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"All the Means Within Our Power": Maryland's Defenses During the War of 1812


General Sam Smith Portrait
Maryland was an important campaign during the War of 1812 and many citizens took up arms to defend their homes. Farmers, lawyers, physicians, and tradesmen all took part in the defense of Maryland. Some elected officials even yielded their positions to enlist with militia united or the regular army, while other retained their public offices, choosing to serve the needs of citizens and soldiers through budgeting and policy. Marylanders served their state as well as their nation. From privateers to Major Generals of the United States Army, some Marylanders even left their homes to aid their country in campaigns outside of Maryland. They served on all fronts, supported the young nation, and protected the Chesapeake against the British invasion of 1813 and 1814. Although free and enslaved blacks were not allowed to serve in the militia, they played a crucial role in the defense of Maryland. Due to the geography of the state, Marylanders had to be conscious of every river, mountain, hill, and creek; the sizeable British Army and Navy could attack from any one of those points at a moment's notice, with little recourse for the citizens to defend this strategic state. Marylanders were spread thin, and priorities had to be addressed quickly. Establishing defenses for Baltimore was of the utmost importance, and most of the physical and financial expenses of Maryland were to defending her largest and most important city.

Maryland was in a unique situation at the start of the war. With the exception of a divided Baltimore City, the state as a whole was decidedly Federalist, and against a second war with England. But when it came time to defend, representatives in Maryland's Legislature never refused aid when asked by those acting in her defense. At the start of the war, the United States exhausted most of its resources and money in a poorly executed scheme of invading Canada. After those actions proved futile, Maryland and many other states realized that defending their homes and lands would be the burden of the individuals living there. In fact, Maryland played a large part in funding the Federal Treasury and Armed Forces budget, as well as more than meeting their required militia quota. If Marylanders suspected that they were to receive little assistance from the Federal Government to defend themselves, it was solidified after the British were able to enter into Washington D.C., with little resistance, and proceeded to burn the public buildings and the White House. Two weeks later, Maryland and the City of Baltimore would meet the enemy on their lands and waters, and they defended their homes in one of the most unified and strategic citizen-led efforts ever witnessed. After Marylanders successfully defended Baltimore, and shortly after the British sailed out of the Chesapeake Bay, the words of President James Madison declared "the claims for Maryland for her expenditures during the war, stood upon higher ground that those of any other State in the Union!"

The documents listed below are just a small sample of how Maryland prepared to defend against a not just possible, but probable, British attacked during the years of 1813 and 1814. From muster rolls with the names of individuals posted in locations like Baltimore and Annapolis, to the payment receipts for the cost of equipment and labor during this massive statewide effort. From the maps that were created, detailing the geography of Maryland, to the letters written between concerned citizens and their elected officials in Annapolis, this packet will illustrate just how expansive, self-motivating and truly astonishing was Maryland's defense.

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators for both Grades 5-12 and K-4.

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following United States History Content Standards for Grades 5-12.

Era 3: Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)

Standard 2 : The impact of the American Revolution on politics, economy, and society

Standard 3 : The institutions and practices of government created during the Revolution and how they were revised between 1787 and 1815 to create the foundation of the American political system based on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights

Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1864)

Standard 1: United States territorial expansion between 1801-1864, and how it affected relations with external powers and Native Americans

Standard 3: The extension, restriction, and reorganization of political democracy after 1800

Standard 4: The sources and character of cultural, religious, and social reform movements in the antebellum period

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following United States History Content Standards for Grades K-4.

Topic 2: The History of 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 past.

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]

3-4: Draw upon census data and historical accounts in order to describe patterns and changes in population over a period of time in a particular city or town in the students' state or region. [Draw upon 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 cause-and-effect relationships]

3-4: Identify historical problems or events in the state and analyze the way they were solved and/or the way that they continue to be address. [Identify issues and problems in the past]

3-4: Examine various written accounts in order to identify and describe regional or state examples of major historical events and developments that involved interaction among various groups. [Consider multiple perspectives]

Standard 3E: The student understands the ideas that were significant in the development of the state and that helped to forge its unique identity.

K-4: Draw upon visual and other data to identify symbols, slogans, or mottoes, and research why they represent the state. [Draw upon visual data]

Topic 3: The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the Peoples from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic and Political Heritage

Standard 4 : How democratic values came to be, and how they have been exemplified by people, events, and symbols

Standard 4B: Demonstrate understanding of ordinary people who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy

K-4: Identify ordinary people who have believed in the fundamental democratic values such as justice, truth, equality, the rights of the individual, and responsibility for the common good, and explain their significance. [Assess the importance of the individual in history]

K-4: Analyze in their historical context the accomplishments of ordinary people inthe local community now and long ago who have done something beyond the ordinary that displays particular courage or a sense of responsibility in helping the common good. [Assess the importance of the individual in history]

Standard 4C: The student understands historic figures who have exemplified values and principles of American democracy.

3-4: Compare historical biographies or fictionalized accounts of historical figures with primary documents in order to analyze inconsistencies and disagreements in these accounts, and assess their reliability. [Compare competing historical narratives]

Standard 4D: The student understands events that celebrate and exemplify fundamental values and principles of American democracy

3-4: Describe the history of events. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas and beliefs]

Standard 4E: The student understands national symbols through which American values and principles are expressed.

K-4: Describe the history of American symbols. [Demonstrate and explain the influence of ideas]

K-4: Explain why important buildings, statues, and monuments are associated with state and national history. [Obtain historical data]

3-4: Analyze the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic songs, poems, and sayings that were written long ago to demonstrate understanding of their significance. [Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage]

3-4: Analyze songs, symbols, and slogans that demonstrate freedom of expression and the role of protest in a democracy. [Consider multiple perspectives]

Standard 5 : The causes and nature of various movements of large groups of people into and within the United States, now, and long ago.

Standard 5A: Demonstrate understanding of the movements of large groups of people into his or her own and other states in the United States now and long ago.

3-4: Draw upon data in historical maps, historical narratives, diaries, and other fiction or nonfiction accounts in order to chart various movements (westward, northward, and eastward) in the United States. [Obtain historical data]

3-4: Identify reasons why groups such as freed African Americans families migrated to various parts of the country. [Consider multiple perspectives]

Standard 6 : Regional folklore and culture contributions that helped to form our national heritage.

Standard 6A:The student understands folklore and other cultural contributions from various regions of the United States and how they help to form a national heritage.

K-4: Describe regional folk heroes, stories, or songs that have contributed to the development of the cultural history of the U.S. [Read historical narratives imaginatively]

K-4: Draw upon a variety of stories, legends, songs, ballads, games, and tall tales in order to describe the environment, lifestyles, beliefs, and struggles of people in various regions of the country. Read historical narratives imaginatively]

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following Maryland Social Studies Standards for Grades 4 and 8.

Grade 4 - Standard 5.0: Students will examine significant ideas, beliefs, and themes; organize patterns and events; and analyze how individuals and societies have changed over time in Maryland and the United States.

    Topic C. Conflict between ideas and institutions
      Indicator 2. Explain the political, cultural, economic and social changes in Maryland during the early 1800s.
      • Objective a. Describe Maryland's role in the War of 1812
      Indicator 4. Analyze how the institution of slavery impacted individuals and groups in Maryland
      • Objective a. Compare the lives of slave families and free blacks

Grade 8 - Standard 5.0: Students will examine significant ideas, beliefs, and themes; organize patterns and events; and analyze how individuals and societies have changed over time in Maryland and the United States.

    Topic C. Conflict between ideas and institutions
      Indicator 2. Analyze the emerging foreign policy of the United States
      • Objective a. Explain why the United States adopted a policy of neutrality prior to the War of 1812.
      • Objective b. Explain how the continuing conflict between Great Britain and France influenced the domestic and foreign policy of the United States.
      Indicator 4. Analyze the institution of slavery and its influence on societies in the United States
      • Objective a. Describe pro-slavery and anti-slavery positions and explain how debates over slavery influenced politics and sectionalism
      • Objective b. Analyze the experiences of African-American slaves, and free blacks

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following Maryland Common Core Reading Standards for Grades 6-8:

CCR Anchor Standard #1 - Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
RH.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources

CCR Anchor Standard #2 - Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
RH.6-8.2- Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge of opinions

CCR Anchor Standard #4 - Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
RH.6-8.4- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies

CCR Anchor Standard #6 - Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
RH.6-8.6- Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts)

CCR Anchor Standard #7 - Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
RH.6-8.7- Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts

CCR Anchor Standard #8 - Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
RH.6-8.8- Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text

CCR Anchor Standard #9 - Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
RH.6-8.9- Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic

  1. TITLE: Portrait of Governor Levin Winder, n.d. CREATOR: Florence MacKubin (1861-1918), artist DESCRIPTION: Oil on canvas, 30 x 25" NOTES: Governor of Maryland during the War of 1812 SOURCE: MSA SC 1545-1043 REPOSITORY: Artistic Properties Commission, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  2. TITLE: Portrait of Major General Samuel Smith, 1975 CREATOR: Artist Adrian Lamb (1901-1988), after Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828), artists DESCRIPTION: Oil on canvas, 30 x 25" NOTES: Major General of the United State's Army, Commander of the City of Baltimore during the War of 1812 SOURCE: MSA SC 1545-1031 REPOSITORY: Artistic Properties Commission, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  3. TITLE: Map "A New Chart of the coast of North America from New York to Cape Hatteras, including the bays of Delaware and Chesapeake, with the coasts of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and part of the coast of North Carolina", 1794 CREATOR: Captain N. Holland SOURCE: MSA SC 1399-1-38, Huntingfield Map Collection REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  4. TITLE: Map "Rough plan for the defenses of the harbor of Annapolis in Maryland taken from a penciled sketch made by Brigadier General Windsor" 1814 [n.d.] CREATOR: William Tatham DESCRIPTION: Includes detail of water depths and distances between points on the shoreline on the Severn River in Annapolis SOURCE: G3844.A6R4 1814 .T3 REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington D.C.
  5. TITLE: Map "A Sketch of the Military Topography of Baltimore and its Vicinity and of Patapsco Neck to North Point" 1814 CREATOR: James Kearney DESCRIPTION: Detailed map of the water depths, distances, forested areas and fortifications of Baltimore SOURCE: Record Group 77, Identifier 6207360, Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers REPOSITORY: National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C.
  6. TITLE: Bound Ship Log: Journal of Sir Pulteney Malcolm (Rear Admiral) While Aboard H.M.S. Royal Oak, 1814-1815 CREATOR: Sir Pulteney Malcolm DESCRIPTION: Sketch of the Entrenched Positions of the American Forces of Baltimore (view transcription) NOTES: Includes sketch and notes about the events around the Battle of Baltimore SOURCE: 1964, 1966. M-1329, M-1395 Pulteney Malcolm Papers REPOSITORY: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  7. TITLE: "An Act to Authorize the President of the United States to accept the services of State Troops and Volunteers" CREATOR: President James Madison DESCRIPTION: Corps of troops raised by the states available to serve the United States for 12 months, up to 40,000 soldiers (1,980 due from Maryland) NOTES: January 27, 1815 SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection) S1005-56-34, Box 52, Item 32 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  8. TITLE: Letter, War Department to the General Assembly of Maryland CREATOR: Brigadier General John Armstrong DESCRIPTION: Request for 470 militiamen with equipment to help defend Annapolis NOTES: March 20, 1813 SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection) S1005-54-30, Box 51, Item 32 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  9. TITLE: General Order from Governor Levin Winder to the General Assembly of Maryland CREATOR: Governor Levin Winder DESCRIPTION: Orders to fortify Annapolis NOTES: July 9, 1814. Mentions the soldiers should be prepared to turn out at a moments notice with their muskets charged (view transcription) SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection) S1005-54-64, Box 51, Item 67 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  10. TITLE: Letter, Major General Samuel Smith to Governor Levin Winder CREATOR: Major General Samuel Smith DESCRIPTION: Maj. Gen. Smith is updating Gov. Winder on the defense effort in Baltimore. Maj. Gen. Smith is worries that they are ill-equipped to defend Dorsey's valuable furnace against the enemy (view transcription) NOTES: April 25, 1813 SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Series A) S1004-129-222, Item 335 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  11. TITLE: Letter, Lieutenant Colonel William Smith to Ninian Pinkney, Clerk of the Executive Council of Maryland CREATOR: Lieutenant Colonel William Smith DESCRIPTION: Lt. Col. Smith is asking the Council to fortify the 42nd Regiments in Harford County in and around Havre de Grace (view transcription) NOTES: April 18, 1813 SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Series A) S1004-129-5, Item 55 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  12. TITLE: Letter, Major General Samuel Smith to Governor Levin Winder CREATOR: Major General Samuel Smith DESCRIPTION: Maj. Gen. Smith is responding to the idea that the Port of Baltimore is "secure" (view transcription) NOTES: April 9, 1813 SOURCE: Samuel Smith Collection MSA SC3958, 1772-1911, Microfilm Reel SCM5989, Image 178 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  13. TITLE: Letter, Major General Samuel Smith to Governor Levin Winder CREATOR: Major General Samuel Smith DESCRIPTION: Arms needed for Fort McHenry (view transcription) NOTES: March 25, 1813 SOURCE: Adjutant General (Miscellaneous Papers) 1794-1829 S927, Box 62, Folder 15 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  14. TITLE: Letter, Major Samuel Maynard to Governor Levin Winder CREATOR: Major Samuel Maynard DESCRIPTION: Information of the British in Upper Marlboro as provided by a British deserter soldier (view transcription) NOTES: August 27, 1814 SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection) S1005-54-6259, Box 51, Item 92 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  15. TITLE: Letter, Governor Levin Winder to Major General Robert Cummings CREATOR: Governor Levin Winder DESCRIPTION: Order to ready the militia on a direct route towards Bladensburg (view transcription) NOTES: July 21, 1814 SOURCE: Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection) S1005-54-6240, Box 51, Item 72 REPOSITORY: Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD
  16. TITLE: Letter, Marine Artillery Captain George Stiles to the Baltimore City Committee of Vigilance and Safety CREATOR: Captain George Stiles DESCRIPTION: Request for the purchase of a vessel to practice the Marine Battery's hotshot missiles. Request was granted. NOTES: May 29, 1813 SOURCE: Baltimore City (War of 1812 Records) 1813-1815 BRG 22-1-64 REPOSITORY: Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore, MD
  17. TITLE: Letter, Major General Samuel Smith to the Baltimore City Committee of Vigilance and Safety CREATOR: Major General Samuel Smith DESCRIPTION: Order for a bridge or scows (wide, sailing dinghy) to be built across the harbor from Patterson's Fells Point wharf across the water (view transcription) NOTES: September 3, 1814 SOURCE: Baltimore City (War of 1812 Records) 1813-1815 BRG 22-1-694 REPOSITORY: Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore, MD
  18. TITLE: List and values of vessels sunk near Fort McHenry CREATOR: Baltimore City Committee of Vigilance and Safety DESCRIPTION: Names 7 vessels sunk with their approximate value (view transcription) NOTES: September 22, 1814 SOURCE: Baltimore City (War of 1812 Records) 1813-1815 BRG 22-1-746 REPOSITORY: Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore, MD
  19. TITLE: List of Baltimore City Committee of Vigilance and Safety members CREATOR: Baltimore City Committee of Vigilance and Safety DESCRIPTION: List of members on the board from their meeting in August 1814. Arranged by ward NOTES: August 24, 1814 SOURCE: Baltimore City (War of 1812 Records) 1813-1815 BRG 22-1-1008 REPOSITORY: Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore, MD
  20. TITLE: List of laborers at Fort McHenry from September 18 to October 1, 1814 CREATOR: Ludwig Herring DESCRIPTION: Over 200 names listed with the days worked and pay rate NOTES: October 1, 1814 SOURCE: Baltimore City (War of 1812 Records) 1813-1815 BRG 22-1-1802 REPOSITORY: Baltimore City Archives, Baltimore, MD

Altoff, Gerard T. Amongst My Best Men: African-Americans and The War of 1812 (Put-In-Bay, OH: The Perry Group, 1996).

Cassell, Frank A. Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic: Samuel Smith of Maryland, 1752-1839 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1971).

Cranwell, John Philip and William Bowers Crane. Men of Marque: A History of Private Armed Vessels out of Baltimore During the War of 1812 (New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1940).

Eshelman, Ralph. A Travel Guide to the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: Eighteen Tours in Maryland, Virginia, & the District of Columbia (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

_____________, Burton K. Kummerow. In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake (Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society Press, 2012).

Garitee, Jerome R.. Republic's Private Navy: The American Privateering Business as Practised by Baltimore during the War of 1812 (Middleton, CT:  Wesleyan University Press, 1977).

George, Christopher T. Terror on the Chesapeake; The War of 1812 on the Bay (Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Books, 2000).

Gillmer, Thomas C.. Pride of Baltimore: The Story of the Baltimore Clippers, 1800-1990 (Camden, ME; International Marine, 1992).

Healey, David. 1812: Rediscovering Chesapeake Bay's Forgotten War (Rock Hill, SC: Bella Rosa Books, 2005).

Hickey, Donald R. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict (Champaign, IL: Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois, 1989).

Marine, William M.  The British Invasion of Maryland, 1812-1815 (Baltimore, MD: Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland, 1913).

McWilliams, Jane. Annapolis, City on the Severn: A History (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011). 

Whitehorne, Joseph A. The Battle for Baltimore 1814 (Baltimore, MD: Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1997).

Whitfield, Harvey A. Blacks on the Border: The Black Refugees in British North America, 1815-1860 (New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2006).

Access to materials linked within these document packets is intended for educational and research purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or holders of other rights (such as publicity and privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. The responsibility for making an independent legal assessment and independently securing any necessary rights rests with persons desiring to use particular items in the context of the intended use.

Documents for the Classroom 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, Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Prince George's County Public Schools, Caroline County Public Schools and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the 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.

Research completed with funding from Star Spangled 200 Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission grant, compiled at Legacy of Slavery in Maryland website.

This document packet was researched and developed by Ryan Cox.

This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.


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