I had his obituary as a guide. I've been trying to document as many of the events listed in the obit as possible. I got his service record and pension file from the U.S. archives and his record of service in the Regiment DeMeuron from the Canada archives
Once I had the facts on my ancestor (where he was when), I was able to fill in some of the other details from history books. With his American service, some of it was easy because someone published all the letters written by the officers to each other and the War department. Acording to the pension file, my ancestor lost a leg at Fort Erie on Sept. 17, 1814. He had been left on the battlefield for dead and taken prisoner by the British, who amputated his wounded leg at the British camp.
By taking this information from his pension file and comparing it to the letters written by his commanding officers, I was able to find out when the riflemen arrived at Fort Erie and when they were invovled in any action.
As for his being captured at the Battle of Bailen. All I have is some circumstantual evidence that is in line with his obituary.
His obit says he was captured by the British in 1808 near Cadiz, Spain. The Battle of Bailen was near Cadiz and took place in July 1808.
The obit states that he shortly afterwards enlisted in a British regiment where he served at Malta, until being sent to Canada in 1813 for War of 1812. When he arrived in Canada, he deserted the DeMeurons and joined the American army. It was Maurice Vallee who told me about the connection between the DeMeuron's and the French prisoners from the Battle of Bailen. Apparently they had been kept prisoner aboard some prison pontoons that were anchoered off the coast of Cadiz.
As for the events of the battle, I got those facts from history books about the campaigns of Napoleon. I don't know exactly (yet!) what part my ancestor had in this battle.
My next step is to document my ancestor service for Napoleon. I think the French records are available at the French Military Arcives in Paris, but I don't think they are on microfilm and only approved researchers may access these records. Also no photocopies only hand written copies are permitted. I have a cousin who just started this process.
His obit stated that he was in other battles including the Battle of Trafalgar. I'm hoping the archives can reveal exactly what regiment(s) he served. Maybe even have his enlisment info or pay musters. Perhaps with this information I can next learn his participation in Napoleons service. Perhaps even his location during the battle of Bailen (I have some diagrams of the battle).
So I based some of it on a lot of circumstantual evidence. But if you go outside and it's not now raining but the ground is wet, then you know it did rain. You didn't actually witness it raining, but you know it did.