The British had the upper hand so far in the War of 1812. They had even gone so far as to burn the U.S. Capital and government buildings, which infuriated the American public and sent them seeking for revenge. After destroying Washington D.C., the British set eyes on Baltimore, and prepared to destroy it.
Meanwhile the citizens and soldiers in Baltimore made sure they didn’t destroy it as well. General Samuel Smith was in charge of securing the town against attack. The harbor already was well protected by Fort McHenry. It was built from 1799-1803 by French engineer Jean Tontin. Shaped like a star, the fort was armed with about 30 guns. Later it was updated with 4 water batteries. They dug trenches all around the town. Two new forts were built, Forts Babcock and Covington, and Lazaretto Point was also fortified. Also ships were sunk in the entrance of the harbor and over 12,000 soldiers were deployed in the city.
The British fleet consisted of 30 ships, under the command of Vice Admiral Sir W. Cochrane. His plan was to land 5,000 troops under the command of Major General Robert Ross at North Point and march them to the east side of the city. At the same time the British fleet would open fire on the town and its defenses, catching the town in a pincer movement. They hoped this plan would crush the Americans. General Ross landed and through the day made some good progress, resting that night at the Gorsuch Farm.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General John Stricker and 3,000 militia raced from Baltimore and rested at the Methodist Meeting House. The Americans deployed their skirmish line in the Godly Woods, while the main force waited at the meeting house.
Ross, with his advance guard, had an idea that a major American force was close. Upon hearing firing, he rode to the front to investigate. At that moment, he was shot. It was never discovered who fired that shot.
Upon Ross’ death, Colonel Arthur Brooke took command. The British main force was brought up. They pushed the American skirmish line and encountered the main force. The American line courageously held, despite being out-numbered and out-gunned. Courage was common. Heroism was everywhere. Finally the British forced the Americans to stronger positions at Hampstead Hill. But instead of chasing the Americans, Brooke decided to stay put.
The next day, the British marched to Hampstead Hill. However when they arrived there, Brooke decided to retreat. The defenses were too strong! Eventually, Vice Admiral Cochrane called off the whole British attack. With Brooke retreating and McHenry standing, there was no chance.
That night in Baltimore there was dancing, laughing, and cheering. Everyone was happy. They had won! They beat the British! The Americans courageously stood up for their rights not only in this battle, but throughout the war. The freedoms they gained from this war can still be lost if we don’t stand up for them today. We must remember the courage shown during the Battle for North Point, and utilize it in our own battles. There is still a war to win!