Eleazor Darby Wood was born in
Lunenburg, Massachusetts, in December, 1783. As a young man he studied
medicine briefly at Albury, Vermont, but quickly chose a military career
instead when he received an appointment to the recently created United
States Military Academy at West Point. The academy was not yet a four year
school so Wood spent a relatively short time there, entering May 17, 1805
and graduating October 30, 1806. He was at once commissioned second
lieutenant in the engineers and was assigned to duty assisting in the
construction of defenses on Governor's Island in New York Harbor.
In February 1808 he was promoted to first lieutenant
and sent to Norfolk Virginia, where he was in command of a force detailed
to fortify the harbor there. After two years at this work (1808-1810) he
was promoted to captain, quite rapid advancement for a young officer in
the miniscule United States Army.
His experience in the War of 1812 began
at New London, Connecticut, where he was in charge of the defenses for a brief
period. He was soon ordered to Sag Harbor on Long Island to supervise the
erection of a fortified battery.
In November, 1812, Captain Wood was assigned to the
"Northwestern Army" where he found himself doing the work of the
chief engineer due to the illness of Captain Gratiot who officially held
that post. His service in northwestern Ohio included overseeing the
construction of Fort Meigs, some work on Fort Stephenson (at present-day
Fremont) and assisting in the movement of General Harrison's army to
Canada after Perry's victory on Lake Erie. On May 6, 1813, while the siege
of Fort Meigs was in progress he was brevetted*
After participating in the crucial
battle of the Thames in Canada, Wood was transferred to western New York where
he served with distinction in the Niagara area. For his conduct at the Battle of
Niagara he was brevetted once more, to the rank of lieutenant colonel, in June,
1814. His career came to end on September 17, 1814, when he was killed during an
assault on British forces besieging Ft. Erie.
It seems more than likely that his career would have
continued with distinction had he survived the War of 1812. He was a man
of ability, bravery, and common sense who won the admiration and
friendship of most of his military colleagues.
*Brevet rank was a
temporary service in a higher rank.