennes Sept. 22, 1811 and advanced up the Wabash River, establishing Ft. Harrison, and meeting the enemy near Prophet's town Nov 6, 1811. Agreement was reached with the Prophet's scouts to discuss the difficulties with the Prophet on the following day.

Harrison's men established a bivouac area on an elevated triangular area where there was access to both wood for fuel and water. At 4 o'clock in the morning of Nov 11, 1811, the Indians attacked the American forces. Within two minutes the entire Harrison command was in position and firing on the enemy. Approximately 100 Indians were killed and the rest were put to flight as soon as daylight arrived. Gen. Harrison in his official report of the action wrote: "The Infantry formed a small brigade under the immediate orders of Col. Boyd. The Colonel, throughout the action, manifested equal zeal and bravery in carrying into execution my orders; in keeping men to their post and vexhorting then to fight with valor."

On Nov 27, 1811, the House of Representatives of the Indiana Territory "Resolved that the thanks of this house be given Col. John Parker Boyd, the second in command, to the officers, non-commissioned officers and private soldiers comprising the Fourth United States Regiment of Infantry together with all the United States Troops under his command for the distinguished regularity, discipline, coolness, and undaunted valor so eminently displayed by them in the late brilliant and glorious battle fought with the Shawnee Prophet and his confederates on the morning of the 7th of November, 1811, by the Army under the command of His Excellancy, William Henry Harrison."

General Boyd tried to drive a wedge between the river and the British troops. Col. Ripley's 21st Regiment on Nov 11, 1813, emerged into Chrysler's field
near Williamsburg, Ontario and met two British regiments under Col. Morrison. The order to charge was given and the English troops were driven back, but regrouped and counterattacked. They were again repulsed. Meantime the Wilkinson army passed safely by on the St. Lawrence in a flotilla of boats. Had their progress been impeded, armed British vessels under Capt. Mulcaster would have overtaken the Americans before they reached the relative safety of the rapids which were not navigable to the heavier war vessels.

The Battle of Chrysler's farm resulted in nearly one-fifth of the entire forces engaged being either killed or wounded. The British had much the advantage during the battle in having possession of a stone house in the middle of the field.

Gen. Boyd lost 400 men in the engagement, among whom was Gen. Leonard Covington, who was shot through his body while heading a charge. This action has never received the praise it deserves, because of the disgraceful failure of the major campaign in Canada. Gen. Wilkinson had ordered Gen. Hampton to prepare to attack Montreal from the East, while the forces of Wilkinson attacked the city from the West. Gen. Hampton disobeyed orders and withdrew his troops southward toward Lake Champlain. Gen. Wilkinson therefore decided not to attack Montreal but to go into winter quarters at French Mills on the Salmon River. This failure of coordinated effort on the part of commanders produced the wholly fruitless result. For this failure Gen. Wilkinson was court-martialed, but acquitted.

Following the war of 1812, Gen Boyd was honorably discharged June 15, 1815, and went to England to secure indemnity for saltpeter captured by a British cruiser. He obtained only the first installment of $30,000. President Andrew Jackson, himself a general in the War of 1812, appointed Gen. Boyd US Naval Officer at the Port of Boston in 1830. Boyd died, however, soon after his appointment. He published a pamphlet, "Documents and Facts Relative to Military Events During the Late War" 1816. He died Oct 11, 1830.

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