The First Mad River Light Artillery was founded in 2003 to participate in the 225th commemoration of the Battle of Peckuwe, fought August 8, 1780, between George Rogers Clark, with 1000 Kentucky militia and Virginia Regulars, and the Shawnee leader Catahecasa, "Black Hoof", with approximately 400 Native troops. The battle is the largest battle of the American Revolution fought west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the battlefield is located 5 miles west of the present city of Springfield, Ohio, at the current site of the George Rogers Clark Historic Park.
The FMRLA is composed of members from the George Rogers Clark Heritage Association and the Clark County Park District (CCPD), a local government entity that owns the George Rogers Clark Park, as well as the reproduced light 6 pounder field gun that is the focus of our unit.
While the organization is named as an artillery unit, we are a combined arms force, and in addition to the 6 pounder (as well as several member-owned pieces), we also have a unit of Infantry, and a troop of Dragoons.
The FMRLA is a multi-era unit, participating in events from the Jacobite Rebellion to the War of 1812, with a focus on the American Revolution, and the use of the original light 6 pounder by Colonel Clark at the battle. The name of our organization reflects our geographic location, our home park being but 1/4 mile north of the Mad River in Clark County, Ohio, but we assume the identity of an actual unit for each time period in which we participate. The two primary portrayal periods are for the American Revolution, and, to celebrate the upcoming Bicentennial, the War of 1812.
For the period of the American Revolution, we portray Clark's company of Virginia State Artillery, the unit that provided the skilled artillerymen to man the gun at the Battle of Peckuwe. From 1778 until 1781, the State of Virginia put into the field an artillery regiment of its own. Many of these men served in ordinary fashion under regular company officers. However, George Rogers Clark had an assembly of artillerymen, all originally from different units, who were brought together to assist him with the manning of his ordnance. When the vast majority of the Virginia State Artillery was captured by the British at Charleston, South Carolina, or massacred shortly thereafter, the remaining soldiers were absorbed into the 1st Continental Artillery, except for those men detailed to Clark, who remained on the rolls as members of the Virginia State Regiment of Artillery. It is these hardy souls to whom we pay homage, and who we strive to portray in a manner befitting their sacrifices and accomplishments.
For the War of 1812, we portray two units. The first is Captain Alexander Gibson's Company of Ohio Militia Artillery, filled with trained artillerists from around the young State of Ohio and organized in Butler County. Captain Gibson's Company was the only regularly organized artillery unit on the rolls for the State Militia of Ohio to fight in the War of 1812, during which Ohio was the "front line," especially during the first years of conflict. The second unit is Captain John Linigle's Company of Militia of Champaign County. During the War of 1812, Clark County had not yet been organized, and much of the territory was part of Champaign County. Many prominent Springfield and (later) Clark County residents served in militia units organized under the banner of our neighbor just to the north. We have chosen Captain Linigle's Company, as his First Sergeant, David Crabill, later built a house which still stands today. First Sergeant Crabill's sword from the War of 1812 is also currently in the possession of the Clark County Historical Society, and remains a tangible reminder of Ohio's active, and sometimes terrifying, participation in the most forgotten war of the 19th century.
We are a progressive, family-oriented military unit with strong ties to a predominantly civilian historic and reenactment organization. We have members from a variety of backgrounds and professions, including members of the Armed Forces of the United States, university educators, manufacturing, skilled trades, law enforcement, the judiciary, and local government. Our goal is to provide both the experienced reenactor and the novice the opportunity to participate in the hobby, as well as to learn more about military life in the 18th and early 19th centuries, all while giving the public the opportunity to be educated in the history of this nation.