Residents’ devotion to the cause during the War of 1812 led to the formation of the Petersburg Volunteers—who distinguished themselves in action at the Siege of Fort Meigs on May 5, 1813. President James Madison called Petersburg “Cockade of the Union” (or “Cockade City”), in honor of the cockades the Volunteers wore on their caps.
On their march to Fort Meigs in Ohio, the Volunteers stopped at Monticello to visit the former president, Thomas Jefferson, where, according to Volunteer Alfred M. Lorrain,
“We drew up, in military array, at the base of the hill on which the great house was erected. About half way down the hill stood a very homely old man, dressed in plain Virginia cloth, his head uncovered, and his venerable locks flowing in the wind. Some of our quizzical clique at once marked him as fit subject of fun. ‘I wonder,’ said one, ‘what old codger that is, with his hair blowing nine ways for Easter Monday.’ ‘Why of course,’ said another, ‘it is the overseer, and he seems to be scared out of a year’s growth. I suspect he never saw gentlemen volunteers before.’ But how were we astonished when he advanced to our officers and introduced himself as THOMAS JEFFERSON! The officers were invited in to a collation, while we marched off to the town, where more abundant provision had been made.”
For more on the history of the War of 1812, and the role Petersburg played in it, visit our Gift Shop (insert hyperlink) where you can purchase “Duty and Honor, Petersburg’s Contributions to the War of 1812”.