1812 and all that seeks to offer insightful and accessible historical research on the War of 1812 and British Army during the Age of Napoleon.
My interests lie primarily in the study of the Napoleonic British Army, its practices, and the lives of its members. More specific areas of focus include courts martial, rankers’ memoirs, and military musicians.
Having been fascinated by these subjects for over a decade, I hope to provide an interesting window into the period through the articles on this site. I am currently undertaking an MPhil in Modern British History at the University of Cambridge and am a Council member of The Society for Army Historical Research. I also served as Drum-Major of the Fort York Guard for 2015 and 2016, leading a recreated fife and drum corps in daily summer demonstrations at Fort York, Canada’s best-preserved War of 1812 historic site in the heart of downtown Toronto.
I hope you enjoy this website.
– Eamonn O’Keeffe
Want to get in touch? Click here to contact me.
Check out links to some of my projects, books and articles here:
New Light on Toronto’s Oldest Cold Case
An investigation into the infamous 1815 murder of John Paul Radelmüller, keeper of the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
Narrative of the Eventful Life of Thomas Jackson: Militiaman and Coldstream Sergeant, 1803-15
I researched and edited this fascinating Napoleonic-era military memoir, published by Helion Books in February 2018. The author, Walsall-born Thomas Jackson, served in the Staffordshire Militia at Windsor Castle and lost a leg during the failed storming of Bergen-op-Zoom in 1814. His descriptions of post-war life as a disabled Chelsea pensioner are particularly rare and valuable.
No Common Man: Searching for Shadrack Byfield
This book project chronicles the life of the War of 1812’s most famous British veteran. A Wiltshire weaver, 41st Private Shadrack Byfield left several memoirs of his life for posterity.
“Such Want of Gentlemanly Conduct:” The General Court Martial of Lieutenant John de Hertel (also available on this website)
Analysis of the newly discovered general court martial of Canadian Fencibles Lieutenant John de Hertel offers a remarkable glimpse into the workings of War of 1812-era military justice. After exploring the backgrounds of the principal actors, this article employs witness testimony to vividly reconstruct the fateful altercation between Lieutenants Peach and de Hertel on 22 May 1815 at Fort York in modern-day Toronto, Canada. Subsequent attempts at conciliation, the trial itself, and de Hertel’s vitriolic defence are examined in detail, followed by concluding reflections on the insight gained through study of this affair and the potential of courts martial as historical sources on the Napoleonic British Army.
Fops under Fire: British Drum-Majors in Action during the Napoleonic Wars
This article documents the roles performed by drum-majors on the battlefield in the Napoleonic and 1812-era British Army. While most of these musical warriors performed unglamorous but essential auxiliary tasks behind the front lines, a handful of drum-majors distinguished themselves through conspicuous acts of bravery under fire.
The Old Halberdier: From the Peninsula to Plattsburgh with a Welshman of the 39th
An anonymous narrative of a soldier of the 39th Regiment was published in the North Wales Chronicle between 1845-48, detailing the author’s service in the Peninsular War and War of 1812. Having discovering this memoir in 2014, I succeeded in identifying the author: Private John Morris Jones of Llanrwst, Denbighshire. His edited account was published in three parts in the Journal of the Society of Army Historical Research (Spring, Summer and Autumn 2017).
The Winter March, co-produced by Patrick Y. Lee and Eamonn O’Keeffe, recreates the 1100km epic trek of the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment during the winter of 1813. Based on the reminiscences of Lieutenant John Le Couteur, this short film won the Historica-Dominion Institute’s 2013 Heritage Minute Contest.
Links of interest:
War of 1812.ca – This website offers a series of well-researched articles on the 1812-era British Army.
The Society of Army Historical Research – Founded in 1921, this learned society promotes study of the history of the British Army and publishes a quarterly academic journal.
The War of 1812 Magazine – Part of the excellent Napoleon Series, this magazine offers up to date research by some of the leading experts on the War of 1812.
The Journal of Canadian Military History – Launched in 1992 and based at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canadian Military History regularly publishes insightful open access articles.
Gareth Glover Collection – Military historian Gareth Glover has authored and edited over 40 books on the period, publishing dozens of previously undiscovered first-hand accounts on the Napoleonic Wars.
Dr Adrian Goldsworthy – A respected author of ancient history, Dr Goldsworthy has turned his attention to writing an historical fiction series on the Peninsular War. His ‘Sources’ page also provides a useful reading list for those interested in the Napoleonic period.
I am pleased to have served as a researcher or consultant in the past for the following projects, historical societies and reenactment groups:
Cover photo credit: Brad Robb, CC License 3.0.