Battle of North Point

Battle of North Point

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Battle of North Point'
Start a new discussion about 'Battle of North Point'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Battle of North Point was fought on September 12, 1814, between General John Stricker
John Stricker
Brigadier General John Stricker was a Maryland Militia officer who fought in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812...

's Maryland Militia
Maryland Army National Guard
The Maryland Army National Guard is the Army component of the organized militia of the State of Maryland. It is headquartered at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore and has units at armories and other facilities across the state....

 and a British force led by Major General Robert Ross
Robert Ross (general)
Robert Ross was an Anglo-Irish British Army officer who participated in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. He is most well known for the Burning of Washington, including the White House.-Early life:...

. Although tactically a British victory, the battle delayed the British advance against Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, buying valuable time for the defense of the city. The engagement was a part of the larger Battle of Baltimore
Battle of Baltimore
The Battle of Baltimore was a combined sea/land battle fought between British and American forces in the War of 1812. It was one of the turning points of the war as American forces repulsed sea and land invasions of the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading...

, a strategic American victory in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

British Movements


Major General Robert Ross
Robert Ross (general)
Robert Ross was an Anglo-Irish British Army officer who participated in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. He is most well known for the Burning of Washington, including the White House.-Early life:...

 had been dispatched to Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 with a brigade of veterans from the Duke of Wellington's
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

 army early in 1814, reinforced with a battalion of Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

. He had defeated a hastily-assembled force of Maryland and District of Columbia militia at the Battle of Bladensburg
Battle of Bladensburg
The Battle of Bladensburg took place during the War of 1812. The defeat of the American forces there allowed the British to capture and burn the public buildings of Washington, D.C...

 on August 24, 1814, and burned Washington
Burning of Washington
The Burning of Washington was an armed conflict during the War of 1812 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America. On August 24, 1814, led by General Robert Ross, a British force occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to many public buildings following...

. Having disrupted the American government, he withdrew to the waiting ships of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 at the mouth of the Patuxent River
Patuxent River
The Patuxent River is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay in the state of Maryland. There are three main river drainages for central Maryland: the Potomac River to the west passing through Washington D.C., the Patapsco River to the northeast passing through Baltimore, and the Patuxent River between...

 before heading further up the Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 to the strategically more important port city of Baltimore.

Ross's army of 3,700 troops and 1,000 marines landed at North Point
Dundalk, Maryland
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 62,306 people, 24,772 households, and 16,968 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 4,689.5 people per square mile . There were 26,385 housing units at an average density of 1,985.9 per square mile...

 at the end of the peninsula between the Patapsco River
Patapsco River
The Patapsco River is a river in central Maryland which flows into Chesapeake Bay. The river's tidal portion forms the harbor for the city of Baltimore...

 and the Back River
Back River (Maryland)
Back River is a tidal estuary in Baltimore County, Maryland, located about east of the city of Baltimore. The estuary extends from the community of Rosedale, southeast for about to the Chesapeake Bay...

 on the morning of September 12, 1814, and began moving toward the city of Baltimore.

American Defenses



Major General Samuel Smith
Samuel Smith (Maryland)
Samuel Smith was a United States Senator and Representative from Maryland, a mayor of Baltimore, Maryland, and a general in the Maryland militia. He was the brother of cabinet secretary Robert Smith.-Biography:...

 of the Maryland militia
Maryland Army National Guard
The Maryland Army National Guard is the Army component of the organized militia of the State of Maryland. It is headquartered at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore and has units at armories and other facilities across the state....

 anticipated the British move, and dispatched Brigadier General John Stricker
John Stricker
Brigadier General John Stricker was a Maryland Militia officer who fought in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812...

's column to meet them. Stricker's force consisted of five regiments of Maryland militia, a small militia cavalry regiment also from Maryland, a battalion of three volunteer rifle companies and a battery of six 4-pounder field guns. Stricker deployed his brigade half way between Hampstead Hill, just outside Baltimore where there were earthworks and artillery emplacements, and North Point. At that point, several tidal creeks narrowed the peninsula to only a mile wide, and it was considered an ideal spot for opposing the British before they reached the main American defensive positions.

Stricker received intelligence that the British were camped at a farm just 3 miles (4.8 km) from his headquarters. He deployed his men between Bear Creek and Bread and Cheese Creek
Bread and Cheese Creek
Bread and Cheese Creek is a tributary of the Back River in Baltimore County, Maryland. The creek is long, with headwaters just east of the Baltimore city line. It flows east through Baltimore County before emptying into the Back River, which flows into the Chesapeake Bay...

, which offered cover from nearby woods, and had a long wooden fence near the main road. Stricker placed the 5th Maryland Regiment
5th Maryland Regiment
The designation "5th Maryland" has been held by several units over the years, not all of which necessarily share the same lineage and honors. The first such unit, the 5th Maryland Regiment was organized on 27 March 1776 composing of eight companies of volunteers from the counties of Queen Anne's,...

 and the 27th Maryland Regiment and his six guns in the front defensive line, with two regiments (the 51st and 39th) in support, and one more (the 6th) in reserve. He placed his men in mutually supporting positions, relying on numerous swamps and the two streams to stop a British flank attack, all of which he hoped would help avoid another disaster such as Bladensburg. The lineage of the 5th Maryland is perpetuated by the 175th Infantry (ARNG MD), one of only nineteen Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812
Army National Guard units with campaign credit for the War of 1812
Nineteen current units of the Army National Guard perpetuate the lineages of militia units mustered into federal service during the War of 1812. Militia units from nine states that were part of the Union by the end of the War of 1812 , plus the District of Columbia, are the predecessors...

.

The riflemen initially occupied a position some miles ahead of Stricker's main position, to delay the British advance. However, their commander, Captain William Dyer, hastily withdrew on hearing a rumour that British troops were landing from the Back River behind him, threatening to cut off his retreat. Stricker posted them instead on his right flank.

Opening Skirmish


At about midday on the 12th, Stricker heard that the British had halted while the soldiers had a meal, while some sailors attached to Ross's force plundered some nearby farms. He decided it would be better to provoke a fight rather than wait for a possible British night attack. At 1:00 pm, he sent Major Richard Heath with 250 men and one cannon to draw the British to Stricker's main force.

Heath advanced down the road and soon began to engage the British pickets. When Ross heard the fighting, he quickly left his meal and ran to the scene. The British attempted to drive out the concealed American riflemen. Rear Admiral George Cockburn
George Cockburn
Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet GCB was a British naval commander of the late 18th through the mid-19th centuries. He held important commands during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 and eventually rose to become Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord.-Naval...

 (the second in command of the Royal Navy' American Station, who usually accompanied Ross) was cautious about advancing without more support and Ross agreed that he would leave and get the main army. However, Ross never got his chance. An American sniper concealed in a tree shot him in the chest. Ross turned his command over to Colonel Arthur Brooke and died soon after. The sniper who shot him was spotted and killed moments after.

Main Battle


Brooke reorganized the British troops and prepared to assault the American positions at 3:00 pm. He decided to use his three cannon and his rocket launchers to cover an attempt by the 4th Regiment to get around the American flank, while two more regiments and the naval brigade would assault the American center. The British frontal assault took heavy casualties as the American riflemen fired right into the British assault, and the Americans loaded their cannon with pieces of broken locks, nails and horseshoes, spraying scrap metal on the advancing British. However, the British 4th Regiment managed to outflank the American positions and send many of the American regiments fleeing. Stricker was able to turn the flight into an organized retreat, with his men firing volleys as they continued to fall back.

Not all the militia regiments performed with equal distinction. The 51st Regiment and some of the 39th broke and ran under fire. However, the 5th
5th Maryland Regiment
The designation "5th Maryland" has been held by several units over the years, not all of which necessarily share the same lineage and honors. The first such unit, the 5th Maryland Regiment was organized on 27 March 1776 composing of eight companies of volunteers from the counties of Queen Anne's,...

 and 27th held their ground and were able to retreat in good order having inflicted significant casualties on the advancing enemy. Only one American gun was lost.

Corporal John McHenry of the 5th Regiment wrote an account of the battle:
Our Regiment, the 5th, carried off the praise from the other regiments engaged, so did the company to which I have the honor to belong cover itself with glory. When compared to the [other] Regiments we were the last that left the ground...had our Regiment not retreated at the time it did we should have been cut off in two minutes.


With some of his units lost among woods and swampy creeks, and others in confusion, Brooke did not follow up the retreating Americans. He had advanced to within a mile of the main American position but he had suffered heavier casualties than the Americans, and it was getting dark, so he chose to wait until Fort McHenry was expected to be neutralized, while Stricker withdrew to Baltimore's main defences.

Casualties


The official British Army casualty report, signed by Major Henry Debbeig, gives 39 killed and 251 wounded. Of these, 28 killed and 217 wounded belonged to the British Army; 6 killed and 20 wounded belonged to the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Marines
Royal Marines Battalions (Napoleonic Wars)
Three battalions were raised from among the Royal Marines during the Napoleonic Wars; seeing combat in Portugal, Northern Spain, the Netherlands and North America.-The First Battalion:...

; 4 killed and 11 wounded belonged to the contingents of Royal Marines detached from Cockburn's fleet; and 1 killed and 3 wounded belonged to the Royal Marine Artillery. As was normal, the Royal Navy submitted a separate casualty return for the engagement, signed by Rear-Admiral Cockburn, which gives 4 sailors killed and 28 wounded but contradicts the British Army casualty report by giving 3 killed and 15 wounded for the Royal Marines detached from the ships of the Naval fleet. The total British losses, as officially reported, were either 43 killed and 279 wounded or 42 killed and 283 wounded, depending on which of the two casualty returns was accurate. Historian Franklin R. Mullaly gives still another version of the British casualties: 46 killed and 295 wounded.

The American loss was 24 killed, 139 wounded and 50 taken prisoner.

Aftermath



The battle had been costly for the British. Apart from the other casualties, losing General Ross was a critical blow to the British. He was a respected leader of British forces in the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 and the War of 1812. Ross's death proved a blow to British morale as well. The combined effect of the blow suffered at North Point and the failure of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 to capture or get past Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, is a star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy in Chesapeake Bay...

 at the entrance to Baltimore harbor, despite a 25-hour bombardment, proved to be the turning point of the Battle of Baltimore
Battle of Baltimore
The Battle of Baltimore was a combined sea/land battle fought between British and American forces in the War of 1812. It was one of the turning points of the war as American forces repulsed sea and land invasions of the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading...

. During the bombardment on Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".-Life:...

 was detained on a British ship at the entrance to Baltimore and penned the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

."

The day after the battle, Brooke advanced cautiously towards Baltimore. There was no more opposition from Stricker, but when the British came into view of the main defenses of Baltimore, Brooke estimated them to be manned by up to 22,000 militia, with 100 cannon. He prepared to make a night assault against the defenses at Loudenslager Hill, but asked Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane
Alexander Cochrane
Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane GCB RN was a senior Royal Navy commander during the Napoleonic Wars.-Naval career:...

 to send boats and bomb ketches
Bomb vessel
A bomb vessel, bomb ship, bomb ketch, or simply bomb was a type of wooden sailing naval ship. Its primary armament was not cannon —although bomb vessels carried a few cannon for self-defence—but rather mortars mounted forward near the bow and elevated to a high angle, and projecting their fire in a...

 to silence an American battery, "Roger's Bastion", on the flank of his proposed attack. Despite a stiff fight between the boats, commanded by Captain Charles John Napier and the American batteries, the Bastion was unharmed and Brooke called off the attack and withdrew before dawn. The British re-embarked at North Point.

External links