Battle of Baltimore


Battle of Baltimore

Infobox Military Conflict



caption=Battle Monument, Baltimore
conflict=Battle of Baltimore
partof=the War of 1812
date=September 12 – September 15, 1814
place=Baltimore, Maryland
result=American victory
combatant1=

combatant2=

commander1=Robert Ross†
Alexander Cochrane
Arthur Brooke
commander2=Samuel Smith
John Stricker
George Armistead
strength1=5,000 troops
19 Warships
strength2=Baltimore
2,000
Fort McHenry
1,000
20 Cannon [Borneman p.245]
"'Total
12,000 [ [http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h2499.html Battle of Baltimore ] ]
casualties1=650 killed, wounded or missing [Kimball p.204]
casualties2=North Point
24 killed
139 wounded
50 captured
Fort McHenry
4 killed
24 wounded
Total
28 killed
163 wounded
50 captured [Borneman p.246]
In the Battle of Baltimore, one of the turning points in the War of 1812, American forces warded off a British sea invasion of the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland. The American defense of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in this battle inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the poem which would become the national anthem of the United States: "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Background

On August 24, 1814, the British Army had overrun confused American defenders at the Battle of Bladensburg and marched into the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C.. After burning and looting major public buildings there and forcing President James Madison to flee to Brookeville, Maryland, they turned their attention north to Baltimore, where they hoped to strike a knockout blow against the demoralized Americans. Baltimore was a busy port and was thought by the British to harbor many of the privateers who were raiding British shipping. The British planned a combined operation, with Major-General Robert Ross launching a land attack at North Point, and Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane laying siege to Fort McHenry, which was the point defensive installation in Baltimore Harbor.

Battle

North Point

The British landed a force of 5,000 troops who marched toward Baltimore and first met heavy resistance at The Battle of North Point which was fought only 3 kilometers from the city. The city’s defenses, under the command of Major General Samuel Smith, an officer of the Maryland Militia, blunted the British advance, killing the British General Robert Ross. Therefore the British army halted their advance and awaited the results of the sea campaign.

Fort McHenry

At Fort McHenry, some 1,000 soldiers under the command of Major George Armistead awaited the British naval bombardment. Their defense was augmented by the sinking of a line of American merchant ships at the adjacent entrance to Baltimore Harbor in order to further thwart the passage of British ships.

The attack began on September 13, as the British fleet of some nineteen ships began pounding the fort with Congreve rockets (from rocket vessel HMS "Erebus") and mortar shells (from bomb vessels HMS "Terror", HMS "Volcano", HMS "Meteor", HMS "Devastation", and HMS "Aetna"). After an initial exchange of fire, the British fleet withdrew to just beyond the range of Fort McHenry’s cannons and continued to bombard the American redoubts for the next 25 hours. Although 1,500 to 1,800 cannonballs were launched at the fort, damage was minimal. [cite web
url = http://www.bcpl.net/~etowner/battle.html
title = The Battle of Baltimore
publisher = The Patriots of Fort McHenry, Incorporated
archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/20070608020336/http://www.bcpl.net/~etowner/battle.html
archivedate = 2007-06-08
quote =
]

After nightfall, Cochrane ordered a landing to be made by small boats to the shore just west of the fort, away from the harbor opening on which the fort’s defense was concentrated. He hoped that the landing party might slip past Fort McHenry and draw Smith’s army away from the main British land assault on the city’s eastern border. Operating in darkness and in foul weather, Armistead's guns opened fire onto the landing party and the diversionary attack failed. [Borneman p.246] On the morning of September 14, the convert|30|ft|m|abbr=on × 42 ft oversized American flag, which had been made a few months before by local flagmaker Mary Pickersgill and her 13 year old daughter, flew over Fort McHenry.

Brooke had been insrtucted not to attack the American posistions around Baltimore unless he was certain they could be taken. Seeing that Cochrane had failed to subdue the Fort, Brooke withdrew from his posistions, and returned to the fleet. [Borneman p.247]

Aftermath

An American lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, was on a mercy mission for the release of Dr. William Beanes, a prisoner of the British. Key showed the British letters from wounded British officers praising the care they received from Dr. Beanes. The British agreed to release Beanes, but Key and Beanes had to stay with the British until the attack on Baltimore was over. Key watched the proceedings from a truce ship in the Patapsco River. On the morning of the 14th, Key saw the American flag waving above Fort McHenry. Inspired, he began jotting down verses on the back of a letter he was carrying. He composed the words to an old British drinking song, "To Anacreon in Heaven." When Key reached Baltimore, his poem was printed on pamphlets by the Baltimore American. His poem was originally called "Defence of Ft. McHenry." The song eventually became known as "The Star-Spangled Banner." Congress made it the National Anthem in 1931.

Colonel Brooke’s troops withdrew, and Admiral Cochrane’s fleet sailed off to regroup before his next assault on America at New Orléans, Louisiana. Armistead was soon promoted to lieutenant colonel. Much weakened by the arduous preparations for the battle, he died at age 38, only three years after the battle.

The battle is commemorated in the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

Footnotes

References and further reading

*cite book|last=Borneman|first=Walter R.|authorid=Walter R. Borneman|title=1812: The War That Forged a Nation|location=New York|publisher=Harper Perennial|year=2004|isbn=ISBN 9780060531126
* George, Christopher T., "Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay", Shippensburg, Pa., White Mane, 2001, ISBN 1-57249-276-7
* Pitch, Anthony S."The Burning of Washington", Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2000. ISBN 1-55750-425-3
* Whitehorne, Joseph A., "The Battle for Baltimore 1814", Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Publishing, 1997, ISBN 1-877853-23-2

ee also

*War of 1812
*List of conflicts in the United States

External links

* [http://www.warof1812.ca/northpoint.htm Battle of North Point by John Pezzola]


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