THE LAST “OLD DEFENDER” DEAD. Final Extinction of a famous War Association of Baltimore.

On December 17, 1888, Mr. James C. Morford, aged 98, died, the last member of the Old Defenders’ Association of Baltimore. His death marked the extinction of the famous Old Defenders’ Association, that was organized in 1842 with 1,259 members. It was the custom of the members to attend church in a body on the Sunday previous to each 12th of September, each member wearing a cockade and a piece of crape, the latter out of respect to the memory of the dead comrades. He was the only survivor who attended the anniversary of September 12th last.

During the Battle for Baltimore, September 12-14, 1814 he served as a private in Captain James Sterrett’s company of the First Baltimore Hussars and was present at the Battle of North Point.

Source: St. Louis Republic (Missouri), December 18, 1888; New York Times, September 13, 1888.

Published in: on June 1, 2011 at 12:41 pm  Comments Off on THE LAST “OLD DEFENDER” DEAD. Final Extinction of a famous War Association of Baltimore.  

Levi Claggett & John Clemm: Fallen Soldiers of Fort McHenry

In the aftermath of the bombardment of Fort McHenry, September 13-14, 1814, the Baltimore Patriot printed a obituary notice on two of the four defenders who had fallen during “the perilous fight.” The eloquence of the notice is an example of the words and expressions of those who had fallen during the conflict in the War of 1812.


This afternoon, at 4 o’clock, the Baltimore Artillery Company of Fencibles, under the command of Captain [Joseph Hopper] NICHOLSON, will parade for the purpose of rendering the last tribuite of respect to Lieutenant LEVI CLAGGETT, & Sergeant JOHN CLEMM, who fell in defence of this city and their country’s rights, at Fort M’Henry, during the bombardment of that fortress by the enemy.

To have fallen in such a cause, would have, of itself, entitled the memory of the dead to respect and sympathy. But, they needed no such adventitious circumstance to excite the most poignant regret at thier untimely departure. They formed a prominent part of the rich price, which was paid for victory and safety. In civil life, they were men of the most amiable manners, honorable principles, and respectable standing in society. In the hour of danger, they evinced ardent and collected courage. Their friends lament their loss, with sorrow not loud but deep. May the reflection, that they died in a cause and at a time, when every tonque was eloquent in their praise; that they departed in the path of honor; that the gratitude of their countrymen will embalm their names in every heart, afford to the bereaved of their connections and friends, the only alleviation for such a loss.

Their brethren in arms will cherish their memory, with affectionate care. They sleep on the soldier’s bed, the bed of honor; and while their loss may call forth the manly tear of fraternal regret, their example will animate to deeds, such, as living, they would have approved and aided.

SOURCE: Baltimore Patriot, September 21, 1814.

Published in: on May 31, 2011 at 3:16 pm  Comments Off on Levi Claggett & John Clemm: Fallen Soldiers of Fort McHenry  

Francis Scott Key Remembers-September 1814

On August 6, 1834 Francis Scott Key returned to his hometown of Frederick, Maryland in company with his former law partner fifty-seven year old Roger Brooke Taney.  They had come to partake in a celebratory dinner on the Frederick Courthouse lawn. At one point Judge Taney stood up during dinner and introduced Key, who needed no introduction as the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

In a brief speech, Key for the only known moment in his life after the War of 1812 expressed his feelings and how he came to be inspired to write the nation’s song so celebrated on the “Defence of Fort McHenry.”

Herein are the words taken from Francis Scott Key: Life and Times by Edward S. Delaplaine published in 1937.

“You have been pleased to declare your approbation of my song. Praise to a poet could not be otherwise than acceptable; but it is peculiarly gratifying to me, to know that, in obeying the impulse of my own feelings, I have awakened yours. The song, I know, came from the heart, and if it has made its way to the hearts of men, whose devotion to their country and the great cause of freedom I know so well, I could not pretend to be insensible to such a compliment.

You have recalled to my recollection the circumstances under which I was impelled to this effort. I saw the flag of my country waving over a city – the strength and pride of my native State – a city devoted to plunder and desolution by its assailants. I  witnessed the preparation for its assaults, and I saw the array of its enemies as they advanced to the attack. I heard the sound of battle; the noise of the conflict fell upon mylistening ear, and told me that “the brave and the free” had met the invaders. Then did I remember that Maryland had called her sons to the defense of that flag and that they were the sons of sires who had left their crimson footprints on the snows of the North and poured out of the blood of patriots like water on the sands of the South. Then did I remember that there were gathered around that banner, among its defenders, men who had heard and answerred the call of their country – from these mountain sides, from this beautiful valley, and from this fair city of my native Country; and though I walked upon a deck surrounded by a  hostile fleet, detained as a prisoner, yet was my step firm, and my heart strong, as these recollections came upon me.

Through the clouds of war, the stars of that banner still shone in my view, and I saw the discomforted host of its assailants driven back in ignominy to their ships. Then, in that hour of deliverance and joyful triumph, my heart spoke; and “Does not such a country, and such defenders if their country, deserve a song?” was its question.

With it came an inspiration not to be resisted; and even though it had been a hanging matter to make a song, I must have written it. Let the praise, then, if any be due, be given. not to me, who only did what I could not help doing; not to the writer, but to the inspirers of the song!”

…I again thank you for the honor you have done me; but I can only take the share of it. I was but the instrument in executing what you have been so pleased to praise; it was dictated and inspired by the gallantry and patriotism of the sons of Maryland. The honor is due, not to me who made the song, but to the heroism of those who made me make it…

Source: Francis Scott Key: Life and Times by Edward S. Delaplaine (New York: Biography Press, 1937), 378-380. Mr. Delaplaine’s archival source of Key’s remarks remains a mystery.

Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 8:31 am  Comments Off on Francis Scott Key Remembers-September 1814  

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.  

Captain James Roe (c.1784-?): 35th Maryland Regiment, Belle-Air, Kent County, 1814

The 35th Maryland Regiment was one of two regiments assigned to Queen Anne’s County during the war under the Maryland Militia Act of 1811. In August 1814 upon the advance of HM frigate Menelaus, Capt Peter Parker, RN, in the upper bay off Kent County. Brigadier General Benjamin Chambers, 6th Brigade, brought into service the 21st Maryland Regiment under Lt. Colonel Phillip Reed and Captain James Roe’s militia company of 100 men.  Captain Roe received his commission on October 17, 1810 by Governor Robert Bowie.

On August 31, 1814, HM frigate Menelaus landed their marines and seamen on the bay shore of Kent County and marched inland towards Belle-Air where intelligence reported their was a large militia camp and military depot of supplies. At midnight the British attacked the 21st Regiment upon the farm fields of Isaac Caulk. The Maryland militia made a heroic stand against overwhelming numbers and steadily withdrew from the field towards Chestertown five miles away. The action however caused the British commander Sir Captain Peter Parker to be mortally wounded. While Captain Roe’s company of fifty-nine militia were attached to the 21st Regiment from Aug 31 to Sept 7 they took no part in the midnight skirmish as they were encamped to guard the militia stores at Belle-Air.

In 2008 at the Poplar Grove/Brampton Plantation in Queen Anne’s County, documents were found relating to the War of 1812 among those “A Roster of the Attendance of Capt. Ja’s Roe’s Company Stationed at Bell Aire, August 31, 1814 – this campaign commenced.” While little is still unknown about Captain Roe and his company their role gives an insight of the company’s role during the Battle of Caulk’s Field on August 31, 1814.

Source: James Wood Poplar Grove Collection, Maryland State Archives, SC-5807; Maryland Militia in the War of 1812, Volume 1 (Eastern Shore), by F. Edward Wright (Westminster, Md.), 8, 38.

Captain John Pasco, RN (1774-1853): Flag Officer at Trafalgar

Captain John Pasco is along side Admiral Horation Nelson, remembered as one of the best known historic figures in British naval history – for that moment when he served as the flag-lieutenant on board HM ship-of-the-line Victory (100 guns) during the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805. It was this thirty-one year old signal officer who hoisted Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson’s famous battle signal ‘”England expects every man will do his duty.” Originally Nelson had asked Pasco to send the message “England confides that every man will do his duty.” Pasco suggested “expects” be substituted for “confides”, since the former was in the signal book, whereas confides would have to be spelt out letter-by-letter. Nelson agreed to the change, Pasco then recorded: “Engage the enemy more closely” to be sent. Pasco ran it up and it remained flying until shot away in the battle. Pasco was severely wounded in the right side and arm with grapeshot and carried below the decks.

On April 3, 1811, he received a captain’s commission and took command of HM schooner Tartarus (16 guns) during the Battle for Baltimore.

Sources: A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy by William R. O’Byrne (London: John Murray, 1849).

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm  Comments Off on Captain John Pasco, RN (1774-1853): Flag Officer at Trafalgar  

Captain Thomas Masterson Hardy, R.N. (1769-1839)

Among His Majesty’s naval officers who had been at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805, Britain’s most famous naval engagement against the combined French and Spanish fleets was Captain Thomas Masterson Hardy, RN. the battle turned the tide of the naval warfare during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) giving England control of the seas during the War of 1812. Hardy served with Admiral Lord Horation Nelson on board HM ship-of-the-line Victory (100 guns) as flag captain and commander. When Nelson was mortally wounded on the quarter deck by French marksmen, it was Hardy who held stricken Nelson below decks, and died in his arms.

Captain Hardy later served in the Washington-Baltimore campaign of August – September 1814. On August 9, 1814 it was Hardy commanding HM ship-of-the-line Ramilles (74 guns) directed the bombardment of Stonington, Connecticut that inspired a popular song by American poet Philip Freneau entitled “The Battle of Stonington,” prior to Baltimore’s own song by Francis Scott Key.

“Four gallant ships from England came, Freights deep with five and flame, And other things we need not name, To have a dash at Stonington..!”

A month later, September 13-14 the Ramillies anchored off North Point during the Battle for Baltimore, her size preventing navigation nearer to Baltimore.

Sources: A Naval Biographical Dictionary: Comprising the Life and Services of Every Living Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy by William R. O’Byrne (London: John Murray, 1849).

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm  Comments Off on Captain Thomas Masterson Hardy, R.N. (1769-1839)  

Commodore Joshua Barney (1759-1818) & the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla

The most famous naval officer in Maryland waters during the war was Captain Joshua Barney, born on his fathers’s upper Bear Creek farm in Baltimore County on July 6, 1759. At seventeen years of age he began his naval career among various vessels during the Revolutionary Wa on board the schooners Hornet, Wasp, Sachem, frigate Virginia and the sloop of war Saratoga.

In 1794 while accompanying U.S. Ambassador James Monroe to France, Barney entered the French naval service which gave him a captain’s commission and made him commander of a squadron – thus the title of commodore. In 1800 he resigned and returned to America. In June 1812 he became one of the first sea captains to receive a privateer commission out of Baltimore for his private armed schooner Rossie. His first and only cruise of the war was very sucessful returning to his home in Elkridge, Anne Arundel County.

On July 4, 1813, Barney submitted a plan for the defense of the Chesapeake to conists of a fleet of gunboats, barges and a schooner. On August 20 he was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Flotilla service – that became known as the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla. In April 1814 the flotilla sailed south from Baltimore to the lower Maryland on the Patuxent region to defend the Chesapeake tidewater.

For the next four months, Barney engaged the British own flotilla barges in a series of naval skirmishes that summer at Cedar Creek and upon St. Leonard’s Creek, then in the Patuxent River, where at Pig Point, knowing the British superior numbers and unable to navigate further upriver, Barny ordered the flotilla to be “blown to atoms” to prevents its capture.

On August 24 his five hindred sailors marched overland to defend the Capitol at the Battle of Bladensburg making a heroic but futile stand against an overwhelming British army and were the last, along with the U.S. Marines to leave the battlefield. The American defeat left the road to Washington undefended, the British entered the city and burned it.

At Bladensburg Barney was severely wounded and was paroled that day upon the field by none other than Rear-Admiral George Cockburn, RN, Barney’s nemesis and the co-arsonist of the Washington. The musket ball remained in his thigh as he recuperated on his Elkridge farm. Four years later while traveling west near Pittsburg, Barney died on December 1, 1818  and was buried in  Pittsburg Cemetery.

Sources: A Biographical Memoir of the Late Commodore Joshua Barney by Mary Barney (Boston: Gray and Brown, 1832): Flotilla: The Patuxent Naval Campaign in the War of 1812 by Donald G. Shomette (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010).

Published in: on March 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm  Comments Off on Commodore Joshua Barney (1759-1818) & the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla