Illumination – The Treaty of Peace and Amity

On February 1815, the schooner Transit arrived in Annapolis from France with Marylander Christopher Hughes, Jr. Esq., carrying a copy of the Treaty of Ghent, signed in Ghent, Belgium by the American and British commissioners on December 25, 1814 ending the War of 1812. News of the treaty was conveyed onboard the schooner Adeline with Colonel John S. Skinner, U.S. State Department agent to  inform Captain James Claville, RN, with his blockading squadron in the Chesapeake Bay. On February 23rd the City of Annapolis was illuminated. In the midst of this light, the State House ” was conspicuous for its elevation and splendor.” The State House hall was decorated with a full length portrait of George Washington, suspended from the center of the inner dome.

On February 22, 1815, Annapolis cabinet-maker and keeper of the armory John Shaw, fired a national salute with artillery from the illuminated Maryland State House on account of Washington’s birthday and the confirmation of peace.

Maryland now began the rebuilding process of the depredations destruction of the tidewater region and  the economic loss of her trade during the embargoes, and expanding once more to Europe and as far as Canton, China on board the once privateer Chasseur. A new national song “The Star-Spangled Banner” now gave Maryland a sense of national pride and symbolic emblem into what it meant to be an American.

Sources:“Maryland Armory Book, 1813-1820, John Shaw” Records of the War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, National Archives; Maryland Gazette, February 23, 1815.

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Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

His Britannic Majesty’s Brig Bloodhound, July 1812

On July 18, a month after the declaration of war, HM Brig Bloodhound (10 guns), Capt. Charles Rubridge (1787-1873) commanding, entered the Chesapeake having left Plymouth, England on June 28.  On board was a Mr. Shaw, the King’s messenger with dispatches for the England’s Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States in Washington, Mr. Augustus J. Foster (1780-1848).

At anchor in the harbor was the Letter of Marque Cora of  Baltimore, Actg. 1st Officer Richard Weathers, cmdg. He was awaiting the arrival of Captain Joseph Gold and ships owner to board from the city. Arriving in port on July 21, HMB Bloodhound was unaware of the U.S. declaration of war of June 18 having been at sea. As they approached Annapolis under the guidance of a black pilot, she was boarded by the crew of the Cora and placed her under the guns of Fort Madison.

While lying under the guns of Fort Madison, her crew were sequestered in the forts barracks and kept under guard for protection. Mr. Shaw having delivered his dispatches to Washington returned with an order for the Bloodhound and her crew for their immediate release. The U.S. government held the capture and any prize of the Cora to be improper as Capt. Rubridge was unaware of the war declaration. She was released and returned with dispatches to Plymouth. She was the second  British national vessel to be taken in the Chesapeake. The first was on July 10, at Hampton Roads, Va., of  HBM schooner Whiting, Capt. Carroway by the Baltimore privateer Dash, under similar events. HMS Bloodhound was restored to her colors.

Sources: An Autobiographical Sketch by Captain Charles Rubidge, R.N. 1870, pp 4-5; Daily National Intelligence, July 11, 21, 28, 1812.

Published in: on March 12, 2011 at 11:25 am  Leave a Comment  

“An Act to Regulate and Discipline the militia of this State,” 1812

Battle of North Point by Don Troiani

Battle of North Point by Don Troiani

“You will be hereby satisfied that our fellow-citizens in arms are ready to do their duty and believe with me, that the liberties of America can never be lost, while every citizen is a soldier and every soldier the sentinel of his own.” Robert Wright, President of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, December 1807.

With the declaration of war on June 18, 1812, Marylanders were once again summoned to volunteer, not as minute men of the Revolution, but as citizen-soldiers, that would described a new generation of militia as the nation prepared for a second war with England. On the same day the Maryland legislature, during a special session, authorized Governor Levin Winder “at his discretion, to arm such portions of the militia of this state” to fulfill its quota requirement of the Federal Militia Act of 1793, to hold in readiness against foreign invasion, six thousand militia.

The Act of 1793 defined the states’ responsibilities in raising two kinds of companies. The first were enrolled militia, calling for every able-bodied white male citizen between 18-45 years of age. The second, were militia who offered their services as U.S. Volunteers to meet each states quota. Each soldier was required to be equipped with “a good musket or flintlock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints and a knapsack, a pouch with a box therein to contain not less than twenty-four cartridges.” Each state organized their militia into divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions and companies. The President however, did not have authority to order the militia serve outside their respective states, a problem that became apparent in New England during the invasion of Canada in 1812-13. Historian Henry Adams, stated the essence of a citizen-soldier in his classic narrative of the war:

“Every man in the United States, under 45 years of age…and during the war attended in his turn, to be drilled or trained. He had always in his possession either a musket or a rifled-barrel piece; knew its use from his infancy; and with it, therefore, could do as much executions in a smock frock or plain coat as if he wore the most splendid uniform.”

On January 7, 1812, the Maryland Assembly passed An Act to Regulate and Discipline the Militia of This State, outlining in thirty pages the regulations, duties, and discipline that was required of the militia; the regulations, duties, and discipline required of the militia who consisted of farmers, merchants, mariners, and tradesmen to drill four times a year. When the alarm was sounded, the militia left their occupations and families to gather at their place of rendezvous such as a tavern, a farm or the town green. St. John’s College green was used as a militia rendezvous site as it had been during the Revolutionary War and where the French army encamped in 1782 on their way to Yorktown.

Many wore Maryland’s own regimental uniforms, while others wore their homespun hunting frocks, hats and carried weapons ranging from hunting rifles and duck guns to muskets handled down from the days of the Revolution. Cloth or leather hunting bags were slung across their shoulders with ball and powder, and haversacks filled with provisions. Despite the inadequacy of equipage militia companies yearned for an opportunity to display their flags as a rallying point for the brave sons of Columbia.

Throughout Maryland infantry companies began to fill the ranks. They named their companies after patriotic ideals or local landmarks to mark their respective regions of the state.

Dorchester County – The True Blues of America and The Plymouth Guns.

Talbot County – the Easton Infantry Blues, the Hole in the Wall, St. Michaels Patriotic Blues, and the Hearts of Oak.

Annapolis The First Volunteer Company of the City of Annapolis and The Annapolis United Guards.

Washington CountyHagerstown Homespun Volunteers; Fredericktown Blues.

Queen Annes County – The First Troop-True Republican Blues.

Kent County Chestertown Independent Volunteers.

During the war these county militia companies of flintlock and duck guns would bear the brunt of Britain’s royal navy and army and while not so well equipped as the British they performed their arduous duties to defend their homes and communities.

Sources: An Act to Regulate & Discipline the Militia of This State, (Annapolis, 1811); Easton Republican Star, or, Eastern Shore General Advertiser, (Md.), December 8, 1807.