Eleazer D. Wood

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Eleazer Derby 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* major.

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.


From the Journal of the Northwestern Campaign of 1812-1813 under Major-General Wm. H. Harrison by BVT. LIEUT.-COLONEL ELEAZER D. WOOD Captain Corps. of Engineers, U.S. Army  

  Annotated and Indexed by Robert B. Boehm and Randall L. Buchman (Reprinted with permission)