“FORTY DOLLARS! To Men of Courage, Enterprize & Patriotism. – A RENDEZVOUS for the Marine service is now opened at the house of Landlord Richard Lee, No. 76, Bond-st. Fell’s Point. FORTY DOLLARS – Is paid at the outset – and the service promises honor and rich reward. The men now wanted are principally for Sergeants and Non-Commissioned Officers of high grade, to command separate detachments on board some of the fastest sailing vessels in the service. If adverse to the Atlantic, they can have the privilege of asserting their country’s honor on the Lakes, or doing garrison duty. Few inducements need to be held out at a crises like the present, when the services of all are required, to excite the ardor and enthusiasm of enterprise and bravery. BENJAMIN HYDE, Lieutenant Marines.”
By the Spring of 1813 a detachment of twenty-four U.S. Marines were assigned at Fell’s Point to guard the Baltimore naval yard of Wm. Parsons & Wm. Flannagain’s shipyard where the U.S. sloops of war Erie and Ontario were to be completed that fall. A year later on August 1, 1814 they were joined by the launching of the U.S. frigate Java.
On August 24, 1814, one hundred U.S. Marines from the Washington U.S. Navy Yard made a valiant but futile stand on the battlefields of Bladensburg, Md., prior to the British capturing the Capital. Afterwards they marched for Baltimore to join Capt. Alfred Grayson’s marine detachment at Baltimore. Arriving with Commodore John Rodgers were fifty U.S. Marines from Philadelphia’s U.S. frigate Guerriere.
Captain Alfred Grayson, commanding 170 U.S. Marines, informed the Marine Commandant “The whole force, sailors and marines, will be tonight one thousand. The enemy is expected every hour.” Marine Lieutenant John Harris, in the center of the naval lines, remarked “I think the handsomest sight I ever saw was during the bombardment to se[e] the bombs and rockets flying and the firing from our three forts [McHenry, Covington, Lazaretto]. I could se[e] plenty of red coats but could not get within musket shot of them.”
Together these 170 U.S. Marines waited behind the naval lines of Commodore John Rodgers, USN upon Hampstead Hill (Patterson Park) for the British land assault that never came. Captain Grayson who commanded the U.S. Marines at Baltimore informed the U.S. Marine Commandant earlier that “…an opportunity will be afforded our little handful of men to take a part in the contest.”
Sources: History of the U.S. Marine Corps by Maj. Edwin N. McClellan. (Washington: 1925); Commodore John Rodgers: Captain, Commodore, and Senior Officer of the American Navy, 1773-1838, by Charles O. Paullin (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1909, 1967); Baltimore Patriot, May 13, 1813; Hyde died on Feb. 10, 1815. Grayson died on June 28, 1823.