Macomb celebrates General Alexander Macomb's 232nd birthday

Macomb celebrates General Alexander Macomb's 232nd birthday

The city of Macomb celebrated the 232nd birthday of one of America's greatest war generals Thursday, but you may not be familiar with him.

General Alexander Macomb fought in the War of 1812.

For his bravery, the settlers who founded Macomb named the city after him.

"General Macomb was a war hero in the War of 1812, and it really put in place the development of our region," Scott said.

Most people have never heard of Alexander Macomb, but he played a pivotal part in helping the U.S. Army defeat the British.

Western Illinois Museum Director Sue Scott has studied General Alexander Macomb's military career for years, including his historic victory over the British in the Battle of Plattsburgh in 1814.

"There was 10,000 troops and he had 1,500, so he was facing a huge challenge," Scott said. "He decides to camouflage the real roads that led to the fort, and he put up fake roads and signs and sort of deviates, and gets the British all lost and confused."

After his victory, Macomb worked to increase enlisted soldier's pay and benefits.

Veterans who fought in the War of 1812 received 160 acres of land for their five years of service.

Some of those veterans helped start communities in western Illinois.

Settlers first came to the area that would become Macomb in 1829. But it wasn't until 1830 that the city was officially established and named after the great General Alexander Macomb.

The general also played a role in Keokuk's history.

"His civil engineering background, he was important in developing the riverfront around Keokuk," Scott said. "It very well could be that he was recognized for that work."

Scott said she's content not knowing the exact reason city developers decided to name Macomb after the general.

"I like his ingenuity and I like the fact that he uses his brain and I hope that, that does sort of, you know, live in our legacy in terms of the way we manage and build our community," Scott said.

A party Thursday afternoon in Chandler Park celebrated General Macomb's birthday.