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General Macomb’s Heroics


A military historian credits General Alexander Macomb with preserving the nation’s current border with Canada.

General Macomb turned back the British in the Battle of Plattsburgh (New York) in September, 1814.

“The British government had every intention of pushing the American border south of the Great Lakes and grabbing everything north of the Ohio River and turning it into a neutral Indian state,” said Dr. Rich Barbuto, history professor with the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is considered an expert on the War of 1812.

He said General Macomb’s troops were vastly outnumbered but he managed to force the British to retreat. The U.S. and Britain signed a peace treaty just a few months later.

Barbuto will visit western Illinois this weekend as part of Macomb’s Heritage Days celebration and to give the presentation, “Plattsburgh 1814: Alexander Macomb’s Finest Hour.”

The presentation begins at 11:30 am, Saturday, June 28, at the Western Illinois Museum. It’s free and open to the public.

Barbuto called Macomb a “bright” and “well-mannered” officer who quickly rose through the ranks in the decade before the War of 1812 and was promoted to colonel as the war began.

Barbuto said Macomb served as the nation’s Commanding General from 1828 until his death in 1841.  He worked to professionalize the U.S military and Barbuto believes his influence was felt for decades afterward.

“I think Alexander Macomb is part of that emerging professionalism. So in that regard he had a big impact in training the officers who would end up commanding forces in the American Civil War."

Rich is TSPR's News Director.