Samuel A. Neale (1795-1880): An African-American at the Battle of North Point

On August 18, 1880 Professor Samuel A. Neale, age eighty-five, a distinguished colored citizen of Frederick, Maryland and former graduate and faculty member of Emory College, Pennsylvania  died at his home in Frederick, Maryland. He was one of the Old Defenders’ of Baltimore during the War of 1812.

In late August 1814, Lt. Colonel Frisby Tilghman (1773-1847), commanding the 1st Cavalry District of Washington and Frederick Counties, the American Blues, of 80 dragoons, rode  to Bladensburg, Maryland where with the American army on August 24th defended the approach of the British expeditionary forces. Col Tilghman’s command were ordered to harass the approaching British at Wood Yard, Maryland and to gain vital intelligence. In the aftermath of the American defeat Colonel Tilghman’s command left with the army for Baltimore. Accompanying Tilghman was an African-American slave who served as a steward to Surgeon William Hammond, then as an aid carrying his medical instruments on the field. According to a pension application Neale claims he was armed and equipped as a soldier. At Baltimore he was present at the Battle of North Point where he was accidentally wounded by one of Dr. Hammond’s pistols, perhaps in cleaning or handling it. The petition is endorsed by Hon. Wm. P. Raulsby, chief judge of the sixth judicial circuit; Hon. John A. Lynch, associate judge of the same circuit; Hon. P.H. Marshall and others.

In 1870, Samuel Neale received an annual pension of eighty dollars, in four equal and quarterly installments of twenty dollars to each soldier or surviving widow from the Maryland Legislature or his services and was endorsed by none other than the Hon. William P. Raulsby, chief judge of the Sixth Judicial District of Maryland and the Hon. John A. Lynch, associate district judge.

On August 19, 1880 at the age of 85 years, Samuel Neale died and was buried at the Frederick Catholic Graveyard leaving his wife Ellen, 72 and his children Rebecca and Sophia all mulattos. In his obituary in the Frederick, Md., Examiner it stated Neale, age 80 “was a prominent and respected colored man …who served his country with fidelity during the War of 1812.”

Sources: “Petition of a Colored Veteran for a State Pension,” The Sun, January 27, 1870; “An Act to repeal the Act of eighteen hundred and sixty-seven,” Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1870, Volume 188, page 3448; The British Invasion of Maryland, 1812-1815 by William M. Marine (Baltimore, 1913; Genealogical Pub., Co., 1977), 89; Frederick, Md., Examiner, June 19, 1872.

Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Daniel Wells (1794-1814) of Annapolis: First Baltimore Sharp Shooter, Sept. 1814

Louisa Wells was born on August 11, 1809 and her older brother Daniel Wells, Jr., on December 30, 1794 both of Annapolis, the children of Daniel and Mary Wells of Annapolis. During the war, Daniel Wells, Sr., served as a lieutenant in Captain Jonathan Pinkney’s Artillery company in Annapolis.

In 1813, Daniel Wells, Jr., age 20, was in the apprentice employment of Baltimore merchant George Mackenzie to learn the saddler trade and fulfilling state contracts for militia cartridge boxes. In the late summer of 1814 Daniel enlisted in the 1st Battalion of Maryland Riflemen in Capt. Edward Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters causing great consternation for his safety within the family. Having departed for Baltimore to rejoin his company after the fall of Washington, the next news that his family received was that Daniel had been killed in a skirmish on September 12, 1814, near North Point.

His sister Louisa Wells (1808-1891) remembers that “Not long after this, Daniel Well’s cap was sent home. It was the tall, stiff cap worn by Captain Aisquith’s Sharp Shooters, and it was matted with the blood and hair of the young patriot. Two holes showed where the ball had entered one side of his head and passed out at the other side.”

As the story of Daniel Wells and Henry McComas, “The Boy Martyrs” grew, the family was able to collect several relics of the war including the Sharp Shooters  muster roll with Daniel Wells name entered “Killed in the advance 12 September 1814.” Louisa later married Adrian A. Posey who served in Captain Lawrence Posey’s company, the 1st Regiment from Charles County during the war. Daniel Wells and his friend Henry G. McComas remains lie under a 21-foot marble obelisk in Ashland Square, Gay and Aisquith Streets in East Baltimore.

Sources: The Sun, August 26, 1889; Mary Wells (1749-1823) and Daniel Wells, Sr., (1768-1818), Baltimore Patriot, January 27, 1818 and February 3, 1823; Louisa (Wells) Posey (1808-1891). The Sun, January 13, 1891.

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

North Point Battlegrounds – Old Methodist Meeting House (c. 1808-1921)

Sunday, 11th September 1814. This has been a day of great alarm, and to some of terror and dismay. I feel a confidence that God will mercifully spare the city and save the inhabitants from destruction.” Journal of the Reverend John Baxley.

 Though situated .038 miles to the north of the battlegrounds, the Old Methodist Meeting House along Bread and Cheese Creek, witnessed the aftermath of the battle. Here the wounded and dying, British and American, lay as the British encamped that evening upon the site. The next morning as the British pushed forward towards Baltimore, Dr. James H. McCulloh, U.S. Army Garrison Surgeon visited the site to care for the fallen remarked “I was shewn the meeting house in which some of our wounded men lay – along with a few British…”

Admiral George Cockburn who accompanied the army reported that [The Americans] gave way in every Direction, and was chased by us in a considerable distance with great Slaughter, abandoning his Post of the Meeting House situated in this Wood, and leaving all his Wounded and Two of his field Guns on our possession…”  It appears the British army had ventured near the Meeting House in the declining remnants of the  battle as the Americans had retreated to Perego’s Hill .032 miles where the 6th Maryland Regiment was posted, as ordered to receive their comrades as they fell back towards Baltimore. The Meeting House was reported to still have the leaden balls embedded in the wood frames, presumably fired upon the militia upon their withdrawal form the battle.

 His aide-de-camp, Lieutenant James Scott, remembered in his memoirs that “The meeting-house, a place of worship, the only building near the scene of battle, was converted into a temporary refuge for friends and foes. The temple of God – of peace and goodwill towards men – vibrated with the groans of the wounded and the dying. The accents of human woe floated upon the ear, and told a melancholy tale of ebbing tide of human life…”

In 1914 during the centennial of the battle the Patriotic Order of Sons of America in Maryland commemorated the site with a granite monument. It is situated at 2440 Old North Point Road near Bread and Cheese Creek.

Sources: “Patapsco Neck Church,” Baltimore American, August 30, 1897; Admiral George Cockburn to Admiral Alexander F.I. Cochrane, September 15, 1814. Printed in The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, vol. 3, Ed. Michael  J. Crawford, (Washington: Naval Historical Center, 2002), 279-282; Recollections of a Naval Life by Captain James Scott, R.N. (London: Richard Bentley,  1834), 342.

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 1:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Battle of North Point – American Prisoners of War, September 12, 1814

In the aftermath of the Battle of North Point, fifty-three American militia found themselves prisoners of war and were conveyed to the British fleet via Bear Creek to His Britannic Majesty’s frigates Havanna, Severn and Surprise. In a collective letter upon which their names were listed they described their confinement;

“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…we are in captivity & distressed (not one of us having a change of raiment, a blanket, or cent of money – some have no coats, others no vests or shoes). Should not an immediate arrangement be made for our benefit, we expect to be sent to England…We pray an immediate attention may be paid to our situation by a flag of truce…Several of us being already very unwell, we fear confinement by fever which will be certain death in our situation…”

 Independent Company, 5th Maryland Regt.; Thomas Bailey, Talbot Jones, Edward Murray, Frederick Seyler, and William Jenkins.

Independent Blues – 5th  Maryland Regt.; Francis M. Wills, George Heidelbach, William Levely, Richard Lawson, John Huzza.

First Baltimore Sharp Shooters – 1st Battalion Maryland Riflemen; Thomas G. Prettyman, and John Howard.

Patriot Company, 5th Maryland Regt.; Benjamin Meredith.

United Volunteers, 5th Maryland Regt.; Henry W. Gray, and John G. Poug.

Union Volunteers, 5th Maryland Regt.; George Collins, and Henry Suter

1st Mechanical Volunteers, 5th Maryland Regt.; John Redgrave.  

51st Maryland Regt.; Andrew Miller, John Kepler, Morgan Carson, Adam Miller, Andrew Cole, Peter Stedman, Patrick B. Powell, John Kesler, and Adam Miller.

27th Maryland Regt.; John Fordyce, Ephraim Nash.

39th Maryland Regt; William Baltzell, Lewis Baltzell.

Non-combatants – Daniel Wells, Joseph G. Whitney

Two other British warships also held American prisoners of war from North Point.

 Onboard HM frigate Surprise – William B. Buchanan, Ezekiel Partett, Peter Abraham, James Gettings, Edward H. Dorsey, John Lowleas, William Balson, John Griffin, Thomas Herring, George Boyle, Richard Polkinhorn, Thomas Norris, Andrew Kaufman, and George T. Hersey.

 Onboard HM frigate SevernJohn Chesley, John Baxley, Nicholas Wilson, Joseph Chaoman, and John Dougherty.

 In October they were released under the efforts of Colonel John S. Skinner, prisoner of war exchange agent for the U.S. State Department, who only recently had been with attorney Francis Scott Key on board a flag-of-truce vessel and had witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry.

Sources: Letter dated September 17, 1814, onboard HBM frigate Havanna. Samuel Smith Papers, Reel 2, Container 2-3., Library of Congress; Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Adv., September 26, 1814.

Myths & Legends: The Thomas Shaw House, North Point: September 12, 1814

Like many historical events, myths and legends have their own unique place in the documented stories providing a time line of events along with the documented main events. The Battle of North Point has too it’s own share of stories that have made their way into the historic lore as the British marched along the old North Point Road towards Baltimore.

Thomas Shaw House (also known as the Foulkes Farmhouse, circa1800). On the morning of Sept. 12 as the British army began their march along the Old North Point Road, British Major General Robert Ross’s staff took possession of the house on the ground floor, while ordering the family upstairs.

Eleanor Shaw, the daughter of Mr. Shaw (1745-1829), was forced to climb out of a second story window, to avoid the unwanted advances of a British lieutenant. Ever the disciplinarian, Major Gen. Robert Ross, RA ordered the officer back to the fleet for later punishment. The lore does not record the name of the young lieutenant nor any records that may substantiate the claim – but the story remains. The origin of the story appeared in The Sun on September 8, 1907.

Thomas’s son Joshua Shaw (1791-1832) served in Captain Joel Green’s company, 46th Maryland Regiment of Baltimore County. Today the site of the house is located on Foulkes’ Farm Road off the North Point Road. It survived until 1967 when it was torn down. A private family graveyard is nearby.

Source: “Battle of North Point in Legend and Tradition,” The Sun, September 8, 1907; Baltimore Gazette and Daily Adv., January 16, 1830 and December 1, 1832.

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

During the late evening of September 11, 1814, Captain Dominic Bader’ directed Lieutenant Gregorious Andre to employ a line of riflemen along a tree line of a clearing in preparation to meet the Brtiish the following day. They were one of five companies of the First Battalion of Maryland Riflemen. Near mid-day, moments before the Battle of North Point ensued on the 12th; the riflemen skirmished with the advancing forward vanguard of British Light Infantry, before falling steadily back to the main 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.”

 

On September 12, 1828, fourteen years after the Battle of North Point, his son, John Andre accompanied a detachment of the Baltimore 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.

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

 

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 April 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Myths & Legends: The Poplar Tree under which Major General Robert Ross breathed his last.

“Such was the veneration in which it was held that many individuals secured pieces as relics.”

This story is believed to have it’s origins in an article entitled “A Relic Gone” published in The Sun, (Baltimore) March 22, 1844. It was further retold in the “Battle of North Point in Legend and Tradition,” by Reverend Lewis B. Browne, of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Sparrow’s Point for The Sun, September 8, 1907.  Near the intersection of present day Weis Avenue and North Point Road, near the Gorsuch farm, once stood on a high roadside earthen bank a large poplar tree whose branches hung over the road, where earlier the British army had marched under.

After General Ross had been shot, the story is told he was placed “on a stretcher made of two fence rails from the spot where he was [mortally] wounded and taken to Poplar Heights about a mile and a half to the rear; but when the cart arrived he was already dead. The bearers laid their burden under a poplar tree by the wayside opposite Gorsuch’s farm.” From here they procured a cart from the nearby Stansbury farm and conveyed the body of General Ross to their North Point landing onboard HMS Royal Oak.

Thirty years later in 1844, the land owner Vincent Green, ordered his overseer to cut the tree down, it being a hazard to passersby.

 “We doubt whether there is to be found in the country, a tree, under which “confusion to the enemies of liberty,” has been quaffed in full bumpers, more frequently than under the “Ross’ Tree.” as it has always been familiarly called.”

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

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Elizabeth Sands (1789-1890): Angel on the Battlefield

Elizabeth Warner was born on March 7, 1789 in Darlington, Harford County, Md., the daughter of clockmaker Cuthbert and Ann Warner who removed their family to Baltimore shortly thereafter.

Following the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814, Elizabeth and several other ladies tended to the wounded and dying on the field. Three of her brothers had served in the battle; John S. Warner (Capt. Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters) and Thomas and Andrew E. Warner both captains in the 39th Maryland Militia. She made her brother John’s rifle uniform of “bottle green, including his hat with a double row of black bugles [buttons on his coat (?)].”

After the war Elizabeth, described as having “a sprightly conversation and is highly entertaining” was made “an honorary member” of the Old Defenders’ Association of 1814,  On each Defenders’ Day in September upon the anniversary of the battle, she wore with pride “the blue and gold badge of the association”, and through her remaining years witnessed in her later years the Defenders’ parade from a window at her home on Eutaw and Madison streets. 

In July 1824 she married John Sands who made “handsomely engraved minatures of the General Marque de Lafayette during the French officer’s to Baltimore. John Sands died in 1829. Elizabeth died on August 3, 1890 at the age of 101 years outliving all the known War of 1812 veterans of Maryland. Her final resting place is unknown.

Sources: The Sun, Sept. 7, 1887; March 6, 1888; July 26, 1890; Aug. 4, 1890; Sept. 29, 1890; Baltimore Patriot, Aug. 24, 1824.

Published in: on April 3, 2011 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  

British Prisoners at North Point, Sept. 1814

In the early hours of September 14, 1814, the British began their withdraw from Baltimore down the North Point Road towards their awaqiting transports at North Point.  Captain James Bird’s U.S. Light Dragoons engaged the rear guard and captured the following prisoners.

William Corndoff……Corporal…..21st Royal Scots Fusileers

Hugh Brown………….Private……..21st Royal Scots Fusileers

Michael Boyle……….private……..21st Royal Scots Fusileers

George Hood………..private……..21st Royal Scots Fusileers

William Armor……..private……..21st Royal Scots Fusileers

Archibald Cotz……..private……..21st Royal Scots Fusileers

Charles Scoffin……..private………21st Royal Scots Fusileers

Joseph Davenport..private……….44th Regiment

William Matthews…private…………4th Regiment

William Riley……….private…………4th Regiment

William Hochreday.private…………4th Regiment

Edward Allison…….private………….4th Regiment

These British prisoners were taken under guard by Ensign Presley Cordell, 57th Virginia Militia to Frederick Town, Maryland arriving September 17 where District Marshall & Agent for Prisoners Capt. Morris Jones took charge of them. Thier final deposition is unknown.

Source: William H. Winder Papers, Maryland Historical Society.

Brigadier General John Stricker (1759-1825): Defender of the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814

“…Every praise was due to him; the city being threatened, it became the duty of the citizens to be foremost in its defense. He claims the honor, and its brave officers and men under his command hailed with delight the opportunity of meeting the enemy’s attack…” Division Orders, September 19, 1814.

He was the son Colonel George Stricker (1832-1810) a Revolutionary War officer born on February 15, 1759 in Frederick, Maryland. During the revolution he served in General William Smallwood’s’ First Maryland Regiment at the battles of Brandywine, Monmouth, and Princeton.

On August 28, 1807, he was commissioned a brigadier general of the Maryland Militia and commanded the Third Brigade of Baltimore City of the Third Division of the Maryland Militia. On September 11, 1814, Stricker led the Third Brigade and other militia from Pennsylvania and western Maryland to meet the British on what would be the Battle of North Point the following afternoon. He commanded 3,200 militia to confront the 4500 British veterans troops approaching Baltimore. In a two hour battle the Americans, under heavy fire and a flanking movement by the British withdrew steadily to Baltimore. On September 15th General Stricker wrote his official account of the battle.

General Stricker resigned his militia commission on November 10, 1814 and resumed his merchant career and became president of the Bank of Baltimore in 1824 until his death on June 23, 1825. He was buried in Westminister Burying Grounds in downtown Baltimore.

Source: Easton Republican Star, April 20, 1814 and January 25, 1825; “General John Stricker,” by John Stricker, Jr.” Maryland Historical Magazine, September 1914, vol. 9, No. 3), 209-218.

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