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Canadian VanValkenburgs in the War of 1812

VV's found on the Quarter Pay Lists of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles

See VV's and related names on Pay Lists for other War of 1812 Militia

Canadian VanValkenburgs in the War of 1812 


The VV-Vollick-in-Canada ancestry project was started in 2012, the bi-centennial year of the War of 1812 described as a "celebration of two hundred years of peace".  Special war re-enactments have been planned throughout the commemorative period 2012-2015 (see Events
) on both sides of the US-Canada border, and may be of interest to descendants of those Canadian VV ancestors who participated.


An article in the January 2012 edition of Canadian Geographic magazine begins: "Nearly two centuries after they were repulsed in battle near the farm of a family named Crysler, the Americans are invading Canada again, in a Nissan, a Ford and a Dodge."  The story goes on to describe the activities of military re-enactment groups, whose members, regardless of "side", good-naturedly rile each other with bumper stickers that read: "War of 1812: Been There, Won That." (see article)

Records for these Canadian-raised British regiments remain archived in England, and the pay lists for one regiment - the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles - have been transcribed, revealing a number of Vanvolkenburgh men who signed on, recruited along the St. Lawrence River communities between Cornwall and Napanee.  Those who survived are further mentioned in military land grants awarded in the Rideau Lakes areas near Perth, Ontario.


The promise of free land may well have been a motivation; perhaps also the assurance that this regiment, as "fencibles" would be a home-based (casual) defence force.  Recruitment was initially aimed at recent (Scottish Highlander) immigrants but agents moved west, capturing the sons and grandsons of United Empire Loyalists with the exciting prospect that the "Independant Man, at the expiration of his service... will be able to take his Wife and Family to Church or Market in his own Cariole, and if has not a Wife, it will be the sure means of getting him a good one, for Fortune always favours the Brave, and flinty must be the heart of that Damsel, and vain her pretensions to taste, who could resist a Light Bob of the Glengary's when equipped in his new Green Uniform".


The following claim would suggest that military tradition influenced sons of Loyalists, however, I wonder how many were truly so eager to send their sons...


1885 book "Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists 1784-1884"


The VanVolkenburgh's extracted from the Quarter Pay Lists of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles:


David VV and Timothy VV :

David and Timothy were grandsons of Timothy Hodges, UEL and sons of Jacob VV who was mentioned as a Loyalist in land claims.  I wondered why Timothy did not enlist at the same time as David his brother, and it seems he was not yet old enough at first call. See David's land petitions to discover how this war affected him.  NEW: Also see Andrew Quackenbush's research report on David VV's year as a prisoner of war in the States.

James VV:

Can anyone place him?  He was on the pay lists having transferred in from another regiment, and then soon disappeared from the pay lists.  He is not part of the Perth Military land grants for reduced soldiers.  He has not yet been found on pay lists for other War of 1812 militia units

Jacob Vanvoltenbuck / DeWattenburgh / Wattenbuck 

This is an interesting case of a VV changing his name.  Was he trying to differentiate from the other VV's in the regiment?  The name-change issue arose when attempting to secure his land claims and he was asked to clarify his use of two varying names: see his land claims: 1820 and 1833


Aaron Sharp, many Simmons and Patterson names, anyone else on the lists recognized as related to their family trees?


QUARTER-PAY LISTS - Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles   

Regimental history found at the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles (Re-enactment Group) website

Notes in green are excerpts from the account of Thaddeus Lewis, a Private in the GGs from the Napanee area, who enlisted about the same time and same age as David VV.  His name is on the same paylists, throughout.  The diary excerpts start at Ch. 2 



25 Mar 1812 to 24 Jun 1812, stationed at Three Rivers, L.C.

491. Vanbohnburg, David (May 25 to June 24)
507. Waterbuck, Jacob (April 1 to June 24)

[see transcript]


War of 1812 re-enactor's tents at Nelles Manor, Grimsby, Ontario, May 2012.  Photo by Scott Rance.

In the nineteenth year of my age I enlisted for a soldier in the Glengary regiment of Fencibles, in the British service, this being the twelvth day of March, in the year of our Lord 1812, in which year the United States of America proclaimed War with His Brittanic Majesty, George the 3rd. When I enlisted I had not the slightest knowledge of the War which so soon commenced. Now I was brought to experience new things, and pass through scenes which I never dreamed of. As there was a great number of recruits enlisted in the neighbourhoods adjacent to Kingston, we were gathered to that post first, and as soon as sailing was practicable on Lake Ontario, there being a lack of sailors, I, with fifteen more of my fellow recruits, was put on board a ship of War as marines, for an expedition to Fort George at the mouth of the Niagara River. Nothing worth inserting occurred on this voyage, only the merciful hand of God as in time past was still over me, and we safely returned to Kingston.

Soon after our return the body of recruits at Kingston, and elsewhere in the Province of Upper Canada received orders to march to a place called Three Rivers, a distance of about three hundred miles from Kingston. But before we marched I took the measles, and now I passed through a severe calamity, for the ravages of that cruel disorder seized me in every part of my system, that was subject thereto, and what added to my suffering was that the most of my fellows marched away, leaving me and a few more of my fellows that were in like circumstances with me, and we had very little attendance, and I and some others could not get a place in the hospital, it being so crowded with the sick.

About the first of May of the same year, we having recovered from the measles, were ordered on board of batteaux, and we rolled down the River St. Lawrence, to Three Rivers, in Lower Canada, where we joined the regiment, after a safe arrival, by means of a well directed Providence over us.


Now I was brought again to experience something new to me, we were immediately put to drill and garrison duty, and these things proved too hard for such a constitution as mine, and I soon fell sick with a fever, and was carried to the Hospital, where I lay in much distress of both body and mind, for the space of about one month...[whereupon he resolved to lead a better Christian life, but upon recovery soon found himself "subject to those who professed no religion and returned to the wickedness and excess of the past".]


25 Jun 1812 to 24 Sep 1812, stationed at Lower Canada

445. Vanbolenburg, David (full term)
459. Watingbuck, Jacob (full term)
[see transcript]



H.M.S. Badger - 1812 replica gunboat at Penetanguishene Harbour - June 2012.  Photo by L. Rance.


The gun that looks like a "mini-cannon" under the tip of the red flag, fired one-pound balls ("a little larger than a golf ball").  In this size of boat may be five or six guns, with the front gun on a sliding rail for wider range.  Gunboats carried 6-10 crew.  So as not to startle the often-exhausted men, proper protocol for boarding is to "announce".  Scott is announcing!  It was too windy to hoist the sails.  They were made to historical specifications with sewn-together strips as sail cloth then was limited to 2 foot widths.


In the beginning of Autumn of the same year 1812, we marched to Quebec, and about two months after we were again ordered to march to Upper Canada. This was a matter of joy to me because I anticipated the happiness of seeing my parents once more, together with the rest of my dear and loving friends.


But this march dealt destruction and death to many of our fellow soldiers. For we set out with a great number of batteaux laden with very heavy ordinance stores and we had with us two gun boats.


The River St. Lawrence being very rapid we were obliged to march sometimes from morning till night in the river, and a great share of the time we were wet to the loins, drawing the heavy laden boats against the stream. We began this march in the month of November and arrived at Prescott in the first part of December, and from this the reader will understand that the water was very cold, as well as the weather.


25 Sep 1812 to 24 Dec 1812, stationed at Montreal, L.C.

481. Vanwittenburg, David (full term)
498. Wattenbuck, Jacob (full term) - from 10th Coy.

[see transcript]



Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles re-enactors  Photo by Bill Longo

We took our winter quarters at Prescott, and in the process of that winter we buried twenty-four of the front rank of the right flank company to which I belonged, all of whom died of sickness, and no doubt in consequence of that march, and the hardships connected therewith.


I too was brought very low and weak by a severe sickness, and although I was carried to an old log house which they called the Hospital where I had only some straw thrown down for me to lay on, and only my own blanket to cover me, notwithstanding all this it pleased God in his mercy and goodness to preserve my life and to restore me so that I was permitted to return to my quarters as a convalescent.


About this time my father heard of our arrival at Prescott; and came about eighty miles distance from home to pay us a visit, this was a matter of great consolation to me, I was not fit for duty but remained a convalescent till the month of January 1813 at which time my father came to visit us again and brought my mother along with him, and in consequence of my not being able to do any duty, I obtained leave by furlough to go home with them... I do believe the Lord here interefered on my behalf. Had I have stayed there in that state of weakness... taking into account the nourishment and care that a soldier receives in such cases, it is not probable that I could have long existed in mortal life...


I returned agreeable to the limit of my furlough and joined my company again at Prescott about the first of February, and was restored to such health and strength that I immediately went to my duty as a soldier once more.


25 Dec 1812 to 24 Mar 1813, stationed at Montreal, L.C.

591. Vanvolkenburg, David (full term) - Kingston
605. Wattenbuck, Jacob (full term)
[see transcript]




"The Surgeon" re-enactor at the Nelles Manor, Grimsby, Ontario, May 2012.  Photo by L. Rance.


(above) Excerpt from David VV's Land Petition showing the debilitating effects of a musket ball wound.  The surgeon explained that if the ball was relatively intact without having been shattered by a direct hit to bone, it was often thought best to leave in place.   There was "no help" for injured veterans of this war.  Chronic pain may have been handled through alcohol, as the opiate laudanum was expensive and addictive.  For veterans who were shipped to England, as was nearly done to Thaddeus Lewis (diary), a philanthopist there invented prosthetic devices to facilitate a return to gainful employment.  If David VV was Brighton-based "David the Shoemaker", perhaps he was able to create a solution to cope with this foot injury.


On the twenty-second day of the same month [January], we were ordered to cross the river St. Lawrence on the ice and to attack the enemies fort at Ogdensburgh, by storm. We undertook the expedition very early in the morning and a horrid scene was before me. I do not feel adequate to describe in full the particulars connected therewith, but the battle joined hard upon us, they being, as was afterwards understood three to one. Here were my fellows falling on my right and on my left, some dead and some wounded. Just before we reached the shore on the enemies side of the river, I received a shot a little below my ancle joint, which brought me down on the ice.


We were ordered to charge a battery with eleven great guns mounted on it, from which they were dealing out destruction and death to us, and we were at the charge when I fell, and while our troops were furiously engaged in charging them from the battery, five or six rifle men turned out from behind a large stone building and took me prisoner and they took my rifle from me but left my accoutrements on me, and they put me into a large stone building which they used for a barracks where their wounded were, two Doctors were there and some women. Mean time our troops had taken possession of, and manned their batteries and in a short time there came a flag of truce from the British Commandent informing the U.S. Commandant he must give up the fort with all its contents without delay, or he would put every man to the point of the bayonet. He replied that he could not (this I heard) give up the fort without more fighting. The British truce having left, the U.S. Commandent ordered his troops to make their way to a given point, ten miles off and not to wait for another, and wait there till further orders.


The enemy at this appeared to be in a state of great confusion some ran into the building where I was to get their knapsacks, and by this means left some beautiful rifles and I took possession of one of them. No sooner than the intelligence reached the British Commandant, that there must be more fighting before the Yankees would surrender, he ordered the British forces to load, and fire from every Battery, and every gun that was manageable, and direct their fire to that spot where we were and in less than ten minutes I was apparently in greater danger than ever before, for according to the orders our troops leveled all the artillery in the Town, and from the Batteries on that spot where I was balls and shot, of all descriptions, from sixty four pounds down, chain shot, grape and canister, came pouring in upon us, sweeping the street and shattering the buildings to pieces, and this fearful scene lasted about fifteen minutes.


In the time of the firing I had taken my stand in the Barrack room door supporting myself with one hand against the door post, and the other hand siezed around the muzzle of the rifle, with the brick on the threshold; and as soon as the firing ceased, the staff adjutant came down on the double quick march leading the division under his command, and seeing me in British uniform and having an instrument of war in my hand which belonged to the enemy, he supposed I had been fighting against the British, therefore he without any hesitation or inquiry, as soon as he got near enough seized me by the belts of my accoutrements where they crossed my breast, with his left hand and was that instant about to pierce my body with the sword he had in his right hand, but God in his providence delivered me by the only man in that division that knew me, who stood next to him caught his arm that instant...and yet he tried again and again to thrust the sword through me...but my friend steady to his purpose kept a firm grip of the Adjutant's arm until he drew my assailant and me out near the middle of the street, at last my friend cried out "my God will you kill the Colonel's Orderly", and immediately on hearing this he let me go. I was already very weak with the loss of blood.


...while thinking of my wonderful deliverance I was laid on a cannon carriage on top of several dead men and taken across the river again to our own side, and from thence to the Hospital. Twenty days after the engagement the ball that I had received was extracted from my flesh, it lay in very deep. Under this operation I suffered much, notwithstanding in a few days I was dismissed from the Hospital and returned to my company as a convalescent.


[He described the spiritual struggle of trying to live morally while enticed to sing uncivil songs at at one point concluded:] "it was of no use to try to be a Christian while I was a soldier, for the devil told me it was impossible to be a Christian there".


25 Mar 1813 to 24 Jun 1813, stationed at Kingston

559. Vanvolkenburg, James (April 2 to Jun 124) - Fort George and Command. Inlisted April 2, 1813.
560. Vanvolkenburg, David (Mar 25 to May 27) - Fort George. Prisoner of War May 27, 1813.
577. Wallenbuck, Jacob (full term)

[see transcript]

David VV was one of a group of 55 men taken prisoner during the Battle of Fort George on 25-27 May 1813.

In the month of May 1813, we with the rest of His Majesty's Forces in Canada were ordered tp take the field; and encamp against the enemy. We marched to Kingston and from thence to the seat of war where our grand army lay at the cross road, about two miles distance from Fort George, which Fort was then occupied by the enemy who had taken it from the British a few days previous to our arrival at that place.


We had suffered much on this long, and tedious march from Prescott to Queenston Heights, a distance of more than 300 miles, we travelled on foot carrying our arms, accoutrements and ammunition, together with our great coat, blanket, and knapsack two canteens and one havresack, with our provisions and kett, the roads narrow and muddy, and part of the way no road but through wilderness, and on that march we were three days in succession, without any provisions.


Our constitutions being over-taxed with fatigue some of our fellows fell sick, and I was among... them, and... it was thought best to send us to the rear to a place called Burlington Bay at the head of lake Ontario, about forty three miles in the rear of the grand army.


[The conditions at Burlington Bay were not suitable for convalescence, in fact the men made crude shelters of tied bushes but were weakened by exposure.]


The officer that had the charge of us, himself being very ill at this time, hearing of my situation ordered that I should be taken to Ancaster to an Hospital or if I could get a place in some farmer's house on the way I might with his consent be quartered...


[He did rehabilitate under the care of a hospitable family near the camp and returned to duty after one month.]

25 Jun 1813 to 24 Sep 1813

514. Vanvolkenburg, David (full term) - Prisoner of War
515. Vanvokenburg, Timothy - June 25 to Jul 21 - Deserted July 21, 1813
527. Wallenbuck, Jacob (full term)

 [see transcript]

25 Sep 1813 to 25 Dec 1813

526. Vanwolkenburgh, David (full term) - Prisoner of War
537. Wallenbuck, Jacob (full term)
[see transcript]

There was still greater afflictoin awaiting me, for when the weather began to grow cold, so as to cause the armeis to make their retreat from the field to winter quarters, we had to experience a voyage in batteaux on the open lake to Little York, now Toronto, and from thence to Kingston, where we took up our winter quarters. We arrived there about the middle of December in the year of our Lord 1813 now I was about thirty miles from my father's house, and I had a great desire to see my friends once more, and especially my parents accordingly I obtained a furlough limited to five days, this was on the last day of December, but the suffering that I was about to pass through was hid from my eyes.


When my pass was signed I was in good health, as far as I knew, but in ten minutes after I was taken so ill that I could scarcely stand on my feet. But being anxious to go home I pursued my journey and in the distance of the first half mile I do believe that I fell down forty times, so rapid was my whole system disordered...


[Thaddeus was found and taken in an insensible state to a nearby family who eventually ascertained his identity and destination, and he was taken by sleigh to friends of the family and then to his home. Of his Jan 3rd arrival and first days of care he had no recollection. This was typhoid fever which lasted a further 22 days.]


25 Dec 1813 to 24 Mar 1814, stationed at Three Rivers, L.C.

501. Vanvolkenburg, David (full term) - Prisoner of War. From 9th Coy.
512. Wattenbuck, Jacob (full term) - Kingston

[see transcript]

I began to recover, but was not able to leave my bed long at a time, until about the middle of March. While I lay sick as stated above, the Captain of the company to which I belonged had made repeated threats to send the soldiers after me. For this reason I was obliged to leave my father's house and my mother's care, when I was only able to stand the journey lying in a bed; this was a severe trial for a tender mother; and also for me it was cruel and severe, in the state of weakness I was in. When we arrived at Kingston I was carried into Block-house No. 3, my father and mother, having performed their duty toward me, they returned home; leaving me in one sense in the hands of the hardened, and merciless; yet, no doubt, not without recommending me to the protection of Almighty God.


25 Mar 1814 to 24 Jun 1814, stationed at Kingston, U.C.

508. Vanvolkenburg, David (May 25 to Dec. 24) - Prisoner of War. Exchanged at Halifax May 24.
518. Wattenbuck, Jacob (full term)

[see transcript]


David VV was one of six prisoners exchanged on this date at Halifax, but the others exchanged to?/for? a Genl. Tuckey or Tucker.

I was immediately sent to the general hospital, and had but very little expectation of ever coming out from there, until the flame of mortal life should be extinct.

... not many days after... there was a medical board ordered to examine the sick and lame, to ascertain [their number and fitness for the field] the ensuing season, for the armies were ordered to march to the seat of war again.

... I was a horrid spectacle to behold, for when the fever left off raging through my system, it fell into my right leg, and at this time it was swelled in a shocking manner, and the hair had fallen from my head like the leaves from the trees in autumn, and to make more hair grow, my head had been shaved by the barber of the hospital... I was emaciated to a mere skeleton and without hesitation I was one of those that passed as unfit for service the ensuing season.


25 Jun 1814 to 24 Sep 1814

470. Vanvolkenburg, David (full term) - sick of his wounds at York.
480. Wattenbuck, Jacob (full term) - sick and wounded - York.
[see transcript] 

At the July Battle of Lundy's Lane, David was shot in the left ankle with a musket ball.


[When visited by his mother and sisters, Thaddeus was immediately furloughed to home] from the 10th day of May 1814 to the 20th day of January 1815, in which time I was restored to perfect health and strength [with the exception of the swollen leg. During this time he met the woman who would become his wife.]

25 Sep 1814 to 24 Dec 1814, stationed in Upper Canada

437. Vanvalkenburg, David (full term)
447. Wattenbuck, Jacob (full term)
[see transcript]


Re-enactor British regiments at Fort Erie - August 2008.  Photo by Scott Rance.

About the 10th day of January, 1815, our Regiment, having returned from the Seat of War, took up winter quarters at Adolphustown, about twenty-five miles from my father's; about the 20th of the same month I again joined my Regiment at the place above mentioned. My leg remaining swelled, I had again to pass an examination, and was passed unfit for further service.


[At the end of January, Thaddeus was ordered to report for planned transport to Quebec and then on to the Chelsea Hospital in England where he would be pensioned for life. This plan caused] an inexpressible grief to me, it seemed to drink up all my spirits. The thought of bidding a final adieu to my parents... pressed hard upon me, and what added to my grief... [was his] promise of marriage...


[He descended into a nearly two month spiral of depression and alcohol abuse, until] the 22nd day of March 1815, the news came to us that there were preliminaries of peace, and I ... was aroused from a state of intoxication by one of the servants of our company, who told me I must go with him to the orderly room, and have my discharge filled up.... Accordingly I was discharged from the British service on the 24th day of March 1815, and here my being a soldier, and my drinking alcoholic liquors to excess, ended together.








Linked toSharp, Aaron Abraham; VanValkenburgh, David Mahany; VanValkenburgh, Timothy

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