1812-1884; bulk: 1812-1827

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The Jacob Brown papers are available on microfilm, P-302 (8 reels). See Reel List below.

Collection Summary


This collection consists primarily of the military correspondence of Major General Jacob Brown during and after the War of 1812.

Biographical Sketch

Jacob Brown was born in 1775 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, into a Quaker family. He worked briefly as a teacher before moving to upstate New York, settling an area of the Black River now known as Brownville on ancestral Onondaga Haudenosaunee land.

While establishing himself as a farmer, Brown joined the New York militia, rising steadily through the ranks before being named brigadier general in 1811. When the War of 1812 broke out, his successful defense of Sackets Harbor on Lake Ontario brought both national recognition and a commission as brigadier general in the regular army. Brown commanded his troops to subsequent victories at Fort Erie and at the Battle of Chippawa over British forces. He was severely wounded at the Battle of Lundy's Lane, which ended in a stalemate.

After the war, Brown, as the most senior member of the U.S. Army, was named commanding general by President James Monroe. He worked to reform and reorganize the Army until his death in 1828.

Brown's marriage to Pamelia Brown in 1802 produced five daughters and four sons. Nathan Williams Brown, the only son to reach full adulthood, would become Brigadier General and Chief Paymaster of the Army, retiring in 1882.

Collection Description

This collection consists of letters of Major General Jacob Brown, 1813-1849. Subjects include troop movements, regimental orders, battlefield assignments, naval operations on the Great Lakes, requests for equipment and supplies, hospitals, prisoners, and prisons. Of note in the correspondence are Major General Brown's letters after the battles of Chippawa, Ontario, July 1813, and Lundy's Lane, Ontario, 25 July 1814, where he was wounded twice. Brown also led troops and New York militia into battle at Sackets Harbor and captured Fort Erie in 1813. Correspondents include John Armstrong, William Harris Crawford, Andrew Jackson, Alexander Macomb, James Wilkinson, Winfield Scott, and John C. Calhoun.

The collection also contains two historical manuscripts related to Brown, both in unidentified handwriting. The first is called "Major-Gen. Brown's recollections concerning despatch of troops on August 7, 1814 so far as Major-Gen. Ripley's conduct was concerned." The second, apparently written in 1884, is called "The Campaign of the Niagara 1814" and includes hand-drawn and colored maps.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by William Allen Hayes, March 1910.

Restrictions on Access

The Jacob Brown papers are available on microfilm, P-302 (8 reels). See Reel List below.

Reel List

Reel 1
15 March 1812-31 December 1814
Reel 2
1815-17 March 1816
Reel 3
May? 1816-30 December 1817
Reel 4
2 January 1818-[25] December 1815
Reel 5
January 1819-14 July 1821
Reel 6
16 July 1820-29 December 1823
Reel 7
1824-4 July 1838
Reel 8
Undated, 1884

Box List

Box 1
1812-June 1815
Box 2
July 1815-March 1816
Box 3
May 1816-1817
Box 4
Box 5
April 1819-1821
Box 6
May 1821-June 1822
Box 7
July 1822-August 1825
Box 8Folder 1-18
September 1825-1849
Box 8Folder 19
Undated papers

Miscellaneous writings

Box 8Folder 20
"Major-Gen. Brown's recollections...," undated
Box 8Folder 21
"The Campaign of the Niagara 1814" Part I, [1884]
Box 8Folder 22
"The Campaign of the Niagara 1814" Part II, [1884]
Box 8Folder 23
Unidentified notes
Box OS
Oversize papers

Preferred Citation

Jacob Brown papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Armstrong, John, 1758-1843.
Calhoun, John C. (John Caldwell), 1782-1850.
Crawford, William Harris, 1772-1834.
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
Macomb, Alexander, 1748-1831.
Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866.
Wilkinson, James, 1757-1825.


New York (State). Militia.
United States. Army--Officers--Correspondence.
United States. War Department.


Chippewa, Battle of, Ont., 1814.
Lake Erie, Battle of, 1813.
Lundy's Lane, Battle of, Ont., 1814
New York (State)--History--War of 1812.
United States--History--War of 1812--American forces.
United States--History--War of 1812--Campaigns.
United States--History--War of 1812--Equipment and supplies.
United States--History--War of 1812--Naval operations--Great Lakes.
United States--History--War of 1812--Personal narratives.