1814 - Attack on Baltimore


Next Page

Previous Page

10 Pages >>

10 Pages <<
1814 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 318

seamen and marines of Commodore Rodgers, and Captains Perry and Porter, had just arrived from the banks of the Potomac.

If any southern town or city of the United States was an object of immediate attack, it certainly was Baltimore. The destruction of the new frigate and sloops, and of the immense quantities of naval stores, at that depot, would have been seriously felt by the American government. Yet were the British ships, that had on board the troops, waiting in the Patuxent, until the passing of the " approaching equinoctial new moon" should enable them to proceed, with safety, upon the " plans which had been concerted previously to the departure of the Iphigenia," or, in other words, upon the expedition to New Orleans. On the 6th of September came a flag of truce from Baltimore ; and instantly all was bustle and alacrity on board the British squadron. The Royal-Oak 74, and troop-ships stood out of the Patuxent ; and Vice-admiral Cochrane, quitting his anchorage off Tangier island, proceeded with the remainder of the fleet up the bay to North point, near the entrance of the Patapsco river. On the 10th and 11th the fleet anchored ; and, by noon on the 12th, the whole of the troops, marines of the fleet, black colonial marines, and seamen, numbering altogether 3270 rank and file, had disembarked at North point, in order to proceed to the immediate attack upon Baltimore by land ; while some frigates and sloops, the Erebus rocket-ship, and five bomb-vessels, ascended the Patapsco, to threaten and bombard Fort M'Henry, and the other contiguous batteries. The seamen, 600 in number, were under the orders of Captain Edward Crofton, assisted by Captains Thomas Ball Sullivan, Rowland Money, and Robert Ramsay, and the marines under Captain John Robyns.

Immediately after landing, the British moved forward to the city. On arriving at a line of intrenchments and abattis, thrown up between Black river and Humphries's creek on the Patapsco, and distant about three miles from the point of landing, some opposition was expected ; but the American dragoons and riflemen, stationed there, fled without firing a shot. At this time Major-general Ross and Rear-admiral Cockburn, with a guard of 50 or 60 men, were walking together, considerably ahead of the advanced or light companies, in order to reconnoitre the enemy. At about 10 a.m., after having proceeded about two miles from the intrenchment, and some distance along a road flanked by thick woods, they encountered a division of American infantry, riflemen, cavalry, and artillery, numbering about 370 men. A short skirmish ensued, and the Americans fell back ; most of them taking to the woods. After saying to Rear-admiral Cockburn, " I'll return and order up the light companies, " Major-general Ross proceeded to execute his purpose. In his way back, alone, by the same road along which he and his party had just passed, the major-general received a musket-bullet.

^ back to top ^