Fort Covington (1813-1836)

During the summer of 1813 several shore fortifications were under construction contiguous to Fort McHenry as precautionary defenses to the west of Fort McHenry guarding the Ferry Branch approach to Baltimore. Among these was Fort Covington named for Brig. General Leonard Covington (1788-1813) a Maryland native who was killed at the Battle of Chrysler’s Field in Upper Canada, Nov. 11, 1813. Prior the site was known as Fort Patapsco or Fort Wadsworth, named for Decius Wadsworth, U.S. Chief of Ordnance Department.

The fort was designed by Capt. Samuel Babcock, U.S. Corps of Engineers as a V-shaped 10’ high brick wall enclosure. In front facing the harbor was a 16 foot high ditch and parapet calculated for a battery of 10 or 12 18-Pdr cannon mounted en-barbette (to fire over the earthen walls), with quarters sufficient for a company and a powder magazine. Completed that fall and renamed, it was garrison by Captain Matthew S. Bunbury’s naval company of U.S. Sea Fencibles.

During the Battle for Baltimore, Sept 12-14, 1814 the services of the Fencibles were replaced by Lt. Henry S. Newcomb’s U.S. naval command of eighty sailors who had arrived from Philadelphia with Commodore John Rodgers command of the U.S. frigate Guerriere. On the wind-swept stormy night of Sept, 13 Fort Covington along with nearby Battery Babcock and Fort Look-Out, successfully repulsed a British flotilla advance having past to the west of Fort McHenry. The advance was checked and the British withdrew to the safety of the fleet in the outer harbor.

In the post war years a small detachment guarded the government property until 1836 when all of its materials were sold at public auction. No remains are left today near the site of The Sun newspaper facilities.

Sources: Capt. Samuel Babcock to U.S. Secretary of War John Armstrong, Dec. 1, 1813; Lt. Henry S. Newcomb to Commodore John Rodgers, Sept. 18, 1814. Rodgers Papers, Library of Congress; The Rockets Red Glare: The Maritime Defense of Baltimore in 1814 by Scott S. Sheads (Centerville, Md., Tidewater Pub., 1986).

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Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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