This marvelous tale of Larkin Nicholls Akers during the War of 1812 is discussed in Otto Rothert’s 1913 book, A History of Muhlenberg County. I have an original copy, which was dedicated ‘To the memory of the Pioneers of Muhlenberg, who by their resolute deeds and heroic lives made possible the achievements of a later day, this History of Our Own Times and of theirs is dedicated.’ This book was given by Bettie J. Earns, to her mother, Effie Earns McNary, on January 1, 1914. When looking at county history books it is always best to find the early ones. The people that wrote these early books – 1870’s through 1930’s – generally knew the people they were writing about, or knew them through their parents or an older generation.
Today I want to share information with you about Larkin N. Akers. He is listed as a hero of the War of 1812, and is buried in Old Liberty Cemetery in Muhlenberg County. His gravestone has been painted to represent the flag of our country, the one he served so well. I have not seen anything similar.
From the book –
A century has passed since the War of 1812 began. It is said that for many years after this war accounts of daring deeds performed by Muhlenberg men were told by the soldiers who participated in some of the battles. With the exception of a few, all of these old stories, although handed down for a generation or two, are now forgotten. Most of the men who saw service in the second war with England passed away before the close of the Civil War. George Penrod, who died January 22, 1892, at the age of about one hundred, was the last of the Muhlenberg veterans of 1812.
Practically all that is now told in local traditions of this war forms part of the story of the life of eight well-known local men: Larkin N. Akers, who ran the gantlet after the battle of the River Raisin; Charles Fox Wing and Mosely Collins Drake, who took part in the battle of the Thames; Ephraim M. Brank, Alney McLean, Isaac Davis, Joseph C. Reynolds, and Michael Severs, who took part in the battle of New Orleans.
Larkin Nicholls Akers came to Greenville about twenty-five years after his miraculous escape at River Raisin. He was a private in a company organized in Central Kentucky, where he lived at the time he enlisted. The famous massacre of River Raisin took place in Michigan on January 23, 1813, and was one of the most cruel and bloody acts recorded in all our history. The American forces, mainly Kentuckians, after fighting a fierce battle against a superior number of British soldiers and their Indian allies, surrendered under promise of protection from the Indians. But the British made no attempt to carry out their promise. On the contrary, they encouraged the bloodthirsty Indians by offering them pay for all the scalps they would bring in. The unprotected and defenseless American prisoners, who were crowded into a few cold houses and pens, were soon in the hands of the merciless savages. Some of them were killed outright or cruelly burned to death; a number were scalped alive. Many were tortured in various ways, some by being compelled to run the gantlet. In the confusion not many made their escape. But of those few who ran the gantlet and came out alive, Larkin N. Akers was one.
Akers often told the sad story of his River Raisin experience to his family and friends while sitting around the fireside or while working in his tailor shop in Greenville. The treatment he received during that massacre was almost beyond human endurance. His body was virtually covered with scars. Up to the time of his death, which occurred in July 1865, he frequently suffered intense pain from a fractured skull and other wounds inflicted by the Indians.
This surgeon’s affidavit was made in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, on February 23, 1828. It says that Larkin N. Akers was a Private in the Company of Captain Thomas Lewis in the 13th Regiment of the United States Infantry, and is rendered incapable of performing the duty of a Soldier. It continues that on May 5, 1813, ‘being engaged in a fight with the British and Indians, at or near a place called the Rapids of Miami, in the district or territory of Michigan, he received four wounds in his head, seemingly with a tomahawk.’ He was considered three-fourths disabled from obtaining his subsistence by manual labor.
Larkin N. Akers married Sally Harrison, who was related to General William Henry Harrison. Mr. and Mrs. L. N. Akers were the parents of five children: Anna Akers, who married John A. Stembridge; Jane Akers, who married William Lindsey; Matilda Akers, who after the death of her first husband, David Donevan, married Joseph Randall, both of whom lived in Hopkinsville; Thomas Akers, who married Lera Boswell, of Princeton; Sarah Catherine Akers, who married Charles W. Lovell, of Muhlenberg.