War of 1812 in the West Symposium at Arrow Rock State Historic Site sheds light on little-known Missouri History

by | Mar 22, 2019 | Headlines, Local News, Newsmaker


ARROW ROCK, Mo. — History is all around us. we all know about the Civil War battles fought on Missouri soil, such as on the historic Lexington battlefield, but did you know Missouri was an active front for fighting during the War of 1812?

KMZU’s Brian Lock was able to chat with Michael Dickey, Site Administrator at Arrow Rock State Historic Site, who said getting in touch the history in your area is as easy as an afternoon visit to a state historic site, like Arrow Rock. 

Click below to hear their conversation, which aired Friday on KMZU. 

“Missouri was the scene of the westernmost fighting of the War of 1812,” Dickey said. “A lot of Americans aren’t even aware that we fought a war in 1812 with Great Britain, but it is the only time in history our Capitol has been burned by foreign troops and its also the war where the national anthem came from, the Star Spangled Banner, written by Francis Scott Key during the siege of Baltimore.”

British troops didn’t trek all the way to Missouri, though. Most of the fighting was between settlers and Native American tribes, some of whom had allied with the British. 

“In the western territories, a number of Native American tribes were allied with Great Britain, and were actually trying to turn back the tide of American settlement in the west.”

The fighting in Missouri was not traditional large-scale army style, but mostly random skirmishes and guerrilla fighting between settlers and Native American tribes.

“There weren’t really battles in Missouri [in the War of 1812,” Dickey explained. “Typically, the American Indians that were fighting with American settlers and American troops out here, they were guerrilla fighters. They didn’t participate in siege warfare. That stuff happened between British and American Troops, especially back east, around the Great Lakes, which were pretty substantial. Out here, it was a little bit different.”

The war was a long slog for Missourians. Fighting began in 1812 and continued into the Autumn of 1815, despite the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in December 1814. 

“A peace treaty was signed by the U.S. and Great Britain on Christmas Day 1814,” Dickey said. “It took a while for that peace treaty to be ratified by Congress and once it was ratified it took even longer for that news to be circulated on the frontier, so there was still fighting in 1815 in Missouri.” 

Anyone interested in the history of the War of 1812 in Missouri and the Western Theatre of the war is encouraged to attend the free War of 1812 in the West Symposium at Arrow Rock State Historic Site March 23 and 24. 

Numerous expert speakers from across the U.S. will be on hand to share their knowledge about the War of 1812. 

The event gets underway at 9:00 a.m. Saturday at the Arrow Rock State Historic Site Visitor’s Center.