American Prisoners taken at Battle of North Point, Sept.12, 1814

On September 17, 1814 a letter from 29 American prisoners held on board His Britannic Majesty’s frigate Havanna was forwarded to Major General Samuel Smith in hopes of being assisted in their present situation. The letter has been modified for clarity.


On Board H.B.M. frigate Havanna    September 17, 1814.


We had the misfortune to be captured in the affair of Monday last at Bear Creek and were on Tuesday brought on board this ship where we are detained as prisoners of War. Having had the honor of some communication with the commanding officers are of opinion an exchange may be obtained for us provided immediate application is made for that purpose which we have no doubt will be promptly attended to on the part of our countrymen so soon as they shall learn that we are in captivity & distressed (not one of us having a change of rainment, a blanket or cent of money – some have no coat others no vests or shoes). Should not an immediate arrangement be made for our benefit, we expect to be sent to England, in which case a majority of us would inevitably fall a sacrifice for want of necessary comforts.

We pray an immediate attention may be paid to our situation by a flag of truce which would be expected on our part. An should an exchange unfortunately not be effected, that we may be permitted to receive a supply of clothing, bedding & stores from our families – or from the [Baltimore] Committee of Supplies. Several of us being already very unwill we fear confinement by fever which will be certain death on our situation.

In full hope of speedy deliverance we are with due respect, Etc.

Independent Company 5th Regiment M.M. Thomas Bailey, Talbot Jones, Edward Murray, Frederick Seyler, William Jenkins.

Independent Blues: F.M. Willis, George Heidelback, William Lively, Richard Lawson, John Huzza.

[First Baltimore] Sharp Shooters, 1st Rifle Battn. – Thomas G. Prettyman, John Howard.

Patriot Company, 5th Regiment – Benjamin Meredith.

United Volunteers, 5th Regiment – Henry W. Gray, John G. Poug.

Union Volunteers – George Collins (wounded).

Light Blue, 5th Regiment – Henry Suter.

Mechanical Comapny, 5th Regiment – John Redgrove.

Capt. Deem’s Co., 51st Regiment – Andrew Miller.

Capt. Rogers Co., 51st Regiment – John Kepler.

Capt. Peters Co., 51st Regiment – Morgan Carson.

Capt. Smiths Co.,  51st Regiment – Adam Miller.

Capt. Kennedy’s Co., 27th Regiment – Andrew Cole

Capt. Edes Co., 27th Regiment – Peter Stedham.

Capt. Dillon’s Co., 27th Regiment – Patrick B. Powell.

Capt. Kennedy’s Co., 27th Regiment – John Fordyce (Vol. from Philadelphia)

39th Regiment – William Baltzell.

Capt. Dobbin’s Co., 39th Regiment  – Lewis Baltzell.

Capt. Schwartzour’s Co., 27th Regiment – Ephraim Nash.


Source: Samuel Smith Papers, Reel 2, Cont. 2-3, Library of Congress.

Published in: on December 21, 2011 at 1:29 am  Comments Off on American Prisoners taken at Battle of North Point, Sept.12, 1814  

John H.W. Hawkins (1797-1858); Notes on Maj. Gen. Robert Ross, RA

In 1859 the Life of John H.W. Hawkins was published in Boston. While only 17 years of age Mr. John Henry Willis Hawkins served having secured a rifle and took part in the Battle of North Point.  Among his comrades and aquantices were the veterans of the 1st Battalion of Maryland Riflemen of which Captain Edward Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters was one of five companies assigned who fought at the Battle of North Point. It is in this regard that we find the following two passages that have long been long associated with the death of Major General Robert Ross, RA. The likely source for these popular phases must fall upon a Dr. Samuel B. Martin, surgeon of the battalion who was a brother-in-law of the young Hawkins. It was Dr. Martin who had served at the Battle of Bladensburg and also interviewed a Mr. Gorsuch a few days after the battle at his farm where Ross had had breakfast that morning of September 12.

“I shall sup in Baltimore to-night, or in hell!”

The second phrase must be attributed to one of the Battalion members, likely Dr. Martin who was at the Battle of Bladensburg.

“Remember, boys, General Ross rides a white horse to-day!”

Source: Life of John H.W. Hawkins  Compiled by his son, Rev. William G. Hawkins, A.M. (Boston: John P. Jewett & Co., 1859.); The Sun, August 30, 1858.

Published in: on December 14, 2011 at 2:39 am  Comments Off on John H.W. Hawkins (1797-1858); Notes on Maj. Gen. Robert Ross, RA  

Skirmish at Worton Creek, Kent County: July 10, 1814

     Fourteen months after the British had unsuccessfully attacked Elk Landing in April 1813. In July 1814, while the British resumed their campaign to destroy the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla, on the Patuxent River under Commodore Joshua Barney.  With  Barney blockaded in the Patuxent River, Rear Admiral Cockburn directed Captain Robert Barrie, H.M. frigate Loire to proceed “to the upper parts of the Chesapeake” to resume the raids. On the afternoon of July 10th  H.M. frigate Loire, and H.M. schooner St. Lawrence with several tenders and barges were sighted off Spesutie and Poole’s Islands, ascending the bay “looking into every creek on the eastern and western shore,” as residents began removing property and livestock into the countryside as the British presence came into view.

Lieutenant Colonel Philip Reed, 21st Regiment, Kent County, while visiting neighbors on Worton Creek observed four British landing barges. Fully expecting an attack, he borrowed a musket and gathered twenty-nine neighbors armed with duck guns, muskets, forming an ambush upon the enemy barges as they passed. It was reported that though the British had rowed 24 oars when they entered the creek, “they could man but four when he went out of it.”

 “A List of the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers & Privates who composed the Detachment engaged with the enemy on Sunday the 10th of July in Worton.”  Col. Philip Reed, Maj. Thomas Carvill, Adj. Thomas [B.] Hynson, Paymaster William Crane, Ensign William Skirven, Ensign Richard Grant, Serg. Maj. Joseph Wickes, Serg. James Eagle, Jr., James Hyland, Jr., John Urie, Jr., Benjamin Hynson, John Bradshaw, Jesse Covington, John Humphrey, Jr., Classelbury Collier, Nathan Smith.  RIFLEMEN: Captain Simon Wickes, Corp. William Downey, William Martin, John Smith, James Rollinson, Joseph Middleton, Horatio Stokes, Thomas Colemen, James Gregory, Stephen Kinnard, Peregraine Beck, Eliphay Danling and William Bryan.

Sources: Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Adv., July 14, 1814; Baltimore Niles’ Weekly Register, July 16, 1814;Rear Admiral George Cockburn to Captain Robert Barrie,  July 11, 1814, The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, vol. 3 (Naval Historical Center: Washington, D.C., 2000), 151 .

Published in: on December 14, 2011 at 12:07 am  Comments Off on Skirmish at Worton Creek, Kent County: July 10, 1814  
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August 1814: In Want of: Muskets vs. Rifles

On August 15, 1814 in a letter to Lt. Colonel Edward Lloyd, 9th Cavalry District of “Wye House” Maryland Eastern Shore,  Brigadier General William Henry Winder newly appointed commander of the 10th Military District (Maryland. District of Columbia to the Rappannock River (Va.,) on the subject of the want of rifles for the various companies in his district  gave the following:

“There are several rifle companies of this district without arms at all fit for service & since I have received the command of the 10th Military District I have made application to procure them rifles but the number of that arms on hand in the public stores is not sufficient for the supply of the recruits for the regular rifle regiments and the Secretary of War is therefore unable to draw from the stock  given his opinion “that muskets would be much better and more effective for your purpose than rifles,” assigning the accuracy of aim which renders them servicable; the greater range of the musket; the more rapid fire of the latter; it is lighter; requires cleaning less frequently and is adapted to different classes of movements. The advantage of the bayonet is also refered to. Supposses Maryland can supply muskets; if she cannot he will endeavor to supply them from the stores of the United States.”

The want of rifles prompted the two companies of the 1st Battalion of Maryland Riflemen under Major William Pickney, Sr. to enter the Bladensburg battle with only muskets and not the popular arms their battalion name emplies. Given the excited state of military affairs with the expected arrival of a large British invasion fleet and the mobilization of the militia and distribution of arms and supplies many militia were withoutout arms and in the end a want of disciplined resistance to the British on the field of battle.  

Source: William H. Winder Papers, Maryland Historical Society

Published in: on December 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm  Comments Off on August 1814: In Want of: Muskets vs. Rifles  

The Garrison of Fort McHenry, September 1814

During the bombardment of Fort McHenry on September 13-14, 1814 the small garrison of the U.S. Corps of Artillery (60 men) were augmented by the following federal and militia companies. The total force amounted to 1,010 men. 

Major George Armistead, Commander -U.S. Corps Artillery

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

Capt. Thomas Sangsten – 12th U.S. Infantry (110 Men)

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

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

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

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

Capt. Matthew S. Bunbury – U.S. Sea Fencibles (60 men) 

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

Lieut. Solomon Rodman, U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla (60 men)

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

Captain John Berry, Washington Artillery, 1st Regt. Maryland Artillery (100 men)

Lieut. Charles Pennington, American Artillerist, 1st Regt. Maryland Artillery (75 men)

Source: “Report of Fort McHenry, September 13 & 14, 1814 in the Bombardment.” Records of the War Department, Office of the Adjutant General, Record Group 107. 


Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm  Comments Off on The Garrison of Fort McHenry, September 1814  

Bladensburg Memorial, 1819

In the summer of 1819 a traveller on the road to Bladensburg near the spot where Commodore Joshua Barney’s flotillamen made their stand he came across a 4-mile stone marker, whom he supposed was “to be a monument of that event.”  To his surprize upon the flat stone he saw written with charcoal the following lines. Fearing they would be erased by the weather he wrote the stone’s following inscription:

HERE – fought Commodore Barney,

so nobly and so gallantly,

Against Britain’s sons and slavery,

For a fighting man was he!

THERE – did General Winder flee,

His infantry and cavalry,

(Disgracing the cause of liberty),

For a writing man was he!

July 20th 1819

*  *  *  *  *

Source: City of Washington Gazette, July 23, 1819

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 2:35 am  Comments Off on Bladensburg Memorial, 1819  

Captain Edward Trippe (1771-1846) & the Steamboat Chesapeake

DIED. At Cambridge, Maryland in the 2nd instant, Captain EDWARD TRIPPE, aged 75 years, long and favorably known as commander of the first line of steamboats established between Baltimore and Philadelphia, and who, just before or about the close of the late war, superintended the construction of and afterwards commanded the first steakmboat that floated upon the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.”

During the War of 1812 the steamboat Chesapeake  was among the vessels that blocked the entrance to Baltimore harbor adjacent to Fort McHenry during the Battle for Baltimore in September 1814. The new 130-foot steamboat packet Chesapeake, presented her starboard wheelhouse with the inscription: CHESAPEAKE: UNION LINE towards the British warships.

SOURCE: Daily National Intelligencer, February 16, 1846; The Sun, December 29, 1882; John Rutter to Committee of Vigilance and Safety, November 30, 1814. War of 1812 Papers, Baltimore City Archives..

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 12:52 am  Comments Off on Captain Edward Trippe (1771-1846) & the Steamboat Chesapeake  

Private George Baxley (1771-1848): Defender of Fort McHenry

This Bomb Shell Fell at the Feet of George Baxley, Private, Washington Artillery, Maryland Militia, during the Bombardment of Fort McHenry, September 12, 1814.  Presented by J. Brown Baxley, Oct. 13, 1890.”

This 13-inch, 190 lb. British mortar shell with the etched inscription may be found today within the Maryland Historical Society’s 1812 gallery. George Baxley was born on Sept. 18, 1771 at Jerusalem Mills on the Gunpowder River in Harford County, where his father operated a milling business. He was one of five children of John and Mary (Merryman) Baxley. George, along with his brothers John and Thomas enlisted in the Maryland Militia on May 31, 1794. During the War of 1812 George served in Captain John Berry’s company, the Washington Artillery, 1st Regt., Maryland Volunteer Artillery during the Battle for Baltimore. The company was stationed along the shore batteries below the fort along with another militia company, the Baltimore Independent Artillery. The bomb landed unexploded near Baxley who, like others, retained it as a souvenir and took it home.

After the war Baxley’s son established a drug store on Howard and Franklin Sts., where the shell was displayed for many years. He also served as President and fireman of Baltimore’s New Market Fire Company (1822-1834) and member of the First Branch of the Baltimore City Council.

Death of an Aged Citizen. – Yesterday morning Mr. George Baxley, an aged and respectable citizen of Baltimore, departed this life at his residence, in the western section of the city. During his life, Mr. Baxley filled several appointments of trust from the State and municipal governments, and his character, in every point of view, appeared worthy of respect and esteem.” The Sun, Dec.16, 1848.

George Baxley at the age of 77 years died on Dec. 15, 1848 and is buried at Greenmount Cemetery, Baltimore.

Sources: The Sun, December 16, 1848; Baxley Family Collection, ca.1848-1918, PP90, Maryland Historical Society. 



Published in: on October 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm  Comments Off on Private George Baxley (1771-1848): Defender of Fort McHenry  

Is Baltimore really “A NEST OF PIRATES” ?

The origins of the often used phrase “a nest of pirates” is not new to the War of 1812. Its origins go back to the days of the American Revolution (1782), to the Dey of Algiers (1804) of the Barbary Coast, to Tortola of the West Indies, and to Jean Lafitte of New Orleans (1814). In  past years the term “nest of pirates” has been used to describe Baltimore.

Maryland historian John Thomas Scharf (1843-1898) has come the closest with a lecture he gave at Schuztzen Park in October 1880:

“…Great Britain’s power in defense of State autonomy and in defense of seamen’s rights, and transformed this busy little seaport into a “nest of pirates,” which sent out its wasps to sting British commerce on every sea…” The Sun, October 12, 1880

Here are a few examples of that popular term that in its usuage has become synonymous with “privateers”.

 “In the Revolutionary war the English government regarded the Chesapeake Bay as a nest of pirates.” History of Baltimore City and County, Maryland…by John Thomas Scharf (Philadelphia, 1881),112.

 “The land of our father, whence is derived the ‘best blood of our nation, the country to which we are chiefly indebted for our laws and knowledge, is stigmatized as a nest of pirates, plunderers and assassins.Extract from a Fast Day sermon by F.S.F. Gardiner of Boston in 1808. Boston Courier, April 21, 1808.

 Webster’s New World Thesaurus (1985) “pirate, n. – Syn. thief, freebooter, plunderer, pillager, marauder, privateer, soldier of fortune, corsair, buccaneer, ranger, sea rover, sea-robber, Barbary pirate, plagiarist…”

 In July 1806 Admiral Alexander Cochrane, the one and the same at Baltimore in 1814, whose orders from the admiralty was to sail for Tortola, West Indies “To destroy the shipping and burn the town, in order to root out that nest of pirates, and privateersmen.” New York Spectator, July 30, 1806.


Published in: on October 24, 2011 at 11:52 pm  Comments Off on Is Baltimore really “A NEST OF PIRATES” ?  

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