Defenders' Day

On that day, September 12, 1814, 4,000 British troops happy about their success at burning Washington three weeks earlier, landed in the area of what is now Fort Howard. After a skirmish during which the British commander, General Ross, was killed, 3000 American militia under the command of Brigadier General Sticker engaged the main British force. Unlike the rout at Washington, the American militia held its ground, successfully delaying the British advance long enough to allow the reinforcement of the defensive fortifications around Baltimore. At the end of the day, Stricker's forces pulled back to join the 10,000 troops already assembled at Hampstead Hill (in what is now Patterson Park), leaving the British forces encamped on Bread and Cheese Creek.

The next day, as the British army resumed its march on Baltimore, part of the British fleet sailed up the Patapsco River towards the town, planning a secondary attack by sea. On the morning of September 13, the British Navy began bombarding Fort McHenry . Despite heavy shelling that continued into the following morning, the fort did not fall and the British ships withdrew in defeat. Early on the morning of September 14th, slowed by the fighting at North Point, and demoralized by the loss of their commander and the Navy's failure to reduce Fort McHenry, the British army, which had advanced to within sight of Baltimore, decided to retreat without engaging the Americans further. The attack on Fort McHenry inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner

The Battle of North Point was a turning point of the War of 1812, and was a major influence on the negotiations for the peace treaty signed three months later. Maryland declared September twelfth Defenders' Day.

Charging Redcoats from a painting on display at Charlesmont Elementary.
Photo by Marge Neal.

© Copyright October 16, 1997, Office of the Secretary of State.
Last Modified September 16, 2003.