Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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July 4, 2013

Historic celebration in Chatfield Saturday

Corsicana — The War of 1812 may not be one of America's well remembered conflicts, but it will be remembered in the historic community of Chatfield on Saturday.

The Chatfield Cemetery Association will honor the only known War of 1812 veteran buried in Navarro County, Henry Griggs, as a part of its annual meeting and barbecue. Activities will begin at noon Saturday at the Chatfield-Tupelo Community Center.

Association members will be joined by several groups who will take part in the ceremonies. The 7th United States Infantry Living History Association, a group of War of 1812 re-enactors in period uniforms, will pay tribute to Griggs, as will two organizations of descendants of veterans of that war.  Members from the Dallas area of the General Society of the War of 1812 in Texas and the United States Daughters of 1812 will travel to Chatfield to participate.

Members of the General Society of the War of 1812 are involved in honoring that war’s veterans buried throughout Texas. They already have been involved in recognizing Griggs. According to Cemetery Association board member Rob Jones, society members Drake Peddie and Chuck Sprague recently cleaned his tombstone. “The monument looks like new,” Jones said. Society members also will be placing a veterans medallion honoring Griggs for his service later in the year.

A special part of Saturday’s activities will be the musical tribute by the Dallas Heritage Band. Composed of professional musicians who portray bands from all periods of the 19th Century, the band’s fife and drum corps will entertain with selections popular during that war.  Because fifes, piccolos, and other woodwind instruments combined with drums formed most military bands of the period, the band will use no brass instruments in its performance.

Immediately following the noon meal, the 7th U. S. Infantry re-enactors will begin the ceremonies with posting the colors. A 15 star and 15 stripe U.S. flag of the “Star Spangled Banner” pattern will be used.  

Soldiers of the period usually were armed with flintlock black powder muskets, and a musket volley is also planned. Re-enactors and band members will be available to answer questions and demonstrate the life of soldiers like Henry Griggs during this conflict.  

The Cemetery Association has a copy of Griggs' war record obtained from the National Archives. The 200th anniversary of Griggs going to war occurs this summer according to Jones.  He noted that Griggs’ service was typical for the times.  

"Like so many men in the early history of our nation, Griggs was in the militia," he said. "He was in the Georgia Militia, and when war came he was called up to fight the Creek Indians who were allies of the British. This is the appropriate time to honor his service.”

Griggs and his large family came to Chatfield in his later years, and his descendants have been active in the rural community ever since. Robert Witherspoon Miles, a great-great-grandson of Griggs, still lives at Chatfield.

“This is the first time that Griggs’ service to our country has been recognized,” Miles said. “Before I was born, his wife was honored as a ‘Real Daughter of the American Revolution’ because her father was a patriot, but I’m glad Henry now is getting his due.”

The Bicentennial of the War of 1812 began last year with commemorations in a number of states along the East Coast where battles were fought. Official celebrations will be occurring in both the United States and Canada, with the highlight of the U.S. observance coming in September, 2014 at the 200th anniversary of the bombardment of Ft. McHenry and the composition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

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