The boys knew the area and local woods well and were able to bring information to the American forces. They fended for themselves and fought in a number of skirmishes between Sept. 6 and 12, 1814.
While transcribing the journal of H.K. Averill, one of Aiken’s Volunteers, Demarse learned of the death of a boy called Peters.
“That became one of those pivotal moments. That began to spark my interest,” she said.
Although Demarse had heard stories since childhood about Aiken’s Volunteers, she never knew of any deaths.
The journal became a main source of information while writing “Nine Days a Soldier,” along with a journal of a woman who lived on what is now Cumberland Avenue for an account of the weather and day-to-day details of the those nine days.
“I tried to create the story using what I knew about the area,” Demarse said.
She chose Hiram Walworth, the youngest volunteer at 14, as her protagonist.
“I kept thinking, ‘What would happen to that 14-year-old boy in battle?’” Demarse said.
She aimed to show the importance of Aiken’s Volunteers, while also writing a coming-of-age story that would pique students’ interest in Plattsburgh’s history.
“My goal was to create a story that people would enjoy reading and to give credit to these boys who gave so much,” Demarse said.
She said the boys seemed to grow with the experience of serving in the army.
“One of the things that really surprised me is that when the war ended, they went on to lead such incredible lives in public service,” Demarse said.
A few of Aiken’s Volunteers became lawyers, one was a bank teller in Plattsburgh, and another became postmaster general.TO BUY THE BOOK "Nine Days a Soldier: The Story of Aiken's Volunteers in the War of 1812" is available at the War of 1812 Museum, 31 Washington Road and the Clinton County Historical Museum, 98 Ohio Ave., both in Plattsburgh, and online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.