Friday, July 20, 2018

Casualties At Battle of Fort McHenry

From the September 26, 2016, Burlington County Times  "There were few American deaths at Fort McHenry"  Leon C. Czartoryski  "Opinion."

Of the Americans in Fort McHenry, around 1,000 under the command of Major George Armistead, at the time of the attack, only four were killed. including Lt. Levi Claggett and Sgt. Clemm, were a black soldier, Private William Williams, and a woman who was cut in half by a bomb as she carried supplies to the troops.

There were also 24 wounded.

I had read in several pl;aces that four Americans were killed and knew two of them were Claggett (Clagett) and Clemm and was wondering who the other two were.I'll find out some more about these other two.


Lt. Levi Claggett and Sgt. John Clemm Died at Fort McHenry

Lieutenant Levi Claggett was killed at Fort McHenry on September 13, 1814.

He was a part of the Baltimore Fencibles, a militia composed of local merchants, business owners and prominent citizens of Baltimore.  Claggett was a 34-year-old flour merchant when he died.

While the British fleet was bombarding the fort, he was standing on Bastion #3.  According to eyewitness accounts, a British mortar shell hit the bastion and dismounted the 24-pounder long gun.  It broke the wheel of the cannon and the cannon fell on the lieutenant, crushing him.

Almost immediately after this, a bomb burst overhead and a piece of the shell "the size of a dollar and two inches thick" struck sergeant John Schultz Clemm in the abdomen.  He died within a matter of minutes.  It is said that friends took the piece of shrapnel out of him as a momento of the battle.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fort McHenry Hauntings and War of 1812 Casualties

From the July 8, 2017, The Dead History Blog "The Phantom Soldiers of Baltimore's Fort McHenry."

Fort McHenry is one of the most haunted places in Baltimore..  The fort has several layers of history that tend to cause these hauntings.

Construction of Fort McHenry took place between 1798 and 1800 on the site of former Fort Whetstone.  Then it became famous during the Battle of Baltimore.

The fort's commander, Major George Armistead reported that four defenders had died in the battle.  The men killed were 3rd Lt. Levi Claggett, Sergeant John Clemm, Private Charles Messenger and Thomas V. Beaston.  That is four possible hauntings right there.

An additional 24 men were wounded.

Then, it was a prison during the Civil War and a hospital for soldiers returning from World War I with the Spanish flu.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Major Armistead's Fort McHenry Battle Report-- Part 5: "Did Their Duty To My Entire Satisfaction"

"The Bombardment continued on the part of the Enemy until seven OClock on Wednesday Morning, when it ceased and about nine, they Ships got under weigh and Stood down the River.  During the Bombardment which continued 25 Hours, (with two slight intermissions) from the best calculation I can make, from fifteen to Eighteen hundred Shells were [thrown] by the Enemy, a few of them fell short, a large proportion burst over us, and threatening destruction, many passed over, and about four hundred fell within the Works.

"Two of the public buildings are materially injured, the others but slightly.

"I am happy to inform you (wonderful as it may appear) that our loss amounts to only four Men Killed, and twenty four Wounded, the latter will all recover.  Among the Killed, I have to lament the loss of Lieut. Clagget, and Sergeant Clemm. both of Capt. Nicholsons  Volunteers, two Men whose fate is to be deplored, not only for their personal bravery,, but for their high Standing, amiable Demeanor, and spotless integrity in private life.

"Lieut. Russel of the Company under Lt.  Penington received early in the attack a severe contusion in the Heel, notwithstanding which He remained at his post during the whole Bombardment.

"Was I to name any individuals who signalized themselves, it would be doing injustice to others, suffice to say,  that every Officer and Soldier under my Command did their duty to my entire satisfaction.

"I have the honor
to remain respectfully
Your Ob. Servt

H. Armistead
Lieut. Col. U.S.A.  (Evidently, he had already been promoted in the ten days since the battle.)

Major Armistead's Report on Fort McHenry-- Part 4: The Navy's Aid in the Battle

"In justice to Lieut. Newcomb of the U.S. Navy, who commanded at Fort Covington with a Detachment of Sailors, and Lieut. Webster of the Flotilla, who commanded the six Gun Battery near the Fort, I ought to State that during this time they kept up an animated and I believe a very destructive fire, to which I am persuaded We are much indebted in repulsing the Enemy.

"One of our sunken Barges has since been found with two dead Men in it, others have been found floating in the River.  The only means We had of directing our Guns was by the blaze of their Rocketts, and the flashes f their Guns, had they ventured to the same situation in the day time, not a man would have escaped."

I'd say he was referring to dead British soldiers on the barges and floating in the river.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Major Armistead's Report on Battle of Fort McHenry-- Part 3: A British Landing

"The Enemy continued throwing Shells with one or two Slight intermissions, till One OClock in the Morning of Wednesday, when it was discovered that He had availed himself of the darkness of the Night and had thrown a considerable force above to our right, they had approached very near to Fort Covington, when they began to throw  Rocketts, intended, I presume, to give them an opportunity of examining the Shores, as I have since understood, they had detached 1250 picked Men with Scaling ladders for the purpose of Storming  this Fort.

"We once more had an opportunity of opening our Batteries, and Kept up a continued blaze for nearly two Hours, which had the effect again to drive them off."


Monday, July 16, 2018

Major Armistead's Report on Battle Fort McHenry-- Part 2: A Cannon Dismounted

"It affords me the highest gratification to State, that though we were left thus exposed, and thus inactive, not a Man Shrunk from the conflict.

"About 2 OClock, P.M. one of the 24 pounders on the South West Bastion under the immediate command of Capt. Nicholson, was dismounted by a Shell, the explosion from which killed his 2nd Lieut and wounded several of his Men; the bustle necessarily produced in removing the Wounded and remounting the Gun probably induced the Enemy to suspect that We were in a state of confusion, as he brought in three of his Bomb Ships to what I believed to be good striking distance, I immediately ordered a fire to be opened, which was obeyed with alacrity through the whole Garrison, and in half an hour those intruders again Sheltered themselves by withdrawing beyond our reach.

"We gave three Cheers and again ceased firing."

Finally, A Chance to Fight Back.  --Brock-Perry

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Major Armistead's Report of the Battle at Fort McHenry-- Part 1: British Were Out of Range

This report is in the U.S. National Archives.

George Armistead wrote the report ten days after the battle and was sent to Secretary of War James Monroe.

24th of September

"On Tuesday morning about Sun rise, the Enemy commenced the attack from his five bomb vessels, at the distance of about two Miles, when finding that his Shells reached Us, He anchored, and Kept Up an incessant and well-directed Bombardment.

"We immediately opened our Batteries and kept up a brisk fire from our Guns and Mortars, but unfortunately our Shot and Shells all fell considerably Short  of him; this was to me a most distressing circumstance as it left us exposed to a constant and tremendous Shower of Shells without the most remote possibility of our doing him the slightest injury."

Not a Good Way To Fight a Battle.  --Brock-Perry

Friday, July 13, 2018

James McHenry-- Part 3: Adams Asked for Resignation

As Secretary of War, McHenry argued against reducing military forces.  He was instrumental in organizing the U.S. Army into four regiments, a troop of dragoons and a battery of artillery.  He is also credited with establishing the United States Depart of the Navy.

When John Adams became president, he kept McHenry on as Secretary of War.  Bit things went sour between them and in May 1800, he asked for McHenry's resignation which he did.

Leading up to the War of 1812, McHenry was a Federalist.

An attack of paralysis in 1814 left him without the use of his legs and in severe pain.  He died two years later.

Fort McHenry was named for him.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

James McHenry-- Part 2: Appointed Secretary of War Under Washington

James McHenry was paroled in January 1777 and released from parole in March.  General George Washington was impressed with him as made him aide as May 1779.  McHenry was present at the Battle of Monmouth.

In August 1780, he was transferred to Major General Lafayette's staff where he remained until he retired from the army in 1781.

Later, he participated in the Constitutional Convention.

During George Washington's second term as president, he appointed James McHenry as his Secretary of War in 1796.  One of his major tasks was to transition the western military posts from British control to American.under the terms of the Jay Treaty.


James McHenry-- Part 1: Physician From Ireland

From Wikipedia.

James McHenry (1753-1816)

In the last post, I mentioned that Fort McHenry was named after this man.

Born in Ireland.   American military surgeon and statesman.  Was the third U.S. Secretary of War, serving under George Washington and John Adams.

In 1771, his family sent him to the North American colonies for his health and to see if moving there would be a good idea.  He apprenticed under Benjamin Rush to be a physician.  Practiced medicine and became a surgeon.

During the American Revolution he served as a physician.  On August 10, 1776, he was appointed surgeon of the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion and stationed at Fort Washington, New York.  He was taken prisoner when the fort was captured by Sir William Howe.

While prisoner, he observed the poor medical conditions the prisoners had, but nothing came of it.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fort McHenry Named After James McHenry

From Wikipedia.

Fort McHenry was named for an early American statesman James McHenry (1753-1816).

Was an Irish immigrant and surgeon-soldier.  Was a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland and a signer of the U.S. Constitution.

Secretary of War 1796 to 1800 and served under Presidents Washington and John Adams.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

William McHenry Fort McHenry Not Named for Him (McHenry County in Illinois Named After Him)

McHenry County, Illinois,  and the City of McHenry, Illinois both named in his honor.

Born 3 October 1771 and Died 3 February 1835 at age 63.

Buried at Old State Cemetery (also called Old City Cemetery) in Vandalia, Illinois.

Of interest, Colonel Lucien Greathouse of the 48th Illinois Infantry is also buried there.  He was killed at the Battle of Atlanta in 1864 at the age of 22.  I'll be writing about his life in my Saw the Elephant Civil War blog today.


Monday, July 9, 2018

McHenry County, Illinois, Not Named for Fort McHenry

We moved out to McHenry County, Illinois, twenty-five years ago and for a very long time I was sure that the county was named after Fort McHenry.  It turns out it wasn't.

It was named for William McHenry of Illinois.

He also fought in the War of 1812.

For more information on him, click on the label below.


Was the Battle of Fort McHenry the Beginning of the End for Major Armistead?-- Part 2

Sam Smith's Book blog calls Armistead's death and example of PTSD.

As I wrote a couple blogs ago, historian Benson Lossing wrote that the defense of the fort placed a "tax upon his nervous system during that bombardment left him with a disease of the heart...on the 25 of April, 1818 he expired, at the age of thirty eight years.

Anyway you look at it, Major George Armistead died at quite a young age.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Was the Battle of Fort McHenry the Beginning of the End for Major Armistead?-- Part 1

I have been looking for information on what George Armistead died of in 1818 and not having much luck.

From site.  "Reading 1:  Armistead's Account of the Battle.

In a report written to Secretary of War James Monroe, George Armistead gave his account of the famous battle.  It was dated September 24, 1814.  Of interest, it was written ten days after the battle.  You'd have thought he would have written right away after winning such an important battle, yet, the letter was dated ten days after the battle.

It opened with:  "A severe indisposition, the effect of great fatigue and exposure, has prevented me heretofore from presenting you with an account of the attack on this Post...."

Did this problem continue after the attack to his death.

I have read that he continued to command Fort McHenry until his death.


Friday, July 6, 2018

George Armistead-- Part 7: His Death

From the Battle of Baltimore site.

On April 25, 1818, Brevet Lt. Col. George Armistead, 38, died at the home of his brother-in-law Christopher Hughes Jr.

His funeral included defenders of the 1814 Fort McHenry and citizens who proceeded to Old St. Paul's cemetery while minute guns were fired from the federal Hill Observatory.  Here among the enclosing walls of the burying ground his remains were laid to rest.

On the high eminence of Federal Hill overlooking Baltimore's waterfront is a monument to the commander of Fort McHenry.


George Armistead-- Part 6: An Early Death

Following the battle, Armistead was brevetted to lieutenant colonel.  Much weakened by his arduous preparations, he died in at age 38, just four years later in 1818.

Historian Benson Lossing wrote that Armistead was a victim of the British attack.  "The tax upon his nervous system during that bombardment left him with a disease of the heart... on the 25 of April, 1818, he expired at age of thirty eight years."

His funeral procession was described as "immense" and his name was immortalized by the construction of a marble monument that overlooks the city.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

George Armistead-- Part 5: The British Withdraw

Because the British fleet was unable to get Fort McHenry to surrender in order to enter Baltimore Harbor and bombard the American defensive line east of the city, the British commander-in-chief Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane wrote to the British Army commander approaching those defenses, Colonel Arthur Brooke that it would be up to him to determine whether to attack.

Brooke had taken over command of the British Army after British Major General Robert Ross had been mortally wounded just before the Battle of North Point on September 12.  He decided to withdraw.

Baltimore was safe.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Thomas's Big Job-- Part 2: What Did George Do?

"Yes, the Declaration of Independence formally announces our break with Great Britain.  But why?  Does it give a hint of a reason, beyond the famous but vague phrases about self-evident truths and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

"Yes it does.  The bulk of the 1,337 words are a protracted list of grievances against one man, King George III, the 'Author of our Miseries,' to use the words of Richard Henry Lee.

"Thirteen consecutive paragraphs, each 'beginning 'He has...' gives a list of detailed gripes.  The king 'refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.'  He called together 'legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant.'  He dissolved legislatures and blocked elections."

The rest of the column by Mr. Steinberg paints our President Trump as being the new King George III.  Worth a read.

So That Is That.  --Brock-Perry