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Wells & McComas Monument in Old Town

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E Monument Street & N Aisquith Street (Street View)

GPS: 39° 17′ 52.66″ N 76° 36′ 6.84″ W


Daniel Wells and Henry McComas were apprentice saddle makers in Charm City during the War of 1812. By 1814, the teenagers were part of Captain Edward Aisquith’s Militia Rifle Company, preparing for an eventual English attack. After successfully sacking Washington DC, including the White House, The British decided to swing by Baltimore in hopes of eliminating the pirates and privateers stationed in the notorious port. General Robert Ross was in command of the invading land troops that approached the town’s western boundaries in September of 1814. Ross had a military background spanning 30 years and had served in the Napoleonic Wars.

As the Aisquith Company positioned itself on the North Point Peninsula, an area fortified a year earlier in fear of an impending British invasion, General Ross, noticing the American positions, found refuge on the local farm of Robert Gorsuch. Here he had breakfast cooked for him while waiting for the rest of his army to arrive. Brigadier General John Stricker, in charge of the 3,000 plus soldiers advancing the British land assault, ordered a group of 230 men with one cannon to flush General Ross out of the Gorsuch farm. Wells and McComas were a part of this small brigade, their defining moment arriving swiftly.

Riding on a white horse (or a black horse, depending on the source), General Ross was shot in the battle, mortally wounded by the American Militia. Daniel Wells and Henry G. McComas have been given equal credit for the historical deed, each sacrificing their life in the progress. Another American soldier was shot at the scene, 24 year-old Aquila Randall, credited with being the first United States fatality of the Battle of North Point, was found near the bodies Wells and McComas, all three had fired their weapons.

Noted local poet and Baltimore historian Christopher T. George has shed light on the possibility a sniper, and not Wells and McComas, killed General Ross at the Battle of North Point. As a reference George cites a passage in the book The British Invasion of Maryland, 1812-1815 by William Matthew Marine. The volume contains a conversation between an American, Henry Wilson, and an English gentleman claiming to have been General Ross’s aide de campe at the Battle of North Point. The British soldier reports that Ross’s mortal wound was “caused by a musket ball and a buck-shot”, his testimony running counter to the notion the wound was caused by musket ball only. The Independent Blues militia of the 5th Regiment used this modified method, loading ‘buck and ball‘, for their weapons. George also wrote that: “the unit’s commander, Capt. Aaron R. Levering [of Independent Blues], is alleged to have seen an officer ride up at the head of the enemy line. He is deported to have ordered his men, ‘Take good aim, there’s an officer.’ The militiamen saw the British officer fall from his horse and from the description of his uniform it was thought that it was Ross.”


In 1854, a committee gathered with the notion of erecting a monument to Wells and McComas. On September 10, 1858, after securing and investing the funds for the project, the bodies of the teen militiamen were exhumed and placed in the Maryland Institute. Thousands of people visited the coffins during the three days leading up to September 12th, the anniversary of the Battle of North Point, when the official cornerstone for the memorial was laid. On that day, the bodies of Wells and McComas were paraded to Ashland Square, the site of interment, and placed below the obelisk’s foundation in ceremonial fashion. The 21-foot monument was finally completed in 1873 and is made of Baltimore County marble. The Obelisk portion, resting on a two-step granite pedestal is comprised of two large pieces of marble, weighing 14 and 8 tons respectively.



Written by monumentcity

June 1st, 2009 at 8:34 pm

8 Responses to 'Wells & McComas Monument in Old Town'

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  1. thank you for the post this is my ancester, direct line he is a great grand father serveral times to get back to him,

    bob mccomas

    29 Apr 12 at 2:47 pm

  2. Another link in the chain.

    To the McComas family hello from the Clayton, and Gardner Family connection.

    I remember my parents buying a grandfather clock from someone in your branch when I was a child and taking it back to Ct. in a station wagon. “Grandfather” is with my daughter and ticking away.

    I remember my mother talking about this young man and the monument when I was growing up. Thanks to Christopher Smithson now I get to see it.

    Thank you,


  3. I will have to visit it someday.


  4. I recently attended a lecture at Life Long Learning at Florida Atlantic University where Dr. Robert Watson a noted author and historian, spoke of the War of 1812. He talked with great detail about the British attack on Baltimore and General Ross’s death by a sniper attack. Dr. Watson never mentioned Wells and McComas. I was a tour guide in Baltimore for over thirty years and certainly know the Wells and McComas story. It is my intention to share with Dr, Watson, the article about these young men which includes details about the monument honoring them.

    Ruth Hochman Fader

    12 Nov 13 at 7:01 am

  5. I found an article in the newspaper when my 6th grandmother, Mary Hair, died stating the my 6th grandfather Jacob Hair donated the land to the city that this monument stands on.


    10 Sep 14 at 12:21 pm

  6. There is a more complete background beyond a “notion” in 1854:

    Wells & McComas were burid in the east end of the city in the Graveyard of Christ Church. Entire graveyards were being moved out the the city or obliterated by construction with no notice. Original resolution by the citizens of the burgeoning city was to establish Greenmount Cemetery. Subsequently Wells & McComas graves were planned to be spared at Greenmount and be suitably enshrined there with a monument. Sentiments were giveb oportunity to swell. Fundraising efforts were obviously successful & included donations from former citizens living in California. See February 2, 1846 American & Commerical Dail Advertiser.

    Bob Cummins

    12 Sep 15 at 8:11 am

  7. The monument location is just a few blocks from their original resting place in the Christ Church graveyard between Jefferson & Orleans Street.

    Bob Cummins

    12 Sep 15 at 3:49 pm

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