Tag Archives: military

Cincinnatus Pryor of Elizabeth City, VA

88Cincinnatus Pryor signature
It looks like there’s a new Pryor or Prior (it’s spelled both ways on documents) for the family tree. Ancestry.com has added records of applications to the Military Academy at West Point, NY. They include an 1825 application for a cadet named Cincinnatus Prior who is described as the son of General Prior of “the late war”. I think that would make him a son of Brazure Williams Pryor who fought in the War of 1812.

One glowing letter of recommendation in the file states Cincinnatus was a scholar at the Hampton Academy and was accomplished in English, Latin, Mathematics, Geometry (including Euclid’s Elements), trigonometry, and his courses included elementary chemistry and geography.

A letter of application signed by Cincinnatus Pryor states his age and place of birth which fits with Brazure’s marriage to Elizabeth Antoinette DeNeuville in 1807.

January 12, 1827. Addressed to the Secretary of War…  was born in the State of Virginia and now reside in the Borough of Norfolk and State of virginia. My age is Eighteen and my character and qualifications will appear from the recommendations of Wm Thos. Newton, Capt. E. P. Kenedy, Mr. John Tyler, Genl John Floyd, and certificates of my teacher Mr. Wm Ewing which were enclosed to you last year.
{signed}

Cincinnatus Pryor

Brazure Williams Pryor died in April 1827, so it’s possible that Cincinnatus didn’t make it to West Point. However if you do a search of Google books there’s a government publication that states he was dismissed from the Navy in about 1832. Wait a minute… Navy? I though he was applying to West Point!

Sam Pryor: Sharing A Swig From General Santa Anna’s Bottle

General Santa Anna c 1853

A Pryor researcher brought up an old newspaper article that mentioned a Ketucky Pryor and General Santa Anna. I admit I have a very limited knowledge of Santa Anna – mostly that he led the Mexican troops against the Texans at The Alamo. When I turned to Wikipedia for more information I was surprised to see him in a photo 20 years post-Alamo looking like quite an affable fellow. Guess if you involved in the death of Davy Crockett you’re going down in the American history books as the villain!

The article they referred to was found in Newspapers.com: Bourbon News, Paris, Kentucy on 19 October 1883:

John Mooreland visited Sam Pryor last week, and both drank out of the same bottle that Henry Clay and Gen. Santa Anna once drank from, while guests of Mr. Mooreland’s father at the old stage stand at Mooreland’s on the pike near Houston’s.  Henry Clay and Santa Anna were en route for Washington City, by stage.

When would this drink have happened? The battle at the Alamo was in 1836 and Santa Anna was returned to Mexico in 1837, so we have a time range.

This is a pretty interesting tid bit! Wikipedia tells that after Santa Anna was eventually defeated he was sent into exile in the US and in 1837 was transported by ship back o Veracruz, Mexico. There are some chunks of information missing– How did he get from Texas to Washington, DC? Did the USS Pioneer take him all the way from Washington, DC to Veracruz? Some time ago I read how during the Mexican War (10 years later) ships from New Orleans took troops to embark on the east coast of Mexico (Veracruz is on the same coast). So, perhaps Santa Anna passed through Kentucky on his way to or on his way back from Washington, DC.

Texas A&M University’s website (TAMU.edu) provides an explanation that fits in with this article, filling-in answers to these questions. It describes Santa Anna’s trek included a steamboat up the Mississippi River to the Ohio River and on to Louisville (reached on Christmas Day 1836). He was treated well

…when the party stopped at Lexington, they were accorded marked attention, and many members of the Kentucky legislature came over from Frankfort to pay their respects.

Senator Henry Clay

In 1836 Henry Clay was a US Senator and a Lexington native.  It’s interesting to note that the Pike is the road connecting Paris, KY with Lexington, KY, so stopping along this road may have been possible as well as the possibility that Clay and Santa Anna met over a bottle.

“The Lexington (Kentucky) Gazette of the 5th inst. speaks of the departure of Santa Anna from that city. He was well treated there, and the editor thinks, that as a “distinguished” stranger in  a neutral country, he is entitled to the hospitality of every citizen.”
— North-Carolina Standard, 25 January 1837

Was it just a passing comment in the 1883 article that Santa Anna stopped on the pike near Houston’s? Was it a stab at irony? Santa Anna had surrendered to General Sam Houston, the same Houston who had been made President of the Republic of Texas, and had agreed to send Santa Anna off to Washington, DC. I’m not the only one wondering about a Houston connection between the families in Bourbon county and the man in Texas. A 1998 post asks, “Is anyone researching the HOUSTON family of Bourbon County? We are trying to find a connection between Sam HOUSTON, of Texas fame…” (see post)

I’m just impressed that someone held onto a bottle of hooch for almost 50 years. It must have been an honored meeting between Mooreland and Sam Pryor!

Captain Prior at Fort Defiance (OH) in 1794

mystery-pryor-manReported in The Maryland Gazette (Annapolis, MD on 2 October 1794). This report is of a battle between Americans and British/Native-American forces. Fort Defiance is where the town of Defiance, OH now sits.

LEXINGTON, September 8.
An express arrived here on Saturday evening about 8 o’clock, with letters from the army, from which we have collected the following particulars:–
On the 20th ult. about 146 miles advanced of Greenville, the advance guard, consisting of two companies, were attached by about 1100 Indians and Canadian militia; the attack being sudden and unexpected, the advance guard fell back on the main army and threw them into confusion, which occasioned a retreat of about one hundred paces before they formed again; after forming, not more than two heavy fires were exchanged before they were ordered to charge the enemy, which was instantly done; upon which the enemy immediately gave ground, and our men rushing forward with such imperosity, the enemy were dislodged from their coverts, and the cavalry taking advantage of that event, pursued them about two miles, when they dispersed. The action continued about an hour and a quarter; we had about 30 men killed, and 80 wounded; among the former are captain Campbell of the cavalry, and lieutenant Towles of the infantry. Among the latter are captain Slough, captain Vanransalear, Captain PRIOR and lieutenant Campbell Smith, of the federal army; –Seven of the volunteers were killed, and fourteen wounded. One hundred and twenty seven scalps were taken, and a number killed in the river that were not scalped. The army remained three days on the ground, and returned to Fort Defiance, at the mount of the Auglaize, where they were on the 24th ultimo.

The action happened within sight of a strong British fort, regularly built, and garrisoned with three hundred men, between forty and fifty miles below Fort Defiance, on the Maumee or the lakes. The commander in chief, sent a flag to major Campbell, commander of the British garrison, to march his men out to the nearest British post, and give up the fort, both of which he positively refused. The Indians had 5000 acres of land in corn, all in excellent order on the bottoms of the Miumee river, a considerable quantity of which the army have destroyed.

The following list of the names of the killed and wounded of the Kentucky volunteers, was received this day.
KILLED. John Jackson, Alexander Innes, William Mitchell, Thomas Moore, William Steel, Benjamin Bell, and James Wiley. WOUNDED. Captain Rawlings, lieutenant McKinney, ensign Duncan. Privates George McCullock, John Howard, Robert Scott, John Hinkston, Isaac Rankins, James Cost, James Stewart, Benjamin Bantle, John Montgomery, and William Woodrow.

I hate the use of “former” and “latter” as much as anyone else. In this article the word “killed” is the former event, indicating that Captain Prior was killed in action. Of course another newspaper account didn’t mention Captain Prior as one of the men killed:

Killed by Indians and Canadian Militia near Ft. Defiance, Ky on 20 Aug. 1794: Capt. Robert CAMPBELL (of the dragoons), Lt. Henry B. Towles (of the 4th Sub-Legion) and the following Ky. Volunteers: John JACKSON, Alexander INNES, William MITCHELL, Thomas MOORE, William STEELE, Benjamin BELL, And James WILEY (BVCG 29 Sept. 94, VCGA 6 Oct 94, VGRMA 6, 13 Oct 94, VGRC 3 Oct 94, HNPA 4, 7, Oct 94)
— Genealogical Abstracts from 18th-century Virginia Newspapers by Robert Kirk Headley

So who was Captain Prior and what really happened to him? Alan D. Gaff in his book Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne’s Legion in the Old Northwest also was interested in what happened to this Prior:

“Although Captain Prior of the First Sub-Legion was listed as wounded in Wayne’s report, his injury must have been minor since General Wilkinson* failed to mention it in his two surviving accounts of the fight.”

Captain Prior was Abner Prior who I wrote about in Abner Prior, A CT Yankee Among the Wabash Indians — Captain Solomon Van Rensalear, Captain Campbell Smith, and Captain Jacob Slough who were named in the newspaper report and were all also named and reported as “wounded” on the company roster.

* General James Wilkinson is the same man who was entangled with Aaron Burr (see post)

John Pryor in War of 1812

war-of-1812I don’t think I’ve mentioned this relationship before. Chesley Taylor, brother of both Spicy Taylor Pryor and Massey Taylor Pryor served in the same regiment (3 REG’T (DICKINSON’S) VIRGINIA MILITIA) during the War of 1812 with a John Pryor. I suspect this is John Pryor who was married to Massey Taylor. They married in December 1812 — perhaps it was spurred by the beginning of the war.

I looked through the list of soldiers in this regiment. There are some familiar names, like John Jared (Garrett?). There were a few names that point directly to Campbell County, VA:

Tarlton Asher – His father John Asher lived and died in Campbell County, VA. A researcher posted online that the senior Asher owned land near Pryor Wright’s property in  1795

Isaac Crews – he married Mary/Polly Oglesby the widow of Hezekiah Taylor who was killed in the War of 1812 in Canada (related to Edmund Taylor, but not his son Hezekiah Taylor who lived to a ripe old age in TN). Isaac Crews was counted on the 1820 Census in Campbell County, VA on the same page with with Edmund Taylor and his son Hezekiah.

Samuel Davidson – possibly the same man who married William Pryor and Spicy Taylor in Campbell County in 1809 (read more)