Archive for the ‘War of 1812’ Category
Westminster Burying Ground and Catacombs was established in 1786 as Westminster Presbyterian Cemetery. In the middle of the 19th Century the congregation (First Presbyterian) decided to erect a church building. They chose the cemetery for the Dixon, Dixon, Balbirnie designed structure, placing the foundation on top of the burial ground. Completed in 1852, the Gothic Revival church is raised above a portion of graves creating catacombs. It closed in 1977 and is now owned and maintained by the University of Maryland School of Law. The facilities are available for functions and the cemetery is open to the public from 8am until dusk. The catacombs can be toured by appointment.
Several American heroes are resting at Westminster. Revolutionary War physician James McHenry was buried here in 1816. A signer of the Declaration of Independence and George Washington’s aide-de-camp, McHenry eventually became the third United States Secretary of War. Fort McHenry was named in his honor.
Brigadier General John Stricker was instrumental in Baltimore’s defining moment during the War of 1812. In command of the third brigade of the Maryland Militia, Stricker was tasked with stalling the approaching British land force as they marched on Baltimore in September of 1814. His men were successful, enabling Major General Samuel Smith to carry out his fortification plans. Stricker was also a soldier during the Revolutionary War.
Next to the Stricker vault is the final resting place of Samuel Smith, merchant, statesman and war hero. Smith elevated to Lieutenant Colonel during the Revolutionary War and to Major General during the War of 1812. He commanded the city’s overall defense during the Battle of Baltimore and was a United States Senator from Maryland. He was mayor of Baltimore from 1835-1838. Smith died in 1839 at the age of 86. His politician brother Robert, Secretary of State under James Madison, is also buried at Westminster.
A number of Baltimore mayors are entombed here. James Calhoun, Edward Johnson and John Smith-Hollins join Samuel Smith in the small Victorian cemetery.
In 1849 Edgar Allan Poe was placed at Westminster next to his grandfather, David Poe Senior. A veteran of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, David was Charm City’s assistant deputy quartermaster during the Revolution and apparently committed $40,000 of his personal fortune to the American cause. He helped defend Charm City in 1814 at the age of 71. His tombstone reads: Patriot.
In 1875 Edgar Allan was moved to the front of the cemetery and placed under an Egyptian-themed George Frederick designed monument. Several years later, in 1913, a second headstone was erected at the writer’s initial burial site.
Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery is located in west Baltimore and is bound by Redwood Street to the north, Lombard Street to the south and Martin Luther King Boulevard to the west. 2.8 acres of land was purchased in 1800 as a burial ground for Old Saint Paul’s growing congregation. The church, established in 1692, is one of 30 original parishes granted to the Colony of Maryland by the Church of England.
Several prominent American war veterans are interred at Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery. Revolutionary War hero and Maryland politician John Eager Howard is buried here in his family vault. Howard is famous for leading the 3rd Maryland Regiment during the Battle of Cowpens. He later served as 5th Governor of Maryland from 1788 to 1791.
George Armistead rests within the park’s boundaries. Commander of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, Armistead died just four years after the epic Battle of Baltimore. His nephew Lewis Armistead became a Confederate Brigadier General during the American Civil War and was incredibly courageous at the Battle of Gettysburg, a battle which ultimately claimed his life. He lies next to his uncle near the cemetery’s center.
Francis Scott Key, author of the Star-Spangled Banner, was initially interred in the Howard family vault. His daughter Elizabeth was married to Charles Howard, the fourth and youngest son of John Eager Howard. Francis Key died at his daughter’s Mount Vernon home in 1843. His remains were moved to Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, Maryland in 1866.
Jacob Small, Jr. is buried in Old Saint Paul’s Cemetery. Small fought in the Battle of North Point during the War of 1812 and later served as mayor of Baltimore. He designed the Aquila Randall Monument in 1817. The memorial still stands in Dundalk.
Other notable Marylanders at rest here are politicians Samuel Chase, James Carroll and George Howard. Chase signed the United States Declaration of Independence and eventually became an associate justice of the Supreme Court. His father, Reverend Thomas Chase, was the first pastor of Old Saint Paul’s Parish. James Carroll was a Congressman from Maryland and George Howard, 1st son of John Eager Howard, was the 22nd Governor of the state.
Robert Cary Long, Sr. was a self-taught American architect responsible for designing and building numerous structures throughout the City of Firsts. His Peale Museum and Davidge Hall remain. Long was a member of Old Saint Paul’s Parish and was the architect of its second church building which burned down in 1854. He sleeps within the park’s protective walls.
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An interesting aspect of historic cemeteries is the burial bell. In the past there was a legitimate fear of being buried alive. A bell atop a burial room with a string hanging below was one last insurance policy for the recently departed. Cemetery workers were employed around the clock to listen for the ringing of the dead. Rick Tomlinson, Verger for Old Saint Paul’s Parish and gatekeeper of its graveyard, pointed out a few burial bells while he graciously lead me around the grounds.
During the War of 1812, as British troops approached Baltimore aiming to eliminate the bothersome privateer port, Commodore John Rodgers organized his large group of local volunteer soldiers at Hampstead Hill (now part of Patterson Park). Known as Rodgers’ Bastion, the fortified position provided a perfect vantage point during the British invasion of September 1814, allowing the Commodore to see the English flotilla coming up the harbor as well as the foot soldiers marching from North Point. The intelligent organization and courageous execution of Charm City’s defenders resulted in American victory. The Star-Spangled Banner was written by Francis Scott Key during the campaign.
In 1892 Charles H. Latrobe (grandson of Benjamin Henry Latrobe) saw the completion of his monumental Patterson Park Pagoda at the top of Hampstead Hill. The four story oriental style tower is made of fabricated iron supports, wood and glass. The ornamental building has three observation decks with a spiral staircase leading to each. The perspective from the top deck is one of the best in Baltimore, with views of Canton, the Inner Harbor and downtown.
In 1914, during the Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Baltimore, two monuments were placed directly in front of the Victorian pagoda. J. Maxwell Miller’s Star-Spangled Banner Centennial Monument depicts two school children holding a memorial scroll and the Rodgers’ Bastion Memorial Cannon commemorates the land battle lead by Commodore Rodgers. Nearby is a row of five cannon representing the War of 1812 fortification.
The Patterson Park Pagoda was completely restored in 2002 and is operated by the Friends of Patterson Park. The observatory is open from noon to six on Sundays from April to October. The historic location is one of the most engaging in Charm City, offering layers of historical value and intrigue.
This War of 1812 Bomb and Rack is positioned on Redwood Street between South Street and S. Calvert Street. The central downtown location is across from the Joseph Evans Sperry and J. B. Noel Wyatt designed Mercantile Trust and Deposit Company building. Fired from a British warship during the Battle of Baltimore, the bomb was found inside Fort McHenry after the historic engagement. An officer retained possession of the artifact, eventually gifting it to iron merchant Michael Keyser who, in turn, gifted it to the city. The monument was dedicated in 1863, was knocked over during the Great Fire of 1904, and rededicated in 1906. According to a 1905 map of Baltimore City, the Bomb and Rack mark the spot of the Keyser Building.
The Rack, where the bomb sits, was used to bend iron bars so they could fit inside Conestoga wagons. Used extensively during the 18th and 19th Centuries, the horse, mule or oxen drawn carriages could carry up to eight tons and were the American military’s primary cargo vehicle until the the arrival of the railroad. The Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs Inventory of state monuments lists the War of 1812 Bomb and Rack under their Baltimore City category.
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag pwas conceived and primarily sewn at Baltimore’s Flag House. The historic building and museum was once occupied by Mary Young Pickersgill and her successful flag making business. In 1813 Colonel George Armistead, then commander of Fort McHenry, expressed interest in two oversized banners for the star-shaped stronghold. General John Stricker (who is buried in Westminster Burying Ground) promptly placed an order with the Pickersgill company for the giant pennants. $574.44 of federal money exchanged hands and Pickersgill, her daughter, two of her nieces and an indentured servant began fulfilling the contract.
The Great Garrison Flag measured 30 feet by 42 feet, while the Storm Flag was smaller (17 feet by 25 feet) and more suitable for inclement weather. The Great Garrison Flag was so large it had to be sewn in sections and taken to a nearby brewery for final assembly. Claggett’s Brewery (as it eventually became known) was owned by Mayor Edward Johnson and was one block from the Pickersgill house. The women worked by candlelight during evening hours, unknowingly creating an American icon. The brewery building is no longer standing.
On September 12, 1914, during the citywide centennial celebration of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, Baltimore dedicated Fort McHenry as a public park. 6500 school children were arranged on a grandstand in the form of a massive human flag. The children, accompanied by a 250 piece marching band, sang Francis Scott Key’s historic anthem, a song inspired and written during the Battle of Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner would finally become the nation’s official anthem in 1931. Edward Berge’s George Armistead Monument was unveiled during the day’s festivities.
In the summer of 1812, with war against England looming, an angry mob of Baltimoreans trapped and tortured a group of British Sympathizers at old city jail. Mayor Johnson arrived in order to quell the situation, where he advised the prisoners and negotiated with the mob. His stance against the instigators was an important political decision as Baltimore, and the United States, moved away from vigilantism. He is also noted for owning the brewery in which Mary Pickersgill sewed the Star-Spangled Banner, America’s most significant flag.
A doctor by trade, Johnson began his medical practice the same year he entered politics. During a serious yellow fever outbreak in 1819, Johnson donated $150.00 of his own money for the publication of a medical report on the epidemic. His efforts proved central in ending the citywide health crisis. An historical tablet, placed across the street from Carroll Mansion, marks the location of his former home. Brewer’s Park, recently replaced with a hotel, was once next door.
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.
On the front of the United Methodist Church in Mount Vernon Place is a tablet to Francis Scott Key. The plaque was created in 1912 by Hans Schuler and marks the location of the lawyer’s death. Key died of pleurisy in his daughter’s home, formerly located on this site, at the age of 64. The historic Asbury House, designed by J. Rudolph Niernsee and James Crawford Neilson, is next door.
E Pratt Street & S Patterson Park Avenue, next to the Pagoda
GPS: 39° 17′ 23.74″ N 76° 35′ 0.99″ W
The Centennial Celebration of the Star-Spangled Banner was a week long event held in Baltimore in 1914. The festivities marked the city’s successful defense of it’s borders during the War of 1812. The ceremonies included parades, balls, parties, performances and numerous monument dedications. J. Maxwell Miller, a close friend and colleague of artists Edward Berge and Hans Schuler, produced the Star-Spangled Banner Memorial for the occasion. The sculpture depicts two school children holding a scroll that reads: “To commemorate the centennial of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, the pupils of the public schools of Baltimore have erected this memorial upon Hampstead Hill where in September, 1814, the citizen soldiers of Maryland stood ready to sacrifice their lives in defense of their homes and their country.”
Situated in the vicinity of Commodore John Rodgers’ headquarters during the Battle of Baltimore, the monument stands next to the Pagoda on historic Hampstead Hill.