Although the battle proved to be a success for the British, it came at a high cost, and, in truth, did little to change the course of the war, which was the British hope at the time.
North Point is a peninsula leading to the Chesapeake Bay. It was to serve as the landing point for the British forces following the burning of Washington City, the U. S. Capitol. The idea was to send British troops toward Baltimore, a major port city at the time. In that manner, the British would be in a position to attack Fort McHenry, Fort Babcock, and Fort Covington, all protecting the Chesapeake Bay. A fleet of British warships sat in the bay, and they were to attack Fort McHenry on 13 September 1814. Therefore, the British landed on North Point on September 12. The advance proved to be a limited victory for the British, the battle allowed the Americans to bolster their defences in the region to ultimately thwart the larger British advance into Maryland.
For several months, British naval forces under the command of Rear Admiral George Cockburn had taken up position in the Chesapeake Bay. The idea was to draw the U.S. forces back toward a defense of their Capitol and prevent more attacks along the Canadian front, which is where the Americans had excelled during the war. Along with Cockburn’s efforts, the British employed the talents of Major General Robert Ross, a veteran of the conflict on the Continent with Napoleon, to engage the American forces, which the British considered far inferior to their own. Ross had known success up until the Battle of North Point. He had defeated the hastily assembled forces raised in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and after victory in the Battle of Bladensburg, had burned Washington. After a great storm had put out the fires set in Washington City, he retired to the Royal Navy ships to regroup and make repairs. Afterwards, Ross and his men then made their way to Chesapeake and the strategically valuable port of Baltimore. On 11 September, Ross and forces of close to 5000 men landed at North Point, at the end of the peninsula. From here, they marched hard toward Baltimore. Little did they know, the Americans had been preparing for such a possibility for more than a year. They had built a defensive “wall” around the city, and they laid in wait for the British to appear.
The Canadian Encyclopedia tells us, Major General Samuel Smith, the commander of the Baltimore militia, sent American Brigadier General John Stricker’s 3rd Brigade to defend the city. Stricker prepared his defense, setting up his men between Bear Creek and Bread and Cheese Creek. “With 2 regiments in front with 6 cannon, 2 regiments in support, and 1 in reserve, Sticker made excellent use of the terrain, with the woods providing cover and swamp and muskeg on his left that would make any British flank attack difficult.
“On 12 September, the British stopped for a meal, while Stricker pressed for a skirmish attack to draw them out into a better position. With 250 men, Major Richard Heath raised havoc with the British. Major General Ross, when he heard of the attack, rushed to order his men to hold ground instead of follow until they could get more support for the advance. Before he could command his men in battle, however, Ross was shot in the chest by a sniper’s bullet. He handed command to Colonel Arthur Brooke, and died before the battle had truly begun.
“Brooke wasted no time in preparing his men for an attack on the American position. The first stage was a rain of artillery fire and rockets launched to provide cover for the 44th Regiment to attempt a flank attack. Meanwhile, the main front of British soldiers held the line against a deadly and constant American artillery fire. This included cannon shot made up of broken metal, nails and scraps, a viciously improvised grapeshot. British artillery also hammered the American line. While the casualties grew, the 44th Regiment attacked on the flank, disrupting the American line and forcing them to break up. Stricker reorganized his men and maintained a line to fight muzzle to muzzle with the British for an hour as casualties mounted. As his men broke up, he commanded them in a fighting retreat and returned to Baltimore.”
Unfortunately, for the British, Brooke did not continue to advance. As night fell, he planned to wait until the attack on Fort McHenry in the Baltimore Harbor began. No one foresaw the idea that the Royal Navy would not know success against the fort, which had 32-pound cannon batteries in place. The French made cannons were not as powerful as the ones on the British ships, but they were more accurate. They forced the British to stay, essentially, out of rage of destroying the fort, although the British rained down cannonballs and missiles on the fort for more than 24 straight hours.
The lack of success in destroying Fort McHenry, which, even after all it had sustained, had replaced its customary flag with the one Major George Armistead, the Fort’s commanding officer, had commissioned the previous year. Armistead had desired “to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty in seeing it from a distance.” The 17 x 25 foot flag was replaced by the one made by Mary Pickersgill. It was 30 x 42 feet and sported 15 stars and 15 stripes, which was the custom at that time for each state to be represented by a star and a stripe on the flag. The larger flag inspired Francis Scott Key, who watched the bombardment from a ship in the bay, to pen his poem, which would later become “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The failure of the Royal Navy to bring down Fort McHenry, along with the death of Ross, wore down the resolve of the British forces. Brooke attempted to rally his men for a second push to overtake Baltimore, but when they realized the Americans had amassed more than 20,000 men and 100 pieces of artillery, the idea of losing so many men had Brooke and his troops second guessing their choices. Still, Brooke prepared for a daring night attack against the defences at Loudenslager Hill, but required naval support to quiet the battery of guns at Roger’s Bastion on the flank of his proposed attack. Rear Admiral Cochrane provided the support, but failed to silence the guns, and Brooke called off his attack. He and his remaining men withdrew.
The Battle of North Point was technically a British victory, since they forced the Americans to retreat. But the cost and failure to capitalize on Brooke’s success made it a hollow victory. The British suffered 39 dead, and nearly 300 wounded, compared to the Americans’ 24 dead and 130 wounded.
Captain Stanwick’s Bride: Tragic Characters in Classic Lit Series Novel
[Arriving February 19, 2021]
“Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur everyday than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” – Benjamin Franklin
Captain Whittaker Stanwick has a successful military career and a respectable home farm in Lancashire. What he does not have in his life is felicity. Therefore, when the opportunity arrives, following his wife’s death, Stanwick sets out to know a bit of happiness, at last—finally to claim a woman who stirs his soul. Yet, he foolishly commits himself to one woman only weeks before he has found a woman, though shunned by her people and his, who touches his heart. Will he deny the strictures placed upon him by society in order learn the secret of happiness is freedom: Freedom to love and freedom to know courage?
Loosely based on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Courtship of Miles Standish” and set against the final battles of the War of 1812, this tale shows the length a man will go to in order to claim a remarkable woman as his.