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|Battle of North Point|
|Part of the Battle of Baltimore and War of 1812|
The Battle of North Point, a lithograph of an original painting by militiaman and amateur painter, Thomas Ruckle who served with the Washington Blues, a unit of the Maryland Militia, at the Battle of North Point
|Commanders and leaders|
| Samuel Smith |
| Robert Ross † |
|Casualties and losses|
| 24 Killed|
| 42–46 Killed|
The Battle of North Point was an engagement in the War of 1812, fought on September 12, 1814, between Brigadier General John Stricker's Third Brigade (Baltimore City Brigade) of the Maryland State Militia and a British landing force, composed of units from the British Army, Royal Navy seamen, Colonial Marines, Royal Marines, and led by Major General Robert Ross and Rear Admiral George Cockburn. The events and result of the engagement, a part of the larger Battle of Baltimore, saw the U.S. forces retreating after having inflicted heavy casualties on the British.
The War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the United States, the United Kingdom, and their respective allies from June 1812 to February 1815. Historians in Britain often see it as a minor theater of the Napoleonic Wars; in the United States and Canada, it is seen as a war in its own right.
Brigadier General John Stricker (1758–1825) was a Maryland state militia officer who fought in both the American Revolutionary War in the First Maryland Regiment of the famous "Maryland Line" of the Continental Army and in the War of 1812. He commanded the Third Brigade of the Maryland state militia in the Battle of North Point on Monday, September 12, 1814, which formed a part of the larger Battle of Baltimore, along with the subsequent British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry on September 13-14th, and was a turning point in the later months of the War of 1812 and to the peace negotiators across the Atlantic Ocean for the Treaty of Ghent, in the city of Ghent then in the Austrian Netherlands,, which finally arrived at a peace treaty on Christmas Eve of December 1814, of which news finally reached America in February 1815.
The Maryland Army National Guard is the United States Army component of the American state of Maryland. It is headquartered at the old Fifth Regiment Armory at the intersection of North Howard Street, 29th Division Street, near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Baltimore and has additional units assigned and quartered at several regional armories, bases/camps and other facilities across the state.
One of the casualties was Ross, killed during earlier skirmishes while approaching the American position on the old North Point Road south of the battlefield by American hidden sharpshooters. His death significantly demoralized the troops under his command as his body was taken to the rear in a wheeled cart and left some units confused and lost among the woods, meadows and marshes of the Patapsco Neck peninsula. This prompted the British second-in-command, Colonel Arthur Brooke of the 44th Regiment of Foot, to later decide to have his troops remain on the battlefield for the evening and night, treating the wounded at a nearby Methodist meeting house (church), and evacuating some by barge south down Bear Creek to the offshore Fleet in the Patapsco River, thus delaying by a day his northwestward advance against Baltimore.
The Patapsco River mainstem is a 39-mile-long (63 km) river in central Maryland which flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The river's tidal portion forms the harbor for the city of Baltimore. With its South Branch, the Patapsco forms the northern border of Howard County, Maryland. The name "Patapsco" is derived from the Algonquian pota-psk-ut, which translates to "backwater" or "tide covered with froth."
Baltimore is an independent city in the state of Maryland within the United States. Baltimore was established by the Constitution of Maryland as an independent city in 1729. With a population of 611,648 in 2017, Baltimore is the largest such independent city in the United States. As of 2017, the population of the Baltimore metropolitan area was estimated to be just under 2.808 million, making it the 20th largest metropolitan area in the country. Baltimore is located about 40 miles (60 km) northeast of Washington, D.C., making it a principal city in the Washington-Baltimore combined statistical area (CSA), the fourth-largest CSA in the nation, with a calculated 2017 population of 9,764,315.
This delay gave the Americans more time to organize and strengthen the eastside defense of the city, under the command of Major General Samuel Smith, along an extensive network of trenches, fortifications, and artillery with a central strong point of "Rodgers' Bastion", commanded by U.S. Navy Commodore John Rodgers. Gen. Stricker slowly retreated his organized militia back to the main defenses lines on Loudenschlager and Potter's Hills (now named Hampstead Hill in modern Patterson Park), cutting down trees across the roads to delay the British advance, and rejoined the existing regular army and navy, militia and civilian forces of approximately 15,000 men and 100 cannons. Along with the failure of the Royal Navy to neutralize Fort McHenry guarding Baltimore Harbor (Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River), the resulting vast numerical superiority over the invading British force of 4,000 men and 4 cannons led to the subsequent abandonment two days later of the planned sea and land assault on Baltimore.
Samuel Smith was a United States Senator and Representative from Maryland, a mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, and a general in the Maryland militia. He was the brother of cabinet secretary Robert Smith.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.
John Rodgers was a senior naval officer in the United States Navy who served under six Presidents for nearly four decades during its formative years in the 1790s through the late 1830s, committing the bulk of his adult life to his country. His service took him through many operations in the Quasi-War with France, both Barbary Wars in North Africa and the War of 1812 with Britain. As a senior officer in the young American navy he played a major role in the development of the standards, customs and traditions that emerged during this time. Rodgers was, among other things, noted for commanding the largest American squadron in his day to sail the Mediterranean Sea. After serving with distinction as a lieutenant he was soon promoted directly to the rank of captain. During his naval career he commanded a number of warships, including the USS John Adams, the flagship of the fleet that defeated the Barbary states of North Africa. During the War of 1812 Rodgers fired the first shot of the war aboard his next flagship, the USS President, and also played a leading role in the recapture of Washington after the capital was burned by the British, while also having to endure his own hometown and house burned and his family displaced. Later in his career he headed the Navy Board of Commissioners and served briefly as Secretary of the Navy. Following in his footsteps, Rodgers' son and several grandsons and great-grandsons also became commodores and admirals in the United States Navy.
Major General Robert Ross had been dispatched to Chesapeake Bay with a brigade of veterans from the Duke of Wellington's army from the Spanish Peninsular Wars early in 1814, reinforced with a battalion of Royal Marines and seamen from the Royal Navy under Rear Admiral George Cockburn. They had already defeated a hastily assembled force of Maryland, Baltimore and District of Columbia state militia at the Battle of Bladensburg, northeast of Washington, D.C. on August 24, 1814, and burned Washington, the new national capital but rough village. Having disrupted the American government, he withdrew to the waiting ships of the Royal Navy at Benedict, Maryland, withdrawing down the Patuxent River before later heading further up the Chesapeake Bay to the strategically more important port city of Baltimore, although the Americans managed to defeat a British landing at Caulk's Field on the Eastern Shore of the Bay and killing their commander, Captain Sir Peter Parker (1785–1814), before doing so.
The Chesapeake Bay is an estuary in the U.S. states of Maryland and Virginia. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula with its mouth located between Cape Henry and Cape Charles. With its northern portion in Maryland and the southern part in Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a very important feature for the ecology and economy of those two states, as well as others. More than 150 major rivers and streams flow into the Bay's 64,299-square-mile (166,534 km2) drainage basin, which covers parts of six states and all of Washington, D.C.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as Prime Minister. His victory against Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 puts him in the first rank of Britain's military heroes.
The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is the amphibious light infantry and one of the five fighting arms of the Royal Navy. The Royal Marines were formed in 1755 as the Royal Navy's infantry troops. However, the marines can trace their origins back to the formation of the English Army's "Duke of York and Albany's maritime regiment of Foot" at the grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company on 28 October 1664.
Ross's small army of 3,700 troops and 1,000 marineslanded at North Point at the end of the peninsula between the Patapsco River and the Back River on the morning of September 12, 1814, and began moving toward the city of Baltimore.
Fort Howard is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Baltimore County, Maryland, United States. The population was 303 at the 2010 census. The median age is 47.9. 52.86% are female and 47.14% are male. 58.9% are married and 41.1% are single. The average household size is 2.64.
Back River is a tidal estuary in Baltimore County, Maryland, located about 2 miles (3 km) east of the city of Baltimore. The estuary extends from the community of Rosedale, southeast for about 8.8 miles (14.2 km) to the Chesapeake Bay. The watershed area is 39,075 acres (15,813 ha) and includes Essex Skypark Airport and the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Major General Samuel Smith of the Maryland militia anticipated the British move, and dispatched Brigadier General John Stricker's column to meet them. Stricker's force consisted of five regiments of Maryland militia, a small militia cavalry regiment from Maryland, a battalion of three volunteer rifle companies and a battery of six 4-pounder field guns.Stricker deployed his brigade halfway between Hampstead Hill, just outside Baltimore, where there were earthworks and artillery emplacements, and North Point. At that point, several tidal creeks narrowed the peninsula to only a mile wide, and it was considered an ideal spot for opposing the British before they reached the main American defensive positions.
Stricker received intelligence that the British were camped at a farm just 3 miles (4.8 km) from his headquarters. He deployed his men between Bear Creek and Bread and Cheese Creek, which offered cover from nearby woods, and had a long wooden fence near the main road. Stricker placed the 5th Maryland Regiment and the 27th Maryland Regiment and his six guns in the front defensive line, with two regiments (the 51st and 39th) in support, and one more (the 6th) in reserve. He placed his men in mutually supporting positions, relying on numerous swamps and the two streams to stop a British flank attack, all of which he hoped would help avoid another disaster such as Bladensburg.
The riflemen initially occupied a position some miles ahead of Stricker's main position, to delay the British advance. However, their commander, Captain William Dyer, hastily withdrew on hearing a rumour that British troops were landing from the Back River behind him, threatening to cut off his retreat. Stricker posted them instead on his right flank.
At about midday on the 12th, Stricker heard the British had halted while the soldiers had a meal, and some sailors attached to Ross's force plundered nearby farms. He decided it would be better to provoke a fight rather than wait for a possible British night attack. At 1:00 pm, he sent Major Richard Heath with 250 men and one cannon to draw the British to Stricker's main force.
Heath advanced down the road and soon began to engage the British pickets. When Ross heard the fighting, he quickly left his meal and ran to the scene.His men attempted to drive out the concealed American riflemen. Rear Admiral George Cockburn, second in command of the Royal Navy's American Station who usually accompanied Ross, was cautious about advancing without more support and Ross agreed that he would leave and bring back the main army. However, Ross never got the chance, as an American rifleman shot him in the chest. Mortally wounded, Ross turned command over to Colonel Arthur Brooke and died soon after.
Brooke reorganized the British troops and prepared to assault the American positions at 3:00 pm.He decided to use his three cannon to cover an attempt by his 4th Regiment to get around the American flank, while two more regiments and the naval brigade would assault the American center. The British frontal assault took heavy casualties as the American riflemen fired into the British ranks, and lacking canister the Americans loaded their cannon with broken locks, nails and horseshoes, firing scrap metal at the British advance. Nevertheless, the British 4th Regiment managed to outflank the American positions and sent many of the American regiments fleeing. Stricker was able to conduct an organized retreat, with his men firing volleys as they continued to fall back. This proved effective, killing one of the British commanders and leaving some units lost among woods and swampy creeks, with others in confusion.
Not all the militia regiments performed with equal distinction. The 51st Regiment and some men of the 39th broke and ran under fire. Robert Henry Goldsborough, US Senator and serving as a Major in the militia, reflected his feelings on the conduct of the militia units and the battle in general a week later, stating that:
The affair at Baltimore was...as little glorious to our arms as that at Bladensburg. Our militia were completely defeated routed.
Goldsborough's account of the battle is distinctly more critical and pessimistic than those of Smith and Stricker, and arguably has a greater basis in reality. For example, Smith initially stated the British had near double the numbers they actually had, which is not the first example of exaggeration on the part of the American commanders involved with the affair at Baltimore. [ citation needed ]However, the 5th and 27th held their ground and retreated in good order, having inflicted significant casualties on the enemy. Only one American gun was lost.
Corporal John McHenry of the 5th Regiment wrote of the battle:
Our Regiment, the 5th, carried off the praise from the other regiments engaged, so did the company to which I have the honor to belong cover itself with glory. When compared to the [other] Regiments we were the last that left the ground... had our Regiment not retreated at the time it did we should have been cut off in two minutes.
Brooke did not follow the retreating Americans. He had advanced to within a mile of the main American position, but he had suffered heavier casualties than the Americans. As it was getting dark, he chose to wait until Fort McHenry was expected to be neutralized, [ citation needed ]while Stricker withdrew to Baltimore's main defences.
The official British Army casualty report, signed by Major Henry Debbeig, gives 39 killed and 251 wounded. Of these, 28 killed and 217 wounded belonged to the British Army; 6 killed and 20 wounded belonged to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Marines; 4 killed and 11 wounded belonged to the contingents of Royal Marines detached from Cockburn's fleet; and 1 killed (Elias Taylor) and 3 wounded belonged to the Royal Marine Artillery.As was normal, the Royal Navy submitted a separate casualty return for the engagement, signed by Rear-Admiral Cockburn, which gives 4 sailors killed and 28 wounded but contradicts the British Army casualty report by giving 3 killed (1 and 2 from HMS Madagascar and HMS Ramillies respectively) and 15 wounded for the Royal Marines detached from the ships of the Naval fleet. A subsequent casualty return from Cochrane to the Admiralty, dated September 22, 1814, gives 6 sailors killed, 1 missing and 32 wounded, with Royal Marines casualties of 1 killed and 16 wounded. The total British losses, as officially reported, were either 43 killed and 279 wounded or 42 killed and 283 wounded, depending on which of the two casualty returns was accurate. Historian Franklin R. Mullaly gives still another version of the British casualties, 46 killed and 295 wounded, despite using these same sources. The American loss was 24 killed, 139 wounded and 50 taken prisoner.
The battle had been costly for the British. Apart from the other casualties, losing General Ross was a critical blow to the British. He was a respected leader of British forces in the Peninsular War and the War of 1812. Ross's death proved a blow to British morale as well. The combined effect of the blow suffered at North Point and the failure of the Royal Navy to capture or get past Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore harbor, despite a 25-hour bombardment, proved to be the turning point of the Battle of Baltimore. During the bombardment on Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key was detained on a British ship, HMS Surprise, under the command of Admiral Cochrane's son, Capt. Thomas Cochrane, but later at the request of the Americans were returned to their truce ship, the "President", under guard by the fleet frigate) at the entrance to Baltimore in the Patapsco River, approximately off the mouth of Colgate Creek, near Old Roads Bay with the rest of the heavier ships of the attacking fleet and witnessed the bombardment of the fort during the rainy, stormy night. Later in the morning, after the Americans fired their morning gun of salute and the regimental band played the tune of "Yankee Doodle", the huge 30 by 42 foot "garrison flag" was raised overhead as the Royal Navy upper-river bombardment ketches and ships made sail and rejoined their heavy warships in evacuating the retreating men of Colonel Brooke as they made their way back down the peninsula from Loudenschlager's/Hampstead Hill to North Point, passing the scene of their earlier battle and wounded and dead. Key wrote a few words and lines of inspiration that morning, and upon the truce ship's return to the "Basin" ("Inner Harbor") later that day and his brief stay at the Indian Queen Hotel, at West Baltimore and Hanover Streets, finished the four paragraphs of the poem/song milling about in his mind, later showing it to his friends including his brother-in-law, Judge and Colonel Joseph Nicolson, (recently returned from commanding an artillery regiment at McHenry) who arranged to have "broadside" handbills printed up under the title of "The Defence of Fort McHenry" at the Baltimore Street offices of the closed newspaper, the "Baltimore American" by the boy apprentice printer, Samuel Sands. Within days the bills were everywhere at both the fort and throughout the city, being whistled, hummed and sang, soon set to the tune of a well-known 18th Century English tune by John Stafford Smith from a musical social, dancing and drinking society, entitled "An Anacreon in Heaven", later soon renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner".[ citation needed ]
The day after the North Point battle at Godley Wood on the "Patapsco Neck", after resting and treating his wounded men at the Methodist meeting house on the battlefield, Colonel Brooke, now in command, advanced cautiously northwest towards Baltimore. There was no more opposition from Stricker, however he left teams of axemen to fell dozens of trees across the small pathway road through the dense woods and dig trenches to slow up the enemy's troops and artillery. But when the British came into view of the main east-side defenses of Baltimore, Brooke estimated them to be manned by up to 22,000 militia, with 100 cannon ranged in a mile-long stretch of trenches, embankments and bastions from the water's edge near Fells Point to the northeast near the modern Bel Air Road. He prepared to make a night assault against a perceived weak spot in the defenses at Loudenslager Hill, but sent messages to Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane on-board his flagship in the river to send close-in, the bomb ketches with additional small boats and barges loaded with 1,000 Royal Marines to silence the main American battery, "Rodger's Bastion", in the center and the smaller artillery near the shore to the south on the flank of his proposed attack. After 1 a.m. in the early morning of the 14th, (despite losing half his force which got turned in the rain and storm of the night to the wrong direction and headed mistakenly instead to the northeast towards Lazaretto Point and Fells Point opposite the fort) a stiff fight between the boats, commanded by Captain Charles John Napier of the HMS Euryalus and the American smaller supporting batteries at Fort Covington and Fort Babcock, west of McHenry, up the flanking Ferry or Middle Branch. Losing several barges to the returning fire, General Smith and Commodore Rodgers' eastern lines were unharmed and Brooke called off the planned simultaneous eastern attack and began withdrawing before dawn. [ citation needed ]The British re-embarked at North Point heading out to the Chesapeake Bay.
The battle has been commemorated on September 12 for over 200 years since, through the Maryland state, Baltimore City and County holiday of Defenders' Day along with observances of the following two days of bombardment at Fort McHenry. It was also immediately remembered beginning the following year with the laying of the cornerstone for the Battle Monument, the first in the nation to commemorate the common American soldiers whose names were to be inscribed on the column shaft of the Monument, designed by French émigré architect J. Maximilian M. Godefroy at the downtown intersection of North Calvert Street and between East Lexington and East Fayette Streets, at the former long-time central gathering place, Courthouse Square, now vacant, (site of the previous 1769 Baltimore City/County Courthouse, famously known after 1784 as the "Courthouse on Stilts", when stone/brick arches were constructed to preserve the colonial structure and raise the building up and allow Calvert Street to pass to the north underneath, later razed in 1805 and rebuilt to the west of the small square at the southwest corner of Calvert and Lexington Streets) until, which had just months before been proposed for the erection of the new Washington Monument. After viewing the proposed elaborately detailed design by architect Robert Mills and fearing if the shaft might topple over and hit any of the many expensive substantial townhouses then around the square, the memorial was moved further north of town to the area known as "Howard's Woods" on land donated by Colonel John Eager Howard of Revolutionary War fame. Another cornerstone-laying ceremony occurred the next year and it was completed in 1827. In 1839 an organization was created consisting of "The Old Defenders" of the Fort McHenry, North Point and Hampstead Hill soldiers as one of the nation's first veterans organizations. It later evolved into the nationwide "General Society of the War of 1812".
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Where can you find troops more efficient than Morgan's riflemen of the Revolution or Forsyth's riflemen of the last war with Great Britain?