Westminster Abbey Monument to Sir Captain Peter Parker of HMS Menelaus

 

The following inscription is to be found on the monument to Sir Peter Parker at Westminster Abbey. His remains are interred at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminister, London.

**********************

 

In the pious hope of a glorious resurrection,

Pursued thro’ virtue, faith and valor,

HERE LIES INTERRED THE MORTAL REMAINS OF
SIR PETER PARKER, BARONET

Aged 28 years,

Captain of his Majesty’s ship Menelaus.

An accomplished officer & seaman.

Who after landing with part of his crew,

on the coast of America.

Defeated an enemy, supported by cavalry

and artillery, THREE TIMES the

number of his own force,

And, in the moment of victory, received a

mortal wound,

Under which he continued to cheer his

Men to follow up their triumph,

Until, sinking under its fatal result,

He fell into the arms of the companions of

His glory, and surrendered, on

The field of battle.

His own gallant spirit to the mercy of

Heaven,

He closed his career August 30, 1814.

THE OFFICERS AND CREW.

ON THEIR RETURN,

ERECT THIS MONUMENT,

As a testimony of their grief for his loss, and respect for his character

And merits.

Published in: on January 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Legends: A “Jug Wasps” Nest

Wasp nestFrom Crisfield on Maryland’s Eastern Shore  comes a story that a British gunboat lying offshore near Matthews County, Va.,  a young half-witted boy found a nest of these wasp papermakers and cut it from the limb from which it hung, then plugged up the entrance hole with mud. He took it down to the shore and showed it to the British sailors who asked what was in it. “A humminging bird’s nest,” said the boy. “Don’t you hear them inside?”

The  sailors listened while the boy left the nest with them. The British took out the mud plug and at once the escaping wasps “proceeded to business.”  They never stopped their work until they had made everyone of the British sailors jump into the water to escape. The boy must of had a joyful frolic with his boyish adventure of mischief.

Source: The Sun, January 11, 1898

Published in: on December 29, 2011 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Maryland Militia in the Defense of St. Michael’s, August 1813

On August 10 and 26, 1813 British naval and military forces attacked St.Michael’s on Maryland ‘s Eastern Shore. The militia that defended this small ship building port were the following all under the command of Brigadier General Perry Benson, 12th Brigade, 2nd Division, Maryland Militia.

26th MARYLAND REGIMENT  – Lt. Colonel Hugh Auld

St. Michael’s Patriotic Blues,- Captain Joseph Kemp

Miles River Neck Company, – Captain William Jordan

Bayside Company, – Captain John Carroll

Miles River Company, – Captain William Ray

Bayside Company, -Captain Oakley Haddaway

Wye Landing Company, Captain Jonathan Spencer

Bayside Company, Captain John Seth

Hearts of Oak Company – Captain Thomas Weyman

4th Maryland Regiment – Lt. Colonel William B. Smyth

Volunteer Artillery, Captain Clement Vickers

Light Infantry Blues, Captain George W. Smith

Trappe Company, Captain Samuel Stevens

Chapel District Company, Captain Thomas Henrix

The Easton Fencibles, Captain John L. Keer

9th Cavalry District (Queen Annes & Talbot Counties) –

Independent Light Dragoons, Captain Robert H. Goldsborough

Troop of Horse Militia, Trappe, Captain Isaac Bowdle

The Patriotic Blues, Troop of Horse, Captain Robert Banning

Published in: on December 22, 2011 at 3:16 am  Leave a Comment  

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  Leave a Comment  
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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  

Brig. General Perry Benson (1757- 1827): Defender of St. Michaels, Md.

“In Memory of General Perry Benson, Son of James and Hanna Benson, born August 6, 1857. Captain of the Maryland Line, commended for gallantry and twice wounded in battle in the Revolutionary War. Major General of the Maryland Militia in the War of 1812. Died October 2, 1827. His remains were removed from Wheatland 1901.”  Benson gravesite.

During the American Revolution Captain Benson served under Major General William Smallwood’s First Maryland Brigade at Harlem Heights, N.Y., (1776); the Carolina campaigns (Battle of Cowpens (1781); Guilford Courthouse (1781) and Hobkirk’s Hill, South Carolina (1781). After the war he accompanied George Washington as a lieutenant colonel to quell the 1784 Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.

On June 22, 1798 he was commissioned a brigadier general and commanded the 12th Brigade, of Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester Counties. During the War of 1812 he commanded the militia at the Battles of St. Michaels on August 10, 26, 1813. General Benson died on October 2, 1827 at the age of 72 years and is buried in the family graveyard at Newcomb, Talbot County.

Sources: Easton Gazette, October 2, 1827; History of Talbot County, Maryland, 1661-186, by Oswald Tilghman, (Baltimore: Regional Pub., Co., 1967), 303-324; “Perry Benson,” by “Revolutionary War Hero’s Grave Found,” Easton Star Democrat, July 23, 1964.

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 8:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Levin Winder (1757-1819): Governor of Maryland

Levin Winder by Florence Mackubin

Levin Winder by Florence Mackubin. Maryland State Archives, MSA SC 1545-1043

Levin Winder was born in Somerset County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore along Monie Creek on September 4, 1757 to William and Esther (Gillis) Winder. He later served as captain in the 4th Maryland Regiment during the Revolution and rose in rank to lieutenant-colonel on June 3, 1781. After the war he returned to the eastern shore and resumed his occupation as a planter.

In 1806 he was elected as a federalist to the House of Delegates, serving three successive terms as an avid opponent of the national policies of the Republican Party and the war declaration. In June 1812, as a result of the Baltimore riots, the General Assembly elected Winder, defeating Governor Robert Bowie (1750-1818) by a vote of 52-29. Taking office that November Winder became the wartime executive and brigadier general of the 2nd Division, Eastern Shore, Maryland Militia. With the federalist continuing their opposition to the war the political affairs led to standstill between Maryland and the federal government. The bay depredations of the British navy the following spring, as well as threatening Annapolis, enabled Winder to call a special session of the Maryland Legislature on May 13, 1813 reporting “…that considerable alarms have permiated the state, in consequence of the appearance of a large naval force within the waters of the Chesapeake.”

With the advice of his Executive Council who assisted in coordinating the states’ war efforts, they continued issuing officer’s commissions, war supplies, and protection of the Chesapeake tidewater – with little financial or military assistance from the federal government.

Winder became soon aware of the Madison administration and that of the Secretary of War John Armstrong of ignoring the defense of Maryland. Although an anti-war governor, Winder had to contend with protecting the Maryland tidewater region from the increasing British attacks. Upon learning the federal government had supported Virginia in her defense, Winder remarked, “Virginia has but to ask and she received; but Maryland, for her political disobedience is denied.”

Despite the political troubles with the federal government, Winder galvanized the Maryland militia with supplies and several militia acts to protect the state from British incursions and attack serving as governor from 1812-1816. He died on July 1, 1819 and was buried on his estate on Monie Creek near Princess Anne, Somerset County, though the site of his grave has yet to be discovered.

Sources: Gerson G. Eisenberg, Marylanders Who Served the Nation:  A Biographical Dictionary of Federal Officials from Maryland (Annapolis:  Maryland State Archives, 1992), 233; Frank F. White, Jr.  The Governors of Maryland 1770-1970.  (Annapolis:  The Hall of Records Commission, 1965).

 

 

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kent Island, August 5-26, 1813

“MARYLAND INVADED…it appears the enemy have taken possession of Kent Island, and that the inhabitants of every description have removed to the main land…From the circumstance of landing cannon on Kent Island, it appears to be the intention of the enemy to keep possession of it for some time; and certainly a more eligible situation could not have been selected for their own safety and convenience or from which to annoy us.” Captain Charles Gordon, U.S.N., August 13, 1813.

On August 5, 1813, British boats carrying the First Battalion Royal Marines and the 102nd Regiment Foot under the command of Colonel Sidney Beckwith, a total of 2,034 soldiers landed and marched overland to the “Narrows,” separating the island from the Eastern Shore. Here they encamped establishing four other encampments at Broad Creek, Parson’s Point, Kent Point, and Kent Island Narrows with their field headquarters at the home of Thomas Harrison’s estate of “Belleview” near Broad Creek and hoisted a Union Jack over its rooftop.

Admiral John Borlase described Kent Island as a “valuable & beauty Island which is half as large as the Isle of Wright…a central Point between Annapolis, Baltimore, Washington and the Eastern Ports of the State of  Maryland..”   The British prepared Kent Island from which it would launch raids on St. Michaels (August 10 and 26) and upon Queenstown (August 13). Their occupation on land and with seventeen warships posed a formidable base from which raids could be conducted.

On August 27 the British departed to prepare for winter quarters, then renew their attacks in Maryland the following spring .

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Comments (1)  

Battle of “Slippery Hill,” Queen Anne’s County, August 13, 1813

On August 13, 1813 British land and naval landing forces attacked Queenstown, Maryland in Queen Annes County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The attack was launched from Kent Island, a temporary naval base that would also launched two attacks on nearby St. Michaels (Aug. 10, 26) in Talbot County. Here the 38th Maryland Regiment under the command of Major William Hopper Nicholson skirmished with approximately 300 British troops under the command of Col. Sir Thomas Sidney Beckwith as they advanced on Queenstown along the Kent Island Road (Route 50 ). Fearful of being cut off by a second British amphibious force, Major Nicholson’s forces withdrew to Centreville. It has popularly being called the Battle of “Slippery Hill” for the low rise of ground on the site intersection of Route 18 and Bennett Point Road half-way between Grasonville and Queenstown.

Following is his official account of the battle.

“Sir,

Having laid before you my letter of the 13th inst. to Brig Gen. Chambers stating the enemy’s movements on Queen’s Town, and my retreat in consequence thereof, it remains for me to give you a detailed statement of the affair, together with the reasons which influenced and determined me to retreat without engaging the enemy.

Previous to entering on this detail, it may not be irrelevant for the information of those who have minds enough to comprehend the subject, to give a slight sketch of the geographic position of the country, laying between the enemy’s force on Kent Island, and my little charge at Queens Town – Kent Island, of which the enemy were in possession, and which was completely surrounded by their vessels of war, in the southern extremity of Queen Anne’s county; the greatest breath about 6 miles; is watered on its western side by the Chesapeake Bay, on its eastern margin by the Eastern Bay, and is separated from the Main by what is usually termed the Narrows, which is in fact a strait from the Eastern Bay to Chester River, and runs nearly north and south, is navigable on full common tides for small shallops; and its breath caries from about 100 yards, to half a mile or more.

This narrows or strait, is skirted on both sides by extensive marshes, intersected with cripples, which are frequently dangerous, more especially to the marsh connected with the main. To approach the Island from the Main you must traverse a narrow causeway upwards of a mile in length across the marsh. Piney Neck, or the district of country which extends from Queenstown to the Narrows, is watered on the N.W. by Chester River, navigable for ships of large size for an extent of about six miles to the mouth of Queen’s Town Creek, which forms its best gead about ¼ mile from the main road, near to which stands the little village in which my force was quartered. The same district of [the] country is watered on the S. and E. by the Eastern Bay, and that branch of Wye River called Back Wye, for an extant of about 20 miles, navigable in its whole course for craft and barges to within a short distance of Queenstown.

Into this tract of country, nearly surrounded by water, I was destined to defend with the following force, viz., 6 companies of infantry, amounting to 273 men, of whom 25 were sick, and three absent on furlough, leaving 214 effectives – two light six pounders, commanded by Capt. [Thomas] Wright, about 35 strong; and 100 Cavalry, commanded by Major [Thomas] Emory.

To this force I had strong reasons to believe the enemy could oppose a land force of 3000 men, and of course all the barges and men belonging to the shipping by water. In this position I could not but be sensible of the extreme danger of my situation, and felt that there was but little for me to do, but use great caution and vigilance to avoid a surprise. To prevent all intercourse with the island, which was so great as to be highly criminal.

On the morning of the 12th, I determined to push the two companies amounting to 62 men, (and a part of the 244 effectives) commanded by Capts. [Charles] Hobbs and [John D.] Taylor, into the [Piney] neck, if they should be willing to engage is so hazardous an enterprise; and accordingly communicated my wishes to them.

They, without a moments hesitation, accepted my wishes, and with great alacrity paraded their companies, and entered on a perilous duty, which they, equally with myself, tho essential to the safety of our whole force. They had my written permission to occupy such grounds as to them might seem most advantageous for the duty assigned them. They were by no means to invite an attack, to communicate with me at least once in 12 hours, for which purpose they had four troopers sent on with them, to be entirely subject to their orders.

They were not to occupy the same ground any two nights successively. With these instructions, the very intimate knowledge which the officers & men professed of the country, added to the great zeal & activity of the officers, I was satisfied that if they should be attacked by a superior force, they would effect a safe retreat, if by an equal force, I had no fears for the result. In the course of the afternoon of the 12th, a variety of circumstances combined to induce me to believe that I should be attacked the next morning, & that chiefly, if not altogether on the land side.

I therefore took my officers separately & pointed out to each of them the positions their men were to occupy on the land side, in the event of an attack by land, and the same if attacked by water. We were unanimously of opinion, that the posts selected were of such strength, as to enable us to do great execution to a much larger force than their own; and against any thing like an equal force, we felt confident of success.

Against an attack from 2 or 3 points, I felt the insufficiency of my force to provide, and did not attempt it. Having dispatched Adjutant [John] Tilghman, and one or two officers into the neck, about 11 o’clock, and having finished visiting my guards, about 1-2 past 12, [midnight], I retired to my room. At 1-2 past 1 o’clock the Adjutant returned from reconnoitering, without having gained any information of the enemy’s intentions.

At 10 minutes before 3 o’clock of the 13th, I was aroused by the quick approach of horsemen, and found them to be my cavalry videttes of the out posts, with the intelligence that the enemy was approaching in great force on the main road from Kent Narrows to Queens Town. I immediately called up my officers, and at 15 minutes past 3, my force paraded in order of battle, with the exception of the cavalry. The want of accommodations for the men and horses, compelled me to quarter them about 1½ miles from the village, but this occasioned no delay; for in the course of 10 or 15 minutes Major [Thomas] Emory in person, (much to the honor of this body) reported his cavalry as formed on the ground I had directed, and ready for action.

A few minutes only had elapsed, when an express arrived to me from Captains [Charles] Hobbs and [John D.] Taylor, with the information that the enemy was advancing in such force, as to make it impossible that I could oppose them with mine; and that they expected to effect a safe retreat. This intelligence created great anxiety for the fate of my picquet guard, which was stationed about 2 miles in advance of Queens Town, on the road by which the enemy was approaching. I immediately mounted my horse, and pressed forward towards my picquet.

When I had advanced within ½ a mile of the post, the firing commenced between them and the enemy, and the vollies of musketry left me without hope that an individual of them was alive. I returned immediately to my main body, and found them at their posts, all cheerful and anxious for the onset of the enemy, notwithstanding his numbers, a fresh volley of musketry created feelings which I can never forget, it assured me that my picquet was not annihilated as I supposed, but (to their immortal honor) that they had abused my orders of the night before, rallied, and a second time attacked the enemy. I instantly sent the Adjutant on to meet them, and they arrived safe at our line, about 400 yards in advance of the enemy, without the loss of a man, and only one very slightly wounded.

If anything I could say, would add to the reputation of those gentlemen, how freely would I say it, in giving their names to the public, I do all that I can. It shall be known, that a picquet guard composed of the following gentlemen, stood firm at their posts, received the attack, and returned the fire of a column of British troops 2000 strong, supported by 4 field pieces, retreated, formed again, and gave the enemy their second fire.

Picquet Guard

 Capts. James Massey,  J.H. Nicholson, Jr.  Privates, John D. Emory, John Green, Solomon E. Wright, Dennis Sullivan, James Chairs, John Hassett, Samuel Gleen, ames Jackson, W. Seward (slightly wounded), Jacob Price, Thomas Deroachbroome, John Dodd, Jeremiah Vincent, Thomas Cox, Peter Ross, William Emerson, Samuel McBosh [and] Archibald Roe

About 4 o’clock, my cavalry videts, stationed on Chester River came in, bringing the painful intelligence that a large number of barges were entering Queens Town creek. In a few minutes after a signal rocket from the barges told me the news too true; at the same moment one of my guards stationed on the creek came with the information that they had formed their line across the mouth of Queens Town creek. The signal rocket was answered from the land side, and I instantly called in all my guards except three, out of twenty, stationed at Mr. Hall’s landing [Bowlingly Plantation] on the creek, who I left for the purpose of conveying intelligence to me of the enemy’s approach; for I was firmly resolved to engage the enemy in my front, if it could be done without subjecting the force I commanded to certain capture. I had sent major Blake to take a view of the enemy on the water, who returned with the information that they had landed, & that he was fired on by them.

The force in my front was about 150 yards from us, and was plainly seen from both my left and right flanks. In this situation I concluded, that noting but a silent retreat could effect my escape this I ordered, and dispatched the surgeon of the regiment to major Emory of the cavalry with the order; but from some misconception of the surgeon, major Emory did not consider the order as official; and of course, did not commence his retreat with that promptness of movement, for which his command is remarkable. I discovered the delay, and as soon as possible sent on the adjutant, with orders for the cavalry to press their retreat; this was done under a heavy fire of rockets, round and grape shot, equally upon the cavalry, infantry and artillery, from the enemy’s land force, and from a fire of rockets, round and grape shot, upon the infantry and artillery, from the forces on the water side.

There was no confusion among any of the troops; all retreated in perfect order, and the column was well formed (for militia) during the whole retreat; indeed it became absolutely necessary to give a positive order to quicken their pace before I could effect it; early on the retreat I discovered that my column occupied more ground that was necessary for it; and apprehensive that some irregularity existed in the advance, I rode up to the front to discover the cause, and found captains Massey and Nicholson’s commands in single file. This order if companies had been necessary in the first instance in consequence of the original retreat of the companies being intercepted by the enemy’s force on the water side. I therefore found it necessary to change the disposition of their retreat, and immediately upon my giving the order for the formation of a column by those two companies, it was executed on the march, with a neatness and promptness that does equal honor to the officers and men.

During the whole of the time that we waited in order of battle the enemy’s approach, the most perfect order and submission pervaded my little command, frequently enlivened with observations and with, that bespoke minds perfectly at ease, and determined to do their duty to their country. Capt. [G.W.T.] Wright of artillery, in particular, addressed his command in a very spirited and handsome style; exhorting by every thing that was sacred and dear to them as freemen, to discharge their duty, which was received with the most cordial assurances of support from the whole force.

Having thus detailed the objects of my first retreat, it becomes necessary that I should account for my continuing to this place. The head of the column having reached the appointed place of rendezvous, about one and a half miles from the town, I was riding very leisurely along in the rear with the adjutant, and had just ordered him to ride forward and halt the column, when information was sent to me, by a person who had been on the water’s edge during the whole time, that the enemy were landing a large force from twenty barges on a point of Mr. Wright’s [Blakeford Plantation]. I was well aware, that the landing a force at that place could have no other object in view, but the intercepting my retreat, and I instantly ordered the head of the column to advance, and continue the retreat to this place; where every man arrived in safety.

The firing of my picket guard killed two of the enemy, and wounded five; and their commander in chief Sir Sidney Beckwith, had his horse killed. The deserters, who were with the land force, state their numbers to have been, one company of marine artillery (4 pieces) 100 strong, the 102nd regiment of foot, 300 strong; 2 battalions of marines 1600, and one rocket company 50 strong. This was the force in my front to which I had determined to give battle, but the appearance of the enemy attacking my rear, compelled me to give up my attention. His numbers by water not known; but was contained in 45 barges, and by those who had the best opportunity of examining, is stated to have been at least 1350.

It affords me the great pleasure to add, that captains [Charles] Hobbs and [John D.] Taylor made good their retreat across Wye River in batteaux and canoes; and the troopers who were under their command effected theirs by swimming their horses across. I will only observe, that not a breath of censure can in any way attach to a single individual of my command. The ready and cheerful obedience which I experienced from every officer, and private, gave me full confidence that I could rely on the execution of my orders; and I was not disappointed; on me alone therefore must rest the responsibility of the retreat. May I again, sir, solicit, that a Court of Inquiry be directed to site on me.”

I am sir,

WILLIAM H. NICHOLSON, Major 38th Regt. Md. Militia, Centreville, 16th, Aug. 1813

 Source: Major William Nicholson, 38th Regiment, Maryland Militia, to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Wright of the 38th Regiment, Maryland Militia, Centreville, Md., August 16, 1813; Easton Republican Star, August 24, 1813.

A Congreve Rocket Burns Henry Waller’s Kent County Farmhouse, August 28, 1814

In late August 1814, HM frigate Menalaus, Captain Peter Parker, was ordered north of Baltimore to the Upper Chesapeake Bay as a diversion during the Baltimore campaign.

On Sunday, August 28 just before dawn, British Royal Marines and sailors landed on the shore of Fairlee Creek, Kent County, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. At 10 a.m. the British encountered a militia troop of horse gathered around the 308 acre bayside farm of Henry Waller (b.1774), described as “among the best on the Eastern Shore, both for prospect and convenience.” consisting of a two-story farmhouse with extensive outbuildings for meat, grain, corn and milk, and an extensive apple orchard. To dislodge the militia, The British officer, Lt. Henry Crease ordered Congreve rockets and 18-pounder carronades be fired upon the shore, one of which failed to launch and burned furiously onboard the ship and was thrown overboard. Crease’s shore detachment returned to the Menelaus.

Later that afternoon a second British landing was made upon Waller’s Farm setting on fire the farm house and cornfields, while the Royal Marines fired musket volleys at the militia troop of horse “smashingly dress’d in Blue and long white feathers in their hats.” Royal Marine Benjamin Benyon admirably noted in his journal that the Waller house was, “by far the finest part that I have seen in America, the house was elegant.” The next morning, Lt. Benyon noted onboard H.M. frigate Menelaus that the Waller house “was burning most furiously & all the out houses and corn stalks.”

Seventeen years later, in 1829, the Federal Government began to receive claims for war damages of private property, one of whom was Henry Waller for the destruction of his property. He retained a Georgetown attorney named Francis Scott Key to represent his case. Mr. Waller did receive compensation for his home. One of the Congreve rockets that set his farmhouse ablaze is on display at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (NPS) in Baltimore. It is one of the rare Maryland War of 1812 artifacts known to have survived the war with a provenance with it.

Sources: The Waller farm was formerly owned by Colonel James Lloyd (1745-1820), member of the U.S. Congress and Maryland Legislature. In 1807 he sold the farm to Henry Waller. After Waller house was destroyed, Henry sold the farm to Richard Frisby. Michael Owen Bourne, Historic Houses of Kent County: An Architectural History: 1642-1860, (Chestertown, Maryland: The Historical Society of Kent County, Inc., 1998), 295, 405-407; Baltimore Federal Gazette & Evening Advertiser, August 8, 1814; Captain Parker to Vice Admiral Cochrane, August 29, 1814. HMS Menelaus off Pooles Island. (Alexander Cochrane Papers, Library of Congress, MS 2329); Benyon Journal, August 28, 1814;

Published in: on March 31, 2011 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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