Sir Captain Peter Parker, R.N. (1785-1814)

Sir Peter Parker

Sir Peter Parker. From Lossing’s Field Book to the War of 1812

In October 1902, eighty-eight years after the War of 1812, a monument was dedicated on Caulk’s Field battlegrounds on Maryland’s Eastern Shore of Kent County. It commemorates both the British and American militia midnight encounter here on August 31, 1814. Sir Capt. Peter Parker was a descendant of several Royal Navy flag officers, he receiving command of H.M. frigate Menelaus in 1810. A popular often told story has been that Capt Parker, having received a mortal wound, was carried from the field to the Thomas Mitchell House (Maryland Pkwy. off Rt. 21) where he died in the kitchen, the soldiers having “got a blanket and sheet to wrap Sir Peter in.” The legend became interwoven into the popular culture of the War of 1812 and has become an integral myth of Kent County’s history. The house today is a popular bed and breakfast inn. Captain Parker’s remains however were never carried to the Mitchell House, but directly to his command, H.M. frigate Menelaus lying off today’s Parker Point. The origin of the story first appeared in the Daily National Intelligencer (D.C) soon afterward the battle.

Lieutenant Henry Crease, R.N., who assumed command upon Capt. Parker’s death, stated in his report: “It was at this time, while animating his men in the most heroic manner that Sir Peter Parker received his mortal wound which obliged him to quit the field and he expired in a few minutes.” After been taken onboard his remains were “placed into a coffin filled with whiskey.” The morning after, Captain Peter Parker’s right shoe exhibited a great deal of blood inside was found with the inscription found inside: “No. 20169 Parker, Capt. Sir Peter. Bt.” On September 3, the British made another raid in Kent County at the bay-shore farm of the same Thomas Mitchell who served as Commissary of Supplies for the Kent County militia, thus the story became linked to his death at the Mitchell house.

On September 7, the HM frigate Menelaus sailed down the bay “with her pennant half-mast high, a sign indicative of the death of Sir Peter Parker.” The Menelaus anchored with the ships in Baltimore harbor during the Battle for Baltimore. Afterwards his remains were transferred to H.M. frigate Hebrus for conveyance to Bermuda and buried at St. George’s Church, Bermuda. In the Spring of 1815 his remains were conveyed to St. Margaret’s Church at Westminster, London where he was buried.

Sources: Baltimore Federal Gazette, September 7, 1814; Baltimore Patriot, September 5, 1814; The Bermuda Historical Quarterly, Winter, 1944), 189-195; Logbook, HMS Tonnant, September 12, 1814 (Public Records Office, Admiralty Records 53/1385); Lt. Henry Crease, RN, HMS Menelaus to Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, September 1, 1814 (Alexander Cochrane Papers, Library of Scotland with copies at the Library of Congress, MS2329).

Published in: on March 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm  Comments Off on Sir Captain Peter Parker, R.N. (1785-1814)  

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