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.

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

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