Saturday, September 12, 2009

This Day in History 09.12.09

On this day in 1814 began the Battle of Baltimore, the last official battle of the War of 1812.

I've been looking forward to making this particular post, seeing as how it's one of my all-time favorite battles and probably the second greatest battle of the War of 1812, right after the Battle of New Orleans.

The Battle of Baltimore started weeks after one of the darkest events of this new country: the Burning of Washington. Many federal buildings were burned to the ground by the British, including the White House.

The British were so confident by the success at Washington that before setting out to Baltimore, they stopped by Alexandria, Virginia on August 20 and a raid lasted there until the 9th of September. The British gained much by this raid, but for Baltimore, this gave them ample time to build up their defenses and get better prepared for the inevitable battle that was to come.

The Battle of Baltimore was made up of two events: the Battle of North Point and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry.

North Point was located five miles outside the city and was part of the city's defenses, led by Major General Samuel Smith. Anticipating the British's move, he sent a column led by General John Stricker just outside of Baltimore. Stricker learned that the British were encamped just three miles away. Instead of being sitting ducks waiting for an attack, Stricker decided to provoke the British, led by General Robert Ross. Leaving his lunch, Ross got on his horse to fetch the main British Army, but an American sniper hidden in some trees cut him down before he had the chance. Before dying, Ross handed over command to Colonel Arthur Brooke. Brooke decided to assault the Americans head-on, but the British took on heavy casulties and retreated. Brooke decided to wait to see how the sea battle went.

At Fort McHenry, 1,000 soldiers, led by Major George Armistead, were waiting for a naval attack from the British. The attack began the next day, September 13th, when 19 British ships started bombarding the Fort. After back and forth, the British moved back beyond the Fort's cannon's range and continued to fire on the Fort for the next 25 hours, but the damage to the Fort was light. At nightfall, Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane sent a small landing party west of the Fort, hoping to draw General Smith's troops away from the British land troops. Instead, Armistead's guns opened up on them. Brooke, seeing that the fort could not be taken, withdrew to the fleet and Cochrane sent the fleet to regroup before the next assault, which would take place in New Orleans.

On the morning of the 14th, the American flag still waved over the fort, and an unknown amateur poet name Francis Scott Key saw it and took out his notebook. What he wrote that day was called The Defense of Ft. McHenry, later to be called The Star-Spangled Banner.

The Treaty of Ghent, was signed on December 24, 1814, making the Battle of Baltimore the last official battle of the War of 1812.

After the successful burning of the nation's capital, the British thought they'd find an easy fight at Baltimore, followed by surrender. To say the least, they were disappointed.


Nina said...

Thank you for the historylesson :) I love history!