“Onward to Canada”: The First Baltimore Volunteers, 1812-1813

Not only was Captain Stephen Moore’s militia company the only Maryland company to serve outside the state during the war, but became the only militia company on September 28 to began the arduous march northward into Canada in the fall of 1812.

The company was organized as U.S. Volunteers for a year enlistment under the act of February 6, 1812 authorizing the President to accept volunteer militia corps, serving under the same rregulations and pay as the U.S. Army.  On September 9, they left Baltimore with an elegant silk flag made by the patriotic ladies of the seventh ward. After arriving at a rendezvous encampment, they marched northward to Sacketts Harbor, New York on April 27, 1813. From there they proceeded with the American army to attack York ( Toronto), the capital of Upper British Canada. In a letter home, Captain Moore related his near death during the attack:

“…at the opening of the main street [of York], the enemy sprung a mine upon us, which destroyed about 60 of his own men, and killed or maimed about 1230 of our men. This horrible explosion has deprived me of my left leg, and other wise grievously wounded me. I was taken from the field, carried on board the commodore’s ship, where my leg was amputated, and I now likely to recover. Two of my company were killed at the same time, and four or five more of my brave fellows were severely wounded…”

The Americans captured York, which they held on to for five days. The Baltimore “Bloodhounds” as they were nicknamed, proudly placed their ensign on the highest pinnacle of the Government House in the Capitol of Upper Canada. It had been made by the ladies of Baltimore. On September 7, 1813, at Fort George, Upper Canada, the Baltimore Volunteers were discharged and returned home, where they re-organized under Lt. Colonel Benjamin Fowler’s 39th Maryland Regiment, who would take an active role in the Battle of North Point, September 12, 1814.

1st Lieutenant John Gill  in the Spring of 1814 applied for a captain’s commission for a post in the newly organized national U.S. Sea Fencibles at Baltimore. These corps of seamen, under the U.S. War department were to serve as artillerist in protecting the harbors of the U.S. With two companies already assigned to Baltimore (out of ten raised in the U.,S.) the U.S. Senate declined Gill’s post.

Sources: Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser, September 2, 1812; The Baltimore Whig, September 12, 1812; Niles’ Weekly Register, October 3, 1812; Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, June 1, 1813; Easton Republican Star, May 25, 1813.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 10:54 pm  Comments Off on “Onward to Canada”: The First Baltimore Volunteers, 1812-1813  

Baltimore Hibernian Corps of Union Greens

“Fostered under thy wing, we die in thy defense…It is a pleasing spectacle to view those foreigners who have made this country their home, embodying themselves for the defense of the Republic.”

Union Greens Button

In June 1807  following the naval encounter between HM frigate Leopard and the US frigate Chesapeake that nearly brought a declaration of war. Among the Baltimore Irish militia companies raised were the United Republican Greens, the Baltimore Republican Greens and the Baltimore Union Greens. Company funding appears to have come from the Baltimore Hibernian Society whose organization fostered charitable assistance, immigrant advice and Maryland settlement. Their color standard was green, and like the button they wore was depicted “with a spread Eagle, and a Harp fostered under the wing. Upon the flag were these words proceeding from the Eagle’s mouth:  “Fostered under thy wing, we die in thy defense.” Among their duty assignments in 1813 was upon Camp Look-Out Hill (today Riverside Park in South Baltimore).

During the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814, the company was commanded by Captain John M. Kane and assigned to the 27th Maryland Regiment and served on the front lines of formation to the left of the Old North Point Road.

Sources: Republican Star, Aug. 11, 1807; Hibernian Chronicle, June 22, 1811; American & Commercial Daily Adv.., August 10, 1808 and October 27, 1813.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm  Comments Off on Baltimore Hibernian Corps of Union Greens  

Capt. Thomas Quantrill & the “Homespun Volunteers,” Hagers-town, Md.

“Volunteers —Attention!- ALL the volunteers attached to my Company, are ordered to repair to my quarters for the purpose of being uniformed – they are also ordered to bring their arms with them as they will be supplied with new arms for the purpose of marching immediately, according to orders. Thomas Quantrill, Capt. Hagers-town, August 11, 1812.”

Capt. Thomas Quantrill (1790-1854) was a blacksmith and slave-holder in Hagerstown, Md., who received on June 16, 1812 a militia commission for a rifle company known as the Homespun Volunteers, of the 24th Maryland Regiment from Washington County. In August 1812 they marched for Annapolis and garrisoned Fort Madison as part of Maryland’s militia quota for the War Department. A correspondent noticed that “they possessed all the essential qualities deemed necessary to form good soldiers…and will be found in merit, second to no company attached to the service…” In January they returned home having performed their first duty during the war.

In late August 1814 following the capture of Washington,  Captain Quantrill and his company marched for Baltimore and were attached to Lt. Colonel Joseph Sterett’s 5th Maryland Regiment, then transferred to the 39th Maryland Regiment who were in the front lines of the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814. Thomas and two others of the company of seventy-seven men were wounded.

After the war Capt. Quantrill migrated to Canal Dover, Ohio, married and had four sons, one of whom was William Clarke Quantrill (1837-1865) who became notorious in the Kansas border wars and his  infamous August 21, 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas.

Captain Thomas Quantrill died in Canal Dover, Ohio on December 7, 1854 apprently of tuberculosis.

Sources: Frederick-town Herald, Aug. 29, 1812: Maryland Adjutant General Papers, Militia Appointments, 2 1794-1816, Maryland State Archives, DE67-1; Niles’ Weekly Register, August 29, 1812;  Cincinnati Daily Gazette, May 14, 1869; Hagers-town Gazette, July 14, 1812.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 9:30 pm  Comments Off on Capt. Thomas Quantrill & the “Homespun Volunteers,” Hagers-town, Md.  

British “Return of Killed and Wounded in action with the Enemy, near Baltimore, on the 12th of September 1814.”

During the two hour Battle of North Point the number of killed and wounded may be established correctly with the following report made by Assistant Adjutant General Major Henry Debbieg of the 44th Regiment (East Essex) Foot under Lt. Colonel Arthur Brooke who assumed command of the land forces following the death of Maj. General Robert Ross.


Major General Robert Ross…1

Royal Marine Artillery…1

4th Regiment (King’s Own) , 1st Battalion…1

21st Regiment (Royal Scots Fusileers), 1st Battalion.….11

44th Regiment, 1st Battalion (East Essex)…11

85th Light Infantry, 1st Battalion…3

Royal Marines, 2nd Battalion…4

Royal Marines, 3rd Battalion…2

Royal Marines detached from ships attached to 2nd Battalion…2

Detachment of Royal Marines under Captain Robyns…2


Royal Artillery…..6

Royal Marine Artillery…3

4th Regiment (King’s Own) , 1st Battalion…13

21st Regiment (Royal Scots Fusileers), 1st Battalion.…81.

44th Regiment (East Essex), 1st Battalion…88

85th Light Infantry, 1st Battalion….29

Royal Marines, 2nd Battalion..10

Royal Marines, 3rd Battalion…11

Royal Marines detached from ships attached to 2nd Battalion…1

Detachment of Royal Marines under Captain Robyns…10

Total Killed…38

Total Wounded..252

Officers Killed…2

Officers Wounded..11

Source:“Return of the Killed and Wounded in Action with the Enemy, near Baltimore, on the 12th of September 1814,” by Assistant Adjutant General Major Henry Debbieg of the 44th Regiment (East Essex) Foot. Printed in the Baltimore Patriot, November 30, 1814

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm  Comments Off on British “Return of Killed and Wounded in action with the Enemy, near Baltimore, on the 12th of September 1814.”  

Camp Eagleston on Bear Creek

At the north side of the entrance to Sollers’ Point on Bear Creek was Camp Eagleston named for the nearby farm of John Eagleston, a private in Captain Samuel McDonald’s company, 6th Maryland Regiment. The camp was one of several strategic militia outposts along with Colegate Creek, Swann Point and North Point to detect British naval movements. On August 5, 1813 the British established a naval base of operations on Kent Island for their subsequent attacks on Queenstown (Aug. 13) and St. Michaels (Aug. 10, 26). Baltimore was threaten by several barges that had entered the mouth of the Patapso River that summer. With the Baltimore militia brought into federal service, various infantry regiments were encamped here among them Lt. Colonel Benjamin Fowler’s 39th Maryland Regiment (519 men). A year later on September 12, 1814, British naval barges with Congreve rockets entered Bear Creek towards the head of Bear Creek where the Battle of North Point had begun.


Source: William Jameson to Samuel Smith, August 7, 16, 1813. Samuel Smith Papers, MSS 18974, Reel 4, Containers 5-6, Library of Congress.

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm  Comments Off on Camp Eagleston on Bear Creek  

Thomas Ruckle (1776-1853):Veteran War of 1812 Artist

Battle of North Point by Thomas Ruckle

Within the galleries of the Maryland Historical Society are two paintings: Defense of Baltimore: Assembling of the Troops, September 12, 1814 and Battle of North Point, Near Baltimore, Sept.12, 1814. Both were by artist and veteran of the battle Thomas Ruckle, a corporal in Captain George Steuart’s the Washington Blues, 5th Maryland Regiment.

Little is known of his early life other than he was the son of John and Elizabeth (Piper) Ruckle born in Embery, Ireland in 1776. In the late 18th century the family immigrated to Baltimore where his father took up the dry goods trade in 1802 on Market Street. On Nov. 28, 1798 at the age of twenty-two, Thomas married and took up residence near the Roman cathedral, and in May 1811 entered into business advertised as “House and Sign Painters & Glaziers”

In 1812 Thomas enlisted as a corporal in Captain George H. Steuart’s (1790-1867) Washington Blues, 5th Maryland Regiment and was present at the Battle of North Point on Sept. 12, 1814. His experience enabled him to recollect the preparations and the battlegrounds for two of his most famous paintings, The Defense of Baltimore Assembling of the Troops, September 12, 1814” (c.1820) and Battle of North Point, near Baltimore, September 12, 1814. (c. 1830).

Two of his sons, Thomas Coke and William Hogarth became accomplished artists in their own right the latter wrote his father in 1830, , “…Painters must be ambitious to excel. Don’t stop for trifles…Push ahead and in time the name of the Ruckles shall make as much of a noise in the United States as the famous Peales’ [family]…” On September 4, 1853, Thomas died at the age of seventy-seven and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in east Baltimore.

Sources: (Extract- New Discoveries and Interpretations: The War in the Chesapeake, 1812-1815 by Scott S. Sheads (unpublished, 2011); The Sun, Sept. 17, 1830; Sept. 6, 1853; July 3, 1903.

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 9:15 am  Comments Off on Thomas Ruckle (1776-1853):Veteran War of 1812 Artist  

1st Regiment, Maryland Volunteer Artillery, Maryland Militia

“This Regiment of Artillery, is emphatically the pride of Baltimore…”  (Baltimore Patriot, December 2, 1814.) 

Early 19th century 6 pounder field cannon

Organization – The First Regiment of Artillery of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division of the Maryland Militia was commanded by Lt. Colonel David Harris (1769-1844), consisting of ten companies of 70 men each, composed of “a very valuable portion of Baltimore’s society, young ardent, enterprising men, of reputable standing and honorable feeling…” During the Baltimore campaign of September 1814 they were distributed among the defenses at Hampstead Hill (*), Battle of North Point (**) and Fort McHenry (***).

Each company usually had four 6-pdr field cannon, a regimental total of thirty-four guns, each owned a company, each equipped with a common two-horse  two wheel-cart to carry munitions of cartridges, slow match, port-fires, and 60-70 rounds of cartidges each.

Artillery Effectiveness – Round-shot had a fearsome psychological effect on troops. Tests demonstrated that, under op­timum conditions, a 6 pound solid shot would cut through nineteen men, who were in close formation or seven feet of compacted earth.  The advantage of round-shot lay in its long zone of effectiveness which made it a useful projectile against targets as close as 250 yards and out to 1,100 yards (3,300 ft.) or more. It essense its volacity and low to the ground projection did extreme physical and psychological damage to soldiers in lineral firing formation.

Battle of North Point – Captain John Montgomery’s Baltimore Union Artillery with four guns was the only American artillery in the Battle of North Point on September 12, 1814. It is apparent that Brigadier General John Stricker’s troops at the Battle of North Point was only a delaying action, biding time for the American forces at Baltimore to prepare for the main assault. More artillery would have proved that General Stricker would have meant to make a stand on the grounds. The amount of the artillery upon Hampstead Hill (today Patterson Park) proved this.

First Regiment of Volunteer Artillery

Capt. George Stiles, The First Marine Artillery of the Union *

Capt. Samuel Moale, Columbian Artillery Co. *

Capt. James Piper, United Maryland Artillery *

Capt. George J. Brown, Eagle Artillerist Co. *

Capt. Joseph Myers, Franklin Artillery *

Capt. John Montgomery, Baltimore Union Artillery Co.**

Capt. John Berry, Washington Artillerist Co. ***

Capt. Charles Pennington, Baltimore Independent Artillerist Co.***


Capt. Joseph H. Nicholson, Baltimore Fencibles, owing they were U.S. Volunteers they were allowed to parade and exercise with the First Regiment. During the bombardment the Fencibles assisted the regular garrison at Fort McHenry, the U.S. Corps of Artillery, in manning the much heavier and powerful 24-pdr garrison artillery mounted on the fort walls.

Sources: “Military Notice,” Baltimore Patriot, December 2, 1814;  Col. Decius Wadsworth to Maj. General Samuel Smith , July 25, 1814. Samuel Smith Papers, MSS 18974, Library of Congress; “Field Artillery of the War of 1812: Equipment, Organization and Tactical Effectiveness,” by Donald E. Graves, The War of 1812 Magazine (Issue 12, November 2009); Citizen Soldiers at North Point and Fort McHenry, September 12 & 13, 1814 by James Young (Baltimore, 1889).

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm  Comments Off on 1st Regiment, Maryland Volunteer Artillery, Maryland Militia  

“The Boy Martyrs of 1814”: Daniel Wells and Henry G. McComas

During the Battle of North Point, in a pre-battle skirmish these two “boys” (18 & 21 years of age) are reputed to have killed Major General Robert Ross, RA. as the army advanced towards Baltimore on September 12, 1814. This popular event heighten great interest in the “folklore” of the Battle for Baltimore.

The popularity of the Wells and McComas story was further heighten on the evening of September 15, 1859 at the Holliday Street Theatre in Baltimore, when the famous playwright, dramatis, actor and theatre manager Clifton W. Tayleure (1832-1891) produced in three acts “The Boy Martyrs of Sept. 12, 1814: A Local Historical Drama.” It was complete “with representations of The Battle of Bladensburg, The Rescue of the Colors, The Bombardment of the Fort, Death of Ross, and the Battle of Baltimore.”

Only a year before were the remains of Daniel Wells and Henry G. McComas were removed from their temporary graves at Green Mount Cemetery and reposed in state in the Hall of the Maryland Institute, then to Ashland Square in west Baltimore where they were interred, awaiting the completion of the monument in their honor in May 1872.

Sources: “The Boy Martyrs of Sept. 12, 1814: A Local Historical Drama.” (Boston: Wm. V. Spencer, 1859); The Sun, September 11, 1858.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm  Comments Off on “The Boy Martyrs of 1814”: Daniel Wells and Henry G. McComas  

The Aquila Randall Monument, 1817

Aquila Randall Monument

Aquila Randall Monument. From Lossing's Pictorial Field Guide of the War of 1812

“Dulici et decorum est pro Patria mori”

On Baltimore County’s historic Patapsco Neck along the Old North Point Road at the intersection of Old Battle Grove Road stands the second oldest known military monument in Maryland and the third oldest known in the United States. It is one of Maryland’s least visited War of 1812 sites – the Aquila Randall Monument. On July 21, 1817, Captain Benjamin C. Howard’s First Mechanical Volunteers formed up early in town and marched six miles to the North Point battleground. Accompanying them were wagons conveying the monument blocks to be assembled and dedicated on site that day. The monument’s construction was directed by Lt. Thomas Towson, a stone mason “who aimed at simplicity and neatness.” With a final application of whitewash it was dedicated to honor Private Aquila Randall a member who was killed in a skirmish just before the Battle of North Point, September 12, 1814. The company was joined by other 5th Maryland Regiment officers at the monument while Captain Howard delivered a modest appropriate address:

“….I can picture to myself the sensation of those who in far distant days will contemplate this monument…and the melancholy event which has caused our assemblage at this spot…This monument which we are now erecting, will stand as a solemn expression of the feeling of us all…But I regret that the spot, which is made classic by the effusion of blood, the sport where the long line stood un-appalled by the system and advances of an experienced and disciplined foe, has been suffered to remain unnoticed. It is here where her citizens stood arrayed soldier’s garb, that honors to a soldier’s memory should have been paid. To mark the spot be then our care.…”

[Monument Inscriptions]

[West face] – How beautiful is death, when earned by virtue.

[East face] – SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF AQUILA RANDALL, Who Died, in bravely defending his Country and his home, On the memorable 12th of September, 1814,Aged 24 years.

[North face] – THE FIRST MECHANICAL VOLUNTEERS, Commanded by Capt. B.C. Howard, in the 5th Regiment, M.M. HAVE ERECTED THIS MONUMENT, As a tribute of their respect for THE MEMORY OF THEIR GALLANT BROTHER IN ARMS.

[South face] – In the skirmish which occurred at this spot between the advanced party under Major RICH’D K. HEATH of the 5th Reg.’ M.M. and the front of the British column, Major General ROSS, the commander of the British force, received his mortal wound.

Source: (An Extract) “A History: The Aquila Randall Monument and the Monument Hotel of Baltimore County,” by Scott S. Sheads. From The War of 1812 in Maryland: New Discoveries and Interpretation. (2011, unpublished).

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm  Comments Off on The Aquila Randall Monument, 1817  

“An Act to Regulate and Discipline the militia of this State,” 1812

Battle of North Point by Don Troiani

Battle of North Point by Don Troiani

“You will be hereby satisfied that our fellow-citizens in arms are ready to do their duty and believe with me, that the liberties of America can never be lost, while every citizen is a soldier and every soldier the sentinel of his own.” Robert Wright, President of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, December 1807.

With the declaration of war on June 18, 1812, Marylanders were once again summoned to volunteer, not as minute men of the Revolution, but as citizen-soldiers, that would described a new generation of militia as the nation prepared for a second war with England. On the same day the Maryland legislature, during a special session, authorized Governor Levin Winder “at his discretion, to arm such portions of the militia of this state” to fulfill its quota requirement of the Federal Militia Act of 1793, to hold in readiness against foreign invasion, six thousand militia.

The Act of 1793 defined the states’ responsibilities in raising two kinds of companies. The first were enrolled militia, calling for every able-bodied white male citizen between 18-45 years of age. The second, were militia who offered their services as U.S. Volunteers to meet each states quota. Each soldier was required to be equipped with “a good musket or flintlock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges.” Each state organized their militia into divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions and companies. The President however, did not have authority to order the militia serve outside their respective states, a problem that became apparent in New England during the invasion of Canada in 1812-13. Historian Henry Adams, stated the essence of a citizen-soldier in his classic narrative of the war:

“Every man in the United States, under 45 years of age…and during the war attended in his turn, to be drilled or trained. He had always in his possession either a musket or a rifled-barrel piece; knew its use from his infancy; and with it, therefore, could do as much executions in a smock frock or plain coat as if he wore the most splendid uniform.”

On January 7, 1812, the Maryland Assembly passed An Act to Regulate and Discipline the Militia of This State, outlining in thirty pages the regulations, duties, and discipline that was required of the militia; the regulations, duties, and discipline required of the militia who consisted of farmers, merchants, mariners, and tradesmen to drill four times a year. When the alarm was sounded, the militia left their occupations and families to gather at their place of rendezvous such as a tavern, a farm or the town green. St. John’s College green was used as a militia rendezvous site as it had been during the Revolutionary War and where the French army encamped in 1782 on their way to Yorktown.

Many wore Maryland’s own regimental uniforms, while others wore their homespun hunting frocks, hats and carried weapons ranging from hunting rifles and duck guns to muskets handled down from the days of the Revolution. Cloth or leather hunting bags were slung across their shoulders with ball and powder, and haversacks filled with provisions. Despite the inadequacy of equipage militia companies yearned for an opportunity to display their flags as a rallying point for the brave sons of Columbia.

Throughout Maryland infantry companies began to fill the ranks. They named their companies after patriotic ideals or local landmarks to mark their respective regions of the state.

Dorchester County – The True Blues of America and The Plymouth Guns.

Talbot County – the Easton Infantry Blues, the Hole in the Wall, St. Michaels Patriotic Blues, and the Hearts of Oak.

Annapolis The First Volunteer Company of the City of Annapolis and The Annapolis United Guards.

Washington CountyHagerstown Homespun Volunteers; Fredericktown Blues.

Queen Annes County – The First Troop-True Republican Blues.

Kent County Chestertown Independent Volunteers.

During the war these county militia companies of flintlock and duck guns would bear the brunt of Britain’s royal navy and army and while not so well equipped as the British they performed their arduous duties to defend their homes and communities.

Sources: An Act to Regulate & Discipline the Militia of This State, (Annapolis, 1811); Easton Republican Star, or, Eastern Shore General Advertiser, (Md.), December 8, 1807.
Published in: on March 11, 2011 at 1:09 am  Comments Off on “An Act to Regulate and Discipline the militia of this State,” 1812