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War of 1812: Battle of North Point

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War of 1812: Battle of North Point

Battle of North Point

Photograph Courtesy of the US Army Center for Military History

Conflict:

The Battle of North Point occurred during the War of 1812.

Date:

Part of the larger Battle of Baltimore, the Battle of North Point was fought on September 12, 1814.

Armies & Commanders:

United States

  • Major General Samuel Smith
  • Brigadier General John Stricker
  • 3,200 men

Britain

  • Major General Robert Ross
  • Colonel Arthur Brooke
  • 4,500 men

Battle Summary:

Following the defeat of American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg (August 24, 1814) and the subsequent burning of Washington, British forces under Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane and Major General Robert Ross turned their attention north towards Baltimore, MD. A vital port city, Baltimore was believed by the British to be the base of many of the American privateers that were preying on their shipping. To take Baltimore, Ross and Cochrane planned a two-prong attack with the former landing at North Point and advancing overland, while the latter attacked Fort McHenry and the harbor defenses by water.

Arriving in the Patapsco River, Ross landed 4,500 men at the tip of North Point on the morning of September 12, 1814. Anticipating Ross' actions and needing more time to complete the city's defenses, the American commander at Baltimore, Major General Samuel Smith, dispatched 3,200 men and six cannon under Brigadier General John Stricker to delay the British advance. Marching to North Point, Stricker arrayed his men across Long Log Lane at a point where the peninsula narrowed. Marching north, Ross rode ahead with his advance guard.

Shortly after being warned about being too far forward by Rear Admiral George Cockburn, Ross' party encountered a group of American skirmishers. Opening fire, the Americans critically wounded Ross in arm and chest before retreating. Placed on a cart to carry him back to the fleet, Ross died a short time later. With Ross dead, command devolved to Colonel Arthur Brooke. Pressing forward, Brooke's men soon encountered Stricker's line. Nearing, both sides exchanged musket and cannon fire for over an hour, with the British attempting flank the Americans.

Around 4:00 PM, with the British getting better of the fight, Stricker ordered a deliberate retreat north and reformed his line near Bread and Cheese Creek. From this position Stricker waited for the next British assault, which never came. Having suffered over 300 casualties, Brooke elected not to pursue the Americans and ordered his men to camp on the battlefield. With his mission of delaying the British accomplished, Stricker and men retired to Baltimore's defenses. The following day, Brooke conducted two demonstrations along the city's fortifications, but found them too strong to attack and halted his advance.

Aftermath & Impact:

In the fighting, the Americans lost 163 killed and wounded and 200 captured. British casualties numbered 46 killed and 273 wounded. While a tactical loss, the Battle of North Point proved to be a strategic victory for the Americans. The battle allowed Smith to complete his preparations for defending the city, which halted Brooke's advance. Unable to penetrate the earthworks, Brooke was forced to await the outcome of Cochrane's naval attack on Fort McHenry. Beginning at dusk on September 13, Cochrane's bombardment of the fort failed, and Brooke was forced to withdraw his men back to the fleet.

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