The town of Macomb, Illinois, is named after General Alexander Macomb (April 3, 1782 – June 25, 1841).
Who was this General?
During the War of 1812, which was a conflict between the United States and Great Britain, Macomb was a Brigadier-General.
Macomb distinguished himself at an important battle of the War of 1812. It was at the Battle of Plattsburgh on September 11, 1814, with only 1,500 regular troops and some detachments of militia, that a British force of 10,531 men under Lieutenant-General Sir George Prevost opposed Macomb.
General Macomb’s heavily outnumbered troops fell back before the British in a series of skirmishes as Prevost advanced towards the Americans. The British were about to launch an assault on the Americans when news came of the defeat of the British at another battle at Lake Champlain. Prevost had needed the British forces from Lake Champlain to supply him as he planned to fight on into Vermont. Without supplies to continue onward, Prevost decided to retreat from Plattsburgh, so the British turned around and left Plattsburgh and marched back to Canada.
It was Commodore Thomas Macdonough (spelling later changed to McDonough) and his men who were responsible for the defeat of the British at Lake Champlain.
Macomb was hailed a hero for the victory at the Battle of Plattsburgh and was promoted to major general. For his conduct at this battle, he received the Congressional Gold Medal. Macomb continued his military career and eventually became the commanding General of the U.S. Army, a post he held until his death on June 25, 1841.
How did the city of Macomb get its name?
The area that became the city of Macomb, Illinois, was first settled in 1829, and in the beginning the community was tentatively named Washington, Illinois.
When the town was officially founded in 1830 as the county seat of McDonough County, it was given the name Macomb after General Alexander Macomb.
After the War of 1812, Congress had set aside land for veterans in areas that later would become the states of Illinois and Arkansas. The land was for veterans of the war as payment for their military service.
The land set aside in Illinois was called the “Military Tract.” The city of Macomb and McDonough County are part of the Military Tract.
With this area having a special connection to the War of 1812, the name of Macomb for the county seat and the name of McDonough County for the county are an appropriate way to remember two important figures from the War of 1812.