For the Preservation of Hampstead Hill, 1852

In the years following the War of 1812 the “Old Defenders’ of Baltimore of 1814” (organized in 1842) gathered every  “Defender’s Day” on September 12th to celebrate their achievements and memories. Hampstead Hill (today Patterson Park) where the land defensive line was defended by 15-20,000 citizen-soldiers and U.S. forces had become a popular site to celebrate the Battle for Baltimore. Though never attacked (the British army came with two miles of the defenses before retiring) the eastern site of a mile long infantry entrenchments and artillery redoubts has often been neglected in the story of the Battle for Baltimore.

“The city authorities have very much neglected this beautiful lot, but have been partially preserved – the breastwork and battery in the enclosure, which was thrown up in 1814 for the defense of the city. The growth of Baltimore is fast extending towards the Patterson Park, and we hope the city council will make an appropriation to put it in good condition. In addition to its many beauties it possesses of the late war [of 1812]. Let the battery, breastworks, &c., be preserved.”
The Sun (Baltimore), March 17, 1852

“There is one feature about it, however, that we hope never to see destroyed – that is the embankment thrown up for the battery and other defenses of the city, when it was invested by the British army in 1814. They should be allowed to remain as a memento of what those dead and gone have done. From this walk, while standing on the embankment, a most beautiful view of the Patapsco, and indeed of the whole of East Baltimore, may be obtained – a view surpassed by few anywhere.”
The Sun (Baltimore), May 23, 1849.

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 2:28 am  Comments Off on For the Preservation of Hampstead Hill, 1852  

“The City Guards,” Baltimore 1813-1815

On March 27, 1813 several citizens met at John Barney’s Old Fountain Inn on Light Street for the purpose of organizing a company, called the City Guards. The Guards were to be composed of citizens that were except from the Maryland Militia Act of 1808 and 1812. The officers commanding were Captain Thomas C. Jenkins, 1st Lieutenant John Hollins and 2d Lieutenant Peter Levering. The uniform consists of a plain blue jacket and pantaloons with a common hat and cockade.”

They were to organize themselves into a company to parole the city both day and night and meet at “King’s Tavern, Sign of the Lion” on Howard Street. The company would then gathered at their usual grounds of parade and exercise near the site of Roman Catholic Cathedral (today the Basilica of the Assumption) requesting that “Each man to come completely equipped…(yet capable of bearing arms) who will join the company, which has for its object their exertions as a guard to the city.” Two similar known companies raised within the eight different wards in Baltimore were  The Deptford Guards and the 1st Ward City Guards.

These companies continued their street duties until the end of the War in February 1815.

Sources: Baltimore Patriot, March 27, 1813; August 2, 1813; April 26, 1813.

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 2:12 am  Comments Off on “The City Guards,” Baltimore 1813-1815  

Naval Orders: “the utmost Hostility against the shores of the United States…” April 1814

Vice Admiral Sir Alexander F.I. Cochrane to Rear Admiral George Cockburn, Bermuda, April 28, 1814.

Arriving at Bermuda from London, the newly appointed naval commander-in-chief of the North American Station, replacing Admiral Sir John Warren (1758-1822), Admiral Cochrane (1758-1832) issues his orders to his second in command on the Chesapeake – Rear Admiral George Cockburn (1772-1853), the most hated British naval officer in America. In 1813 Admiral Cockburn attacked with the naval and military forces available to him under Admiral Warren the principal Maryland bay shore towns of Havre-de-Grace (May 3); Fredericktown & Georgetown (May 5), Hampton & Craney Island, Va. (June 24-25), Queenstown (August 10), St. Michaels (August 13, 26). Now in the Spring of 1814 the final  invasion of the Chesapeake is being formulated and placed into effect in June when the expeditionary forces that Admiral Cochrane needs will arrive under Rear-Admiral Pultney Malcolm.

“….You are at perfect liberty as soon as you can muster a Sufficient force, to act with the utmost Hostility against the shores of the United States – Their Government authorizes & directs a most destructive War to be carried on against our Commerce & and we have no means of retaliating but on shore, where they must be made to feel in their Property, what our merchants do in having their Ships destroyed at Sea; & taught to know that they are at the mercy of an invading foe. This is now more necessary in order to draw off their attention from Canada, Where I am told they are sending their whole military force – Their Sea Port Towns laid in Ashes & the Country wasted will be some sort of a retaliation for their savage Conduct in Canada where they have destroyed our Towns, in the most inclement Seasons of the Year; it is therefore but just, that Retaliation shall be made near to the Seat of their Government from whence those Orders emanated, you may depend upon the most cordial Support in whatever you may undertake against the Enemy – …..”

On August 16th the British expeditionary forces arrived in the Chesapeake and on August 19th landed at Benedict, Md., on the lower Patuxent River and marched north to ultimately Washington, D.C. having forced the destruction of  Commodore Joshua Barney’s U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla (August 22) and the humiliating defeat of the hastily formed American army at Bladensburg, Md (August 24).

Sixteen months earlier on April 27-30, 1813 American forces captured York, the provincial capital of Upper Canada and lay waste to the city. Today it is known as Toronto.

Source: LB, UkENL, Alexander F.I. Cochrane Papers, MS 2349, pp. 29-32 National Library of Scotland (Copy, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.).

Published in: on March 12, 2014 at 11:11 pm  Comments Off on Naval Orders: “the utmost Hostility against the shores of the United States…” April 1814  
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Sailing Master Beverly Diggs, U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla at Baltimore, Sept 1814.

On August 9, 1832 in a deposition before a Notary Public, Sailing Master Beverly Diggs (c.1783-1862) gave narrative of his role on September 12, 1814 as the British fleet made their appearance that morning entering the Patapsco River and later advanced up to begin the bombardment of Fort McHenry the  next morning. Diggs commanded U.S. Barge No. 7 of the blue squadron of the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla, then under the command of Captain Solomon Rutter, 1st officer of the flotilla. The flotilla’s commander Commodore Joshua Barney has been wounded at Bladensburg on August 24, 1814 and was recovering at his home in Elk Ridge, Anne Arundel Co.

At dawn on September 13th at 6:30 a.m. upon the approach of the bombardment squadron Diggs and his crew proceeded in their barge

“…to the wharves & take such [merchant] vessels as were ballasted and could be easily Sunk without regard to whom they might belong and to sink them in the River between Fort McHenry & the Lazaretto [Northwest Branch]; also across the Ferry Branch. That Deponent took three vessels towed them down and Sunk them agreeable to orders; such was the haste in which they were required to perform this duty; that no attempt  was taken or any attempt made to save any articles that might have been on board…it was deemed proper to take an Axe & after careening the vessel, cut a hole in her bottom, let her right & sink the Enemy having their Bomb Ships moored & Commencing the Bombardment….As it was evident to all that the obstructing of the Channels was the greatest, if not the only real preservation of the City of Baltimore.”

Of the dozen or so merchant vessels sunk in both channels it was not until the following year in the Spring of 1815 were they raised – but by then the winter ice and mud had nearly destroyed them. It would not be until 1832-34 that the vessels owners would be compensated for their loss.

Source: American State Papers, Claims,…….





Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 3:06 am  Comments Off on Sailing Master Beverly Diggs, U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla at Baltimore, Sept 1814.  

Dr. William Beanes arrives onboard HM Brig Thetis, August 28, 1814.

New Discoveries & New Interpretations of the War in the Chesapeake.
For nearly 200 years the story that Dr. William Beanes of Upper Marlborough, Md., who was taken prisoner from his home by the retreating British forces from Washington, D.C. in August 1814, was placed onboard Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane’s ship-of-the-line flagship HMS Tonnant has been told to readers of history and former historians.

A recent discovered letter written by Dr. William Beanes about his personal ordeal, now allows us to interpret the real updated story – that having been taken several miles away to the Patuxent River, where the British fleet had anchored, he was placed initially – not onboard the admiral’s flagship – but onboard HMS Brig Thetis with runaway slaves from Prince Georges County and later transferred to yet another ship. He remained on this last vessel until finally transferred on September 7 to the American flag-of-truce sloop-packet the President along with lawyer Francis Scott Key and Colonel John Stuart Skinner, U.S. State Department prisoner of war exchange agent.

Sources: Withheld until formally published.

See the depostions regarding Harriet Brooke at: Claim of Harriet Brooke, Calvert County, Case No. 660, Case Files. Ca. 1814-28, entry 190, Record Group 76, National Archives, College Park reproduced in:

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Lieutenant Gregorious Andre (1787-1814) of the Union Yagers

During the early morning hours of September 12, 1814, Captain Dominic Bader’ of the Union Yagers, 5th Maryland Regiment, directed Lieutenant Gregorious Andre to employ a line of riflemen along a tree line of a clearing. Near mid-day, moments before the Battle of North Point ensued; the riflemen skirmished with the advancing forward vanguard of British light infantry, falling steadily back to the American lines. In a curious note in his official report to the First Lord of the Admiralty, Vice-Admiral Alexander F.I. Cochrane privately reported, noting a curious affair:

 “One of the American field officers [Lt. Andre] in the late affair was Shot upon a Tree rather a Strange place for a Commander of a Regt., [company] but I understand he went there to direct his men how to fire with Most effect, but staying there rather too long he was brought down by a Soldier.”

 Andre was a native of Bremen, Germany and was buried along with others that had been mortally wounded at Old Christ Church Cemetery on Broadway, the present site of the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was later reburied in Green Mount Cemetery.

On September 12, 1828, fourteen years after the Battle of North Point, his son, John Andre led a detachment of the Union Yagers to the battlegrounds. Here having partaken of a repast, prepared for their solemn remembrance of Lieutenant Andre, they formed a hollow square around the tree “where that brave and lamented officer met his untimely fate…” Lieutenant A.B. Wolfe, commanding the corps addressed those gathered in an “eloquent and impressive manner.” 

Following the brief ceremony the corps returned to their homes.

 Sources: Baltimore Patriot, September 18, 1828. Gregorious Andre received his commission on July 24, 1813;  Admiral Cochrane to First Lord of the Admiralty, September 17, 1814. The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, Vol. 3 (Washington: Naval Historical Center, 2002), 289-291.

Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 1:36 am  Comments Off on Lieutenant Gregorious Andre (1787-1814) of the Union Yagers  

The London Times vs. Baltimore

In the fall of 1813 American privateers, especially those from Baltimore became a serious threat to British merchantmen on the Atlantic amd West Indies causing the insurance rates, economy and ship owners of England to put pressure on the Royal Navy to chastise the Americans. In September 1813 The London Evening Star published the following:

“The American Navy must be annihilated – her arsenals and dock-yards must be consumed; and the turbulent inhabitants of Baltimore must be tamed with the weapons which shook the wooden turrents of Copenhagen [in 1807]… All the panting about maritime rights, with which the Americans have recently nauseated the ears of every cabinet minister in Europe, must be silenced by the strong and manly voice of reason- the utima ration regum, paradoxial as it may seem, is here the only remedy – and America must be BEATEN INTO SUBMISSION! The law of nations have been always the law of the strongest – England is, therefore the DICTATOR of the maritime laws of the civilized world, and long may she retain her superiority! ”  London Evening Star, September 1813.”

In September 1814 the British would launch a naval and military attack on Baltimore.

Published in: on September 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm  Comments Off on The London Times vs. Baltimore  

Division Orders, Third Division, M.M., August 19, 1814.

On August 19, 1814 British naval and military forces landed at Benedict, Maryland on the Patuxent River and began their march towars Upper Marlboro and finally Washington. D.C.

The enemy have appeared in great force off the mouth of the Potomac, their movements appear to be up the bay. Orders have been issued from the President of the United States directing the third brigade to be called into federal service. Therefore ordered, that the whole brigade be held in readiness for actual service, that they parade at 4 o’clock this day, completely armed and equipped.

The quarter masters of the respective regiments, will draw their cartridges, and every box will be filled upon the ground. The men for the present will quarter at their respective homes. The reveille will beat at gun firing every morning when the regiments will assemble and train by regiment until 8 o’clock; they will again assemble at 4 o’clock, and train until seven o’clock.

On the alarm guns being fired, the regiments will meet on their respective parade grounds, and await further orders. The Third Brigade is now in the pay of the United States, in service subject to the articles of war.

By ordered. MAJ. GEN. SMITH

Isaac McKim, First Aid de Camp, 3rd division, M.M.

Published in: on August 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm  Comments Off on Division Orders, Third Division, M.M., August 19, 1814.  

Major General Samuel Smith (1752-1839)

On April 22, 1839 Major General Samuel Smith, veteran of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 in which he commanded the Third Dividion of Maryland Militia during the Battle ofor Baltimore in September 12-14, 1814. Of the many obituaries this one from the Baltimore Sun is sufficient to draw attention to his many public services to the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore. 

Death of General Smith. General Samuel Smith, died at his residence [Montebello] yesterday afternoon, at 5 o’clock, in the 88th year of his age. He was a man of whom Baltimore was justly proud. A brave soldier, a sound statesman, and an honorable high-minded patriot; he ever obeyed the call of his country, and in two wars fought her battles, and in peace aided her in the legislature councils. Elected as mayor of the city, for his services in having restored the city from a state of anarchy in good order and respect for the laws, he labored by every means that a debilitated frame would permit, to perform the duties of his office.

It was the last public honor conferred upon him, and it was one springing from the reverence of his fellow citizens for his virtue and integrity. He has lived to see the country for whose freedom he battled, a great and powerful nation, and the city he defended from the pollution of a foreign foe [during the War of 1812], rising to the height of opulence and prosperity. His long life has been well spent, and his name will be inscribed among the greatest of the American patriots – his memory revered, and his services remembered with gratitude. As a mark of respect, it is suggested that the flags of the public buildings and shipping be displayed at  half-mast today, and until his corpse is consigned to the tomb [in Westminster Cemetery in downtown Baltimore].”

Source: The Sun (Baltimore), April 23, 1839.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 6:23 pm  Comments Off on Major General Samuel Smith (1752-1839)  

“Ross Tree” under which Major General Robert Ross Died, Sept.12, 1814

In the second of two skirmishes that led to the Battle of North Point, Major General Robert Ross, having been shot by members of Captain Edward Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters, who were in the forward advance, was taken in route back to the British landing site. Along the North Point Road, his staff laid the General by the side of the road under a large poplar tree that over hung the roadside. It was here he breathed his last. An entry in the captain’s log of HM Ship-of-the-line Royal Oak states clearly that Ross’ remains arrived onboard that evening at 9 p.m., some eight hours after having been shot.

The tree was situated on the farm of Mr. Vincent Green, a veteran of the battle near the crossroads of North Point Road and present day Wells Avenue. In March of 1844 the venerable old tree was cut down for fear it may fall on an unsuspected traveler. It was known as the “Ross Tree.” “Such was the veneration in which it was held that many individuals secured pieces as relics.”

Sources: The Sun, March 22, 1844;  September 8, 1907.

Published in: on June 15, 2011 at 2:53 am  Comments Off on “Ross Tree” under which Major General Robert Ross Died, Sept.12, 1814