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Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter XL - Events at Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York in 1814.






The British in Chesapeake Bay. – An Attack on St. Michael’s. – The Defense of St. Michael’s. – Exploits of Sir Peter Parker. – Infamous Conduct of Admiral Cockburn. – Repulse of the British. – Death of Sir Peter Parker. – The British Fleet in the Chesapeake. – Baltimore threatened. – Exasperation against it. – General Samuel Smith. – Preparations for the Defense of Baltimore in 1813 and 1814. – Patriotism of the Citizens. – Fortifications at Baltimore. – Troops for Defense, and their Disposition. – The British land at North Point. – Preparations for advancing on Baltimore. – General Stricker sent to oppose them. – Position of the American Troops. – Disposition of the British Troops. – Preliminary Skirmish. – Death of General Ross. – Advance of the British. – A spirited Battle. – Picture of the Battle of North Point. – Retreat of the Americans. – The British Fleet approaches Baltimore. – Preparations to attack Fort M‘Henry. – The Defenders of Fort M‘Henry. – Bombardment of the Fort. – Its effective Reply. – Attempt to seize Fort Covington. – The Invaders driven off. – End of the Bombardment. – The Star-spangled Banner. – The British move toward Baltimore. – Arrangements for an Assault on the Defenses of the City. – The British fall back and return to their Ships. – Effect of the Repulse of the Invaders. – The British Programme. – Honors to Colonel Armistead. – Tokens of public Gratitude. – The Armistead Family. – Battle Monument in Baltimore. – A Visit to Baltimore. – Services of a valued Friend. – A Visit to Patterson Park and other historical Localities. – The City Spring. – The Color-bearer of the Twenty-seventh Regiment. – Visit to North Point Battle-ground. – Monument where Ross fell. – A Visit to Fort M‘Henry. – The Circular Battery and its Outlook. – New York and Philadelphia relieved. – Philadelphia Troops. – The Volunteer Companies of Philadelphia. – Protection for Duponts’ Powder-mills. – Captain James Page. – Organization of Troops. – Camp Dupont. – Camp at Marcus’s Hook. – Public Meeting in Philadelphia. – Committee of Defense. – Citizens construct Fortifications. – New York stirred up. – Committee of Defense. – Patriotic Action of the Citizens. – Neighbors assist New York. – Gathering of Troops in and around the City. – "The Patriotic Diggers." – General Swift’s Report of the Fortifications around New York. – Fortifications around New York. – General Swift’s Report. – Fortifications around New York. – A proposed Revolving Battery. – Description of proposed Revolving Battery. – A proposed iron-clad Vessel. – Remains of a Block-house. – Iron-clad Gun-boat. – A Floating Battery authorized by Congress. – Launch of the Battery. – Steam-ship or Floating Battery, Fulton the First. – Extravagant Stories concerning her.


"The gen’ral gave orders for the troops to march down,

To meet the proud Ross, and to check his ambition;
To inform him we have decreed in our town
That here he can’t enter without our permission.
And if life he regards, he will not press too hard,
For Baltimore freemen are ever prepared
To check the presumptuous, whoever they be,
That may rashly attempt to evade our decree." – OLD SONG.


Baltimore was menaced while Washington was assailed. Indeed, the whole coast of the Chesapeake Bay, from its mouth to the Patapsco, was continually harassed by the invaders during August and September, 1814. "Whenever a favorable opportunity presented itself," wrote a British officer who participated in the capture of Washington, "parties landed, plundered or destroyed the government stores, and brought off all the shipping which could be reached. In a word," he says, with great candor, "the hostilities carried on in the Chesapeake resembled the expeditions of the ancient Danes against Great Britain rather than a modern war between civilized nations." He added, "But these hasty excursions, though generally successful, were not always performed without loss to the invaders." 1 We will here record two events in proof of the truth of the last observation, in which the courage and spirit of the Maryland militia were very conspicuous.

Among other places on the Chesapeake which received special attention from the British was the little village of St. Michael’s, in Talbot County, on the eastern shore of the bay. It was founded by ship-builders, and was famous as the place where most of the swift-sailing privateers, called "Baltimore clippers," were constructed. At the time in question seven of these were on the stocks there. Cockburn, the marauder, determined to destroy them, the ship-yards, and the town. Intimation of his intentions had been received at the village, and the veteran General Perry {Original text has "Derry".} Benson, commander of the militia of Talbot County, prepared to receive them. He constructed two batteries, one at the entrance to the harbor or creek, mounting three 6-pounders and one long 9-pounder, and the other on an eminence in front of the town, armed with two 6-pounders.

Two companies from Easton, and two or three from the adjacent country, were called to the defense of St. Michael’s, numbering in the aggregate about three hundred souls. They were in readiness for some time, waiting for the invaders. They appeared early in August [1814.], in a small squadron, that entered Eastern Bay between the Talbot County main and Kent Island. Between midnight and the dawn of the 11th, while the darkness was intensified by thick clouds, they made their way in eleven barges (each armed with a 6-pound field-piece), with oars muffled, so secretly that the booming of their cannon was the first intimation the Americans received of their near presence. The Marylanders were a little surprised, yet they behaved most gallantly. They returned the fire with spirit from the lower battery. The 9-pounder was in charge of Captain William Dodson, of St. Michael’s, and did terrible execution. He had literally crammed it with grape and canister shot, and being well acquainted with every foot of the locality, he knew precisely, by sounds, where to fire most effectively in the gloom. The invaders, under cover of their heavy guns, had landed in a compact body for the purpose of storming the batteries, and when Dodson opened his great gun upon them, a wide swathe was cut through their line. Nineteen of the British were killed, and many were wounded. The Americans, finding themselves outnumbered, fled to the upper battery, whose guns, worked by Captains Vickers and Auld, kept up a continuous fire on the foe. The fight continued until daylight, when the British fled to their boats and abandoned the enterprise. They had spiked the guns in the lower battery, and this was the principal loss sustained by the Americans. 2 St. Michael’s and its ship-yards were saved by the gallantry of a few spirited militia, and no attempt to enter its harbor was ever afterward made by a British armed vessel. It is yet a flourishing town of about eight hundred people, surrounded by fertile land and deep estuaries of the Chesapeake.

Soon after the expulsion of the invaders from St. Michael’s, Sir Peter Parker, of the Royal Navy, appeared in the Upper Chesapeake for the purpose of patrolling its waters and blockading the harbor of Baltimore with two vessels under his command, while Cochrane, and Ross, and Cockburn were penetrating the country to Washington. His flag-ship was the frigate Menelaus, 38, and his deportment was so haughty, and his acts, under the direction of his superior, Cockburn, were so cruel, 3 that the Americans became greatly exasperated. He frequently sent parties ashore to plunder and destroy private as well as public property, and he swept domestic commerce from the bay. He boasted to his superiors that during the month of his blockading service not a single American boat crossed the waters of the Chesapeake.

On the fall of Washington Sir Peter was ordered to proceed down the bay. "I must first have a frolic with the Yankees," he said. 4 Accordingly, on the night of the 30th of August [1814.], after a jolly dinner with his officers, and indulgence in drinking and dancing, he proceeded to engage in the sport. He had been informed that a body of Maryland militia were encamped at Moorfields, near the Georgetown Cross Roads, on the eastern shore of Maryland (not far from Chestertown), and he prepared to surprise them. They were less than two hundred in number, under the vigilant Colonel Read, who was fully apprised of the movement.

The Menelaus ran into one of the numerous estuaries, and at eleven o’clock at night landed a force of seamen and marines, armed with muskets, pikes, and cutlasses. The moon was shining brightly. Stealthily they moved forward, and fell furiously upon the Marylanders, who were in battle order to receive them. A fierce conflict of an hour ensued, when the invaders, repulsed, fled back to their frigate, leaving thirteen dead and three wounded on the field. Among those mortally hurt was the gallant Sir Peter, a brave and generous Irishman, descended from Archbishop Parker and Admiral Byron, and then only twenty-eight years of age. He was at the head of his men, cheering them on, when a musket-ball cut the main artery in his thigh. "They have hit me, Pearce," he said to his first lieutenant, "but it is nothing; push on, my brave boys, and follow me!" He attempted to cheer, but his voice failed him. He fell in the arms of Pearce, and before he could be conveyed to the frigate or receive surgical aid he bled to death. 5 The invaders fled to their ship, and the Menelaus sailed down the bay. Sir Peter’s body was preserved in spirits and sent to England, and on the 14th of May, 1815, it was deposited in the family vault in St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster. 6

Let us now observe the movements of the British army and navy, under General Ross and Admiral Cochrane, after the flight of the former from the smoking ruins of Washington City.

We left the invaders re-embarked on their vessels in the Patuxent. They remained there several days to rest, recruit, and make provision for their wounded. These were placed on board vessels, and sent, some to Halifax and others to England, and by the Iphigenia dispatches were sent to the home government. Preparations were made in the mean time for other offensive operations. At daybreak on the 6th of September the whole fleet weighed anchor, and stood toward the Chesapeake with a fair wind. Down that bay they sailed, and on the morning of the 7th entered the Potomac. For two days they moved up that stream to assist Gordon in his operations against Fort Washington and Alexandria. Hearing of his success, they turned [September 9, 1814.], hastened back to the Chesapeake, and stood for the mouth of the Patapsco [September 10.], spreading terror along the entire coasts of the bay. The people fled from their dwellings and the villages with their most valued property that might be carried away, and at every light-house and signal-station alarm guns were fired. On Sunday, the 11th, they entered the Patapsco with fifty sail of vessels, bearing at least six thousand fighting men, for the purpose of attacking Baltimore. The victorious Ross, elated by his good fortune, had boasted that he would make that fine city of forty thousand inhabitants (one fifth negroes) his winter quarters.

Baltimore stands on the Patapsco River, ten miles from the Chesapeake. The harbor is entered by a narrow strait, commanded by Fort M‘Henry, which stood there at the time we are considering. The growth of the city had been extremely rapid. In 1814 it was the third in population, and fourth in wealth and commerce, in the United States.

Intelligence of the capture of Washington created intense excitement in Baltimore. It was believed that the victorious Ross would fall upon it immediately, either by land or water; and the veteran soldier of the Revolution, General Samuel Smith, 7 renewed his exertions for the defense of the city, and Annapolis, the political capital of Maryland. That vigilant officer had been active ever since the first appearance of danger in the spring of 1813, when a British squadron appeared in the Chesapeake. It was well known that the enemy felt great exasperation toward the Baltimoreans because they had sent out so many swift "clipper-built" vessels and expert seamen to smite terribly the commerce of Great Britain on the high seas. "It is a doomed town," declared Vice-admiral Warren. "The American navy must be annihilated," said a London paper; his arsenals and dock-yards must be consumed, and the truculent inhabitants of Baltimore must be tamed with the weapons which shook the wooden turrets of Copenhagen."

So early as the 13th of April, 1813, the City Councils of Baltimore appropriated twenty thousand dollars to be used for the defense of the city, under the direction of the mayor, Edward Johnson, and seven other citizens, who were named as a Committee of Supply. 8 The governor of the State (Levin Winder) also called an extraordinary session of the Legislature, to meet at Annapolis on the third Monday in May. Meanwhile a rumor reached the city that the enemy were approaching, and within a few hours at least five thousand armed men were found in their proper places, and several companies of militia from the country came pouring into Baltimore. Several persons were arrested as traitors and spies. These demonstrations of preparation and power undoubtedly saved the city from assault at that time. Very soon afterward, Stricker’s brigade, and other military bodies in the city, full five thousand strong, with forty pieces of artillery, were reviewed. At the beginning of June a battery was erected at Fort M‘Henry for the marine artillery of Baltimore one hundred and sixty in number, under Captain George Stiles, and composed of masters and master’s-mates of vessels there. It was armed with 42-pounders. 9

In September [1813.] the British fleet went to sea, and Baltimore enjoyed a season of repose. The blockaders, as we have observed, reappeared in the Chesapeake in the spring of 1814, and all the summer and early autumn infested its waters, during which time occurred the destructive invasion recorded in the preceding chapter, when every thing that could be done by vigilant men for the safety of Baltimore was accomplished. A Committee of Vigilance and Safety, of which Mayor Johnson was Chairman, and Theodore Bland was secretary, co-operated unceasingly with General Smith and the military. On the 27th of August, three days after the capture of Washington, that committee called upon the citizens to organize into working parties, and to contribute implements of labor for the purpose of increasing the strength of the city defenses. The city was divided into four sections, and the people of each labored alternately on the fortifications. The exempts from military service and free colored men were required to assemble for labor, with provisions for a day, at Hempstead Hill (equally well known as Loudenslager’s Hill), on Sunday, the 28th of September; at Myer Garden on Monday; at Washington Square on Tuesday; and at the intersection of Eutaw and Market Streets on Wednesday. Each portion, comprising a section, was under the command of appointed superintendents. The response of the citizens in men and money was quick, cordial, and ample; and volunteers to work on the fortifications came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. By the 10th of September General Winder was in Baltimore, with all the forces of the Tenth Military District at his command.


The principal fortifications constructed by the people consisted of a long line on Hempstead, or Loudenslager’s Hill, now the site of Patterson Park. At proper distances several semicircular batteries were constructed, well mounted with cannon and ably manned, some of them by volunteer artillery companies of Baltimore, but chiefly by men-of-war’s men, about twelve hundred in number, under the general command of Commodore Rodgers. The spaces between these batteries were filled with militia. One of the larger of these bastions, known as Rodgers’s Bastion, may now (1867) be seen, well preserved, on the harbor side of Patterson Park, and overlooking Fort M‘Henry and the region about it. Four of the smaller batteries on this line were in charge of officers of the Guerriere and Erie, the former then lying in Baltimore Harbor. 11

A brigade of Virginia Volunteers and of regular troops, including a corps of cavalry under Captain Bird, were placed under the command of General Winder; the City Brigade of Baltimore was commanded by General Stricker; and the general management of the entire military force destined for the defense of the city was intrusted to General Smith. Fort M‘Henry was garrisoned by about one thousand men, volunteers and regulars, commanded by Major George Armistead. To the right of it, guarding the shores of the Patapsco, on the Ferry Branch, from the landing of troops who might endeavor to assail the city in the rear, were two redoubts, named respectively Fort Covington, and City, or Babcock Battery. The former was manned by a detachment of seamen under Lieutenant Newcomb, and the latter – a 6-gun battery – by another detachment from Barney’s flotilla under Sailing-master John A. Webster. In the rear of these, upon high ground, at the end of Light Street, near the present Fort Avenue, was an unfinished circular redoubt for seven guns, in charge of Lieutenant George Budd. On Lazaretto Point, across the entrance channel to Baltimore Harbor, opposite Fort M‘Henry, was also a small battery, in charge of Lieutenant Rutter, of the flotilla. To these several batteries, and to Fort M‘Henry, the citizens of Baltimore looked most confidently for defense. 12

Such were the most important preparations for the reception of the enemy, when, on Sunday evening, the 11th of September, they were seen at the mouth of the Patapsco, in strong force, preparing to land at North Point, twelve miles from Baltimore by water, and fifteen miles by land. Off that point the fleet anchored that evening. The night was a delightful one. The air was balmy, and the full moon shone brightly in a cloudless sky. The earth was refreshed by the falling of a heavy dew. The fleet lay two miles from the shore. Brief repose was given to its people, for, at two o’clock in the morning [September 12, 1814.], the boats of every ship were lowered, and then the land troops and seamen went to the shore, under cover of several gun-brigs anchored within a cable’s length of the beach. The boats went in divisions, and the leading one of each was armed with a carronade ready for action.

At about seven o’clock in the morning, General Ross and Admiral Cockburn were on shore, with a force nine thousand strong, composed of five thousand land troops, two thousand marines, and two thousand seamen, led by Captain E. Crofton. They were furnished with cooked provisions sufficient for three days. Each combatant bore eighty rounds of ammunition, and carried as little baggage as possible, for they were to march rapidly and take Baltimore by surprise, where Ross had boasted that he should eat his Sunday dinner. At the same time, a frigate was sent to try the depth and take the soundings of the channel leading to Baltimore, as the navy, under the immediate command of Captain Nourse, of Cockburn’s flag-ship Severn, was to co-operate with the army. Intelligence of these movements produced great alarm in Baltimore. A large number of families, with portable articles of value, were sent into the interior of the country, and every inn, for almost a hundred miles northward of the city, was crowded with the refugees.


When it was known that the British fleet was anchored off North Point, General Smith, who had about nine thousand troops under his command, sent General Stricker 13 with three thousand two hundred in that direction to watch the movements of the enemy and act as circumstances might warrant. He left the city toward evening, and just before sunset reached a meeting-house (yet standing) almost seven miles from the town, near the junction of the roads leading respectively to North Point and Bear Creek. Meanwhile Major Randall, of the Maryland militia, had been sent with a light corps from General Stansbury’s brigade, and the Pennsylvania Volunteers, to the mouth of Bear Creek, to co-operate with Stricker, and to check the debarkation of the enemy, should it be attempted at that point.

Stricker’s little army rested until morning at the meeting-house, not far from what was then called Long Log Lane (now the road to North Point), with the exception of a detachment of one hundred and forty horsemen under Lieutenant Colonel Biays, who were ordered forward, three miles, to Gorsuch’s farm, and one hundred and fifty riflemen under Captain Dyer, who were directed to take position at a blacksmith’s shop one mile in the rear of the cavalry. So they remained until the morning of the 12th, when information was received from the vedettes that the enemy had landed at North Point, when Stricker immediately sent back his baggage under a strong guard, and disposed his troops for battle in three lines, stretching from a branch of Bear Creek on his right, to a swamp on the margin of a branch of Back River on his left. The several corps were posted as follows: the Fifth Baltimore Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Sterett, five hundred and fifty strong, were placed on the right, extending from Long Log Lane to a branch of Bear Creek; the Twenty-seventh Maryland Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Long, numbering the same, were on the left of the Fifth, extending from the Lane to the swamp; and the Union Artillerymen of Baltimore, seventy-five in number, with six 4-pounders, under Captain Montgomery, then Attorney General of the State, were in the Lane. The Thirty-ninth Regiment, four hundred and fifty men, under Lieutenant Colonel Fowler, were posted three hundred yards in the rear of the Twenty-seventh and parallel with it; and on the right of the Thirty-ninth, at the same distance in the rear of the Fifth, were the Fifty-first Regiment, under Lieutenant Colonel Amey. These formed the second line. About half a mile in the rear of this line, near the site of the present (1867) Battle-ground House, was a reserve corps, consisting of the Sixth Regiment (six hundred and twenty men), under Lieutenant Colonel M‘Donald. Thus judiciously posted, Stricker awaited the approach of Ross.

The British general disposed his troops as at Bladensburg. A corps composed of the light companies of the Fourth, Twenty-first, and Forty-fourth Regiments, the entire Eighty-fifth, a battalion of "disciplined negroes," and a company of marines, numbering in the aggregate about eleven hundred men, under Major Jones, were sent in advance. These were followed by six field-pieces and two howitzers drawn by horses; and the whole formed the first brigade. The second brigade, under Colonel Brooke, was composed of the Fourth and Forty-fourth Regiments, about fourteen hundred strong, and was followed by more than a thousand sailors led by Captain Crofton. The rear, or third brigade, consisted of the Twenty-first Regiment, and a battalion of marines, numbering in all about fourteen hundred and fifty men, under Colonel Patterson. At the same time, the fleet moved toward Baltimore to attack Fort M‘Henry.

Feeling confident of success, Ross and Cockburn rode gayly forward at the head of the troops for about an hour, when they halted at Gorsuch’s farm, and spent another hour in resting and careless carousing. The American riflemen in the advance had fallen back in the mean time, with the impression that the British were landing on Back River or Bear Creek to cut them off and they were placed on the right of Stricker’s front line. When the general was informed of the exact position of the invaders, he sent forward to attack them the companies of Captains Levering and Howard from Sterett’s Fifth, one hundred and fifty in number, under Major Richard K. Heath, and Asquith’s and a few other riflemen, numbering about seventy, with a small piece of artillery and some cavalry under Lieutenant Stiles. They met the British advancing, and a skirmish ensued near the house occupied, when the writer visited the spot in 1861, by Samuel C. Cole as a store and dwelling, seven and a half miles from Baltimore, and about seven from the landing-place of the British. Ross was mortally wounded by one of two young men, natives of Maryland, belonging to Asquith’s rifle corps, and who had both fought in the battle at Bladensburg. Their names were Daniel Wells and Henry C. M‘Comas. They were concealed in a hollow, and fired the fatal shot when Ross appeared upon a little knoll near them.

That commander died in the arms of his favorite aid, the now (1867) venerable Sir Duncan M’Dougall, of London, 14 before his bearers reached the boats at North Point. "He lived only long enough," says Gleig," to name his wife, and to commend his family to the protection of his country." In this skirmish Heath’s horse was shot under him, and several Americans were killed or wounded. Among the slain were the two young men whose bullets brought Ross to the earth. 15 The advancing British far out numbered Heath’s detachment, and he ordered them to fall back. Finding the companies of Levering and Howard too fatigued to engage efficiently in the impending battle, Stricker ordered them to the rear to attach themselves to the reserve.

On the fall of Ross the command of the British troops devolved on Colonel A. Brooke, of the Forty-fourth Regiment, and under his direction the entire invading force pressed vigorously forward. At about two o’clock in the afternoon they came within cannon-shot of the American line, and were immediately formed in battle order. Their first brigade, supported by the Forty-fourth Regiment, the seamen and marines, menaced the entire front of the Americans, and commenced the action by opening a brisk discharge of cannon and rockets upon them. The British Twenty-first remained in column as a reserve; and the Fourth made a circuitous march to turn the left flank of the Americans, against which also artillerists and rocketeers directed their missiles, and were replied to by Captain Montgomery’s cannon. General Stricker instantly comprehended the meaning of the flank movement and artillery attack, and brought up the Thirty-ninth Regiment, with two field-pieces, to its support in a line with the Twenty-seventh, which was behaving most gallantly. He also ordered the Fifty-first, under Colonel Amey, to form in line at right angles with the first line, with its right resting on the left of the Thirty-ninth. This movement was productive of some confusion, but Stricker’s staff soon brought out order. The battle was continued with great spirit on both sides, in the mean time, with Victory coquetting first with one and then with the other, and the armies swaying backward and forward with mutual pressure.


The above engraving is a copy of a drawing belonging to the Maryland Historical Society, made by an eye-witness after the Battle of North Point, as the conflict described in the text is called. The following are the names and incidents referred to by numerals: 1. General Stricker. 2. Major G. P. Stevenson, aid. 3. Major James Calhoun. 4. Major William B. Barney. 5. Leonard Fraleigh, brigade major. 6. Robert Goodloe Harper. 7. John Buck, trumpeter. 8. Colonel James Biays. 9. Major William Jackson. 10. Archibald Kerr, paymaster. 11. Adjutant Lemuel Taylor. 12. Sergeant Major James Blair. 13. Captain James Sterett’s Hussars. 14. Captain Bouldin and Lieutenant Kell’s troop. 15. Captain Horton’s troop. 16. Captain Hannah’s troop. 17. Colonel Joseph Sterett’s Fifth Regiment. 18. Colonel Kennedy Long’s Twenty-seventh Regiment. 19. Colonel Benjamin Fowler, Thirty-ninth Regiment. 20. Colonel Amey and Major Young, Fifty-first Regiment. 21. Riflemen. Lieutenant G. Andreas, mortally wounded. 22. Colonel R. K. Heath. 23. Major Standish Barry. 24. Adjutant James Chester. 25. Montgomery’s Artillery. 26. Major Samuel Moore. 27. Adjutant General James Lowrey Donaldson, mortally wounded. 28. Major Joseph Robinson. 29. Adjutant Thomas Baltzell. 30. Major Steiger. 31. Lieutenant Stiles, with two pieces of artillery. 32. Major Henwick. 33. Meadow and Haystack. 34. House fired by Captain Sadler’s company of Yagers. 35. Lieutenant John Reeve and James M‘Culloch, wounded. 36. Captain Spangler’s company of Volunteers from York, Pennsylvania. 37. Captain Quantrill’s company of Volunteers from Hagerstown. 38 and 39. Captains Baer and Metzar’s companies from Hanover, Pennsylvania. 40. Head of Bear Creek. 41. British Flankers. 42. British, commanded by Brooke, wheeling into line.

When the contest had been carried on for about two hours the enemy’s right column fell upon and endeavored to turn the American left. The Fifty-first were suddenly struck with dismay, and, after firing a volley at random, broke, and fled in wild disorder, producing a like effect in the second battalion of the Thirty-ninth. All efforts to rally the fugitives were vain.


But the remainder of the Thirty-ninth and the gallant Twenty-seventh (whose tattered battle-flag, now in the possession of its bearer in the fight, Captain Lester, of Baltimore, attests the severity of their conflict) bravely maintained their position. Finally, at about four o’clock, when the superior force of the enemy could no longer be kept in check, General Stricker ordered a retreat upon his reserved corps. This movement was performed in good order. Some of the wounded and two field-pieces were abandoned. Stricker reformed his brigade, and then fell back toward the city as far as Worthington’s Mill, about half a mile in advance of the intrenchments cast up by the citizens.

There he was joined by General Winder, with General Douglass’s Virginia Brigade and Captain Bird’s United States Dragoons, who took post on his left. The British bivouacked on the battle-field that night, after calling in some pursuers and collecting the stragglers.


While these movements were in operation on the land, the British fleet was preparing to perform a conspicuous part in the drama. Frigates, schooners, sloops, and bomb-ketches had entered the Patapsco early in the morning of the 12th, while Ross was moving from North Point, and anchored off Fort M‘Henry (then about one half its present dimensions), beyond the reach of its guns, near the present Fort Carroll. During the day and evening the bomb and rocket vessels were so posted as to act upon the fortifications on the hill, commanded by Rodgers, as well as on Fort M‘Henry, while the frigates were stationed farther outward, the water being so shallow that they could not approach nearer the city than four or five miles, nor the fort within two and a half miles. The Americans had already sunk some vessels, as we have observed, in the narrow channel at Fort M‘Henry, which prevented any passage by the ships of the enemy. 17 During the night of the 12th the fleet made full preparations for an attack on the fort and hill intrenchments on the morning of the 13th, when Brooke was to move on Baltimore with the British land force from the battlefield of the day before. The fleet prepared for action consisted of sixteen heavy vessels, five of them bomb-ships.

Fort M‘Henry was commanded by a brave soldier, and defended by gallant companions. The latter were composed of one company of United States Artillery, under Captain Evans; two companies of Sea-fencibles, under Captains Bunbury and Addison; two companies of volunteers from the city, named respectively the "Washington Artillery" and the "Baltimore Independent Artillerists," the former commanded by Captain John Berry, and the latter by Lieutenant Commanding Charles Pennington; the "Baltimore Fencibles," a fine company of volunteer artillerists led by Judge Joseph H. Nicholson; a detachment of Barney’s flotilla-men, commanded by Lieutenant Redman; and detachments of regulars, in all six hundred men, furnished by General Winder from the Twelfth, Fourteenth, Thirty-sixth, and Thirty-eighth Regiments, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stewart and Major Lane.

The regular artillerists under Captain Evans, and the volunteers under Captain Nicholson, manned the bastions in the Star Fort. The commands of Bunbury, Addison, Redman, Berry, and Pennington were stationed in the lower works; and the infantry, under Stewart and Lane, were placed in the outer ditch, to meet the enemy at his landing, if he should attempt it.

The bomb-vessels opened a heavy fire upon the American works at sunrise on Tuesday morning, the 13th, at about seven o’clock, at a distance of two miles, and kept up a well-directed bombardment until three o’clock in the afternoon. Armistead immediately opened the batteries of Fort M‘Henry upon them, and kept up a brisk fire for some time from his guns and mortars, when, to his great chagrin, he found that his missiles fell short, and were harmless. The garrison was exposed to a tremendous shower of shells for several hours without power to inflict injury in turn, or even to check the fury of the assault; yet they kept at their posts, and endured the trial with cool courage and great fortitude. At length a bomb-shell dismounted one of the 24-pounders in the southwest bastion, under the immediate command of Captain Nicholson, killing his second lieutenant (Claggett), and wounding several of his men. The confusion in the fort produced by this accident was observed by Cochrane, who commanded the fleet, and, hoping to profit by it, he ordered three of his bomb-vessels to move up nearer the fort in order to increase the effectiveness of their guns. This movement delighted Armistead. His turn for inflicting injury had come, and he quickly took advantage of it. He ordered a general cannonade and bombardment from every part of the fort; and so severe was his punishment of the venturesome intruders, that within half an hour they fell back to their old anchorage. The rocket-vessel Erebus was so much injured that they were compelled to send a division of small boats to tow her beyond the range of Armistead’s guns to save her from destruction. The garrison gave, three cheers, and the firing ceased.

After resuming their former stations the vessels kept up a more furious bombardment than before, with slight intermissions, until past midnight, when it was discovered that the enemy had thrown a considerable force up the Patapsco to the right of the fort, and between it and the city, under cover of the darkness, for the purpose of capturing Fort Covington, commanded by Lieutenant Newcomb, of the United States Navy, and the City Battery, in charge of the gallant sailing-master of Barney’s flotilla, and assaulting Fort M‘Henry in the rear. For this service twelve hundred and fifty picked men were sent in barges, with scaling-ladders and other implements for storming the fort. For the purpose of examining the shores, when near Covington they threw up some small rockets. These gave the alarm, and Fort M‘Henry, as well as the two redoubts on the Patapsco, opened a heavy fire upon the invaders. It was kept up for nearly two hours, when the enemy were driven away. The concussion was tremendous. The houses in the city were shaken to their very foundations. Rodgers’s men in Fort Covington worked their guns with great effect, but to the continuous and skillful cannonade kept up by Webster with his six-gun battery, nearer the shore, Major Armistead said he was "persuaded the country was much indebted for the final repulse of the enemy." It is not too much to say, I think, that Captain Webster’s gallant conduct on that occasion, which frustrated the plans of the British boat expedition, saved Fort M‘Henry and Baltimore. Two of the enemy’s vessels were sunk, and a large number of his men were slain. Sailing-master (afterward Captain) Webster yet (1867) lives, at the age of eighty years, to enjoy the respect and gratitude of his countrymen. He was in active service until the year 1852.

The bombardment from the vessels was continued until seven o’clock on the morning of the 14th, when it ceased entirely. 18 The night had been passed in the greatest anxiety by the inhabitants of Baltimore, for in the maintenance of Fort M‘Henry was their chief hope for the safety of the city.

An incident which occurred at that time gave birth to one of the most popular of our national songs, the Star-spangled Banner, 19 in which that anxiety is graphically expressed. It was written by Francis S. Key, who was a resident of Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, and then a volunteer in the light artillery commanded by Major Peter. 20

Simultaneously with the movement of the fleet toward Fort M’Henry, on the morning of the 13th, was that of the land forces of the British from their smouldering camp-fires on the battle-field, until they arrived at the brow of the slope on which lay Surrey Farm (now the valuable estate of Mrs. Jane Dungan), then the fine residence of Colonel Sterett, 21 of the Fifth Maryland Regiment, who was busily engaged in casting up intrenchments on Loudenslager’s Hill, about two miles distant, between them and Baltimore. There they halted to reconnoitre, and Colonel Brooke made his head-quarters at the old farm-house of Mr. Ernest, farther in the rear. They were in sight of the American intrenchments, behind which were the brigades of Stansbury and Foreman; the Pennsylvania Volunteers, under Colonels Cobeau and Findlay; the marines, under Rodgers; the Baltimore Artillery, under Colonel Harris; and the Marine Artillery, under Captain Stiles, who had spent the night under arms, expecting a vigorous pursuit and attack by the British.

The enemy manœuvred a good deal in the morning toward the left of the American works, and at one time seemed disposed to move upon them by the York and Harford Roads; but they were baffled by countervailing movements on the part of Generals Winder and Stricker. At noon they concentrated in front, and moved to within a mile of the intrenchments, when they made arrangements for an assault that evening. Perceiving this, General Smith ordered Winder and Stricker to move to the right of the enemy, and, in the event of their making an attack, to fall upon their flank and rear. Brooke was cautious and watchful, and clearly saw the peril of his proposed undertaking. He was also aware that the bombardment of Fort M‘Henry from morning until evening had produced very little effect upon that work, and that the vessels could not run by it because of the obstructions in the channel. Instead of opening a battle, he sought and obtained a conference with Admiral Cochrane during the evening. The result of the interview was the conclusion that the effort of the combined forces to capture Baltimore was already a failure, and that prudence demanded an immediate relinquishment of the enterprise. Brooke hastened back to camp. The rain, which commenced dropping twenty-four hours before, was yet falling copiously, and the night was very dark. In the midst of the gloom, at three o’clock in the morning of the 14th, while the ships kept up the bombardment to divert the attention of the Americans, the British stole off to North Point, and fled in boats to the fleet. The latter also withdrew at an early hour, and Baltimore was saved.

When, at dawn, the retreat of the British was discovered, General Winder, with the Virginia brigade, Captain Bird’s dragoons, Major Randall’s light corps, and all the cavalry, were immediately detailed in pursuit. But the troops were so exhausted by continued watching and working after the battle and retreat, having been under arms during three days and three nights, a portion of the time drenched by rain, that it was found impossible to accomplish any thing of moment beyond the picking up of a few stragglers of the enemy. The troops were taken on board the fleet on the evening of the 14th, and on the following morning the entire land and naval armament of the enemy went down the bay, crestfallen and badly punished. In the battle of the 12th they had lost their general, a lieutenant, and thirty-seven men killed, and eleven officers and two hundred and forty men wounded. The Americans lost twenty-four men killed, one hundred and thirty-nine wounded, fifty prisoners, and two field-pieces. In the attack on the forts by the shipping the British lost not a man killed or wounded, while the Americans lost four men killed and twenty-four wounded, as we have before observed, chiefly by the explosion of the shell that dismounted Nicholson’s 24-pounder.

The successful defense of Baltimore was hailed with great delight throughout the country, and trembling Philadelphia and New York breathed freer. It was a very humiliating blow to the British, for great confidence of success was felt throughout the realm. After the capture of Washington, that of Baltimore seemed but holiday sport; and so well assured of Ross’s success there was the Governor General of Canada, that the proposed public rejoicings at Montreal because of the capture of Washington were postponed, so that they might celebrate that of Baltimore at the same time! In England no one seemed to doubt that an army from Canada would meet that of Ross on the Susquehanna or the Schuylkill as conquerors of the country, and that Baltimore would be their base for future operations. "In the diplomatic circles it is rumored," said a London paper as early as the 17th of June, "that our naval and military commanders on the American station have no power to conclude any armistice or suspension of arms. They carry with them certain terms," the supercilious writer continued, "which will be offered to the American government at the point of the bayonet. There is reason to believe that America will be left in a much worse situation, as a naval and commercial power, than she was at the commencement of the war."

This programme, so delightsome to British arrogance and British commercial greed, was not carried out. On the very day when Ross and his army anchored off North Point [September 11, 1814.], Sir George Prevost, the Governor General of Canada, and his army, making their way toward the Susquehanna, were so smitten at the very beginning of their march – within the sound of cannon-booming of the Canada line – that they fled back toward the St. Lawrence in wild disorder. 22 Instead of mourning as captives, the Americans were jubilant as victors.


The prowess of Colonel Armistead and his little band in defending Fort M‘Henry was a theme for praise upon every lip. The grateful citizens of Baltimore presented him with a costly and appropriate testimonial of their appreciation of his services in the shape of an elegant silver vase, in the form and of the size of the largest bomb-shell thrown into the fort by the British; also goblets and salver of the same material. 23 These are in the possession of his son, who, as we have observed, has the old "Star-spangled Banner," and also a sword voted to him by time State of Virginia. 24


After his death a fine marble monument was erected to his memory, on which the following words were written with a pen of steel: "Colonel GEORGE ARMISTEAD, in honor of whom this monument is erected, was the gallant defender of Fort M‘Henry during the bombardment of the British fleet, 13th September, 1814. He died, universally esteemed and regretted, on the 25th of April, 1818, aged thirty-nine years." 25


The grateful citizens were not contented with bestowing praises upon their defenders, so they devised a memorial as perpetual and enduring as marble could make it. In the now great city of Baltimore, containing (1867) full two hundred and forty thousand souls, may be seen a noble monument designed by Maximilian Godefroy, and wrought in white marble. It was erected in 1815, at a cost of sixty thousand dollars, in commemoration of those who, on the 13th and 14th of September, 1814, fell on the field and in the fort. The engraving depicts it as it appeared, with its surroundings, in the autumn of 1861, when the writer sketched it from the steps of Barnum’s Hotel.

I visited the theatre of scenes described in the few preceding pages in November, 1861, on my return homeward from Washington, mentioned on page 943. On arriving at the Eutaw House, Baltimore, in the evening, I had the good fortune to meet an esteemed friend, Brantz Mayer, Esq., a resident of that city, and perfectly familiar with the men, events, and localities we have just been considering. To his kind courtesy I am indebted for much valuable information, and for facilities for acquiring more. His introduction was a key to the treasures of the Maryland Historical Society. He accompanied me to many places of interest in the city and its vicinity, among others Patterson Park and Rodgers’s Battery. There we met the venerable John M‘Lean, the keeper of the park, who was then seventy-eight years of age. He was a member of Captain Benjamin Ringgold’s company in the battle of North Point. After listening with pleasure to his reminiscences, we returned to the city, where I was introduced to General John Spear Smith, a son of the chief commander in the defense of Baltimore, and his volunteer aid on that occasion. General Smith subsequently placed in my hands his father’s military papers of that period, which I freely used in the preparation of the foregoing narrative.


We went to the pleasant inclosure of the City Spring, to see the monument erected there to the memory of Colonel Armistead (delineated on page 960), but found it removed, and the embattled edifice around it, seen beyond the figures in the above picture, nearly demolished. Nor could we find any clew to it. On leaving that shaded spot, where so many Baltimoreans have promenaded during the heats of summer, I was introduced to Captain John Lester, a veteran soldier, seventy-one years of age, who (then an ensign) was the color-bearer of the gallant Twenty-seventh Maryland Regiment in the battle of North Point. He seemed quite too young to claim the patriarchal honors of threescore and ten years. I found in his possession the tattered flag of the Twenty-seventh (delineated on page 954), whose wounds were received while it was borne in his hands forty-seven years before. Twenty-seven years afterward [1841.] he bore the same flag at the head of about thirty survivors of the Twenty-seventh, who were in the funeral procession at the burial of President Harrison, the distinguished soldier of the Second War for independence.

Captain Lester accompanied my traveling companion and myself to the North Point battle-ground on the morning of the 20th [November, 1861 {original text has "1860".}.]. The air was very chilling, but in a covered carriage, with fleet horses and a good postillion, we made the journey comfortably and quickly to the battle-ground, seven miles from the city. On our way, as we approached Long Log Lane, I sketched the Methodist meeting-house, which was used for a hospital after the battle, and where General Stricker bivouacked on the night of the 11th [September, 1814.]. A short distance from it, on the corner, where a road leads to Hancock’s Pavilion, on Bear Creek, was a place of refreshment called the Battle-ground House. In a field adjoining it we saw a rough-hewn block of granite, with a square hollow in it, which was pointed out as the corner-stone of a monument which it is proposed to erect on the field of strife. This was on the right of Long Log Lane going out.


On the opposite side of the lane (which is now the highway to North Point) was the scene of the heaviest of the battle, which was then an open oak wood, as delineated in the accompanying picture of the battle-ground, drawn a few days after the conflict by Thomas Buckle, who was in the fight. The view is from the site of the Battle-ground House. The stately oaks which then shaded the ground have disappeared, and it is covered by a new and smaller growth, and in some places by a tangled undergrowth.


We rode on to the house of Richard Brady (occupied at the time of our visit by Samuel Cole), in front of which General Ross received his death-wound, as related on page 951. Near that spot, by the side of the road, the soldiers, commanded by Captain Benjamin C Howard on that occasion, and known as the First Mechanical Volunteers, erected a monument, about eight feet in height, partly in commemoration of the action, but specifically, as the inscription declares, 29 "as a tribute of respect for the memory of their gallant brother" in arms, Aquila Randall, who fell there. The view in the engraving was sketched from Mr. Cole’s house, in which is seen, toward the left, the venerable oak-tree under which Ross was laid for a few minutes by Captain M‘Dougall, and in the centre, over the horseman, a part of Bear Creek. Ross was shot on the gentle rise of ground in the road a few rods eastward of the monument.

We returned to Baltimore at a little past noon, turning off from the direct road to visit the homestead of Colonel Sterett, mentioned on page 958. The mansion was upon a beautiful terraced slope along the old Philadelphia Road. We did not stop in the city, but riding through it to Fort Avenue, which traverses the length of Fell’s Point to Fort M‘Henry, we passed along that fine stone road a full mile, to the entrance-gate to the outer grounds of the fort. A pass from General Duryee, then in command at Baltimore, opened the portals. We were kindly received by the courteous Colonel (afterward General) W. Morris, the commandant (since dead), and were allowed to visit every part of the venerated fortification. After making the sketch on page 954, we returned, stopping on the way to make a drawing of the circular seven-gun battery mentioned on page 949, and to find the sites of Fort Covington and the City Battery, which was commanded by the gallant Webster. These were situated on the river bank, below the circular battery, and nearly half a mile distant. Webster’s battery was on a line with it, in the direction of the river, and Fort Covington was about five hundred yards farther up the stream. The circular battery was at the end of Light Street, that skirts Federal Hill, on which, at the time of my visit, were heavy earth-works, in charge of Duryèe’s Zouaves, thrown up as a protection to Fort M‘Henry against land attacks by insurgents.


The mounds of the old circular battery were six or eight feet high in some places. It was in a commanding position. Our view, taken from within it, comprises the entire theatre of the operations of the British boat expedition on that eventful night. We are looking toward Chesapeake Bay. On the left is seen Fort M‘Henry, and in the extreme distance, appearing like a speck near the mouth of the Patapsco, is Fort Carroll.

On the following morning [November 21, 1861.] I made a careful drawing of the Battle Monument, delineated on page 960. We afterward spent several hours in the rooms of the Historical Society, and in the afternoon called on Mr. Armistead, where we were kindly shown the old garrison flag, tattered and faded – the identical Star-spangled Banner on which Key and his companions so anxiously gazed "at the twilight’s last gleaming." On the same evening we left Baltimore for Havre de Grace, where, as we have observed on page 673 {original text has "943".}, we passed the night and the following day.

We have remarked that when the British were driven away from Baltimore, the trembling citizens of Philadelphia and New York breathed freer. Both felt themselves seriously menaced by the heavy British force in the Chesapeake, and both had made such vigorous preparations for attack that the enemy did not deem it prudent to attempt it. Indeed, it was not their intention to do so at that time, and they sailed away to the Bermudas to join in the more important work of invading Louisiana.

When, as we have already observed, the depredations of Cockburn on the shores of the Delaware, in the spring of 1813, were made known at Philadelphia, an intense martial spirit was aroused in that city, and along the shores of the Delaware River and Bay. At the beginning of the war that spirit was almost dormant. The fine corps known as the M‘Pherson Blues 30 had been disbanded twelve years before the declaration of war, and another, called Shee’s Legion, was no more. Only three or four volunteer companies of any note then existed in Philadelphia, the oldest of which, a company of cavalry, was called the First, or old City Troop, Captain Charles Ross, which was formed in the autumn of 1774, and did good service in the Revolution under Captain Morris. They formed a body-guard for General Washington when he traveled from Philadelphia to New York in 1775 to take command of the army at Cambridge. These, with Captain Rush’s old Philadelphia Blues, and Captain Fottevall’s Independent Volunteers, both large companies, composed the most of the uniformed militia of that vicinity.


During the summer of 1812 a new uniform company was formed, called the State Fencibles, which, like the City Troop, is still an organized corps, and until a few years ago was led by Captain James Page, who was elected its commander in June, 1818. 31 The original manuscript, containing the call for the formation of this company, is before me, having been kindly placed in my hands by the veteran Captain Page, of Philadelphia, who was a private in that company during the War of 1812. The first name on the list is that of one of Philadelphia’s most honored sons, Hon. Joseph R. Ingersoll, and the third is that of the late Colonel Clement C. Biddle. The latter, who was the originator of the company, was chosen captain, and the former first lieutenant. Captain Page is yet (1867) a vigorous man, nearly eighty years of age, and to him I am indebted for much valuable information concerning military affairs in and around Philadelphia during the war. 32

When the news of the presence of the British in the Delaware reached Philadelphia, great alarm was felt because of the defenseless state of the city. Fort Mifflin, just below, its only defense on the water, was garrisoned by only eleven recruits, under Captain James N. Barker. Something must be done immediately to strengthen that post. James M. Porter, Secretary of the "Young Men’s Democratic Society" of Philadelphia, a young lawyer, called a meeting on the 20th of March at Stratton’s Tavern. It was fully attended, and about seventy young men who were present formed a volunteer company for artillery service on that very evening. They organized by the election of officers the next day, with the name of The Junior Artillerists. They at once tendered their services to General Bloomfield, the commander of the district, to re-enforce the garrison at Fort Mifflin. They were accepted, and within three days after they were organized they marched to Fort Mifflin, under Captain Fisler, each with a cockade in his hat, and wearing a coat with bright buttons, accompanied by Captain Mitchell’s volunteer corps of eighty men, dressed in blue and buff; and known as the Independent Blues. The latter, with the Independent Volunteers, and a newly-organized company called the Washington Guards, Captain Raguet – the first new company of infantry formed in Philadelphia at that time – left the city for the State of Delaware on the afternoon of the 12th of May, under the command of Colonel Lewis Rush. They proceeded to Staunton, about six miles beyond Wilmington, and near that place formed a camp at a spot selected by General Bloomfield.

At about that time it was rumored that Duponts’ powder-mills at Wilmington were about to be attacked. Colonel Rush disposed his troops in that vicinity so as to protect them, and there they remained until the invaders left the neighboring waters. The inhabitants of Delaware, in the mean time, had raised several volunteer companies; and the names of the Duponts, Rodney, Young, Van Dyke, Warren, Wilson, Leonard, and others, are held in grateful remembrance to this day as prominent actors in the business of state defense.

On the receipt of the requisition for troops from the War Department early in July, 1814, Governor Snyder, of Pennsylvania, caused a general order to be issued for the mustering of the militia and the raising of volunteers, in which several military companies of Philadelphia, and elsewhere in the state, who had offered their services to the government in the summer of 1812, were named as accepted volunteers, and as forming a part of the quota of the state. 33 Recruiting went briskly on, and it was greatly promoted by intelligence of the capture of Washington toward the close of August. Volunteers flocked to the standard of General Bloomfield in great numbers. 34 Kennet Square, in Chester County, thirty-six miles southwest from Philadelphia, was the designated place of rendezvous, and there, at the close of August, a camp was formed, under the direction of Captain C. W. Hunter, and named Camp Bloomfield. On the 7th of September, Lieutenant Colonel Clemson, of the United States Army, assumed the command, and on the 14th he was succeeded by Brigadier General Thomas Cadwalader. The troops were brigaded, and the corps was called The Advanced Light Guard. 35 Captain Ross, with his First City Troop, took post on Mount Bull, a height overlooking the Chesapeake, thirteen miles below Elkton, to watch the approach of the enemy, and held communication with the camp and Philadelphia by a line of vedettes.

The brigade changed its position several times, but was continually in the vicinity of Wilmington. The last one that it occupied was called Camp Dupont, about three miles west of Wilmington, where it remained until the 30th of November, when, all danger seeming to be distant, the troops were marched back to Philadelphia, and there disbanded on the 3d of January, 1815. 36

In the mean time a body of almost ten thousand men was assembled near Marcus’s Hook, on the Delaware, twenty miles below Philadelphia, which was at first organized by Adjutant General William Duane, under the command of Major General Isaac Worrall. It was composed of Pennsylvania militia and volunteers. Its rendezvous was called Camp Gaines, in honor of General E. P. Gaines, who succeeded Bloomfield in the command of the Department, in September. This camp was broken up on the 5th of December, 1814. Besides these, several companies were organized in the city and county of Philadelphia who did not take the field. 37 When Gaines left for New Orleans in December, General Cadwalader 38 succeeded him as chief of the Fourth Military Department.

While the volunteers were hastening to the camps to be enrolled as soldiers, the inhabitants of Philadelphia were vigorously making preparations for the defense of the city. When intelligence of the capture of Washington reached them, a public meeting was held, and a committee of defense was appointed, with ample powers to adopt such measures as the exigency seemed to require. 39 "They determined," says Mr. Wescott, 40 "that, for the safety of the city, field fortifications should be thrown up in the most eligible situations on the western side of the town, and where an attack might be expected. A fort was planned near Gray’s Ferry, on the west side of the Schuylkill River, at the junction of the Gray’s Ferry and Darby Roads; also a redoubt opposite Hamilton’s Grove, another upon the Lancaster Road, and a third upon the site of an old British redoubt on the southern side of the hill at Fairmount, which would command the bridge at Market Street and the roads leading to it.

"To construct these works required much labor, and, under the circumstances, they could not have been built without the voluntary assistance of the citizens. A hearty enthusiasm was shown in the service. Companies, societies, and the artificers of the different trades organized themselves for the purpose. Day after day these parties assembled, and left the city at from five to six o’clock in the morning, and, with knapsacks or handkerchiefs containing a supply of food, marched out to the fortifications to a day of toilsome labor at an occupation to which but few of them were accustomed. Labor commenced on the 3d of September, and from that time until about the 1st of October, when the field-works were finished, the toil was participated in by parties having the following numbers: House carpenters, 62; victualers, 400; the Tammany Society, 400; painters, 70; hatters and brickmakers, 300; Philadelphia Benevolent Society and Fourth Washington Guard, 160; Rev. Mr. Staughton and the members of his church, 60; printers, 200; crew of the Wasp, 140; watchmakers, silversmiths, and jewelers (on Monday, September 11), 400; cabinet-makers and joiners, 300; Washington Association, 70; True Republican Society, 70; teachers, 30; friendly aliens, 500; Freemasons, grand and subordinate lodges, 510; Washington Benevolent Society, 500; Sons of Erin, citizens of the United States, 2200; Tammany Society, second day, 130; friendly aliens, second day, 150; German societies, 540; colored men, 650; citizens of Germantown, 400; Scotchmen, 100; Sons of Erin, second day, 350. The colored people also gave a second day to the work. Small bodies, not enumerated, including beneficial societies and social clubs, participated. The physicians and artists of the city also labored at the works. When the fortifications were completed, it was found that about fifteen thousand persons had labored on them. In lieu of work, many who were unable or unwilling to assist in that manner gave money. The collections from this source amounted to about six thousand dollars.

"Arriving at the fortifications, the citizens, having been previously divided into companies, were put to work. At ten o’clock the drum beat for ‘grog,’ when liquor sufficient for each company was dealt out by its captain. At twelve o’clock the drum beat for dinner, when more ‘grog’ was furnished. This was also the case at three and at five o’clock in the afternoon. At six the drum beat the retreat, when it was suggested in General Orders, ‘For the honor of the cause we are engaged in, freemen to live or die, it is hoped that every man will retire sober.’ "

So did Philadelphians prepare for the invader. Happily the enemy did not come, and their beautiful city was spared the horrors of war.

New York was likewise fearfully excited by apprehensions of danger during the summer and autumn of 1814. Like Philadelphia and Boston, its defenses were few and weak at that critical moment. The appearance of the powerful British force in the Chesapeake aroused the citizens to a sense of their immediate danger, and they soon put forth mighty efforts in preparations to repel the invader. The mayor of the city, De Witt Clinton, issued, through the medium of the City Council, a stirring address to the people on the 2d of August, in which he set forth the importance of New York to the enemy on account of its wealth and geographical position, which increased its liabilities to attack. He recommended the militia to hold themselves in readiness for duty, and called upon the citizens to offer their personal services and means cheerfully to the United States officers in command there, to aid in the completion of the unfinished fortifications around the city.

In response to the mayor’s appeal, a large meeting of citizens was held in the City Hall Park, on Tuesday, the 9th of August, 41 when a Committee of Defense, chosen from the Common Council, was appointed, 42 clothed with ample powers to direct the efforts of the inhabitants in the business of protection. On the same morning the officers of General Mapes’s brigade, to the number of two hundred, gave the first practical response to the mayor’s appeal by crossing the East River from Beekman’s Slip, and, with Captain Andrew Bremmer’s artillery, marching to the lines traced out for the fortifications on the heights around Brooklyn by General Swift, and taking pick-axes, and shovels, and every other appropriate implement at hand, breaking ground at eight o’clock, and working lustily all day. They were followed the next morning by as many carpenters and cabinet-makers; and only four days after the meeting in the Park, the Committee of Defense announced [August 13.] that three thousand persons were at work on the fortifications. They also reported the receipt of large sums of money; and on the same day it was announced that "two hundred journeymen printers, one thousand Sons of Erin, thirty pilots, seventy men from the Asbury (African) Church, with one hundred and fifty other colored men, two hundred weavers, and many heads of manufacturing establishments," were at work on the lines. Two days afterward the city newspapers were suspended, that all hands might work on the fortifications; and on the 20th of August five hundred men "left on the Jersey steam-boat for Harlem Heights," to work on intrenchments there; and, at the same time, fifteen hundred "patriotic Sons of Erin" crossed the ferry to Brooklyn for the same purpose. Two days afterward nearly one thousand colored people crossed the Catharine Ferry to work on the fortifications between Fort Greene and Gowanus Creek; and on the 25th the Washington Benevolent Society, an organization opposed to the war, inspired with zeal for the common cause, went over in a body, with their banner bearing the portrait of Washington – the largest number belonging to one society that had crossed over at one time. On the same day the butchers went to the lines to labor, bearing the flag, on which was the figure of an ox prepared for slaughter, which had been used by them in the great "Federal Procession" in honor of the ratification of the National Constitution in 1789. Masonic and other societies went in bodies to the patriotic task; and school-teachers and pupils went together to give their aid. Little boys, too small to handle a spade or pickaxe, carried earth on shingles, and so added their mites in rearing the breastworks. It was a scene like that of cairn-building in the olden time. The infection spread, and every day citizens from neighboring towns on Long Island, 43 on the Hudson, and from New Jersey, proffered their services. Nor were the nights undisturbed by the sound of the patriotic toil. On that of the 31st of August it is recorded that full six hundred men went over to Brooklyn, and worked "by the light of the moon."

Intelligence of the capture of Washington City reached New York on the 27th of August, three days after that sad occurrence. The zeal and patriotism of the citizens were increased thereby.

In General Orders, Daniel D. Tompkins, governor of the State of New York, who had been untiring in his exertions for the public good from the beginning of the war, called on the inhabitants to send arms of every description to the State Arsenal, where all fit for service would be paid for. The call was promptly answered. He also ordered the organization of a battalion of Sea Fencibles, to be commanded by Captain James T. Leonard; and expressed a desire to enroll volunteers for one or two months’ service. Already nearly four thousand militia had come down the Hudson in sloops; and Commodore Decatur had been assigned to the command of the naval force in the harbor of New York, with orders to co-operate with the military in defense of the city. On the 1st of September the governor issued a proclamation for an extraordinary session of the Legislature of the State, to commence on the 27th of that month.

On the 31st of August there was a grand military review in the city of New York, when about six thousand men were under arms. On the 2d of September the militia were mustered into actual service, when the division of General Ebenezer Stevens was transferred to the command of Major General Morgan Lewis.

Cadwallader D. Colden was appointed to the command of all the uniformed militia companies of the city and county, and every thing pertaining to the military was put upon the war footing of actual service. The citizens continued their zealous labors on the military works all through September and in October, and made the lines of fortifications around New York truly formidable. 44

Earlier than the movements of the public authorities and inhabitants of New York and Philadelphia for the defense of their cities, recorded in the preceding pages, the subject of harbor defenses had occupied much of the public attention in sea-coast towns, especially in the fast-growing commercial city of New York. Among the scientific men of that day, John Stevens and Robert Fulton appear most conspicuous in proposing plans for that purpose. Earlier than this (in 1807), Abraham Bloodgood, of Albany, suggested the construction of a floating revolving battery, not unlike, in its essential character, the turret of Captain Ericsson’s Monitor of 1862. 45 In March, 1814, Thomas Gregg, of Pennsylvania, obtained a patent for a proposed iron-clad steam vessel of war, resembling in figure vessels used during our late great Civil War. Drawings of it may be seen in the Patent-office, with full specifications. 46 Our little sketch below was copied from one of these drawings.

At about the same time a committee of citizens examined a plan of a floating battery submitted by Robert Fulton, and approved by such tried naval officers as Captains Decatur, Jones, Evans, Biddle, Perry, Warrington, and Lewis. It was to be in the form of a steam-ship of peculiar construction, that might move at the rate of four miles an hour, and furnished, in addition to its regular armament, with submarine guns. The committee memorialized Congress on the subject, and asked the Secretary of the Navy to give it his official favor. It was objected that a discussion in Congress would reveal the matter to the enemy, and also that the President was not authorized to make an appropriation without the special authority of law. To meet these objections, the committee agreed to have the vessel constructed at their own expense and risk, provided assurances should be given that the government, which alone could employ her, would receive and pay for her when her utility should be demonstrated. It was estimated that she would cost nearly as much as a first-class frigate, or about three hundred and twenty thousand dollars. The liberal offer was accepted, and Congress authorized the President [March, 1814.] to have one or more floating batteries built, under the supervision of the Coast and Harbor Defense Committee. 47

They appointed Mr. Fulton the engineer, and Adam and Noah Brown the architects. The keel was laid at the ship-yard at Corlear’s Hook, in the city of New York, on the 20th of June, 1814, and she was launched at 9 o’clock in the morning of the 29th of October following, in the presence of a vast assemblage of people. The scene was described as very exciting. It was a bright autumnal day. Fleets of vessels and crowds of spectators might be seen on every hand; and she went into the water amid the roar of cannon and the shouts of a multitude full twenty thousand in number, 48 Her engines were put on board, and her machinery tested, in the month of May following [1815.], when Fulton was no more, he having died in February. 49 She made a trial trip to the ocean and back, fifty-three miles, on the 4th of July, at the rate of about six miles an hour by her engines alone. In September she made another voyage to the sea, with her whole armament on board, at the rate of five and a half miles an hour against wind and tide. The vessel was named FULTON THE FIRST.


At the close of 1814 active war had ceased in the Northern States. Its chief theatre of operations was in Louisiana and on the ocean, to which we will now turn our attention.



1 Campaigns of Washington and New Orleans, by the Rev. G. R. Gleig. See page 937.

2 Communications to the author by Messrs. Dr. Goldsborough, M. Spencer, and William H. Groome, of Easton, Maryland, in March, 1860.

3 A British officer, who served with Cockburn and Parker, published some spicy sketches of his experience in marauding expeditions along the shores of the Chesapeake. He relates one, commanded by Cockburn in person, with Parker and General Ross as "amateurs," as he expresses it. The object was, he says, "to destroy a factory village, which was not only the abode of innocent labor, but likewise the resort of some few militiamen guilty of the unnatural sin of defending their own county." Their approach being known, all but women and children had fled from the town. "We therefore," he says, "most valiantly set fire to the unprotected property, notwithstanding the tears of the women, and, like a parcel of savages, as we were, we danced round the wreck of ruin." The excuse was the necessity of retaliation for the destruction of Newark, in Canada. See pages 634 and 932. "Every house," he continues, "which we could by ingenuity vote into the residence of a military man, was burned." He then gives an account of scenes at a dwelling-house near the beach which they surrounded. "Like midnight murderers," he says, "we cautiously approached the house. The door was open, and we unceremoniously intruded ourselves upon three young ladies sitting quietly at tea. Sir George Cockburn, Sir Peter Parker, and myself entered the room rather suddenly, and a simultaneous scream was our welcome." Sir George, he said, was austere, but Sir Peter "was the handsomest man in the navy," and to the latter the ladies appealed. Cockburn told them that he knew their father to be an American officer – a colonel of militia, and that his duty being to burn their house, he gave them ten minutes for removing what they most desired to save. The young women, on their knees, begged the admiral to spare their house. "The youngest, a girl of sixteen, and lovely beyond the general beauty of those parts, threw herself at Sir Peter’s feet, and prayed him to interfere. The tears started from his eyes in a moment, and I was so bewildered at the afflicting scene that I appeared to see through a thick mist." Cockburn was unmoved, with his watch on the table, measuring the fleeting minutes. The other girls were in tears, and asking for mercy. Sir Peter had opened his lips to plead for them, when the brutal Cockburn stopped him, and ordered men to bring the fire-balls. "Never shall I forget the despair of that moment. Poor Sir Peter wept like a child, while the girl clung to his knees and impeded his retreat. The admiral walked out with his usual haughty stride, followed by the two elder girls, who vainly implored him to countermand the order. In a moment the house was in flames. "We retreated from the scene of ruin, leaving the three daughters gazing at the work of destruction, which made the innocent homeless and the affluent beggars. . . . . By the light of that house we embarked and returned on board. It was a scene which impressed itself upon my heart, and which my memory and my hand unwillingly recall and publish."

4 Niles’s Weekly Register, vii., 11.

5 Dallas’s Biographical Memoir of Sir Peter Parker, Bart.

6 Sir Peter Parker was a son of Admiral Christopher Parker, and first cousin of the eminent poet, Lord Byron. He inherited from his father a love of the naval service, and from his mother much personal beauty. He was educated at Westminster School, and entered the navy at the age of thirteen years, with his grandfather, Sir Peter Parker, who commanded the British fleet at Charleston in the summer of 1776. He rose rapidly in his profession under Lord Nelson, Earl St. Vincent, and others, and in 1810 he was made commander of the Menelaus, a new ship, in which he performed gallant service. He accompanied Admiral Malcolm to Bermuda in the spring of 1814, and with him went with his frigate to the Chesapeake, where, as the text relates, he lost his life. His body was first conveyed to Bermuda, and there received the honors of a public funeral. It was afterward conveyed in the same vessel (the Hebrus) to England, and was again buried with a public funeral. Lord Byron wrote a poetic eulogy of Sir Peter. His friend, and one of the chief mourners at his funeral, wrote a touching Biographical Memoir of him, dedicated to his wife, from which the above portrait, from a painting by Hoppner, of the Royal Academy, was copied.

7 Samuel Smith was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, July 27, 1752. His education, commenced at Carlisle, was completed at an academy at Elkton, in Maryland, after his father made Baltimore his place of residence. He was in his father’s counting-house five years, and then, in 1772, sailed for Havre in one of his father’s vessels as supercargo. Having traveled extensively in Europe, he returned home to find his countrymen in the midst of the excitements of the opening of the Revolutionary hostilities. The battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill had been fought. Fired with patriotic zeal, he sought to serve his country in the army, and in January, 1776, obtained a captain’s commission in Colonel Smallwood’s regiment. He was soon afterward promoted to the rank of major, and early in 1777 he received a lieutenant colonel’s commission. In that capacity he served with distinction in the battles of Brandywine and Fort Mifflin, suffered at Valley Forge, and participated in the action on the plains of Monmouth. For his gallantry at Fort Mifflin, Congress voted him thanks and a sword. At the close of the war he was appointed a brigadier general of militia, and commanded the Maryland quota of troops in the "Whisky Insurrection" in Pennsylvania. He served as major general in the War of 1812, and commanded the troops assembled for the defense of Baltimore in 1814.


At that period he was spending much of his time at his elegant country-seat of Montebello, north of Baltimore, which is yet (1867) standing. During a riot in Baltimore in 1836, when the civil power was inadequate to quell the violence of the mob, the aged general, then eighty-four years old, appeared in the streets with the United States flag, placed himself at the head of peaceful citizens, and very soon restored order and tranquillity. In the autumn of that year he was elected mayor of the city, which office he held until his death on the 22d of April, 1839, at the age of eighty-seven years. General Smith was elected a representative in Congress in 1793, and served until 1803. He was again elected in 1816, and served six years longer. He was also a member of the United States Senate for a period of twenty-three years. The portrait on the preceding page is from a painting in possession of his son, General John Spear Smith, who was his volunteer aid-de-camp during the defense of Baltimore in 1814. It was painted by Gilbert Stuart when the general was about forty-five years of age. He is in the uniform of a major general of that day (1797), and shows the Order of the Cincinnati suspended from a button-hole.

8 These were James Mosher, Luke Tiernan, Henry Payson, Dr. J. C. White, James A. Buchannan, Samuel Sterett, and Thorndike Chase.

9 This corps was celebrated for its gallantry. Dr. Martin (see note 1, page 925) says, in his MS. Reminiscences before me, that when he was at Bladensburg, the British officers, who were expecting re-enforcements for Winder from Baltimore, "were particularly anxious about the marine artillery – the material of which it was composed, the weight of metal, number of men, etc. I exaggerated the condition of its ability to do effective service," he said, "and I confidently believe that, had they been part of our force at Bladensburg, we would have succeeded in driving back the enemy, if not in capturing the whole force, for I never saw men so completely exhausted as were the foe."

10 This view is from one side of the bastion, looking toward the harbor. On the point on the right is seen Fort M‘Henry. The point opposite is Lazaretto Point.

11 These were Lieutenant Gamble, the first of the Guerriere, Midshipman Field, Sailing-master Ramage, and Midshipman Salter, of the same vessel, and Sailing-master De la Roche, of the Erie.

12 Letter of Commodore Rodgers to the Secretary of the Navy, September 28, 1814; Letter of Sailing-master (now Captain) John A. Webster to Brantz Mayer, Esq., July 22, 1853.

13 The above portrait of General Stricker is from a painting in the possession of the Maryland Historical Society. General Stricker died in Baltimore on the 23d of June, 1825.

14 Sir Duncan M‘Dougall, K. C. F., son of Patrick M‘Dougall, Esq., of Argyleshire, Scotland, was born in 1789. He entered the army in 1804, and served in several regiments, and on the staff in Portugal, Spain, France, America, Cape of Good Hope, and West Indies. He has the distinction of having received into his arms two eminent British generals when they fell in battle, namely, General Ross, killed near Baltimore, and General Pakenham, slain near New Orleans. He commanded the Seventy-ninth Highlanders for several years. His son and heir, Colonel Patrick Leonard M‘Dougall, is commandant of the Royal Staff {Original text has "Stall".} College. The family is descended, in a direct line, from Somerled, the Prince of the western coast of Argyleshire, and famous "Lord of the Isles." The above portrait of the gallant soldier is from a carte de visite likeness, sent to me at my request by Sir Duncan in the summer of 1861.

15 The remains of these young men were reinterred in a vault in Ashland Square on the 12th of September, 1858, with civic and military honors. The mayor of the city, Thomas Swann, made some remarks, and was followed by Hon. John C. Le Grand, who pronounced an oration. A dirge was executed by the East Baltimore band, and before the remains were laid in the vault, over which a monument is to be erected, the Law Greys fired a volley over them.

16 This little picture represents the tattered battle-flag of the Jefferson Blues, Twenty-seventh Regiment of the Maryland Militia, who fought gallantly on the 12th of September, 1814. It was in the possession of Captain John Lester, of Baltimore, when I made a sketch of it in 1862. He has presented it to the Maryland Historical Society. It is blue silk, with the designs in gold. Its width is four feet six inches. It is quite tattered. The black spots represent the forms of cannon-ball holes made during the battle. On scrolls are the words Jefferson Blues and Non sibi sed patria.

17 General Smith, on the recommendation of Commodore Rodgers, caused twenty-four vessels then lying in the harbor to be sunk in the narrow channel between Fort M‘Henry and Lazaretto Point. These were afterward raised at the expense of the United States. The aggregate amount of money paid to the owners afterward was about $100,000.

18 The bombardment of Fort M‘Henry lasted twenty-five hours, with two slight intermissions, and it was estimated by Armistead that during that time from 1500 to 1800 shells were thrown by the enemy. A few of them fell short, but a greater number burst over the fort, throwing their fragments among the garrison. About 400 shells fell within the works, some of them, afterward dug up, weighing 210 and 220 pounds. "Wonderful as it may appear," said the commander in his report, "our loss amounts only to four men killed and twenty-four wounded. The latter will all recover." The wife of a soldier, while conversing with her husband before the tents outside of the fort, was cut in two by a cannon-ball. A shell fell into the magazine, but did not explode.

19 The fac-simile of the original manuscript of the first stanza of the "Star-spangled Banner," given on the opposite page, was first published, by permission of its owner (Mrs. Howard), daughter of the author, in "Autograph Leaves of our Country’s Authors," a volume edited by John P. Kennedy and Alexander Bliss for the Baltimore Sanitary Fair, 1864.

20 On the return of the British to their vessels after the capture of Washington City, they carried with them Dr. Beanes, an influential citizen and well-known physician of Upper Marlborough. His friends begged for his release, but Cockburn refused to give him up, and sent him on board the flag-ship of Admiral Cochrane. Mr. Key, well known for his affability of manner, was solicited to go to Cochrane as a pleader for the release of the doctor. He consented. The President granted him permission, and, in company with the late General J. S. Skinner, he went in the cartel-ship Minden, under a flag of truce. They found the British fleet at the mouth of the Potomac, preparing to attack Baltimore. Cochrane agreed to release Beanes, but refused to let him or his friends return then. They were placed on board the Surprise, where they were courteously treated. The fleet sailed up to the Patapsco, where they were transferred to their own vessel, but with a guard of marines to prevent their landing and communicating information to their countrymen. The Minden was anchored in sight of Fort M‘Henry, and from her deck the three friends saw the bombardment of that fortress which soon ensued. It ceased, as we have observed in the text, soon after midnight. Having no communication with the shore, these anxious Americans did not know whether the fort had surrendered or not. They awaited the dawn with the greatest solicitude. In the dim light of the opening morning they saw through their glasses that "our flag was still there!" To their great joy, they soon learned that the attack on Baltimore had failed, that Ross was killed, and that the British were re-embarking. When the fleet was ready to sail, Key and his friends were released, and returned to the city.

It was during the excitement of the bombardment, and when pacing the deck of the Minden with intense anxiety between midnight and dawn, that Key composed that song – "The star-spangled Banner" – which immortalized him, and whose first stanza expressed the feelings of thousands of eye-witnesses of the scene:

"O say! can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
O say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?"

The rude substance of the song was written on the back of a letter which Key happened to have in his pocket, and he wrote it out in full on the night after his arrival in Baltimore. On the following morning he read it to his uncle, Judge Nicholson, one of the gallant defenders of the fort, and asked his opinion of it. The judge was so pleased with it that he took it to the printing-office of Captain Benjamin Edes, on the corner of Baltimore and Gay Streets, and directed copies of it to be struck off in hand-bill form. Edes was then on duty with the gallant Twenty-seventh Regiment, and his apprentice, Samuel Sands, who, I believe, is yet living in Baltimore, set up the song in type, printed it, and distributed it among the citizens. * It was first sung in a restaurant in Baltimore, next door to the Holiday Street Theatre, by Charles Durang, to an assemblage of the patriotic defenders of the city, and after that, nightly at the theatre. It created intense enthusiasm, and was every where sung in public and in private.

"The Star-spangled Banner" itself, the old garrison flag that waved over Fort M‘Henry during that bombardment, is still in existence. I saw it at the house of Christopher Hughes Armistead (a son of the gallant defender of the fort) in Baltimore during the late Civil War. It had eleven holes in it, made there by the shot of the British during the bombardment.

* The words of the song were inclosed in an elliptical border composed of the common type ornaments of that day. Around that border, and a little distance from it, on a line of the same form, are the words "Bombardment of Fort M‘Henry." The letters of these words are wide apart, and each one is surrounded by a circle of stars. Around the four edges of the hand-bill is a heavy border of common type ornaments. Below the song, within the ellipse, are the words "Written by Francis S. Key, of Georgetown, D. C."

21 When the British discovered that they were in actual possession, for a day, of the mansion of one of the officers of the American army then confronting them, they made its contents the object of their special attention. The family had fled that morning, leaving the house in charge of only the colored butler and cook. Some British officers took possession of it. In the cellar was found a large quantity of choice wine. It was freely used, and what was not consumed on the premises was carried away as lawful plunder. Wax-candles, bedding, and other things were also carried away, and all the bureau-drawers were broken open in a search for valuables. Among other things prized by the family which the plunderers seized was the Order of the Cincinnati that had belonged to the deceased father of Mrs. Sterett. Finally, after keeping the cook busy, and faring sumptuously, and when they were about to depart, the following good-natured but impudent note was written and left on the sideboard:

"Captains Brown, Wilcox, and M‘Namara, of the Fifty-third Regiment, Royal Marines, have received every thing they could desire at this house, notwithstanding it was received at the hands of the butler, and in the absence of the colonel." I saw the original of this note in 1860, in the possession of a daughter of Colonel Sterett, the wife of J. M. Hollins, then a captain in the United States Navy. It was written on a piece of paper on one side of which an epitaph for the tomb-stone of Mrs. Sterett’s father had been prepared.

22 See page 875.

23 The vase was made to answer the purpose of a punch-bowl. The ladle is in the form of a shrapnel shell. The body rests upon four eagles with outspread wings. Upon one side is an engraving, surrounded by military trophies, representing the bombardment of Fort M‘Henry. Upon the other side is the following inscription: "Presented by a number of the citizens of Baltimore to Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, for his gallant and successful defense of Fort M‘Henry during the bombardment by a large British force on the 12th and 13th of September, 1814, when upward of 1500 shells were thrown, 400 of which fell within the area of the fort, and some of them of the diameter of this vase." I am indebted to the kind courtesy of Mr. C. Hughes Armistead for the photograph of the vase and surroundings from which the above picture was engraved.

24 That sword was presented to his son, C. Hughes Armistead, and bears the following inscription: "The State of Virginia to Colonel George Armistead, U. S. A. Honor to the brave. Presented by the State of Virginia to the son of Colonel George Armistead, late of the Army of the United States, as an evidence of the high esteem and admiration entertained by his native state of the courage and soldierlike conduct of Colonel Armistead in the cannonade of Fort George by Niagara, and in the gallant defense of Fort M‘Henry, September 14, 1814."

25 George Armistead was born at New Market, Caroline County, Virginia, on the 10th of April, 1780, and was related to several of the most distinguished families in that state. He entered the army as second lieutenant in 1799. He was appointed assistant military agent at Fort Niagara in 1802, and assistant paymaster in 1806. He rose to the rank of major of the Third Artillery in 1813, and was distinguished at the capture of Fort George, in May, 1813, where his brother, William Keith Armistead, as chief engineer on the Niagara, was conspicuous in the bombardment of Fort Niagara in November, 1812. For his gallantry at Fort George, the subject of this notice was breveted lieutenant colonel. He had five brothers in the army during the War of 1812, three in the regular service and two in the militia. Lieutenant Colonel Armistead served much among the Indians previous to his marriage with a sister of the eminent Christopher Hughes, in 1810. While in command of Fort M‘Henry, after the war, a number of chiefs visited him, and partook of refreshments out of the silver bomb-shell.

Armistead was in command of Fort M‘Henry when the war broke out, and held it until its close. His gallant defense of that position is made more conspicuous from the fact that he, and he alone, knew that the magazine was not bombproof when the foe approached. He dared not reveal the fact, for fear his men might refuse to remain in the fort. With these enormous chances against him, he faithfully sustained that siege, and won a victory and a name. The sense of responsibility, and the tax upon his nervous system during that bombardment, left him with a disease of the heart, and three years and a half afterward, or on the 25th of April, 1818, he expired, at the age of thirty-eight years. Colonel Armistead was buried with military honors. There was an immense funeral procession, civil and military, and during the ceremonies artillerists fired minute-guns on Federal Hill. It was said to have been the largest procession that had ever been seen in Baltimore. The likeness of Lieutenant Colonel Armistead on page 955 is from a miniature in possession of his daughter, Mrs. Mary Bradford, of Westchester, Pennsylvania, to whom I am indebted for much minute and valuable information.

26 The monument represents a cenotaph surmounted by a short column, and rests upon a plinth, or terrace, of the same material, forty feet square and four feet high. At each angle is placed a cannon erect, having a ball apparently issuing from its mouth. Between the cannon are continuous rows of spear-shaped railing, and eight heavy supporting fasces, all of iron. Outside of all is a chain guard. The lower part of the monument is of Egyptian form and ornamentation, composed of eighteen layers of stone, the then number of the states of the republic. At each of four angles of the surmounting cornice is a massive griffin, wrought of marble. The column represents a huge fasces, symbolical of the Union, the rods of which are bound by a fillet, on which, in bronze letters, are the names of the honored dead, whose brave conduct strengthened the bands of that Union. Wreaths of laurel and cypress, emblems of glory and mourning, bind the top of the great fasces; and between them, in bronze letters, are the names of the following officers who perished on the occasion:

JAMES LOWREY DONALDSON, Adjutant Twenty-seventh Regiment; GREGORIUS ANDREE, Lieutenant First Rifle Battalion; LEVI CLAGGETT, Third Lieutenant Nicholson’s Artillerists. On the fillet are the following names of the slain noncommissioned officers and privates: John Clemm, T. V. Beaston, S. Haubert, John Jephson, T. Wallace, J. H. Marriot of John, E. Marriot, Wm. Ways, J. Armstrong, J. Richardson, Benj. Pond, Clement Cox, Cecilius Belt, John Garrett, H. G. M‘Comas, Wm. M‘Clellan, John C. Bird, M. Desk, Daniel Wells, Jun., John R. Cop, Benj. Neal, C. Reynolds, D. Howard, Uriah Prosser, A. Randall, R. H. Cooksey, J. Gregg, J. Evans, A. Maas, G. Jenkins, W. Alexander, C. Fallier, T. Burneston, J. Dunn, P. Byard, J. Craig.

On the lower part of the fasces are two basso-relievos, one representing the battle of North Point and the death of General Ross, and the other a battery of Fort M‘Henry at the moment of the bombardment. On the east and west fronts are lachrymal urns, emblematic of regret and sorrow. On the south part of the square base of the fasces, below the basso-relievos, is the following inscription in bronze letters: "Battle of North Point, 12th September, A. D. 1814, and of the independence of the United States the thirty-ninth." On the north front, corresponding to this, is the following: "Bombardment of Fort M‘Henry, 13th September, A. D. 1814, and of the independence of the United States the thirty-ninth." That base and fasces together form a column thirty-nine feet in height, to show that the events commemorated occurred in the thirty-ninth year of the independence of the republic. The whole monument, including the exquisitely wrought female figure, representing the City of Baltimore, that surmounts it, rises to the height of almost fifty-three feet. Upon the head of that figure is a mural crown, the emblem of a city. In one hand she holds an antique rudder, symbolic of navigation, and in the other a crown of laurel; while, with a graceful inclination of the head, she looks in the direction of the theatre of conflict. At her feet, on her right, is an eagle, and near it a bomb-shell, commemorative of the bombardment. This monument, in its conception and execution, is worthy of the great events commemorated.

A few years ago, a thin volume was published in Baltimore entitled The Citizen Soldiers at North Point and Fort M‘Henry, September 12 and 13, 1814. It contains the names of all the men, officers and privates, who were on duty at that time, and is dedicated to "Major General Samuel Smith, the Hero of two Wars."

27 This is a view of the City Spring and its surroundings taken from Saratoga Street a short time before the monument was removed. That monument was placed in a recess of the building with battlements, seen toward the left of the picture, with an iron railing in front. The City Spring is under the temple-shaped pavilion in the foreground, which is yet (1867) standing, I believe, with the same lantern hanging beneath its dome.

28 In this view, copied from Buckle’s picture in the Maryland Historical Society, Long Log Lane is seen over the equestrian figures toward the right, and on the extreme right the head of Bear Creek. The conflict occurred within the spaces included in the picture.

29 The following are the inscriptions on the monument: North Side: "Sacred to the memory of AQUILA RANDALL, who died in bravely defending his country and his home on the memorable 12th of September, 1814, aged 24 years." East Side: "In the skirmish which occurred at this spot between the advanced party under Major Richard K. Heath, of the 5th Regt. M. M., and the front of the British column, Major General Ross, the commander of the British forces, received his mortal wound." West Side: "The First Mechanical Volunteers, commanded by Captain Benjamin C. Howard, in the 5th Regt. M. M., have erected this monument as a tribute of their respect for the memory of their gallant brother." South Side: "How beautiful is Death when earned by Virtue."

30 See page 111.

31 Captain Page was commander of the First Company. When, in April, 1861, the President of the United States called for seventy-five thousand troops to put down the great insurrection of the slaveholders against the government, the Fencibles offered themselves as volunteers, and were mustered into the service of the United States, and formed a part of the Eighteenth Regiment Pennsylvania volunteers. They served the full term of three months, when they were mustered out of the service, and honorably discharged. Many of them afterward entered the service as volunteers in different corps. The Pennsylvania militia law of May, 1864, dissolved the organization, and the State Fencibles, after an honorable career of more than half a century, passed into History as an extinct military association. The last captain was John Miller. Among the brave men of the corps who went into the War for the Union, Captain Hesser, made colonel of the Seventy-second Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, deserves honorable mention. He fell at the head of his regiment, at Orange Court-house, Virginia, in November, 1863.

32 In 1859 former members of the State Fencibles presented to Captain Page a sword, on which is the following inscription: "Presented to Captain James Page by retired members of the State Fencibles, as a token of their esteem for him as a citizen and soldier, and of their appreciation of his services as commanding officer of that corps for a period of forty years. Philadelphia, December 29, 1859."

33 These were the Harrisburg Volunteers, Captain Thomas Walker; State Fencibles, Captain C. C. Biddle; three rifle companies, commanded respectively by Captains Andrew Mitchell, Nicholas Beckwith, and Samuel Dunn; Benevolent Blues, Henry Reed; and Light Dragoons, James Noble.

34 "The very flower of the youth and best hopes of the nation," wrote an eye-witness – "citizens of every rank and profession, and of every political name, were there commingled in the ranks, united in a common cause for the defense of their country, and exhibiting to the monarchs of Europe the glorious spectacle of practical equality." – Author of A Short Sketch of the Military Operations on the Delaware during the late War, etc. Philadelphia, 1820.

35 The brigade staff consisted of the following officers: Thomas Cadwalader, brigadier general; John Hare Powell, brigade major, in place of Hunter, promoted; Richard M‘Call and John G. Biddle, aids-de-camp; Henry Sergeant, assistant quartermaster general; David Correy, assistant deputy quartermaster general. The number of officers and privates may be stated as follows: Brigade staff, 7; one company of flying artillery, Captain Richard Bache, 61; two troops of cavalry, 115; one artillery regiment, 589; one infantry regiment, 1203; riflemen, 1179; one militia battalion, 250. Total, 3504.

36 Among the gallant officers at Camp Dupont was Captain John Ross Mifflin, of the Washington Guards. He was a nephew of Captain Ross, and died, unmarried, in Philadelphia in 1825. He wrote a series of interesting letters from Camp Dupont, copies of some of which were kindly placed in my hands by Miss Elizabeth Mifflin, of Philadelphia. These give a lively picture of camp life there.

37 Short Sketch of Military Operations on the Delaware during the late War, pages 3 to 29 inclusive.

38 Son of General John Cadwalader, of the Continental Army. He was born on the 28th of October, 1779. He was admitted to the bar in Philadelphia in 1801. He studied military science intently, and entered the service as captain in 1812. He rose to the rank of brigadier general in 1814. After the war he became major general of Pennsylvania militia. He assisted in forming a system of cavalry tactics in 1826. He died on the 26th of October, 1841.

39 The public meeting was held in the State House Yard, on the 26th of August, 1814. Thomas M‘Kean was chairman, and Joseph Reed was secretary. A committee, of which Jared Ingersoll was chairman, was appointed "to consider and report what measures ought, in their opinion, to be adopted for protection and defense." They reported resolutions, the first of which nominated a number of gentlemen as a committee of defense, for the purpose of organizing the citizens of Philadelphia, and of the northern and southern districts, for defense, with power to appoint committees under them, correspond with the state and general governments, make arrangements for supplies, fix on places of rendezvous, etc. This committee consisted of the following named persons: For the city of Philadelphia – Charles Biddle, Thomas Leiper, Thomas Cadwalader, Gen. John Steel, George Latimer, John Barker, Henry Hawkins, Liberty Browne, Charles Ross, Manuel Eyre, John Connelly, Condy Raguet, Wm. M‘Faden, John Sergeant, John Geyer (Mayor), and Joseph Reed. For the Northern Liberties and Penn Township – Colonel Jonathan Williams, John Goodman, Daniel Groves, John Barclay, John Naglee, Thomas Snyder, J. W. Norris, Michael Lieb, Jacob Huff, and James Whitehead. For the district of Southwark and townships of Moyamensing and Passyunk – James Josiah, R. M‘Mullen, John Thompson, E. Ferguson, James Ronaldson, P. Miercken, R. Palmer, and P. Pitts.

These citizens met on the day of their appointment, at the State House, where they were organized into a committee of defense, with Charles Biddle as chairman, and John Goodman as secretary. The labors of the committee were very useful and important. The organization was continued until the 16th of August, 1815, when, at the eighty-second meeting, their labors ceased. The minutes of the committee, carefully kept by Mr. Goodman, and giving the details of their proceedings, were published in 1867 as the eighth volume of the Memoirs of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, accompanied by brief biographical notices of the members of the committee.

40 History of the City of Philadelphia, from 1682 to 1854, by Thompson Wescott, Esq. This history was in manuscript when Mr. Wescott kindly allowed me to copy the matter quoted in the text.

41 The call was signed by Henry Rutger and Oliver Wolcott. The chief organ of the Opposition – the Evening Post – denounced it, and asked, "Has it not a squinting toward the charter election?"

42 The committee consisted of Nicholas Fish, Gideon Tucker, Peter Mesier, George Buckmaster, and J. Nitchie.

43 On the 17th of August, the people of Bushwick, Long Island, led by the Rev. Mr. Bassett, repaired to Fort Swift (erected on the old redoubt of the Revolution on Cobble Hill) to labor on that work. The venerable pastor of the flock that followed him opened the operations with prayer, and he remained with them throughout the day, encouraging them and distributing refreshments among them.

44 These displays of patriotism inspired Samuel Woodworth, an American poet of considerable eminence, and then the editor and publisher of a weekly record of events entitled The War, to write a very popular ballad called The Patriotic Diggers, of which the following is a copy:

"Johnny Bull, beware,

Keep at proper distance,
Else we’ll make you stare
At our firm resistance;
Let alone the lads
Who are freedom tasting,
Recollect our dads
Gave you once a basting.
Pickaxe, shovel, spade,
Crowbar, hoe, and barrow,
Better not invade,
Yankees have the marrow.

"To protect our rights
’Gainst your flints and triggers,
See on Brooklyn Heights
Our patriotic diggers;
Men of every age,
Color, rank, profession,
Ardently engage,
Labor in succession.
Pickaxe, etc.

"Grandeur leaves her towers,
Poverty her hovel
Here to join their powers
With the hoe and shovel.
Here the merchant toils
With the patriot sawyer,
There the laborer smiles,
Near him sweats the lawyer.
Pickaxe, etc.

"Here the mason builds
Freedom’s shrine of glory,
While the painter gilds
The immortal story.
Blacksmiths catch the flame,
Grocers feel the spirit,
Printers share the fame,
And record their merit.
Pickaxe, etc.

"Scholars leave their schools
With their patriot teachers
Farmers seize their tools,
Headed by their preachers.
How they break the soil!
Brewers, butchers, bakers;
Here the doctors toil,
There the undertakers.
Pickaxe, etc.

"Bright Apollo’s sons
Leave their pipe and tabor,
’Mid the roar of guns
Join the martial labor;
Round the embattled plain
In sweet concord rally,
And in freedom’s strain
Sing the foe’s finale!
Pickaxe, etc.

Plumbers, founders, dyers,
Tinmen, turners, shavers,
Sweepers, clerks, and criers,
Jewelers, engravers,
Clothiers, drapers, players,
Cartmen, hatters, tailors,
Gaugers, sealers, weighers,
Carpenters and sailors.
Pickaxe, etc.

"Better not invade;
Recollect the spirit
Which our dads displayed,
And their sons inherit.
If you still advance,
Friendly caution slighting,
You may get, by chance,
A bellyful of fighting.
Pickaxe, shovel, spade,
Crowbar, hoe, and barrow,
Better not invade,
Yankees have the marrow.

The most authentic account of the fortifications thrown up around New York in the summer and autumn of 1814 may be found in the report of General Joseph Swift, Chief Engineer (see page 638), to the Common Council Committee of Defense, made at the close of the year 1814. I have compiled the following statements from the original manuscript of that report, with its maps, and landscape and topographical drawings, which are now before me.

The city of New York might be approached by an enemy by way of Sandy Hook and the Narrows, Long Island Sound and the East River, and across Long Island. To guard against invasion by either one of these approaches, and to be prepared at all points, old fortifications, built during the Revolution, or when war with France seemed inevitable in 1798 and 1799, were strengthened and new ones were erected. The commanding situations near the dangerous passage in the East River known as Hell Gate, at the mouth of the Harlem River, were occupied by batteries, some of which were covered by towers. The heights overlooking Harlem Plains, and those around Brooklyn, on Long Island, were also covered with military works, within which necessary magazines and barracks were erected. The position of these various works, and those around and in the harbor of New York, may be seen at a glance by reference to the map on the next page.

In the rear of Brooklyn works were erected which completely isolated the town. On the high ground overlooking the Wallabout and the navy yard was Fort Greene, mounting twenty-three heavy cannon, and between it and Gowanus Creek, which ran through a low morass, Redoubts Cummings and Masonic, Washington Battery and Fort Firemen were erected. These were united by lines of intrenchments. In each of these redoubts, as well as at the salient angles of the intrenchments, twelve-pounders were placed. The intervals between them did not exceed half grape-shot distance of guns of that capacity. On a small eminence on the margin of Gowanus Creek, on the right flank of these lines, was a little redoubt, open in the rear, calculated for three heavy guns, to defend the mill-dam and bridge. On a commanding conical hill forming a part of Brooklyn Heights, and nearly on the site of Fort Stirling of the Revolution, was a strong redoubt called Fort Swift; and another, named Fort Lawrence, was constructed at the southwestern extremity of the heights, and overlooking Gowanus Bay and Governor’s Island.


On Hallett’s Point, Long Island, near Hell Gate, was quite an extensive work called Fort Stevens, in honor of General Ebenezer Stevens, who had been in command of the troops in and around New York. On Lawrence’s Hill, in the rear, and commanding an extensive view, was a tower.


In front of it, in the middle of the East River, at the mouth of the Harlem River, stood (and yet stands) Mill Rock. On this a very strong block-house and a powerful battery were erected.


On the shore of York Island, opposite, at a place known as Rhinelander’s Point (Horn’s Hook in the Revolution), not far above the present Astoria Ferry, was a redoubt to cover the Hell Gate passage. These works, in the aggregate, were of sufficient capacity to mount thirty large cannon, besides mortars, so arranged that half of them might be concentrated at one time upon any object in the river. At Benson’s, nearly on a line with the present Second Avenue, was a redoubt to guard a mill-dam and fording-place on the Harlem Creek, which empties into the Harlem River near by. Intrenchments extended back to another short creek, where they were flanked by a battery.



At the head of Harlem Creek commenced a parapet and ditch, running to Fort Clinton (delineated on the next page), which was situated on an elevated rock at M‘Gowan’s Pass, now called Mount St. Vincent, in the northeastern part of the Central Park. Connected with Fort Clinton, and extending like a bridge over M‘Gowan’s Pass, were a blockhouse and Nutter’s Battery(a sketch of which is given on the following page), the whole joined to and commanded by Fort Fish (a view of the interior of which, with Harlem in the distance, will also be found on the following page), on another eminence westward of the pass, on which five heavy cannon were planted. This pass, on the old Kingsbridge Road (between the present Fifth and Sixth Avenues and One Hundred and Fifth and One Hundred and Eighth Streets), was a very important point, and great efforts were used to make it a Thermopylæ to any foe that might attempt to go through.




Immediately west of Fort Fish, and at the foot of the works, was a deep, rough, wooded valley, which is now within the Central Park, and preserved in all its original rudeness. On the opposite side of this valley was a range of wooded and rocky heights, of difficult ascent excepting in one place, and there for only the lightest troops. On these heights, extending to Manhattanville, several block-houses were erected, mostly of stone, within supporting distance from each other. These extended from near M‘Gowan’s Pass almost to the Bloomingdale Road. The one nearest that road, and overlooking Manhattanville, was called Fort Laight. All of them had heavy guns mounted en barbette, that is, on the top, without embrasures.

From Fort Laight ran a line of intrenchments westwardly across the Bloomingdale Road, which ended on the high, precipitous bank of the Hudson.


Here, near the then residence of Viscount Courtenay (afterward the Earl of Devon), was a strong stone tower (see picture on page 975) which commanded Manhattanville, and from which was a fine view of the Palisades of the Hudson, and of the river almost to the Highlands. Such were the fortifications described in General Swift’s report, at the conclusion of which he said:

"The works comprehended in the foregoing description have been chiefly constructed by the labor of the citizens of the city of New York, Long Island, and of the neighboring towns near the North River, and in New Jersey, all classes volunteering daily working-parties of from five to fifteen hundred men. The fortifications are testimonials of patriotic zeal, honorable to the citizens and to the active and assiduous Committee of Defense."

Besides these works there were old Fort George, at the foot of Broadway; the North Battery (given below), at the foot of Hubert Street; and a partly finished work near the foot of the present Twenty-third Street, called Fort Gansevoort. At Princes Bay, Staten Island, a tower was erected to command the only secure anchorage for the shipping and safe landing-place of a foe. Fortifications were commenced on the Staten Island Shore at the Narrows, and near there a brigade of two thousand militia from the Hudson River counties were stationed from August to December, 1814. On Governor’s Island, very near the city, were Forts Jay and Castle Williams.



Of all these works only those on Governor’s Island remain, excepting one of the block-houses near M‘Gowan’s Pass, in the upper part of the Central Park, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, at One Hundred and Fifth Street, overlooking Harlem Plains. Its massive walls are well preserved, as may be seen from the drawing of it given on page 975. The mounds of Forts Fish and Clinton, at M‘Gowan’s Pass, were also well preserved as late as 1860, when, from the north, they presented the appearance given in the engraving on the opposite page.

* This is a view from the tower on Lawrence’s Hill, back of Fort Stevens, and looking up the Harlem River. Directly over the fort is seen the block-house on Mill Rock. Over the island on the left is seen Rhinelander’s Point. At the extreme right is Hell Gate.

The house in which Viscount Courtenay, son of the Earl of Devon, lived was built by the elder Doctor Post, of New York, and named Clermont. There Joseph Bonaparte resided for a while. It is now (1867) known as Jones’s Claremont Hotel, and is a place of great resort in fine weather for pleasure-seekers who frequent the Bloomingdale and Kingsbridge Roads. The appearance of the mansion has been entirely changed by additions.

General Swift’s aid-de-camp, Lieutenant Gadsden, of the United States Engineers, superintended the erection of the works at Brooklyn, assisted by Messrs. Nicholls and Mercein. Major Horn superintended those in the vicinity of Harlem. The surveys, maps, and small views presented in the report were furnished by Captain (late Professor in Columbia College, New York) Renwick, of General Mapes’s brigade, aided by Lieutenants Gadsden, Craig, Turner, De Russy, Kemble, and Oothout. The larger views were drawn by Mr. Holland.

§ This sketch shows the character of the rocky heights on which the line of block-houses was built. In the distance is seen the "High Bridge," or Croton Aqueduct, over Harlem River. The walls of the block-house are twelve or fifteen feet in height, and four feet in thickness.

The remains of Fort Clinton are seen on the left.

45 In a volume containing the proceedings of the Society for the Promotion of Useful Arts in the State of New York, published at Albany in 1807, is the following account of Mr. Bloodgood’s plan, reference being had to accompanying drawings: "The model of this battery was exhibited to the society with a verbal description only. The annexed plate shows an exact profile of its body, the shape of which, as seen above, is circular. It is to be connected at the centre of its bottom with a strong keel, in such a manner that, while the keel is held by cables and anchors in one position, the battery is made to turn round on its centre. This motion may be given to it either by the tide acting on float-boards attached to the body of the battery, by sails raised on its exterior parts, or by manual application. In this last way it may be effected by men in the hold drawing on a lever fastened to a post fixed to the keel and rising through a well-hole in the centre of the battery. The strength of horses might perhaps be applied to the same purpose. The cables by which the keel is held are to be entirely under water, and thus secure from an enemy’s shot. The advantages of such a battery would be – 1. Its rotary motion would bring all its cannon to bear successively, as fast as they could be loaded, on objects in any direction. 2. Its circular form would cause every shot that might strike it not near the centre to glance. 3. Its motion, as well as its want of parts on which grapplings might be fastened, would render boarding almost impossible. 4. The steadiness with which it would lie on the water would render its fire more certain than that of a ship. 5. The guns would be more easily worked than is common, as they would not require any lateral movement. 6. The men would be completely sheltered from the fire of the elevated parts of an enemy’s ship. 7. The battery might be made so strong as to be impenetrable to common shot, etc."

46 The following is a portion of the specification:


"The boat is framed on an angle of about eighteen degrees all round the vessel, when the top timbers elevate the balls, and the lower ones direct them under her. The top deck, which glances the ball, may be hung on a mass of hinges near the ports. Said deck is supported by knees and cross-timbers on the lower sides, so that it may be sprung with powder, if required (when boarded by the enemy), to a perpendicular, when the said deck will be checked by stays, while the power of powder will be exhausted in the open air, and then fall or spring to the centre of the deck again. The aforesaid deck will run up and down with the angle, which may be coppered or laid with iron. The gun-deck may be bored at pleasure, to give room, if required, as the men and guns are under said deck. The power is applied between her keels, where there is a concave formed to receive them from the bow to the stern, except a small distance in each end, forming an eddy. The power may be reversed to propel her either way. Said power is connected to upright levers to make horizontal strokes alternately. The elevation of her timbers and gearing will be proportioned by her keel and tonnage."

47 That committee consisted of General Dearborn, then commanding the district, Colonel Henry Rutgers, Oliver Wolcott, Samuel L. Mitchell [TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE: The correct spelling is "Mitchill". – WDC, 11/29/2001.] , and Thomas Morris.

48 The New York Evening Post published an account of the launching of this vessel, and gave the following as her dimensions and capacity for armament: "She measures one hundred and forty-five feet on deck, and fifty-five feet breadth of beam, draws only eight feet of water, mounts thirty 32-pound carronades, and two columbiads of one hundred pounds each. She is to be commanded by Captain Porter." It may be added that it was a structure resting upon two boats and keels, separated from end to end by a channel fifteen feet wide and sixty-six feet long.


One boat contained the boiler for generating steam, which was made of copper. The machinery occupied the other boat. The water-wheel (A) revolved in the space between them. The main or gun-deck supported the armament, and was protected by a parapet four feet ten inches thick, of solid timber, pierced by embrasures. Through twenty-five port-holes were as many 32-pounders, intended to fire red-hot shot, which could be heated with great safety and convenience. Her upper, or spar-deck, upon which many hundred men might parade, was encompassed with a bulwark, for safety. She was rigged with two stout masts, each of which supported a large lateen yard and sails. She had two bowsprits and jibs, and four rudders, one at each extremity of each boat, so that she might be steered with either end foremost. Her machinery was calculated for an additional engine, which might discharge an immense column of water, which it was intended to throw upon the decks and through the port-holes of an enemy, and thereby deluge her armament and ammunition – See Colden’s Life of Robert Fulton, page 229.

The most extravagant stories concerning this monster of the deep went forth at about the time of her being launched. In a treatise on steam-vessels, published in Scotland soon afterward, the author said: "Her length is 300 feet; breadth, 200 feet; thickness of her sides, 13 feet, of alternate oak plank and corkwood; carries 44 guns, four of which are 100-pounders; can discharge 100 gallons of boiling water in a few minutes, and by mechanics brandishes 300 cutlasses with the utmost regularity over her gunwales; works, also, an equal number of pikes of great length, darting them from her sides with prodigious force, and withdrawing them every quarter of a minute."

49 See page 242.



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