This event interprets and commemorates military actions that happened on Patapsco Neck, or North Point, near Baltimore, on Monday, September 12th, 1814. These actions, now known as the Battle of North Point, resulted when a British invasion fleet landed thousands of troop near Baltimore. These same forces had, just three weeks earlier, attacked and burned much of Washington
The British attack on Baltimore would last several days, ending in a withdrawal of British forces after the unsuccessful bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor. The Battle of North Point and the bombardment of Fort McHenry are now known to history as the Battle of Baltimore. This happened during a period American historians call the "War of 1812" ... although it lasted into early 1815 with the Battle of New Orleans.
Much has been written about the British naval bombardment of Fort McHenry which began the next day and into the early hours of the 14th. American school children learn that it led to America's National Anthem. But less is known about the British land attack on Baltimore. History reveals to us that the British strategy reckoned on using both a naval bombardment and a ground attack to overwhelm the city's heavily entrenched eastern defenses. For those wanting more historical content on the history of the battle, visit our overview of the land campaign.
What was the crisis of late Summer, 1814?...
After the earlier British landing at Benedict, Maryland on August 19th, 1814 their plans in the upper Chesapeake rapidly unfolded. American cavalry patrols soon reported the British were marching toward the American capitol at Washington. A few days later, on August 24th, the advancing British pushed aside scant resistance at Bladensburg, Maryland, by hastily assembled American forces.
The American capitol now lay open and defenseless before the advancing enemy. Later that night they marched into and burned many Government buildings, including the President's Mansion (soon to be called the "White House").
After raiding the American capitol, the British invaders were now bent on attacking Baltimore, reviled as a haven for marauding privateer vessels. The British saw the busy (and wealthy) port as nothing better than a "nest of pirates".
In the small hours of September 12th, invasion forces rowed ashore at the North Point tip of a peninsula known locally as Patapsco Neck. In the early dawn hours, they began their march up the peninsula, their objective the eastern approach to Baltimore City. A brigade of American troops had been sent forward to delay this British invasion, comprised of infantry, seamen and Royal Marines. The British were soon to meet 3100 American militia troops who blocked old North Point Road, near a important junction with Long Log Lane six miles southwest of Baltimore. Either road could take the British to Baltimore's eastern approaches.
That action and the defense of Ft. McHenry soon became celebrated annually on September 12th in Maryland, as Defenders Day. Although no longer a formal bank-closing holiday observance, the "Defenders Day at North Point" celebration and other events at Ft. McHenry and around Baltimore help maintain this early tradition begun by the participants. The land attack on Baltimore may be overshadowed by the following evening's naval bombardment of nearby Fort McHenry. But through Defenders Day at North Point, we hope to perpetuate the memory of the "Old Defenders". And we also tell the story of a British army, intent on conquering one of America's largest and richest ports.
Come to our event, and learn more about those British and American forces. Then imagine what it was like on September 12th, as you hear the roar of cannons and the rattle of musketry again echoing across Patapsco Neck.