Sailing Master Leonard Hall: Federal Hill, September 1814.

Baltimore From Federal Hill, c. 1822

The Observatory of David Porter, Sr. –  As early as 1797 a wooden signal tower hoisted company merchant flags to merchants below of vessels arriving in from the bay ten miles down the Patapsco River. Thus the dock workers could prepare for arrival. His son David Porter, Jr. would later command the U.S. frigate Essex in it’s epic voyage to the Pacific in 1813-14 and later defend the British passage down the Potomac River from Alexandria, Va.,in August 1814. On September 12th the hill played a new role with the sighting of the British invasion fleet entering the Patapsco River when a 6-Pdr. field gun was fired three times warning the city on the approaching forces.

Sailing Master Leonard Hall, USN. – On the heights of Federal Hill overlooking Baltimore harbor, citizens gathered on the evening of August 24, 1814 to view the omnious glow of Washington burning fifty miles to the south. During the bombardment, Fort McHenry could be “…distinctly seen from Federal Hill, and from the tops of houses which were covered with men, women, and children…the whole awful spectacle of shot and shells, and rockets, shooting and bursting through the air. On the night of the bombardment, not withstanding his extreme indispodition bro’t on by excessive labor and indifference to the symptons of approaching illness, he insisted on remaining at the battery formed by himself on Federal Hill.”

Leonard Hall, a native of New Hampshire, died On September 22, 1814 “… occasioned by his excertions and nightly exposure…” His final resting place is unknown.

Sources: Salem Gazette, Mass., Sept. 28, 1814; “Defending Baltimore in the War of 1812″ Two Sidelights,” by Scott S. Sheads, Maryland Historical Magazine.

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 7:55 pm  Leave a Comment