General Alexander Macomb: Fact Sheet

Who is General Alexander Macomb?

o General Alexander Macomb was born April 3, 1782, in Detroit, Michigan. He died June 25, 1841, in Washington, D.C.

o Macomb joined the U.S. Army in 1799 and served in the War of 1812.

o Macomb was commissioned as first lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, which was established in 1802 at the United States Military Academy, West Point. He was one of the first officers to receive formal training there.

o General Alexander Macomb was the Commanding General of the United States Army from May 29, 1828 to June 25, 1841. At that time the Commanding General was recognized to be the single senior-most officer in the United States Army.

o Alexander Macomb became an advocate for increasing enlisted soldier’s pay, providing relief for military widows and orphans, and regularizing officer’s retirement benefits.

Who fought in the War of 1812?

o The War of 1812 was fought primarily between the United States and Great Britain and began when the Americans declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812. Great Britain created an alliance with the native Indians of North America. The conflict lasted until the beginning of 1815. The war was called America’s second independence as the United States struggled to have its sovereign identity respected.

Why was Macomb considered a War Hero?

o Alexander Macomb was the field commander at the Battle of Plattsburgh which was fought in upstate New York from September 6 – 11, 1814, as part of the War of 1812.

o Macomb drew from his training in the Army Corp of Engineers, where he learned about building roads, to win the conflict at Plattsburg. With just 1,500 men against 10,531 British troops, he was greatly outnumbered. He cunningly worked with his men to create fake roads and to conceal the roads that actually led to the American forts. The tactic worked and the British troops marched down dead-end roads where they became targets for the American troops.

o In 1814, General Macomb received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given by the federal government, for his “gallantry and good conduct” in the battle.

o Illinois decided to honor a popular war hero and in 1830 named our town after the clever General. The hope for the new city was that Macomb, Illinois, would reflect the pride of the country’s ingenuity.

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