L[eonard] Magruder Passano.

History of Maryland online

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them. One of the nine, General James M. Lingan, died
from his injuries ; and another, Henry Lee, a distinguished
general of the Revolutionary War, was crippled for life.
Eight of those who were in the jail made their escape. This
attack was an outrage against that freedom of thought and
speech so dear to all Americans. It had such an effect on
the people of the State that in the elections which took place
shortly afterwards, many of the counties elected Federalist
delegates, so that the Federalist party, which was opposed to
the war, had a majority in the Legislature. Nevertheless,
Maryland continued to support the government in carrying
on the war.

The Invasion of Canada. The Americans proposed to in-
vade Canada ; and while preparations were being made to
this end, two Marylanders, Lieutenant Jesse Duncan Elliott
and Captain Nathan Towson, captured two British armed
brigs near BufTalo. With a small force they rowed out to
the brigs in two small boats, captured them, and sailed
down the Lake. Both vessels ran aground in the Niagara



River within gunshot of the Canadian shore, and the British
fired on them. The Americans, however, got away with
their prisoners and the
cargoes of the vessels, but
had to destroy one of
these, the Detroit. The
other, the Caledonia, was
saved by the efforts of
Captain Towson and after-
ward made one of Perry's

Many Privateers Sent
Out. The attempted in-
vasion of Canada was a
failure, and the result of
the war thus far was
favorable to the British,
except at sea, where the
United States were quite
the equal of the enemy.
Maryland alone sent out,

within four months after the war was declared, forty-two
armed vessels. These w^ith other privateers, swarmed over
all the ocean, capturing British vessels and even attacking the
enemy's men-of-war. More privateers sailed from Baltimore
than from any other city in the United States, and a larger
number of officers in the Navy came from Maryland than
from any other State ; forty-six out of a total of two hundred
and forty. It will give some idea of the hurt done by
American vessels to English commerce to know that Com-
modore Barney, in one short cruise in his schooner Rossie,
captured ships and cargo to the value of a million and a half
dollars, and took two hundred and seventeen prisoners.


Frotn a fiainti>ig in the possession of the

Maryland Historical Society.


Five hundred British merchant ships were captured in seven

Chesapeake Bay Blockaded, 1812. At the end of the year
18 1 2 Great Britain declared Chesapeake and Delaware Bays
to be in a state of blockade ; and by the spring of 1 8 1 3 the
blockade was extended to the whole Atlantic coast except
Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The
effect of the blockade was disastrous to Maryland commerce.
In 18 1 2 the net revenue collected in the State, in customs,
was $1,780,000 ; in 1813 this fell to $182,000; and in 1814
the expenditures exceeded the receipts. A British fleet,
under Admiral Cockburn, sailed into Chesapeake Bay and
harassed the shores, plundering and burning the towns, and
capturing and destroying all the small vessels they could
find. The fleet sailed up the Bay and lay off the City of
Baltimore. No attack was made on the city, but a number
of towns at the head of the Bay were pillaged and burned.
The only defenders at these places were small bands of
militia, as the Federal Government refused to send aid to the
State. The militia did its best, and sometimes succeeded in
driving off the attacking parties ; but they were usually too
few to stand against the larger forces of British soldiers.
When there were no more vessels, militia and stores of war
material left in the upper waters of the Chesapeake, Cock-
burn returned to the lower part of the Bay. In spite of all
this, the feeling in support of the war gained in strength
throughout the State.

Battle of Caulk's Field. By the year 1814 the overthrow
of Napoleon left England free to give more attention to the
war with the United States. More ships and a land force
were sent over. Several of these ships, commanded by Sir
Peter Parker, sailed up the Chesapeake, burning and pillaging
the farms on the shore. On the night of August 30, Sir

THE WAR OF 1812. 135

Peter landed with two hundred and fifty men at a point
about nine miles from Chestertown, and by a circuitous
march tried to cut off the camp occupied by one hundred
and seventy Maryland soldiers under Lieutenant-Colonel
Philip Reed. The two little armies met on Caulk's Field,
and after an hour's fight the British retreated just as the
ammunition of the Americans became exhausted. In the
engagement Sir Peter Parker was killed.

Battle of Bladensburg, August 24, 1814. In the meantime
the remainder of the fleet had landed the British army at
Benedict, whence they began to march towards Washington,
Nothing whatever had been done in the way of building de-
fenses for the capital. The British soldiers, suffering severely
from the heat, at first advanced very slowly. Pretending to
march directly on Washington, they turned and went rapidly
on to Bladensburg. They numbered about four thousand
five hundred men, while the American army, under the com-
mand of General William H. Winder, of Baltimore, numbered
about seven thousand. The two armies met on August 24,
the Americans in a strong position on a hill, and separated
from the British by a stream over which was a single narrow
bridge. This the enemy succeeded in crossing, and after
some fighting drove the Americans from the field and
captured half of their artillery. The only troops on the
American side who fought with any bravery were a party of
four hundred sailors under Joshua Barney, of Baltimore.
These manned a battery of five guns and stood by their guns
bravely, even when attacked on the flanks and in the rear,
until Barney was wounded and taken prisoner. Then they
fell back, abandoning their guns. Commodore Barney had
been in command of the Chesapeake Bay fleet of gunboats,
but had been compelled to destroy his vessels to prevent
their falling into the hands of the enemy. It was thought


useless to try to defend Washington with the army scattered
in all directions, and therefore General Winder marched
towards Baltimore with the few troops he could collect.
The British marched on to Washington. The Capitol, the
President's house, the Treasury Building, the Navy Yard,
the State and War Departments, were burned and destroyed.
Public property to the value of more than two million dollars,
besides private property, perished.

Baltimore Threatened. The destruction of the Arsenal
and naval storehouses at Washington had been one of the
chief aims of the British. Having accomplished it, they
now turned to the other, the destruction of Baltimore, which
city they called a " nest of privateers." Warned by the
threats of England, Baltimore had begun to make prepara-
tions to defend itself against the expected attack. For this
purpose five hundred thousand dollars had alread}^ been
spent, and now everyone in tlie city, even the old men and
boys, went to work with pick and shovel to throw up fortifi-
cations. After a few days the enemy sailed up the Bay, and
on September ii, seventy of their ships lay at anchor off
North Point. Early next morning they landed their trcops,
an army of five thousand men, commanded by General Robert
Ross, while a number of small vessels under Admiral Ccck-
burn formed in line to bombard the city. But the news of
their coming had been sent up the Bay shore by beacon-fires
and mounted messengers, so that the city was prepared.
Commodore John Rodgers, with twelve hundred man-of-war's
men, had charge of the batteries ; Colonel George Armi-
stead, (if ^'irginia, conunandcd Fort McHenry ; while the
forces of the city were in conunand of General Samuel
Snuth, of ]>altimore.

The Battle of North Point, September 12, 1814. General
John Strieker, witli about three thousand raw militia, marched

THE WAR OF 1812.


out some seven miles along the Philadelphia road to recon-
noitre the enemy. When he learned, on the morning of Sep-
tem.ber 12, that the enemy had landed, he sent back his
baggage and formed his troops in line of battle. The British
advance guard, having marched to within two miles of Gen-
eral Strieker's pickets, were met by a small body of Ameri-
cans who had been sent forward to surprise them, but who

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Online LibraryL[eonard] Magruder PassanoHistory of Maryland → online text (page 8 of 23)