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  Leave a Comment  

“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  Leave a Comment  

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  Leave a Comment  
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General & Staff Officers of the 3rd Division of Maryland Militia, Sept 1814.

The following are the names and positions of the staff who served under Major General Samuel Smith (1752-1839) in the Third Division of Maryland Militia during the defense of Baltimore, August – November 1814.

Isaac McKim (1775-1838)  Aide-de-Camp.  a native of Baltimore was a prominent shipping and business merchant  who served as General Smith’s aide-de-camp (Chief-of-Staff) coordinating  his division staff. He later served as Director of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (1827-1831) and three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1823-1838).He is buried with his wife in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery, Baltimore.

Edward Patterson (1789-1865) Aide-de-Camp. Served under McKim as aide-de-camp assisting to coordinate the staff duties. He was the brother of Elizabeth Patterson who married Jerome Bonaparte. Brother of Napoleon Bonaparte of France.

Jonathan Meredith (1785-1872)  Division Inspector. His family emigrated to Philadelphia  c. 1750 from Herefordshire, England and settled in Baltimore as an attorney. Jonathan’s duties as Division Inspector was to inspect, investigate and reports on all matters affecting the Division’s efficiently, discipline, and welfare. He is buried with his wife Hannah Haslett in the Westminster Churchyard, Baltimore.

William Bates (1787-1871) Assistant Adjutant General. A graduate of Rhode Island Brown University in 1810, moved to Baltimore as lawyer and served as military administrative officer to Isaac McKim responsible for procedures affecting personnel and procurement records. In 1820 he returned to Wareham , Massachusetts in state government. Died November 8, 1871.

Robert Patterson (17_- 18_) Assistant Division Inspector. Unknown bio.

Jeremiah Sullivan (17__-18__) Division Quarter Master. Unknown bio.

John Smith (17__-18__) Volunteer Aid. Unknown bio.

Nicholas Price……….Special Judge Advocate. Unknown bio.

Robert Holland………Secretary to the General. Unknown bio.

Brigade Commanders

Brig. General John Stricker…………..3rd Brigade, Baltimore City

Brig. General Tobias E. Stansbury…11th Brigade, Baltimore County

Brig. General Thomas M. Forman….1st Brigade, Harford & Cecil County

Source: Baltimore City Archives (Maryland State Archives), War of 1812 Papers, RG 22.

Published in: on March 7, 2014 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

Reminiscences of Thomas Beacham (1796-1878): 27th Maryland Regiment at North Point, 1814

“America has thus secured a character and standing among the nations of the earth she never would have obtained had it not been for the late war [of 1812].”

In the years following the War of 1812, Baltimore’s  Old Defenders, had resumed their individual livelihoods, while others took advantage of having served in the war to obtain US government bounty lands in the mid-west. Among those was Thomas Beacham who served for 90 days as a private in Captain Peter Pinney’s 27th Maryland Regiment at the Battle of North Point. In 1817 he left Baltimore and settled in Xenia, Ohio, where he married Elizabeth Butler on November 7, 1826. He followed his remaining years as an ordained minister. On June 25, 1847 Beacham wrote his reminiscences about his role at Baltimore. In 1852/55 he received 120 acres of land in the new state of Ohio, Queen County (1803). He died in 1878 at the age of 74 years in Xenia, Ohio.

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Reminiscences of Rev. Thomas Beacham

“….Our spades and shovels were employed in throwing up breast-works – our guns were all put in order, and we then waited the approach of the enemy until Sabbath, the 11th of September. In the morning we performed military duty, we then went to the house of God, and from this we were called always before 12 o’clock. The balls of the Observatory [on Federal Hill] were run up – the alarm gun fire – the city was in commotion, weeping and lamentation were heard in almost every house: and yet, we found at our headquarters more men numbered than we had before. We took up our line of march, and encamped near the spot “where came the tug of war.” In the morning [Sept. 12], at sun rise, we formed a line, and then, for the first time, I heard those affecting words, “load with ball cartridges;” after which we marched about one mile, and drew up for battle….On the right we saw the 5th [Maryland] regiment and a few rifle companies, and on the left was the 39th and 51st regiments. Two or three companies, with one of the four little cannons [of the Baltimore Union Artillery], volunteered to go and hunt up the enemy, and they found them just in sight.

There a desperate battle ensued, every man did his best, and a young man by the name of Wells; belonging to the company of [1st Baltimore] Sharpshooters, stopped the career of [Maj. General Robert] Ross. They now came on in earnest. In front was an extensive old field, and after filling this, they flanked our left. The three little six pounders (one having been spiked) commence4d, and never were three little guns more constantly at work, not to better purpose, for the space of an hour.

The hardest of the battle was with the 27th, and the first musket was fired from that regiment. On my right, I saw the valiant young man, with trailed guns and quick step, advance forward at least 30 rods, while hundreds were calling, “come back!” “come back!” all to no purpose. He fired and this was the signal – in a moment the whole line was in a blaze. Brave boy, I doubt whether he ever returned to his home.

Our Adjutant, [James] Donaldson, the beginning of a great man, had just passed in the rear, advising the men to shoot low. Hit them, said he, about the middle. We fought hard until a retreat was called for, and forty-two boys and two old men were killed in the company to which I belonged, (Captain Pinney’s.) We rallied again, with the 6th and other forces, about two miles from the city. We were now willing for another trial, but were soon ordered in front of the entrenchment. The 27th and 5th [regiments] were allowed to sleep at home that night, and the next morning, while rallying at headquarters, the sound of the first bomb saluted our ears.

Undaunted we marched out, and although thirty-three years have passed away, I have not forgotten the feeling caused by the loud cheer from the soldiers in the entrenchment, as the little 27th passed away to take our position in front. This day we were looking every moment for the onset which was to decide the fate of the city, but it came not. At night we drew nearer the entrenchment, and enjoyed all the comforts of a dark, rainy night, enlivened by the rocket’s blaze, and the dismal roar of the bomb. They had been at work all day and all night, and we could witness the truth of that patriotic sentiment, which a Baltimorean will always lobe and admire.

“The rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.”In the morning we heard with astonishment, the enemy had fled to their ships… We mustered three months; sometimes walking as sentinels at the six gun battery [known as Battery Babcock on the Ferry Branch]. Our city was kept in peace and safety; some said the Lord would keep it so, and so he did. Baltimore was then almost as distinguished for soldiers of the cross of Christ as soldiers of the musket. I have never seen any history of the battle of North Point; these few particulars are from memory, and in the main are true. My home is in the west, yet I love Baltimore still.”

 [END]

Source: The Battle of Patapsco Neck, Sept. 1814: Reminiscences (Unpublished, 2009, 172 pp. Scott Sheads).

Published in: on February 26, 2014 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  

First Company of Maryland Pikemen, 1807…“All able bodied young men…”

In the late summer of 1807 following the HM Frigate Leopard naval encounter with the US Frigate Chesapeake on June 22nd, off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia, that prompted a near declaration of war with England, the United States and her militia prepared for a conflict that came later with a declaration of war on June 18, 1812.
One of the unusual companies raised in Baltimore was the First Company of Maryland Pikemen commanded by Robert Goodloe Harper, a prominent lawyer who later served as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General John Stricker at the Battle of North Point (Sept. 1814).
Unlike infantry companies who were trained to the use of musket and bayonet, pike-men or lansquenets as they were known in Europe during the Middle Ages, utilized a long 10-25 foot wooden tapered pole with an iron spearhead affixed that exhibited numerous advantageous as a defensive weapon. Against cavalry attacks they were more cost efficient to produce than the short bayonet – having a longer reach with the help of a strong rope that went through a ring near the tip – thus it could be pulled upwards from the base held by the ground in the face of cavalry or advancing infantry at close quarters. It is adapted to many citizens who could not otherwise afford the $20 for a musket, cartridge box, belts, and other necessary accoutrements in carrying a firearm – in all the pike proved a decided superiority.
For artillery defense the usage of pike was indispensable. If enemy cavalry sable or infantry bayonet penetrated to the site of a cannon, the cannon is lost – no cavalry would attempt forcing a body of pikemen, while infantry, the great length of the pike would ultimately win in the contest of “tug of war.”
While the idea of pikes were utilized onboard warships against boarding operations and at fixed fortifications like Fort McHenry, where pikes were used, no records of a company of pikemen were found during the War of 1812 in Maryland.
As for the First Company of Maryland Pikemen in 1807 their existence was not long and soon disbanded. Such companies would have proved a strong defensive phalanx in defending Baltimore’s Hampstead Hill had the British army made the attempt to assault on September 13, 1814. As late as 1815 a Baltimore citizen asked, Would it not be practicable, and highly expedient to raise a force of 2000 men of colour, in this city, to act as pikemen?
Sources: “On the Use of a Pike,” Federal Gazette (Baltimore), July 27, 1807; “Military Hints,” American & Commercial Daily Adv., February 11, 1815; “First Company of Maryland Pikemen,” Federal Gazette, July 27,1807.

Published in: on February 22, 2014 at 1:38 am  Leave a Comment  

The 1814 Memorial Cannons of Patterson Park

 

On August 14, 1903 at a meeting of the annual Society of War of 1812 in Maryland it was proposed to distribute the War of 1812 cannon described as “…musty and formidable old weapons of war… planted in the streets in different sections of the city as [traffic]“buffers…”

On February 7-8, 1904 the great Baltimore fire destroyed 140 acres of 1500 buildings, etc., of a major part of central downtown Baltimore along the waterfront. In the aftermath of cleaning and rebuilding newly found cannons were also uncovered. Through the auspices of the Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland and the Society of the Daughters of the War of 1812 in the United States these would find new sites to help Baltimore City commemorate military sites associated with the Battle for Baltimore in 1814. Two of the primary sites were Riverside Park (the site of Fort Look-out in South Baltimore); Battery Babcock Monument (McComas St., South Baltimore) and the best known – Patterson Park established in 1825 upon grounds that highlighted the main land defenses protecting the City of Baltimore in 1814 known then as Hampstead or Laudenslager’s Hill.

Today five of these cannon (iron 6-Pdrs) found in the aftermath of the fire are mounted on concrete pedestals with the date “1814” imprinted on each, two of which are known to have been found during the waterfront construction of the Fell’s Point Recreation Pier. They were designed by Mr. John Appleton Wilson (1851-1927), an active member of the Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland, as well as the Baltimore Municipal Art Commission and American Institute of Architects. In 1879 he and a cousin William Thomas Wilson, formed a partnership and named their new firm J.A. & W.T. Wilson, Architects.

Sources: Baltimore American and The Sun newspapers, 1873-1915.

Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Francis Scott Key’s Death Biography: Old St. Paul’s to Mount Olivet Cemetery

On January 14, 1843 three days following his death of pleurisy at the age of sixty-three, Baltimore’s Niles’ Weekly Register reported his death:

“Francis Key, Esq., late U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, died suddenly whilst on a visit to his son-n-law, Mr. Howard, of Baltimore on the 12th inst. He was a man of a very high order of talent…He was the author of the deservedly popular national song, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Key was visiting his oldest daughter Elizabeth Phobe Key Howard (1803-1897), the wife of Dr. Charles Howard (1802-1869), youngest son of Revolutionary War veteran Brigadier General John Edgar Howard (1752-1827). The site of the Howard’s home (c.1853) is where now stands the United Methodist-Episcopal Church (built 1870) at 10 East Mount Vernon Place. His father’s mansion of “Belvedere” was located further north. Following the funeral (in which no narrative is known to have survived) Key’s remains were placed in the brick vault of the Howard family in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore. Here he rested with his wife Mary Tayloe Lloyd Key (1784-1859) daughter of Governor Edward Lloyd of Wye House until removed to Frederick, Maryland in 1866 and buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery. In 1898 the Key Monument Association  dedicated the monument we view to day over Mr. & Mrs. Key’s grave.

“His patriotism will survive forever in his song.” Alexandria Gazette, January 14, 1843.

Published in: on February 14, 2014 at 4:24 pm  Comments (1)  

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  Leave a Comment  

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:

http://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc5300/sc5339/000243/000000/000002/restricted/msa_sc_5339_243_2-0082.pdf

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