Last of the “Old Defenders’ of Baltimore in 1814” September 1880

Following the War of 1812, the defenders’ of Baltimore returned to their occupations, raised their families, and told their heroic stories to their grandchildren. By the 1840’s they were regarded as a national treasure much like their revolutionary forbearers before them. As each veteran from the war passed away, their obituaries were published throughout the country.

On April 1, 1842, the surviving registered members formally organized the “Association of Old Defenders of Baltimore in 1814” for the purpose of keeping alive the memory of those who fought in the defense of Baltimore in September 1814. They agreed to meet annually until such time when the last five members were no longer able to attend.On September 6, 1884, The Sun reported that the organization had disbanded since the number of surviors had dwindled. As a result, the Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland was organized on September 12, 1892 by the descendants to annually commemorate Defenders’ Day in Baltimore and keep the “Old Defenders’” stories alive.

Who was Maryland’s last “Old Defender”? On September 12, 1880, the last defenders’ gathered at the Druid Hill Mansion (site of the Maryland Zoo) and had their portrait taken seated in front of the portico. In the photograph taken there were twelve left.
Of the 1,259 registered members of the Old Defenders’ Association recorded at its founding in 1842, the last known Maryland defender may have been Cecil County native, Elijah Bouldin Glenn (1796-1898). Glenn was a private in Captain Peter Pinney’s company, 27th Maryland Regiment and had fought at the Battle of North Point. Glenn died on July 5, 1898 at the age of 102.

Source: (Extract) “The Last of the Old Defenders’ of Baltimore, September 12, 1880.” by Scott S. Sheads, The War of 1812 in Maryland: The War of 1812 in Maryland: New Discoveries and Interpretations. (2011, unpublished).

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm  Comments Off on Last of the “Old Defenders’ of Baltimore in 1814” September 1880  

Battle of “Slippery Hill,” Queen Anne’s County, August 13, 1813

On August 13, 1813 British land and naval landing forces attacked Queenstown, Maryland in Queen Annes County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The attack was launched from Kent Island, a temporary naval base that would also launched two attacks on nearby St. Michaels (Aug. 10, 26) in Talbot County. Here the 38th Maryland Regiment under the command of Major William Hopper Nicholson skirmished with approximately 300 British troops under the command of Col. Sir Thomas Sidney Beckwith as they advanced on Queenstown along the Kent Island Road (Route 50 ). Fearful of being cut off by a second British amphibious force, Major Nicholson’s forces withdrew to Centreville. It has popularly being called the Battle of “Slippery Hill” for the low rise of ground on the site intersection of Route 18 and Bennett Point Road half-way between Grasonville and Queenstown.

Following is his official account of the battle.


Having laid before you my letter of the 13th inst. to Brig Gen. Chambers stating the enemy’s movements on Queen’s Town, and my retreat in consequence thereof, it remains for me to give you a detailed statement of the affair, together with the reasons which influenced and determined me to retreat without engaging the enemy.

Previous to entering on this detail, it may not be irrelevant for the information of those who have minds enough to comprehend the subject, to give a slight sketch of the geographic position of the country, laying between the enemy’s force on Kent Island, and my little charge at Queens Town – Kent Island, of which the enemy were in possession, and which was completely surrounded by their vessels of war, in the southern extremity of Queen Anne’s county; the greatest breath about 6 miles; is watered on its western side by the Chesapeake Bay, on its eastern margin by the Eastern Bay, and is separated from the Main by what is usually termed the Narrows, which is in fact a strait from the Eastern Bay to Chester River, and runs nearly north and south, is navigable on full common tides for small shallops; and its breath caries from about 100 yards, to half a mile or more.

This narrows or strait, is skirted on both sides by extensive marshes, intersected with cripples, which are frequently dangerous, more especially to the marsh connected with the main. To approach the Island from the Main you must traverse a narrow causeway upwards of a mile in length across the marsh. Piney Neck, or the district of country which extends from Queenstown to the Narrows, is watered on the N.W. by Chester River, navigable for ships of large size for an extent of about six miles to the mouth of Queen’s Town Creek, which forms its best gead about ¼ mile from the main road, near to which stands the little village in which my force was quartered. The same district of [the] country is watered on the S. and E. by the Eastern Bay, and that branch of Wye River called Back Wye, for an extant of about 20 miles, navigable in its whole course for craft and barges to within a short distance of Queenstown.

Into this tract of country, nearly surrounded by water, I was destined to defend with the following force, viz., 6 companies of infantry, amounting to 273 men, of whom 25 were sick, and three absent on furlough, leaving 214 effectives – two light six pounders, commanded by Capt. [Thomas] Wright, about 35 strong; and 100 Cavalry, commanded by Major [Thomas] Emory.

To this force I had strong reasons to believe the enemy could oppose a land force of 3000 men, and of course all the barges and men belonging to the shipping by water. In this position I could not but be sensible of the extreme danger of my situation, and felt that there was but little for me to do, but use great caution and vigilance to avoid a surprise. To prevent all intercourse with the island, which was so great as to be highly criminal.

On the morning of the 12th, I determined to push the two companies amounting to 62 men, (and a part of the 244 effectives) commanded by Capts. [Charles] Hobbs and [John D.] Taylor, into the [Piney] neck, if they should be willing to engage is so hazardous an enterprise; and accordingly communicated my wishes to them.

They, without a moments hesitation, accepted my wishes, and with great alacrity paraded their companies, and entered on a perilous duty, which they, equally with myself, tho essential to the safety of our whole force. They had my written permission to occupy such grounds as to them might seem most advantageous for the duty assigned them. They were by no means to invite an attack, to communicate with me at least once in 12 hours, for which purpose they had four troopers sent on with them, to be entirely subject to their orders.

They were not to occupy the same ground any two nights successively. With these instructions, the very intimate knowledge which the officers & men professed of the country, added to the great zeal & activity of the officers, I was satisfied that if they should be attacked by a superior force, they would effect a safe retreat, if by an equal force, I had no fears for the result. In the course of the afternoon of the 12th, a variety of circumstances combined to induce me to believe that I should be attacked the next morning, & that chiefly, if not altogether on the land side.

I therefore took my officers separately & pointed out to each of them the positions their men were to occupy on the land side, in the event of an attack by land, and the same if attacked by water. We were unanimously of opinion, that the posts selected were of such strength, as to enable us to do great execution to a much larger force than their own; and against any thing like an equal force, we felt confident of success.

Against an attack from 2 or 3 points, I felt the insufficiency of my force to provide, and did not attempt it. Having dispatched Adjutant [John] Tilghman, and one or two officers into the neck, about 11 o’clock, and having finished visiting my guards, about 1-2 past 12, [midnight], I retired to my room. At 1-2 past 1 o’clock the Adjutant returned from reconnoitering, without having gained any information of the enemy’s intentions.

At 10 minutes before 3 o’clock of the 13th, I was aroused by the quick approach of horsemen, and found them to be my cavalry videttes of the out posts, with the intelligence that the enemy was approaching in great force on the main road from Kent Narrows to Queens Town. I immediately called up my officers, and at 15 minutes past 3, my force paraded in order of battle, with the exception of the cavalry. The want of accommodations for the men and horses, compelled me to quarter them about 1½ miles from the village, but this occasioned no delay; for in the course of 10 or 15 minutes Major [Thomas] Emory in person, (much to the honor of this body) reported his cavalry as formed on the ground I had directed, and ready for action.

A few minutes only had elapsed, when an express arrived to me from Captains [Charles] Hobbs and [John D.] Taylor, with the information that the enemy was advancing in such force, as to make it impossible that I could oppose them with mine; and that they expected to effect a safe retreat. This intelligence created great anxiety for the fate of my picquet guard, which was stationed about 2 miles in advance of Queens Town, on the road by which the enemy was approaching. I immediately mounted my horse, and pressed forward towards my picquet.

When I had advanced within ½ a mile of the post, the firing commenced between them and the enemy, and the vollies of musketry left me without hope that an individual of them was alive. I returned immediately to my main body, and found them at their posts, all cheerful and anxious for the onset of the enemy, notwithstanding his numbers, a fresh volley of musketry created feelings which I can never forget, it assured me that my picquet was not annihilated as I supposed, but (to their immortal honor) that they had abused my orders of the night before, rallied, and a second time attacked the enemy. I instantly sent the Adjutant on to meet them, and they arrived safe at our line, about 400 yards in advance of the enemy, without the loss of a man, and only one very slightly wounded.

If anything I could say, would add to the reputation of those gentlemen, how freely would I say it, in giving their names to the public, I do all that I can. It shall be known, that a picquet guard composed of the following gentlemen, stood firm at their posts, received the attack, and returned the fire of a column of British troops 2000 strong, supported by 4 field pieces, retreated, formed again, and gave the enemy their second fire.

Picquet Guard

 Capts. James Massey,  J.H. Nicholson, Jr.  Privates, John D. Emory, John Green, Solomon E. Wright, Dennis Sullivan, James Chairs, John Hassett, Samuel Gleen, ames Jackson, W. Seward (slightly wounded), Jacob Price, Thomas Deroachbroome, John Dodd, Jeremiah Vincent, Thomas Cox, Peter Ross, William Emerson, Samuel McBosh [and] Archibald Roe

About 4 o’clock, my cavalry videts, stationed on Chester River came in, bringing the painful intelligence that a large number of barges were entering Queens Town creek. In a few minutes after a signal rocket from the barges told me the news too true; at the same moment one of my guards stationed on the creek came with the information that they had formed their line across the mouth of Queens Town creek. The signal rocket was answered from the land side, and I instantly called in all my guards except three, out of twenty, stationed at Mr. Hall’s landing [Bowlingly Plantation] on the creek, who I left for the purpose of conveying intelligence to me of the enemy’s approach; for I was firmly resolved to engage the enemy in my front, if it could be done without subjecting the force I commanded to certain capture. I had sent major Blake to take a view of the enemy on the water, who returned with the information that they had landed, & that he was fired on by them.

The force in my front was about 150 yards from us, and was plainly seen from both my left and right flanks. In this situation I concluded, that noting but a silent retreat could effect my escape this I ordered, and dispatched the surgeon of the regiment to major Emory of the cavalry with the order; but from some misconception of the surgeon, major Emory did not consider the order as official; and of course, did not commence his retreat with that promptness of movement, for which his command is remarkable. I discovered the delay, and as soon as possible sent on the adjutant, with orders for the cavalry to press their retreat; this was done under a heavy fire of rockets, round and grape shot, equally upon the cavalry, infantry and artillery, from the enemy’s land force, and from a fire of rockets, round and grape shot, upon the infantry and artillery, from the forces on the water side.

There was no confusion among any of the troops; all retreated in perfect order, and the column was well formed (for militia) during the whole retreat; indeed it became absolutely necessary to give a positive order to quicken their pace before I could effect it; early on the retreat I discovered that my column occupied more ground that was necessary for it; and apprehensive that some irregularity existed in the advance, I rode up to the front to discover the cause, and found captains Massey and Nicholson’s commands in single file. This order if companies had been necessary in the first instance in consequence of the original retreat of the companies being intercepted by the enemy’s force on the water side. I therefore found it necessary to change the disposition of their retreat, and immediately upon my giving the order for the formation of a column by those two companies, it was executed on the march, with a neatness and promptness that does equal honor to the officers and men.

During the whole of the time that we waited in order of battle the enemy’s approach, the most perfect order and submission pervaded my little command, frequently enlivened with observations and with, that bespoke minds perfectly at ease, and determined to do their duty to their country. Capt. [G.W.T.] Wright of artillery, in particular, addressed his command in a very spirited and handsome style; exhorting by every thing that was sacred and dear to them as freemen, to discharge their duty, which was received with the most cordial assurances of support from the whole force.

Having thus detailed the objects of my first retreat, it becomes necessary that I should account for my continuing to this place. The head of the column having reached the appointed place of rendezvous, about one and a half miles from the town, I was riding very leisurely along in the rear with the adjutant, and had just ordered him to ride forward and halt the column, when information was sent to me, by a person who had been on the water’s edge during the whole time, that the enemy were landing a large force from twenty barges on a point of Mr. Wright’s [Blakeford Plantation]. I was well aware, that the landing a force at that place could have no other object in view, but the intercepting my retreat, and I instantly ordered the head of the column to advance, and continue the retreat to this place; where every man arrived in safety.

The firing of my picket guard killed two of the enemy, and wounded five; and their commander in chief Sir Sidney Beckwith, had his horse killed. The deserters, who were with the land force, state their numbers to have been, one company of marine artillery (4 pieces) 100 strong, the 102nd regiment of foot, 300 strong; 2 battalions of marines 1600, and one rocket company 50 strong. This was the force in my front to which I had determined to give battle, but the appearance of the enemy attacking my rear, compelled me to give up my attention. His numbers by water not known; but was contained in 45 barges, and by those who had the best opportunity of examining, is stated to have been at least 1350.

It affords me the great pleasure to add, that captains [Charles] Hobbs and [John D.] Taylor made good their retreat across Wye River in batteaux and canoes; and the troopers who were under their command effected theirs by swimming their horses across. I will only observe, that not a breath of censure can in any way attach to a single individual of my command. The ready and cheerful obedience which I experienced from every officer, and private, gave me full confidence that I could rely on the execution of my orders; and I was not disappointed; on me alone therefore must rest the responsibility of the retreat. May I again, sir, solicit, that a Court of Inquiry be directed to site on me.”

I am sir,

WILLIAM H. NICHOLSON, Major 38th Regt. Md. Militia, Centreville, 16th, Aug. 1813

 Source: Major William Nicholson, 38th Regiment, Maryland Militia, to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Wright of the 38th Regiment, Maryland Militia, Centreville, Md., August 16, 1813; Easton Republican Star, August 24, 1813.

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 6:38 pm  Comments Off on Battle of “Slippery Hill,” Queen Anne’s County, August 13, 1813  

Elizabeth Sands (1789-1890): Angel on the Battlefield

Elizabeth Warner was born on March 7, 1789 in Darlington, Harford County, Md., the daughter of clockmaker Cuthbert and Ann Warner who removed their family to Baltimore shortly thereafter.

Following the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814, Elizabeth and several other ladies tended to the wounded and dying on the field. Three of her brothers had served in the battle; John S. Warner (Capt. Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters) and Thomas and Andrew E. Warner both captains in the 39th Maryland Militia. She made her brother John’s rifle uniform of “bottle green, including his hat with a double row of black bugles [buttons on his coat (?)].”

After the war Elizabeth, described as having “a sprightly conversation and is highly entertaining” was made “an honorary member” of the Old Defenders’ Association of 1814,  On each Defenders’ Day in September upon the anniversary of the battle, she wore with pride “the blue and gold badge of the association”, and through her remaining years witnessed in her later years the Defenders’ parade from a window at her home on Eutaw and Madison streets. 

In July 1824 she married John Sands who made “handsomely engraved minatures of the General Marque de Lafayette during the French officer’s to Baltimore. John Sands died in 1829. Elizabeth died on August 3, 1890 at the age of 101 years outliving all the known War of 1812 veterans of Maryland. Her final resting place is unknown.

Sources: The Sun, Sept. 7, 1887; March 6, 1888; July 26, 1890; Aug. 4, 1890; Sept. 29, 1890; Baltimore Patriot, Aug. 24, 1824.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 8:47 am  Comments Off on Elizabeth Sands (1789-1890): Angel on the Battlefield  

African-Americans: Citizen-Soldiers of Maryland

“I have yet to learn that the color of the skin, or cut and trimmings of the coat can effect a man’s qualifications…many of them are amongst my best men”. Commodore Isaac Chauncey on the Great Lakes frontier, 1813.

Private William Williams, 36th U.S. Infantry (National Park Service)

One of the least known aspects of the war on the Chesapeake has been the role of Maryland African-Americans. Renewed interest in the varied military, maritime and civilian roles of Maryland’s free men and slaves are now being rediscovered. The Federal and Baltimore Daily Advertiser in 1812 reported Baltimore’s African-Americans represented one fifth of the city’s 50,000 population which were “of native and West Indian blacks, nearly one half of whom are free and entitled to hold property…”

England abolished the slave trade in 1807, the United States responded a year later prohibiting slave importation into the United States. In Maryland, a large percentage of African-Americans were freemen. By law, African-Americans could not vote nor bear arms, but documents prove otherwise and reveal a broader context in the roles of the naval and military experience whether as free men or slaves. From their peculiar inherited situation they would seek their own roads to freedom, placing themselves in a decision crossroads – between servitude and freedom. In 1814 the British offered slaves an apportunity to join the Corps of Colonial Marines. It is unknown the extact number that responded by running away from their masters. In March 1813, Congress passed “An act for the Regulation of Seamen on board the public and private vessels of the United States” allowing “persons of color” to enlist.

A member of the Committeee of Vigilance and Safety, merchant William Lowery stated that “Many peoples among us assert that the Free people of Colour may be safely employed in the plans of defense as many of them it is said are processed of property and about all are zeaous in their wish to preserve our City.”

Here are a few of the African- Marylanders who illustrate their role in the War of 1812 on the Chesapeake.

William Williams (alias Frederick Hall), a runaway mulatto slave from Prince George’s county served as a private in the 38th U.S. Infantry at Fort McHenry in Sept. 1814.

George R. Roberts (1766-1861), served onboard Captain Thomas Boyle’s privateer Chasseur (‘pride of Baltimore’) during their famous blockade of England in August 1814. Captain Boyle noted that Roberts “displayed the most intrepid courage and daring” and later was “highly thought of by the citizen-soldiery” of Baltimore.

Perry Sullivan and Henry James, served onboard the privateer Tartar.

Cyrus Warren a native of Kent County served onboard U.S. Gun Boat No. 139 at Baltimore.

George Anderson, Solomon Johnson, Elisha Rhody, Jack Murray all served in the Fell’s Point shipyards as naval mechanics. Murray (1751-1861) became one of the celebrated Old Defenders’ of Baltimore.

Charles Ball chronicled his life in an autobiography A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball. A Black Man who fought at the Battles of St. Leonard’s Creek, Bladensburg and Baltimore with the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla.

Gabriel Roulson and Caesar Wentworth, served respectfully as a landsman and cook in the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla in 1814.

Colonial Corps of Marines – While others served in the American forces, others choose freedom, escaping from ther masters seeking the protection and guidance of the Royal Navy. Organized in the Spring of 1813, they fought in the Bladensburg-Baltimore campaigns in 1814.

African-Americans played a significant role in Maryland during the War of 1812. Freemen volunteered and served shoulder to shoulder with other Americans on land and sea. The extent of their contributions are still to be found, but Marylanders can take pride in the contribution of these “men of color” who fought and worked alongside others, friends and owners to help save Baltimore and their native state during the War of 1812.

Sources: Slavery in the United States: A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Charles Ball. A Black Man (Lewistown, Pa. 1836); Amongst my best men: African-Americans and The War of 1812 by Gerald T. Altoff (Ohio: The Perry Group, 1996); Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Adv., May 18, 1814; Military Collector & Historian, vol. 41, No.1, (Journal, The Company of Military Historians, Spring, 1989; Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Adv., May 25, 1814; George Cockburn Papers, Library of Congress. Baltimore City Archives, RG 22. War of 1812 Collection.

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm  Comments Off on African-Americans: Citizen-Soldiers of Maryland  

“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  

Defenders of Fort McHenry, September 13-14, 1814

“…O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand / Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolution!  / Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land / Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!…” Francis Scott Key, 1814.

With the arrival of the British expeditionary forces landing at Benedict, Maryland on August 19, 1814, Major General Samuel Smith and Major George Armistead, commanding Fort McHenry  began to assemble those militia and federal forces for the defense of Fort McHenry. The following are those companies and officers that defended Fort McHenry during the bombardment of September 13-14, 1814.

U.S. Garrison of Fort McHenry

Capt. Frederick Evans – U.S. Corps of Artillery (60)

Capt. Matthew S. Bunbury, U.S. Sea Fencibles (60)

Capt. William H. Addison, U.S. Sea Fencibles (50)

 Maryland Militia, 1st Regiment of Artillery

Capt. John Berry, Washington Artillery, (100)

Lt. Commander Charles Pennington, Baltimore Independent Artillery (75).

U.S. Volunteers

Capt. Joseph H. Nicholson, Baltimore Fencibles, U.S. Volunteers (75)

U.S. Infantry

Lt. Colonel William Steuart, 38th U.S. Infantry

Capt. Joseph Hook, 36th U.S. Infantry (125)

Capt. William Rogers, 36th U.S. Infantry (130)

Capt. Sheppard Church Leakin, 38th U.S.Infantry (?)

Capt. Joseph H. Hook, 38th U.S. Infantry (100)

Capt. John Buck, 38th U.S. Infantry (100)

Capt. Thomas Sangsten, 14th U.S. Infantry (100)


U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla

Sailing Master Solomon Rodman, (60)

Total: 1035

Sources: “Report of Fort McHenry, September 13 & 14, 1814 in the Bombardment” Captain Thomas Sangsten, February 22, 1815; Major Armistead to Acting Secretary of War, James Monroe, September 24, 1814. “Letters Received, Secretary of War John Armstrong,” September 24, 1814.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm  Comments Off on Defenders of Fort McHenry, September 13-14, 1814  

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  

“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