Daniel Wells (1794-1814) of Annapolis: First Baltimore Sharp Shooter, Sept. 1814

Louisa Wells was born on August 11, 1809 and her older brother Daniel Wells, Jr., on December 30, 1794 both of Annapolis, the children of Daniel and Mary Wells of Annapolis. During the war, Daniel Wells, Sr., served as a lieutenant in Captain Jonathan Pinkney’s Artillery company in Annapolis.

In 1813, Daniel Wells, Jr., age 20, was in the apprentice employment of Baltimore merchant George Mackenzie to learn the saddler trade and fulfilling state contracts for militia cartridge boxes. In the late summer of 1814 Daniel enlisted in the 1st Battalion of Maryland Riflemen in Capt. Edward Aisquith’s First Baltimore Sharp Shooters causing great consternation for his safety within the family. Having departed for Baltimore to rejoin his company after the fall of Washington, the next news that his family received was that Daniel had been killed in a skirmish on September 12, 1814, near North Point.

His sister Louisa Wells (1808-1891) remembers that “Not long after this, Daniel Well’s cap was sent home. It was the tall, stiff cap worn by Captain Aisquith’s Sharp Shooters, and it was matted with the blood and hair of the young patriot. Two holes showed where the ball had entered one side of his head and passed out at the other side.”

As the story of Daniel Wells and Henry McComas, “The Boy Martyrs” grew, the family was able to collect several relics of the war including the Sharp Shooters  muster roll with Daniel Wells name entered “Killed in the advance 12 September 1814.” Louisa later married Adrian A. Posey who served in Captain Lawrence Posey’s company, the 1st Regiment from Charles County during the war. Daniel Wells and his friend Henry G. McComas remains lie under a 21-foot marble obelisk in Ashland Square, Gay and Aisquith Streets in East Baltimore.

Sources: The Sun, August 26, 1889; Mary Wells (1749-1823) and Daniel Wells, Sr., (1768-1818), Baltimore Patriot, January 27, 1818 and February 3, 1823; Louisa (Wells) Posey (1808-1891). The Sun, January 13, 1891.

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Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 3:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Myths & Legends: The Thomas Shaw House, North Point: September 12, 1814

Like many historical events, myths and legends have their own unique place in the documented stories providing a time line of events along with the documented main events. The Battle of North Point has too it’s own share of stories that have made their way into the historic lore as the British marched along the old North Point Road towards Baltimore.

Thomas Shaw House (also known as the Foulkes Farmhouse, circa1800). On the morning of Sept. 12 as the British army began their march along the Old North Point Road, British Major General Robert Ross’s staff took possession of the house on the ground floor, while ordering the family upstairs.

Eleanor Shaw, the daughter of Mr. Shaw (1745-1829), was forced to climb out of a second story window, to avoid the unwanted advances of a British lieutenant. Ever the disciplinarian, Major Gen. Robert Ross, RA ordered the officer back to the fleet for later punishment. The lore does not record the name of the young lieutenant nor any records that may substantiate the claim – but the story remains. The origin of the story appeared in The Sun on September 8, 1907.

Thomas’s son Joshua Shaw (1791-1832) served in Captain Joel Green’s company, 46th Maryland Regiment of Baltimore County. Today the site of the house is located on Foulkes’ Farm Road off the North Point Road. It survived until 1967 when it was torn down. A private family graveyard is nearby.

Source: “Battle of North Point in Legend and Tradition,” The Sun, September 8, 1907; Baltimore Gazette and Daily Adv., January 16, 1830 and December 1, 1832.

Myths & Legends: The Poplar Tree under which Major General Robert Ross breathed his last.

“Such was the veneration in which it was held that many individuals secured pieces as relics.”

This story is believed to have it’s origins in an article entitled “A Relic Gone” published in The Sun, (Baltimore) March 22, 1844. It was further retold in the “Battle of North Point in Legend and Tradition,” by Reverend Lewis B. Browne, of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Sparrow’s Point for The Sun, September 8, 1907.  Near the intersection of present day Weis Avenue and North Point Road, near the Gorsuch farm, once stood on a high roadside earthen bank a large poplar tree whose branches hung over the road, where earlier the British army had marched under.

After General Ross had been shot, the story is told he was placed “on a stretcher made of two fence rails from the spot where he was [mortally] wounded and taken to Poplar Heights about a mile and a half to the rear; but when the cart arrived he was already dead. The bearers laid their burden under a poplar tree by the wayside opposite Gorsuch’s farm.” From here they procured a cart from the nearby Stansbury farm and conveyed the body of General Ross to their North Point landing onboard HMS Royal Oak.

Thirty years later in 1844, the land owner Vincent Green, ordered his overseer to cut the tree down, it being a hazard to passersby.

 “We doubt whether there is to be found in the country, a tree, under which “confusion to the enemies of liberty,” has been quaffed in full bumpers, more frequently than under the “Ross’ Tree.” as it has always been familiarly called.”

Sources: The Sun, March 22, 1844; The Sun, September 8, 1907.

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment