Within the galleries of the Maryland Historical Society are two paintings: Defense of Baltimore: Assembling of the Troops, September 12, 1814 and Battle of North Point, Near Baltimore, Sept.12, 1814. Both were by artist and veteran of the battle Thomas Ruckle, a corporal in Captain George Steuart’s the Washington Blues, 5th Maryland Regiment.
Little is known of his early life other than he was the son of John and Elizabeth (Piper) Ruckle born in Embery, Ireland in 1776. In the late 18th century the family immigrated to Baltimore where his father took up the dry goods trade in 1802 on Market Street. On Nov. 28, 1798 at the age of twenty-two, Thomas married and took up residence near the Roman cathedral, and in May 1811 entered into business advertised as “House and Sign Painters & Glaziers”
In 1812 Thomas enlisted as a corporal in Captain George H. Steuart’s (1790-1867) Washington Blues, 5th Maryland Regiment and was present at the Battle of North Point on Sept. 12, 1814. His experience enabled him to recollect the preparations and the battlegrounds for two of his most famous paintings, The Defense of Baltimore Assembling of the Troops, September 12, 1814” (c.1820) and Battle of North Point, near Baltimore, September 12, 1814. (c. 1830).
Two of his sons, Thomas Coke and William Hogarth became accomplished artists in their own right the latter wrote his father in 1830, , “…Painters must be ambitious to excel. Don’t stop for trifles…Push ahead and in time the name of the Ruckles shall make as much of a noise in the United States as the famous Peales’ [family]…” On September 4, 1853, Thomas died at the age of seventy-seven and was buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in east Baltimore.
Sources: (Extract- New Discoveries and Interpretations: The War in the Chesapeake, 1812-1815 by Scott S. Sheads (unpublished, 2011); The Sun, Sept. 17, 1830; Sept. 6, 1853; July 3, 1903.