Rodgers' Bastion & The Battle for Baltimore:
Many best know Baltimore's role in the War of 1812 against the British for the famous Battle of Baltimore, during which Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. But the very spot on which the Pagoda stands here in Patterson Park played a pivotal role in this conflict.
The United States had declared war on the British because they were interfering with our free trade with the world by blockading our ships, stealing the ship's cargo, and forcing our sailors to work and fight on British ships. The US developed faster ships that could do the same to the British as they did to us. They were called Clippers, and they were built in Baltimore. Because of our successful privateering, the London Times called Baltimore "a nest of pirates."
On August 24, 1814, the British burned much of Washington DC. They next turned their attention to Baltimore, because they wished to put an end to the privateering. They intended to sail their ships past Fort McHenry, and into the Baltimore Basin. From there they would bombard the city at close range, and at the same time, send foot soldiers from North Point into Downtown Baltimore, burning and looting as they went along.
The British flotilla of war ships entered the North Branch of the Patapsco (where Key Bridge is today), landed troops at North Point, and preceded to fire away at Fort McHenry. The troops there managed to hold them off.
At North Point, where the British troops were massed, things went terribly wrong. First, the famous British General Ross, who had defeated Napoleon, was shot off his horse by two Baltimore teenagers (Henry McComas and Daniel Wells); then a fierce storm made the march toward Baltimore miserable.
But the worst was yet to come. Up on Hampstead Hill (site of the Pagoda), Commodore John Rodgers of the US Navy, set up a large battlement called Rodger's Bastion, made up of 12,000 men (mostly volunteers from Baltimore) and 100 cannons. As the British troops approached, they knew they could no longer get support from their ships because of Fort McHenry's gallant fight. They soon realized that they could not get past the assemblage at Rodger's Bastion without heavy casualties. So, they retreated and left Baltimore unscathed.
The Pagoda stands on the site of Rodger's Bastion, and was built to commemorate this proud day for Baltimore. You can still see the Bastion's mounded earth around the base.
Robert Ross (British Army officer)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Robert Ross (1766 – 12 September 1814) was an Anglo-Irish officer in the British Army who participated in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, (1812-1815). He is most well known for the Burning of Washington, which included the destruction of the White House and The Capitol, and for his failure to invest Baltimore. He died at the Battle of North Point before the infamous Bombardment of Fort McHenry the next day.
Ross was born in Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland, to Major David Ross, an officer in the Seven Years' War and his mother, half-sister to the Earl of Charlemont.
He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, where he was a treasurer of its College Historical Society and joined the 25th Regiment of Foot as an ensign in 1789.
Ross fought as a junior officer at the battles of Krabbendam in the Netherlands in 1799 and the Battle of Alexandria in Egypt in 1801. In 1803, he was promoted to major and given command of the 20th Regiment of Foot. He next fought at the Maida in the Kingdom of Naples in 1806. He was promoted to Lieutenant–Colonel at the end of 1808 and fought in the Battle of Corunna in Spain in early 1809. In 1810, Ross was made a full Colonel as well as aide-de-camp to the King.
In 1813 Ross was sent to serve under Arthur Wellesley in the Peninsular War and commanded his regiment at the battles of Vittoria, Roncesvalles and the Sorauren that year. He was seriously wounded in the left side of his neck at the Battle of Orthes, on 27 February 1814, and had just returned to service when he was given command of an expeditionary force to attack the United States.
War of 1812
Ross sailed to North America as a Major General to take charge of all British troops off the east coast of the United States. He personally led the British troops ashore in Benedict, Maryland, and marched through Upper Marlboro, Maryland, to the attack on the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg on 24 August 1814, causing the hastily organised militia of the American army to collapse into a rout. Moving on from Bladensburg, Ross moved on to nearby Washington, D.C., and was fired upon; his horse was shot from under him. The public buildings, facilities and Navy Yards of the city, including the United States Capitol and the White House were burned as retaliation for destructive American raids into Canada, most notably the Americans' Burning of York (modern Toronto) earlier in 1813, which were themselves in retaliation to British raids into the United States. Controversy surrounds Ross's decision to destroy public property but spare private property during the burning.
Ross then was persuaded to attack Baltimore, Maryland. His troops landed at the southern tip of the "Patapsco Neck" peninsula (between the Patapsco River and Baltimore Harbor on the south and Back River on the north) of southeastern Baltimore County at North Point, twelve miles southeast from the city, on the morning of 12 September 1814. En route to what would be the Battle of North Point, a part of the larger Battle of Baltimore, the British advance encountered American skirmishers. General Ross rode forward to personally direct his troops. An American sharpshooter shot him through the right arm into the chest. According to Baltimore tradition, two American riflemen, Daniel Wells, 18, and Henry McComas, 19, fired at him and one of them had fired the fatal shot. Ross died while he was being transported back to the fleet.
Ross's body was preserved in a barrel of 129 gallons (586 l) of Jamaican rum aboard HMS Tonnant. When the Tonnant was diverted to New Orleans for the forthcoming battle in January 1815, his body was shipped on the British ship HMS Royal Oak to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where his body was interred on 29 September 1814 in the Old Burying Ground.
He is commemorated by a 99-foot granite obelisk near the shoreline of Carlingford Lough in the Ross home village of Rostrevor, County Down in Northern Ireland, as well as by a monument in St Paul's Cathedral in London, England. The inscription on the monument reads:
DEDICATED AT THE PUBLIC EXPENSE TO THE MEMORY
OF MAJOR GENERAL ROBERT ROSS
WHO HAVING UNDERTOOK AND EXECUTED AN ENTERPRISE AGAINST THE
CITY OF WASHINGTON, THE CAPITAL OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WHICH WAS CROWNED WITH COMPLETE SUCCESS WAS KILLED SHORTLY
AFTERWARDS WHILE DIRECTING A SUCCESSFUL ATTACK UPON A SUPERIOR FORCE NEAR THE
CITY OF BALTIMORE ON THE 12TH DAY OF SEPTEMPTER 1814
Neither General Ross nor his immediate descendants were knighted or received a title of nobility. However, his descendants were given an augmentation of honour to the Ross armorial bearings (namely, a second crest in which an arm is seen grasping the 15 stars and 15 stripes on a broken staff) and the family name was changed to the victory title "Ross-of-Bladensburg", which was granted to his widow.
In honour of the history of Washington, D.C., there is also a portrait of Ross in the U. S. Capitol's rotunda and several illustrations in various War of 1812 historical sites in the Baltimore area, including a Monument near the site off Old North Point Road where he supposedly was shot. Additional details and exhibits have been preserved in various Baltimore historical institutions, such as the Star Spangled Banner Flag House (also known recently as the Flag House and Star-Spangled Banner Museum) and the National Park Service site of Fort McHenry's visitor center exhibits and in the local Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society museum in Dundalk.
Traditionally the two snipers/riflemen "Wells and McComas" (of the unit of Aisquith's Sharpshooters") were buried in a local churchyard mourned by their fellow soldiers and citizens of the Town, but later in the 1850s were exhumed and reburied after elaborate processions and funerals in a monumental tomb in Ashland Square, off of Orleans Street and North Gay Street in the Jonestown/Old Town neighborhood of East Baltimore. City streets were also named for them in South Baltimore.