1814 - Attack on Baltimore


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1814 Light Squadrons and Single Ships 320

Douglas's brigade of Virginia militia, under General Winder, and the United States' dragoons, under Captain Bird.

In their way up the Patapsco, several of the frigates and other vessels had grounded ; and one or two of the frigates did not get off until the next day. On the 13th, at about 9 p.m., the Meteor, Ætna, Terror, Volcano, and Devastation, bomb-vessels, Captains Samuel Roberts, Richard Kenah, John Sheridan, David Price, and Thomas Alexander, and the Erebus, rocket-ship, Captain David Ewen Bartholomew, came to anchor in a position, from which they could act upon the enemy's fort and batteries, the frigates having already taken their stations outside of all. On the 13th, at daylight, the bombardment commenced upon, and was returned by, Fort M'Henry, the Star Fort, and the water batteries on both sides of the entrance. At about 3 p.m. the four bomb-vessels and rocket-ship weighed, and stood further in ; the latter, to give effect to her rockets, much nearer than the others. The forts, which had discontinued their fire on account of the vessels being out of range, now recommenced a brisk cannonade ; but which, although persevered in for some hours, did not injure a man on board any of the vessels : two of the bombs only were slightly struck. The close position of the Erebus led the commander-in-chief, whose ship, the Severn, with the other frigates, was at anchor in the river, to imagine that Captain Bartholomew could not maintain his position. The vice-admiral, therefore, sent a division of boats to tow out the Erebus.

On the 13th, in the middle of the night, a division of 20 boats was detached up the Ferry branch, to cause a diversion favourable to the intended assault upon the enemy's intrenched camp at the opposite side of the city. The rain poured in torrents, and the night was so extremely dark, that 11 of the boats pulled, by mistake, directly for the harbour. Fortunately, the lights of the city discovered to the crews their perilous situation, in time for them to get back in safety to their ships. The remaining nine boats, consisting of one rocket-boat, five launches, two pinnaces, and one gig, containing 128 officers, seamen and marines, under the command of Captain Charles Napier, passed up the Ferry branch to a considerable distance above Fort M'Henry, and opened a heavy fire of rockets and shot upon the shore ; at several parts of which they could have landed with ease, had the whole of their force been together. After having, by drawing down a considerable number of troops to the beach, effected their object, the British stood back with their boats. When just opposite to Fort M'Henry, one of the officers caused a rocket to be fired. The consequence was, an immediate discharge of round, grape, and canister, from. the fort and water batteries below ; by which one of the boats was slightly struck, and a man mortally wounded. Not another casualty occurred.

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