1812 wartime Baltimore could easily have earned Baltimore the moniker "Fort Baltimore".The feisty Baltimoreans made do with limited supplies and resources in years of preparation, with most of the scrambling playing out in taverns, shops, and docks which are now gone but were located on the streets, waterfront and alleys of downtown Baltimore we know today.
Military evolutions and discipline, and rendezvous took place in the streets interleaved with domestic and commercial interests and activities. Availability and need trumped uniformity and refinement of protocol. Merchants re-tooled their focus to supporting wartime needs even as they suffered from shipping embargoes and blockades and the government struggled to equip its forces.
As war against Britain was declared in on June 18, 1812, brigade reviews at Whetstone Point became infrequent but regimental reviews held in the city streets continued, only now followed by actual tours of duty at strategic defensive points around the city and Fort McHenry. Justification in the minds of a few for holding apathetic attitudes was stripped away, swelling the ranks of the on-fire American patriots, which left the majority of citizens more defined and mobilized to defend their freedoms against any opposition.
Political opposition had reared its head on rare occasion over the years in the course of loose talk in taverns and shops. A boiling point was reached with an attack on an ant-war Federalist newspaper after war was declared in the summer of 1812. The militia had to be called in to quell the riot. The indelible printed word rolling off the local newspaper presses had done much to prod and stir tensions. The regular brigade review did not occur during that period.
When the British attack on Baltimore became a reality, two processions --one before the battle and one after-- but along almost identical routes in the city-- were staged. Each was a unique and important defining moment. The procession for the laying of the masonic lodge cornerstone on May 16, 1814 unified the city.
The procession for the laying of the Battle Monument cornerstone on September 12, 1815 brought closure and substance to a city still in shock over the British attack of the year before. The monument represents the spirit and faith of Baltimore, written in stone on the Battlefield over a few days but prepared for and worked out at identifiable locations in the city in sometimes menial ways over several years, which is the essence of the experience of Baltimoreans in this epic era.
Today popular misunderstandings and ignorance of prewar Baltimore abound; moreover the realization that it took place in our midst in downtown Baltimore needs reinterpretation. Modern technology can enliven the accounts found in dusty newspapers of that time.
.....and the sequel epic tale of the post-battle Baltimore militia:
A brotherhood of Baltimore Defenders came together in solidarity during May of 1814 when the invasion of mightiest army in the world, fresh from defeat of Napoleon’s forces, was imminent. The imponderability of this bold and courageous move of the citizen soldiers to convict to stand fast can only be equaled by their resulting success and how they also continue to impact our lives today. May of 1814 marked the beginning of a lifelong brotherhood of remembrance which roused the city and nation in patriotism and a sense of nationhood. It was the courage of the Defenders of Baltimore which inspired the lyrics of the Star-Spangled Banner, and the strength of their organization which served to perpetuate the spirit of 1814 into the 20th century – contributing to the adoption of our national anthem in 1931. Too precious to leave to extinction, the Defenders of Baltimore passed their brotherhood and leadership to their sons – now The Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland. This book is the Bicentennial publication of The Society of the War of 1812. With an abundance of new findings and fresh insights contained in its pages, our rich heritage over the past 200 years is seen in retrospect for the first time.
Limited quantities available!!