Ronan, George, 2LT

Fallen
 
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Last Rank
2nd Lieutenant
Last Service Branch
Infantry
Last MOS Group
Branch Immaterial (Officer)
Primary Unit
1811-1812, 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment
Service Years
1811 - 1812

Infantry

2nd Lieutenant


 Last Photo   Personal Details 


Home State
New York
New York
Year of Birth
1784
 
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Casualty Info
Home Town
New York City
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Aug 15, 1812
 
Cause
Hostile, Died of Wounds
Reason
Other Cause
Location
Illinois
Conflict
War of 1812
Location of Interment
Fort Dearborn Massacre Site - Chicago, Illinois
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Military Association Memberships
War of 1812 FallenWest Point Association of Graduates
  1812, War of 1812 Fallen
  1812, West Point Association of Graduates

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 Unit Assignments
1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment
  1811-1812, 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1812-1812 War of 1812
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1808-1811, United States Military Academy
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Military History. ‚?? Cadet of the Military Academy, June 15, 1808, to Mar. 1, 1811, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to Ensign, 1st Infantry, Mar. 1, 1811.

Served: on the Northwestern Frontier, 1811-1812; and in the War of 1812-1815 with Great Britain, being engaged in Captain Heald's desperate engagement near Ft. Chicago, Ill., Aug. 15, 1812, with a vastly superior force of savages, two of whom he slew in a hand-to-hand fight, but, while upon his knees as he had fallen faint from his bleeding wounds, still wielding his sword, he was himself killed in combat, Aug. 15, 1812: Aged 28.

George Ronan was the first West Point graduate to be killed in action. Because many of the American dead and wounded were civilians, the engagement is usually referred to, certainly in Chicago itself, as the Fort Dearborn Massacre, but it did not occur at the fort, rather some distance south of it; the fort had been evacuated and the Army was trying to lead the civilian inhabitants to safety in Indiana, when they were ambushed. The sites of both fort and massacre are within the present city limits of Chicago.
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Historian wants recognition for forgotten hero
Wednesday, August 19, 2009 | 4:15 PM
By Frank Mathie
August 19, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) --

Almost all Chicagoans have heard of the Fort Dearborn Massacre. But very few of us have ever heard of    Ensign George Ronan .

Ronan was a hero of that battle in the War of 1812, and now, a Chicago historian wants recognition for that forgotten man.

In this age of political correctness, the Fort Dearborn Massacre is now referred to as the Battle of Fort Dearborn. And at 18th and Prairie along the lakefront, a new historical marker tells the story of how 91 people - soldiers, men, women and children - who were fleeing Fort Dearborn were attacked by 500 Potawatomi Indians. More than half the Americans were killed.

Chicago historian Victorio Giustino has studied the event for years.

"This is where it took place, August 15, 1812, when the troops leaving Fort Dearborn were attacked by the Indians," said Giustino.

There is little left now of that terrible day during the War of 1812. A painting hangs in City Hall in the council chambers, and it gives us some idea of what happened. On the Chicago flag, the first star represents the tragedy. And at Michigan Avenue and Wacker, the site of Fort Dearborn is clearly outlined.

And a giant sculpture does a very distant replay of the hand-to-hand combat.

It happened on August 15, 1812, and now, 197 years later, a very interesting fact is coming out about that bloody day. The connection between West Point and Chicago. Giustino discovered it digging deep into the history books.
"Ensign George Ronan, a West Point graduate of 1811, was killed here in 1812 according to West Point records. He's the first West Pointer killed in action," said Giustino.

And survivors of the battle said Ronan died a hero. He was fatally wounded but fought on trying to protect the others. Giustino said he thinks he should be remembered.

"A little piece of land set aside honoring Lt. Ronan, first West Pointer killed in action. That's what I want. That's what I think is right," said Giustino.
But so far no one is listening to Giustino.

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Ronan Park, part of the Chicago Park District, honors Ensign George Ronan, who died in the Fort Dearborn Massacre on August 15, 1812, when Potowatomi warriors routed the Federal forces at Chicago. Ronan was the first West Point graduate to fall in battle.

In 1929, the City of Chicago built a new pumping station east of the channelized North Branch of the Chicago River to meet the increasing need for water in the neighboring Lincoln Square and Albany Park communities. Just over thirty years later, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and the Chicago Park District began working together to create recreational space adjoining the pumping station.

The park district soon signed a lease for 7.5 acres of water district land, and by the mid-1960s, playgrounds and greenspaces lined both sides of the North Shore Channel. In the 1990s, the park district began leasing additional water district land, bringing the park's total acreage to nearly 13 acres. The entire park was rehabilitated, and a bike path added as part of a larger plan to create a recreational corridor along the river.

The park is located at 3000 Argyle St, Chicago, IL  60625
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From the book The Chicago Massacre of 1812

Page 22:
I well remember a remark of Ensign Ronan, as the firing went on. "Such," turning to me, "is to be our fate -- to be shot down like beasts."
"Well, sir," said the commanding officer, who overheard him, "are you afraid?"
"No," replied the high-spirited young man, "I can march up to the enemy where you dare not show your face!" And his subsequent gallant behavior showed this to be no idle boast.

Page 28:
"Oh, I cannot die!" exclaimed he.  "I am not fit to die -- if I had but a short time to prepare -- death is awful!"
I pointed to Ensign Ronan, who, though mortally wounded and nearly down, was still fighting with desperation on one knee.
"Look at that man," said I; "at least he dies like a soldier."
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From the book Chicago and the Old Northwest, 1673-1835

In March, 1811, George Ronan, a young cadet direct from West Point, was given the rank of ensign and ordered to repair at once to Fort Dearborn.
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From the book Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, N. Y.

69 . . . . (Born N.Y.) . . . . GEORGE RONAN . . . . . . . . . . . . (Ap'd N.Y.)
Military History. -- Cadet of the Military Academy, June 15, 1808, to Mar. 1, 1811, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to
ENSIGN, 1ST INFANTRY, Mar. 1, 1811.
Served: on the Northwestern Frontier, 1811-12; and in the War of 1812-15 with Great Britain, being engaged in Captain Heald's desperate engagement near Ft. Chicago, Ill., Aug. 15, 1812, with a vastly superior force of savages, two of whom he slew in a hand-to-hand fight, but, while upon his knees as he had fallen faint from his bleeding wounds, still wielding his sword, he was himself
KILLED, IN THE COMBAT, AUG. 1, 1812: AGED 28
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From the book Checagou From Indian Wigwam to Modern City 1673-1835

In March, 1811, George Ronan, a yound cadet direct from West Point, was given the rank of ensign and ordered to repair at once to Frot Dearborn.  Practically our only estimate of him is the one recorded by Mrs. Kinzie.  At the height of the panic over the murders at the Lee farm, Ronan volunteered to lead a squad of soldiers to the rescue of the Burns family, which was believed to be in imminent danger of slaugher.  On the fatal day of evacuation [from Fort Dearborn], four months later, Ronan is pictured as uttering an impudent taunt to Captain Heald.  If he actually committed this fault, he offered the best possible atonement a little later, when "mortally wounded and nearly down" he continued to fight desperately to the end.
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Ensign Ronan; A Story of Fort Dearborn, by Leon E. Burgoyne. Illustrations by Dirk Gringhuis. Philadelphia [and] Toronto: The John C. Winston Company. [1955.] 184p.

"In the spring of 1811, George Ronan, a recently commissioned officer from the Military Academy at West Point, reports for duty to Captain Heald, the commanding officer at Fort Dearborn. Ronan is an impetuous youth whose quick actions and snap decisions bring him frequently into disfavor with his superior officers and generate hatred and distrust between him and the local Indians, especially Pesotum, a young brave with ambitions to become a chief. Ensign Ronan proves to be worthy of his commission when the Indians attack the soldiers, their wives, and children as they abandon Fort Dearborn for the safety of Fort Wayne in August of 1812. George Ronan is a character direct from the pages of history, as are the other characters in Burgoyne's novel. The facts of the attack on Fort Dearborn are true and accurate. Only through the addition of dialogue, interpretation, and some minor literary embellishments to enhance certain characters has Burgoyne departed from fact."

From: Book Review Digest, 1956. p. 141.
Source: http://mccoy.lib.siu.edu/illinois/chap1-ad.htm

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For further general information on the history of Fort Dearborn see the following web site: http://genealogytrails.com/ill/cook/ftdearborn.html

   
Comments/Citation
Sources:

ABC News Chicago, WLS TV, Frank Mathie, August 19, 2009

http://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/parks.detail/object_id/84f033cf-64a3-4d30-b894-3d3e51bd90e2.cfm

The Chicago Massacre of 1812: With Illustrations and Historical Documents;  By Joseph Kirkland; Chicago; The Dibble Publishing Company; 1893

Chicago and the Old Northwest 1673 - 1835, A study of the Evolution of the Northwestern Frontier, Together With a History of Fort Dearborn; By Milo Milton Quaife, Ph.D.; Chicago, University of Chicago Press; October 1913

Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, N. Y, From its Establishment, in 1802, to 1890, With the Early History of the United States Military Academy; Bvt. MAJ.GEN. George W. Cullum; Third Edition, Revised and Extended; Vol. I., Nos. 1 to 1000; The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Houghton Mifflin and Company; 1891

Checagou From Indian Wigwam to Modern City 1673-1835; Y Milo M. Quaipe; The University of Chicago Press; Chicago Illinois; June 1933

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/
United_States/Army/USMA/Cullums_Register/69*.html
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Carl Rohl-Smith's sculpture of Margaret Helm's rescue by Black Partridge as Ensign George Ronan, slain in the fighting, lies at her feet.  This statue was commissioned by George W. Pullman.  "In a letter that lacked nuance and read to the group gathered for the dedication of the statute in 1893, Pullman wrote, "(This) enduring monument...to perpetuate and honor the memory of the brave men and women and innocent children--the pioneer settlers who suffered here...should also stimulate a desire among us and those who are to come after us to know more of the struggles and sacrifices of those who laid the foundation of the greatest of this city and state."   This statue, that once stood at 18th Street and Calumet Avenue, is believed to still be in storage in Chicago (at the request of the City of Chicago).  (Source: http://www.chronwatch-america.com/articles/5375/1/The-Chicago-Way--A-New-Park-and-a-New-History/Page1.html) [The Chicago Way: A New Park and a New History, By Robert Klein Engler | Published  08/12/2009].  Source: http://www.chicagopublicradio.org/Content.aspx?audioID=35892 [Returning to Battle of Ft. Dearborn in the Name of a Park | 7/31/2009]
   
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