The Battle Of North Point, September 12, 1814
The War of 1812 began when the United States declared war
on Britain on June 18, 1812. The United States' main reason for a renewed
war with Britain was the continuing impressments of American sailors overseas. The
British, also at war with Napoleon's France had been interfering with American
trade and pressing Americans into service. By 1814, England had
defeated Napoleon and had turned their attention to American shores. The
city of Baltimore would prove to be a major focal point in the War of 1812.
On September 12, 1814 over 4,000 British troops landed at
North Point, Maryland. The plan devised by the British was to march
towards the City of Baltimore and to capture the port city. The British
had already captured and devastatingly burned the nation's capital, Washington
D. C. in late August. The British were hoping to repeat their success in Washington with a
similar attack on Baltimore.
At 3:00 A.M. on September 12, the campaign officially began. Under the
command of Major General Robert Ross, troops and supplies were unloaded upon the
Maryland shore at North Point. Meanwhile, as part of a land and sea two prong
attack, British ships had also entered the mouth of the Baltimore Harbor near Fort McHenry. A
rather small force of just over 250 Maryland volunteers, led by Brig. Gen. John Stricker,
commander of the 3d Brigade of the Maryland militia met the marching British
troops at North Point in an attempt to delay the British advance towards
For over two hours, fighting ensued between the
outnumbered Maryland volunteers and the highly trained British infantry.
Most notably, two Marylanders, Private
Daniel Wells and Private Henry G. McComas were credited with purportedly killing
Major General Ross, which proved to be a major blow to British hopes for
victory. Unfortunately, both Wells and McComas would also be killed later
that day. It has been historically debated whether these two men were the
actual sharpshooters that felled Ross. The debate continues in academic
circles to this day. British command passed
to Col. Arthur Brooke, who continued to move the troops toward the city. After the Battle of North Point, the British march to Baltimore was
obstructed by a force of 10,000 Americans on Hampstead Hill.
Ultimately, the British failed in capturing Baltimore.
The land attack failed and Fort
McHenry withstood the heavy British bombardment by sea. Francis Scott Key
watched the proceedings at the fort and wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner,
which eventually became the U.S. National Anthem. The Battles of North
Point and Baltimore had all but vanquished any hopes of British victory in the
War of 1812. With these battle victories, the War of 1812 had reached its
turning point and of victory over the British was imminent.
National History Standards
Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the
National History Standards for Grades K-4:
The History of the
Students’ Own State or Region
STANDARD 3: The people, events, problems, and
ideas that created the history of their state.
Standard 3C: The student understands the various
other groups from regions throughout the world who came into the his or her own state or region over the long-ago and recent
K-4: Use a variety of visual data,
fiction and nonfiction sources, and speakers to identify the groups that have come into the state or region and to generate ideas about why
they came. [Obtain historical data]
Standard 3D: The student understands the interactions among all these
groups throughout the history of his or her state.
3-4: Analyze the significance of major events in the state’s
history, their impact on people then and now, and their relationship to the history of the nation. [Analyze
3-4: Identify historical problems or events in the state and analyze the way
they were solved and/or the ways that they continue to be addressed. [Identify issues and
problems in the past]
- TITLE: Battle
of North Point
ARTIST: Don Troiani
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Date Unknown
REPOSITORY: National Guard Heritage Series
Battle of North Point Near Baltimore 1814
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Date Unknown
ARTIST: Thomas Ruckle (1775-1853)
SOURCE FOR IMAGE: Wikipedia. Original painting owned by the Maryland Historical Society.
- TITLE: Battle
of North Point
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 2003
NOTES: This website was designed to attract would-be
re-enactors/ However, there is a Ruckle painting available for viewing as
well as a picture of an 1812 uniform in addition to the engraving listed
of 1812 Maryland Light Dragoons
REPOSITORY: Maryland Historical Society
Pensions for Indigent Soldiers and Indigent Widows of Soldiers who fought in
the War of 1812
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 30 March, 1868
SOURCE: Laws of Maryland Chapter 432
- TITLE: Pensions
for Indigent Soldiers and Indigent Widows of Soldiers of the War of 1812
DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 4 April, 1870
Chapter 477 of Laws of
- TITLE: Monument
commemorating the Battle of North Point, Calvert Street and Fayette Street,
PHOTOGRAPHER: John Plumbe (1809-1857)
SCULPTOR: Antonio Capellano
First Look into the Camera: Daguerreotype Portraits and Views, 1839-1864
REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs
- TITLE: Pictorial
Field-Book Of The War Of 1812
AUTHOR: Benson J. Lossing
NOTES: A 19th century source on the War of 1812 with illustrations
and pictures by Lossing. This was perhaps the first attempt at a
comprehensive history of that war for it was written in 1868 and published
in 1869. Some of the people who talked to Lossing about the war had
been participants in the battles.
- TITLE: View
of the Spot Where General Ross Fell Near Baltimore
ARTIST: John Hill
SOURCE: Cator Print #131
REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
- TITLE: Officers
of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in the War of 1812
SOURCE: Naval Register: Printed by Order of the Secretary
of the Navy, August 1st, 1815. Washington, D.C.: Weightman, 1815.
REPOSITORY: Naval Historical Center
- TITLE: Rifle
Corps in Action, 1813-1821
Battle of Baltimore 1814, by Joseph Whitehorne
- TITLE: Maj.
Gen. Robert Ross
NOTES: This illustration does not have a date. It is most
probable that it is a more contemporary illustration of the Major General.
Yet an absence of available portraits or paintings make this illustration
valuable to the researcher.
SOURCE: The Patent Pony: The History of the United States
- TITLE: The Citizen Soldiers at North Point and
Fort McHenry, September 12 & 13, 1814. Resolves of the Citizens in Town
Meeting, Particulars Relating to the Battle, Official Correspondence and
Honorable Discharge of Troops. Also Celebration of the Seventy-Fifth
CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1889 (Reprint)
SOURCE: Google Books
Additional Media Resources
General Society of the War of 1812.
Other 1812 Links, 2012.
Maryland State Archives.
The Whisky Rebellion, the War with France, and the War of 1812.
NOTES: This webpage includes information on how to obtain primary
sources that are related to the War of 1812 from the National Archives
and Records Administration as well as a select bibliography on articles and
sources available in the Archives mostly in the Reference section of the
The War of 1812 Website
Additional Instructional Resources
POINT IN HISTORY: The War of 1812 Should it be called the Second War of
The Star-Spangled Banner: Fact or Fiction? From the UMBC Center for History Education.
Brugger, Robert. "Realizing the New Republic (1781-1815)." In
Maryland: A Middle Temperament. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University
Press in association with the Maryland Historical Society, 1988.
Colston, Frederick Morgan. The Battle of North Point:
The bombardment of For McHenry, and the Birth of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
Baltimore: J. H. Furst Company, 1907.
Darling, Carlos Parsons, B. L.
A Sketch of the principal
Events of the War of 1812. 2000.
The Battle of
North Point in The Dundalk Eagle, 2003.
Hunter, Wilbur H., Jr. "The Battle of Baltimore
Illustrated" William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Series (April 1951):
Lossing, Benson J. "Baltimore
and Washington (War of 1812)" Harper's New Monthly Magazine
Marine, William Matthew. The Battle of North Point.
Baltimore, Hanzsche & Co, 1901.
The Short History of Defense of Maryland During the War of 1812. From
Emmittsburg Area Historical Society, 2003.
Spaulding, Thomas Marshal. The Battle of North Point. In
Sewanee Review, July 1914, p. 319-328.
Tawes, J. Millard.
Address, General Society Of The War Of 1812,
Defender's Day, Fort McHenry.
Executive Records, Governor J. Millard Tawes, 1959-1967.
Archives of Maryland Online, 13 September, 1959, p. 353-355.
Whitehorne, Joseph A.
The Battle for Baltimore, 1814, The Nautical & Aviation Publishing
Company of America, 1997.
Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations
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American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.
Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
This document packet was researched and developed by Michael Walsh.