1814 - Attack on Baltimore


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1814 Attack on Baltimore 321

It appears that, on the evening of the 13th, after the boats had been ordered upon this service, Vice-admiral Cochrane sent a messenger to acquaint Colonel Brooke, that, as the entrance to Baltimore by sea was entirely obstructed by a barrier of vessels, sunk at the mouth of the harbour, defended inside by gun-boats, a naval co-operation against the city and intrenched camp was found impracticable. The heavy rain, at this time falling, greatly increased the difficulty of ascending the steep hill, upon which the camp was situated ; and both commanders concurred in the propriety of immediately withdrawing the troops and ships. On the 14th, at 1 h. 30 m. a.m., the British troops commenced retiring, and halted at three miles distance. In the course of the evening they retired three miles further, and encamped for the night. Late on the morning of the 15th, they moved down to North point ; and, in the course of that day, re-embarked, without having experienced, during their slow and deliberate retreat, the slightest molestation from the enemy. Since 7 A.M. on the preceding day, the rocket-ship and bomb-vessels had been called off from the American batteries; which, notwithstanding the long continued bombardment, lost only four men killed and 24 wounded. The ships afterwards stood down the river, and joined the remainder of the squadron at anchor off North point.

No Briton but must regret, that any plan of " ulterior operations " should have obtruded itself, to check the progress of the attack. With respect to naval co-operation, it is well known, that the gallant commanders of the Severn, Euryalus, Havannah, and Hebrus frigates, volunteered to lighten their ships, and lay them close alongside Fort M'Henry. The possession of this fort would have enabled the British to silence the batteries on the opposite side of the bay, and, indeed, have placed the city completely at their mercy. The very advance of the frigates to their stations would probably have led to the destruction of the Java, Erie, and Ontario; and then the British might have retired, " holding in view the ulterior operations of the troops, " with something more to boast of than, not merely an empty, but, considering what had been lost by it, a highly disastrous, " demonstration."

On the 19th of September Sir Alexander Cochrane, with the Tonnant and Surprise frigate, sailed for Halifax, to hasten the construction of the flat-bottomed boats, intended to be employed in the great expedition on foot ; and on the same day, the Albion, Rear-admiral Cockburn, sailed for Bermuda, leaving the Royal-Oak 74, Rear-admiral Pulteney Malcolm, with some frigates and smaller vessels, and the ships containing the troops, at anchor in the river Patuxent. On the 27th the Rear-admiral removed to the Potomac ; where, on the 3d of October, the troops were placed into boats, and sent up Coan river. In their way up, two soldiers were wounded, and Captain Kenah of the

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