“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  

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  Leave a Comment  

First Troop, True Republican Blues, 9th Cavalry District, 6th Brigade, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties, 1813-14

The news was astounding, By the June 30, 1807 nearly everyone had read in the Talbot County Republican Star and Eastern Shore Advertiser that HMS Leopard had fired a warning shot and boarded the U.S. Frigate Chesapeake off Hampton Roads, Virginia. The Star stated that “We know not, indeed, that this savage outrage has a precedent in naval annuals.” For the residents of the Eastern Shore it was personal. One of the three American sailors taken off and impressed into British service was mariner John Stachan, a native of Queen Anne’s County who had enlisted onboard two years earlier.

The country’s honor as a sovereign republic had been approached. All across the Eastern Shore militia companies were formed and elect commissioned officers received. The best known militia companies raised were the First Troop, True Republican Blues of Queen Anne’s County. On August 25, 1813 a notice was posted for “those persons who have already associated for the purpose of forming a TROOP OF HORSE to meet at the Talbot County courthouse.”

In February 11, 1813, the Maryland Legislature passed “A supplement to the act, entitled, An Act to Regulate & Discipline the Militia of this State,” that reorganized the separate cavalry troops attached to each of the eleven brigades into eleven cavalry Regimental Districts within the state. Each district was to be composed of two squadrons of two troops each, commanded by a lieutenant colonel, each squadron a major, each troop consisting of forty-eight officers and enlisted men of the following: 1 captain, 2 lieutenants, 1 quartermaster sergeant, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, a farrier, 1 saddler, 1 trumpeter and 32 privates.

 Lt. Colonel Edward Lloyd commanding the troop called together the non-commissions officers four times a year to drill exercise and each regiment shall meet in the fall, and each squadron to meet in the spring, and each troop to meet eight times a year.

Sources: Republican Star, April 7, June 30, August 4, 25, 1807.

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 10:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hampstead Hill: The Bulwark of Baltimore’s Defense, September 1814.

In late August 1814, soon after the capture of Washington by the British expeditioanry forces, Baltimoreans began to erect a line of earthen entrenchments to protect the expected advance of the British army from the Philadelphia Road (Rt. 40). The length of the entrenchments and redoubts upon Hampstead or Londenslager’s Hill (today Patterson Park), stretched from the waterfront Sugar House in Fell’s Point near Harris Creek, northward to the Belair Road (Rt. 1), a distance of one mile.

The arrival of Commodore John Rodgers naval brigade from Philadelphia on August 26 of 350 U.S. Marines and sailors from the frigate Guerriere gave the city hope of a defense. Around this corps of veteran naval veterans, Major General Samuel Smith gathered the  15,000 arriving  militia from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland. These troops gave support to the train of thrity-four field guns that crested the defense lines upon Hampstead Hill.

In 1857, forty-three years after the War of 1812, a Baltimore Sun correspondent remembered:

“The length of the breastworks…were arranged several efffective semi-cirular batteries, well mounted with cannon and ably manned, some of them by volunteer artillery companies of Baltimore, and others by sailors and men of war’s men, whilst the spaces which intervened between the batteries were occupied by the county militia and portions of the militia from adjacent states, who had patriotically hastened to the assistance of their beleaguered fellow-citizens of Baltimore. And, in addition to the forces already mentioned, nearly all of the Baltimore [3rd]brigade, composed of cavalry, artillery, riflemen and infantry, to the number of more than three thousand men, were assigned positions in and about these entrenchments.”

The only surviving trace of these entrenchments is a horseshoe shaped earthen redoubt immediately to the eastern front of the 1890 Japanese pogoda that occupied the site of the center of the American lines in 1814.

Source: The Sun (Baltimore), September 15, 1857. Report of Major General Samuel Smith, September 9, 1814. Samuel Smith Papers, Library of Congress.

Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 12:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Quartering the Militia at Baltimore, September 1814

On August 19, 1814 when the British expeditionary forces landed at Benedict, Maryland General Orders were sent out by Major General Samuel Smith and consequently to those neighboring states of Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania to come to Washington and Baltimore’s defense. With the capture of Washington on August 24, it became apparent the next tarket was Baltimore, thus many of the arriving militia halted at Baltimore and camps were established within a ten mile radius of the city. In Baltimore it soon became a logistical problem to find quarters for the militia, including those from outlying Maryland counties. Major Paul Bentalouu, Quartermaster General stated that “fifteen thousand have assembled and many more are coming in daily.”  

The Third Division Quartermaster of Baltimore Major Jeremiah Sullivan, obtained the shelter of  numerous ropewalks whose protective sheds, some 1,000 feet long could accomodate 500 troops  each. Every available building including fifty-one storied warehouses and dwellings were utilized along the docks, even within the unfinished granite walls of the catholic cathedral rising up on Howard’s Hill (now the Basilica of the Assumption). Here are a few examples: 60th Virginia Regiment – Hadsgis Ropewalk; 56th Virginia Regiment – Piper’s Ropewalk; Pennsylvania Militia - Oliver’s Ropewalk; companies of the 36th, 38th and 14th U.S. Infantry were in tents on Hampstead Hill.

In addition the troops needed food, canteens, knapsacks, cooking kettles, musket cartridges all had to be procured locally. Many companies, some independently arriving from as faraway as Hagerstown, MD., Hanover, PA., and Wilmington, DE., were without muskets or adequte equipage. Within weeks after the Battle for Baltimore, militia companies continued to arrive who had to be accomodated. Such was the scene in Baltimore during the perilous days of September 1814. 

Sources: Samuel Smith Papers, Library of Congress, MSS18794, Reel 4, Cont. 5-6.

 

 

 

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.

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.

OBITUARY NOTICE.

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.

Henry Lightner (1798-1883): The Drummer Boy of Fort McHenry

On the morning of Sunday, September 11, 1814, drummer Henry Lightner as well as other militia volunteers at Fort McHenry sounded the alarm at the approach of the British invasion fleet.  At sixteen years, Henry served in Captain John Berry’s Washington Artillery of the 1st Regiment, Maryland Volunteer Artillery. Captain Berry commanded the shore batteries along with two other militia companies.

Earlier, the company had marched from Baltimore to Fort McHenry earlier to the tune of Henry Lightner’s drum accompanied by fifes. It may well be that he played a favorite tune of his “The Girl I Left Behind.” As a member of the Association of Old Defenders’ of 1814  his presence was well known as he played the tune in the years to follow in many parades every Defenders’ Day in September. A tinner by trade in his adult years he was a member of the Methodist church. In the latter years of the 19th century as each of the participants in the defense of Baltimore past away, akin to the passing of the minute men of the days of the American Revolution, newspapers printed their passing – mutual respect for the citizen-soldiers of 1812.

Henry Lightner died in Baltimore on January 24, 1883 and was buried in Baltimore Cemetery.  

“The Drummer Boy’s Funeral.- The funeral of Mr. Henry Lightner, the drummer-boy of 1812, who died on Thursday in the 85th year of his age, took place yesterday afternoon, from the residence of his son-in-law, Mr. Richard McCullough, No. 49 East Eager street. Rev. Luther T. Widerman, pastor of Monument-Street M.E. Church, conducted the funeral services, and was assisted by Revs. A.M.Courtney, and A.S. Hank. The pallbearers were selected from the congregations of Monument-Street, Greenmount-Avenue and Madison-Square M.E. Churches and from Harmonia Lodge, I.O.O.F., a delegation from which also attended. Mr. W.H. Daneker, secretary of the Old Defenders’ Association, was present.” 

 The Sun, January 27, 1883. 

Sources: The Sun (Baltimore), January 25, 1883 and September 9, 1882.

Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm  Comments (2)  

Old St. Paul’s Cemetery: In Memoriam of 1812 Patriarchs

“May they rest in peace in their narrow beds, covered by verdure ever fresh, and wild flowers ever blooming; and may the kindliest dew of Heaven distill upon their graves an emblem of our tears.” Niles’ Weekly Register, March 30, 1814.

Throughout Maryland are thousands of War of 1812 veteran graves and historic burying grounds yet to be found, recorded and remembered, as we begin to celebrate their achievements that gave inspiration for a new national hymn. One of the least visited, yet one of the famous burying grounds is also Baltimore’s oldest – Old St. Paul’s Cemetery of the Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Baltimore. Within its high protective stone walls are many citizen-soldiers who fought or contributed with legislature support to keeping the fire hearths burning on the home front in support of their neighbors and fellow citizens.

For nearly three years when the war raged on the bay, the voices of citizen-soldiers, the fife and drums of regimental music and company flags unfurled to the breezes continue to play no more. Herein within this sacred burying ground are the quiet voices of our past. Like those of the Revolution, they returned to their private pursuits as farmers, mariners, political and martial pursuits, until they too, passed on, leaving only their reputations and the records of their lives. Here are four notable burials:

Lt. Colonel George Armistead (1780-1818). Born in Caroline County Virginia he was one of five brothers, all of whom served in the War of 1812. In 1813 he delivered the captured British from Fort George, Upper Canada to President Madison, and subsequently commanded of Fort McHenry until his death on April 27, 1818.

Lieutenant Colonel Jacob H. Hindman, (1789-1827) A native of Centreville, Maryland served in the 2nd U.S. Artillery in 1812 and was brevetted a lieutenant colonel for his distinguished service in the defense of Fort Erie and Fort George, and at the Battle of Chippewa (July 1814) all on the Canadian frontier. Colonel Hindman died on February 17, 1827 at the age of 58 years.

Christopher Hughes, Jr. (1785-1849) A Baltimore native he commanded the Baltimore Independent Artillery in 1813 before becoming one of the U.S. peace delegates at the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, concluding the War of 1812. He was the brother-in-law of Lt. Colonel George Armistead, and died on September 18, 1849 at the age of sixty-three.

Jacob Small, Jr. (1772-1851). A former mayor of Baltimore and member of the Baltimore Mechanical Volunteers at the Battle of North Point, he designed the 1817 Aquila Randall Monument, still extant along the Old North Point Road.

“The patriarchs of the Revolution [and the War of 1812] are fast passing away: another and yet another year, and perhaps not one of those gallant spirits, who aided America in her struggle for freedom and independence, will be left to the living object of our gratitude & veneration…The Freedom achieved by their swords, and the institutions established by their wisdom, are now left in our hands.” Honorable Robert H. Goldsborough, 1827.

Sources:

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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John Montgomery (1764-1828):Captain, Baltimore Union Artillery

John Montgomery was born in Carlisle, Pa., studied and practiced law in Harford County, Md., and served as a state delegate (1793-1798); U.S. Congress (1807-1811) and as Attorney General of Maryland (1811-1818). He was commissioned a captain of the Baltimore Union Artillery, 1st Regiment Maryland Artillery and took an active role at the Battle of North Point, Sept. 12, 1814, the only American artillery of four guns at the battle, forming in the center of the American lines on the Old North Point Road to meet the British advance.

After the war he served two terms as Mayor of Baltimore (1820-22 and 1824-1826). He died on July 17, 1828 and is buried in Mount Carmel Methodist Church Cemetery, Bel Air, Harford County. “In Memory of JOHN MONTGOMERY, who died in Baltimore, A.D. 1828, aged 63 years. Also Mary, his wife, and his 2 Sons, John H. & James N. Montgomery.”

Sources: Baltimore Gazette & Daily Adv., July 23, 1828; Biographical Directory of the United States Congress;. Wilbur F. Coyle, The Mayors of Baltimore (Reprinted from The Baltimore Municipal Journal, 1919), 27-29.  

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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