Quartering the Militia at Baltimore, September 1814

On August 19, 1814 when the British expeditionary forces landed at Benedict, Maryland General Orders were sent out by Major General Samuel Smith and consequently to those neighboring states of Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania to come to Washington and Baltimore’s defense. With the capture of Washington on August 24, it became apparent the next tarket was Baltimore, thus many of the arriving militia halted at Baltimore and camps were established within a ten mile radius of the city. In Baltimore it soon became a logistical problem to find quarters for the militia, including those from outlying Maryland counties. Major Paul Bentalouu, Quartermaster General stated that “fifteen thousand have assembled and many more are coming in daily.”  

The Third Division Quartermaster of Baltimore Major Jeremiah Sullivan, obtained the shelter of  numerous ropewalks whose protective sheds, some 1,000 feet long could accomodate 500 troops  each. Every available building including fifty-one storied warehouses and dwellings were utilized along the docks, even within the unfinished granite walls of the catholic cathedral rising up on Howard’s Hill (now the Basilica of the Assumption). Here are a few examples: 60th Virginia Regiment – Hadsgis Ropewalk; 56th Virginia Regiment – Piper’s Ropewalk; Pennsylvania Militia – Oliver’s Ropewalk; companies of the 36th, 38th and 14th U.S. Infantry were in tents on Hampstead Hill.

In addition the troops needed food, canteens, knapsacks, cooking kettles, musket cartridges all had to be procured locally. Many companies, some independently arriving from as faraway as Hagerstown, MD., Hanover, PA., and Wilmington, DE., were without muskets or adequte equipage. Within weeks after the Battle for Baltimore, militia companies continued to arrive who had to be accomodated. Such was the scene in Baltimore during the perilous days of September 1814. 

Sources: Samuel Smith Papers, Library of Congress, MSS18794, Reel 4, Cont. 5-6.

 

 

 

Recruitment Notice: U.S.Marines at Baltimore, 1813-1814

“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.

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment