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Ichabod Crane

Ichabod B. Crane, was born on July 18, 1787, in Elizabethtown, New Jersey (now Elizabeth, NJ).  He is the second son of Army Brigadier General William H. Crane and brother to Commodore William M. Crane.
Ichabod was a career military officer for 48 years, first joining the United States Marine Corps in 1809, at the age of 22, he was commissioned a second lieutenant, assigned to the USS United States, a 44-gun frigate commanded by Commodore Stephen Decatur.  Crane served aboard the United States for two years and then resigned from the Marines in April 1812, to accept a commission in the United States Army as a captain in command of Company B, 3rd Artillery; the unit designation would later be Battery B, 1st Artillery (today’s 2nd Battalion, 1st Air Defense Artillery).

During the War of 1812, Crane served on the Niagara Frontier.  He was assigned command of an artillery battery at Fort Pike, which he helped construct, in Sackets Harbor, New York, and was involved with the capture on April 27, 1813, of Fort York, and at the end of May 1813 the capture of Fort George in Canada.  While capturing Fort George, a joint British-Canadian force attacked the American positions at Sackets Harbor in the Second Battle of Sacket’s Harbor.

Crane continued to serve in the Northern Department after the war.  In 1820 his company was transferred to Fort Wolcott in Newport, Rhode Island where Crane served as the fort’s commander.

In 1825 he was brevetted to major in the 4th Artillery and was transferred to Fort Monroe, Virginia.  In 1832 Crane led five companies of troops in the Black Hawk War and received a promotion to lieutenant colonel in the 2nd Artillery in November 1832, and was then transferred to the Buffalo Barracks in Buffalo, New York.  Crane commanded the 2nd Artillery unit in the Second Seminole War (1835–1842) and acted as Commander of the U.S. Army District of Northeast Florida.  Fort Crane, built in January 1837, south of Rochelle, Florida, in Alachua County, was named after Crane.  After service in Florida, he and his unit were transferred back to the Buffalo Barracks.

During the “Patriot War” in 1838, an insurrection against British rule in Canada, Crane was tasked with preventing U.S. involvement of smuggling arms across the border.

In mid-1843 he received his final promotion to colonel and was given command of the 1st Artillery.  Company L and Company M, of the 1st Artillery,  were assigned to Fort Umpqua in southwest Oregon.  During a visit there Crane employed a young Umpqua Indian named Juan as a personal valet.  Juan died on December 27, 1856, in Staten Island, and is buried with Crane and his wife.

Crane was stationed in Washington D.C. in 1851 and was given an additional assignment as acting governor of the Military Asylum at Washington, D.C., a position he held until November 1853.  He also served a post commander of Governors Island, an island in New York Harbor approximately one-half mile south of lower Manhattan.

Crane and his wife Charlotte (May 25, 1798 – September 25, 1878) had a house built in the New Springville, a section of Staten Island, New York in 1853, while he was still on active duty.  Crane died four years later, in October 1857 at the age of 70; he was still on active duty.  He is buried in Asbury Methodist Cemetery, in New Springville Staten Island.

His grave marker bears the inscription: “He served his country for 48 years and was much beloved and respected by all who knew him.”

It’s believed that the character featured in Washington Irving‘s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow“, was named after Colonel Crane.  Irving met Crane in 1814 at Fort Pike located on Lake Ontario in Sackets Harbor, New York.  Irving was an aide-de-camp to New York Gov. Daniel D. Tompkins, who was inspecting defenses in the Sackets Harbor area.  Crane’s unusual and memorable first name Ichabod comes from the biblical name of the grandson of Eli the High Priest and son of Phinehas.
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