The 4th Infantry was formed after the Act of Congress May 30, 1796, from the infantry of the fourth sub-legion from the Legion of the United States upon the disbandment of the Legion in November of that year. Thomas Butler, of distinguished lineage and revolutionary service was to command the new regiment as Lieutenant-Colonel and Commandant. During the 1812 War the 4th Infantry was organised at the Nashua Deport outside of Concord, Massachusetts. Though they were poorly lead in the Detroit campaign by General Hull they performed with distinction through out the rest of the war including the siege of Plattsburgh.
The Fourth Regiment of Infantry by Lieut J. A. Leyden Adjutant
- 4TH U. S. INFANTRY
In the spring of 1812 the Indians to the north were causing much trouble and there were strong probabilities of a war with Great Britain, whose agents were identified with the Indian difficulties. General Hull, on account of his knowledge of the Indians and his former good record, had been given command of all the forces in the Northwest, and the regiment was accordingly ordered to join other troops under his immediate command. In obedience to these orders the regiment walked from Vincennes to Cincinnati and thence to Urbana, arriving at the latter place on July 3rd, the day before the receipt of the declaration of war against England. General Hull's command arrived at Detroit on July 6th, after a most arduous and trying march through the forests of Ohio. On the 12th it crossed the river for "an invasion and conquest of Upper Canada." Camp was established at Sandwich, on the Canadian side of the river, and the troops remained there for nearly a month without making hostile demonstration, although the Canadians and Indians were known to be concentrating at Malden, but thirteen miles down the river. A mutinous spirit began to manifest itself on account of this inactivity.
Governor Meigs had forwarded a considerable supply of provisions and clothing for the use of the army, and a small detachment of volunteers, sent to escort the supplies to Sandwich, was surprised and routed by a considerable force of Canadians and Indians. General Hull was prevailed upon later to send an additional force to bring the supplies into camp, and the Fourth Infantry, under the command of the youthful and gallant Lieutenant-Colonel James Miller, was reluctantly ordered upon the duty. Colonel Miller, before starting, briefly harangued his troops, saying: "And now, if there is any man in the ranks of this detachment who fears to meet the enemy, let him fall out and stay behind." None fell out. About 4 o'clock P. M., August 9th, the command reached the vicinity of Maguago, fourteen miles below Detroit. The advance guard, under the command of Captain Snelling, suddenly received from ambush a fierce volley from a mixed force of British, Canadians and Indians, under command of Major Muir of the English army and Tecumseh, the Indian chief. Snelling held his ground with what remained of his little force until the main body formed for the attack. The line moved forward with fixed bayonets and, although receiving a terrific fire from behind breastworks of fallen trees, charged the British and Canadians. Before they had time to reload, the first work was carried and the white men broke and fled, closely pursued by the American troops; the enemy was unable to form behind his second line of breastworks, and, completely routed, made the best of his way to the river and crossed to the other side. The Indians, thus deserted by their white allies, soon broke and fled in their turn, disappearing in the forest. Colonel Miller determined to march at once on Malden, but at sundown he was met with a peremptory order from General Hull to return to Detroit. The loss to the Fourth Infantry was 58 killed and wounded.
After the surrender, the officers and men of the regiment were taken as prisoners of war to Montreal, Canada, suffering great hardships on the way from excessive ill-treatment and the want of even the plainest food. Arriving at Montreal on the evening of September 27, 1812, the regiment was met by crowds of people who had collected, as they said, "to have a peep at General Hull's exterminating Yankees." A band of music joined the escort and struck up the much admired ditty, "Yankee Doodle," in which it was joined by all the men who could whistle the tune. When they ceased to play, "Yankee Doodle" was loudly called for by the regiment. At last, mortified at their conduct, the band began "Rule Britannia," which was cheered by the multitude, but the men continued their favourite song, some singing and others whistling, till the barracks were reached.
From Montreal the regiment was sent to Quebec, and the men confined on board transports in the river. Many men died during their imprisonment from the ill-usage they had received. Finally the regiment was exchanged and sent from Quebec on October 29th on an old schooner bound for Boston. On the Gulf of St. Lawrence a furious storm was encountered, and the old schooner became the prey of the waves for several days. Land was finally made at Shelburne, on the east side of the Bay of Fundy. On the voyage thus far no less than fifteen men died and were buried at sea. Two more died at Shelburne, and before Boston was reached, on November 28th, thirty in all had been thrown overboard. Upon arriving in Boston General Boyd, the former colonel of the regiment did everything in his power to make the men who had served under him at Tippecanoe comfortable.
Early in 1813 recruiting for the regiment began. The recruits were collected and the regiment assembled and organized, under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Darrington, at Greenbush, opposite Albany, New York. During the continuance of the war, the regiment served in the district including northern New York and Vermont. Such of the companies as had been organized participated in the battle of Chateaugay River. Lower Canada, on October 26, 1813. In the following year detachments were present at the battles of La Cole Mill and at the siege of Plattsburg.
Upon the reduction of the army in 1815 many regiments were consolidated to give a smaller number of regimental organizations, and the Fourth Infantry was, with five other regiments, consolidated to form the Fifth Infantry.
The 4th Infantry are based mainly in Scotland with members also coming from North Yorkshire and Wales.