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(War of 1812 Records)

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Baltimore's preparations for defense in this war centered around efforts to repair, strengthen, and renovate Fort McHenry on Whetstone Point. Smaller redoubts such as Fort Covington and Babcock were built further up the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River to support Fort McHenry. Hampstead Hill (now Patterson Park) also was fortified. The Committee of Vigilance and Safety, headed by Mayor Edward Johnson, was the coordinating and planning unit for the defense of Baltimore, including the equipping and supporting of the militia. Major General Samuel Smith, the commanding officer of the Maryland Militia, worked closely with this committee in coordinating and planning the defence of the city.

In August 1814 Washington, D.C. was invaded and burned by British troops and on September 12th the British landed at North Point at the mouth of the Patapsco River. An American force, made up of Maryland and Pennsylvania militia, sailed from Baltimore and under General John Strieker engaged the British force in a two hour stalemate and retreated to Baltimore. On September 13th the British advanced on Baltimore and shelled Fort McHenry with cannon fire, bombs, and rockets in an attempt to weaken the city's defences for a land attack. A night landing was attempted below Fort McHenry but was repelled by heavy fire. The harbor was shallow (ships were also deliberately sunk in the harbor of the city) and the larger British ships were unable to maneuver close to the city to cover a land assault. After the attack Baltimore continued strengthening its defences, repairing damage to Fort McHenry and other fortifications.

There has been much written about Baltimore during the War of 1812. The most helpful study concerning the municipal government's involvement is Frank A. Cassel's "Response to Crisis: Baltimore in 1814," Maryland Historical Magazine 66 (Fall, 1971): 261-87.

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DateSeries NameDescriptionLinksMSA Citation
  Details1813-1815War of 1812 Records

A wide variety of records relating to Baltimore's involvement in the war originally indexed by the Historical Records Survey. Th 1813 documents (nos. 549-940) include correspondence relating to the defence of Baltimore; miscellaneous bills, receipts, and vouchers for arms, repairs, construction, and labor; muster rolls for the months of April and May for the Baltimore Mechanical Volunteers, Fifth Regiment Maryland Cavalry and Maryland Miltia, First Baltimore Maryland Riflemen, First Regiment Artillery, Sixth Regiment Maryland Militia, payrolls for the months of April and May for the Fifth Regiment Maryland Cavalry and Maryland Militia; First Regiment Artillery, Fifty-first Regiment Maryland Militia, First Baltimore Maryland Riflemen, and Sixth Regiment Maryland Militia; and subsistence accounts for the months of April and May for the Baltimore Mechanical Volunteers, Fifth Regiment Maryland Cavalry and Maryland Militia, First Baltimore Maryland Riflemen, First Regiment Artillery, Sixth Regiment Maryland Militia, and Thirty-ninth Regiment Maryland Regiment.

The 1814 documents (nos. 462-1732) are of a different nature and substance. Correspondence to the Committee of Vigilance and Safety for the defence of the city for the period February to December concern construction, military equipment, laborers, and pay, as well as some letters from Major General Samuel Smith. Correspondence from the committee for the period April to December concern construction and loans. Further miscellaneous papers concerning the committee include a list of the members of the committee, receipts, and bills of sale and licences for some ships; vouchers relating to music, labor, arms, construction, repair work, iron work, and coffins; daily morning reports for the Twenty-seventh Regiment, Maryland Militia cover its individual companies; daily and weekly reports of the regiment; and correspondence with abstracts of disbursements to officers and men of the militia.

  Details1820PensionsTwo letters from Louis Gassaway to Thomas Rogers, notary public, regarding pension monies due Gassaway's sister. One document transmits the sister's affadavit required in the investigation of her claim; the affadavit is not present. Gassaway explains the circumstances surrounding the claim in the other document and questions Rogers as to how to have this pension continued. BRG22-2
  Details1826War Loan Interest CorrespondenceCorrespondence relative to the settling of Baltimore's claim for interest due the city on monies loaned to the federal government for purposes of defence during the War of 1812. The majority of the letters are addressed to Mayor John Montgomery and concern a memorial passed in Congress to authorize payment of the funds owed. BRG22-3
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