9.18.2014

Lieutenant Newcomb summarizes British attack on Baltimore


September 18, 1814

Lieutenant Newcomb’s summary of events at Baltimore 

LIEUTENANT HENRY S. NEWCOMB TO COMMODORE JOHN RODGERS

Saturday Sep. 10th 10 P.M. received information that the enemy were coming up the Bay, in force,
Sunday 11th About Thirty sail hove in sight, Receiving orders to take command of Fort Covington with a detachment of seamen— the soldiers are sick with the fever & ague— At noon light airs from the Sd.—the headmost ships of war at anchor above Sparrow Point—the transports & smaller vessels several
miles below—
Monday 12th Light airs from the Sd. & pleasant— No visible alteration during the night— the barges & small vessels very busy thru the day— 2.P.M. The ships of war got under way & came to about 6 miles below Fort McHenry—
Tuesday 13th At 6 A.M—5 Bomb Ship and () Ships of war got under way & took their station in a line abreast Fort McHenry, distant 2(?)% miles & 3 miles from F. Covington— 8 A.M—moderate breezes from the Sd. & Ed. … The enemy commenced the Bombardment of F. McHenry, which was returned with shells & shot, but as they all fell short, the fort discontinued firing, while the enemy continued to throw their shells with great precision & effect; 2.P.M—Wind at the Nd. & Ed.—with heavy showers of rain— 3 P.M—Fort McHenry recommenced firing and by taking out the beds & coins. Threw the shot so well among the Bomb Ships that three of them got under way & run out of gunshot & bombarded the fort more furiously than before— 10 P.M. the enemies barges all in motion— Weather thick & hazy with frequent showers of rain—
Wednesday 14th.— The enemies small vessels & barges were discovered by their lights moving up the S.W. Branch—the headmost abreast of F. Covington— Commenced firing—which was immediately returned with shot—shells & rockets—Fort Babcock, (or the Six gun battery) now opened— The darkness prevented our accurately distinguishing their force— One Bomb Vessel was this side the Point—a schooner about half way between her & F. Covington—& the barges, (number unknown, Throwing 12. 18 & 24 Ib. Shot—) abreast of us— Our fire was directed at the headmost— A few broadsides checked their advance, when they concentrated nearly abreast of us, & continued their attack on the batteries— The decided superiority of our fire compelled them to retreat, when They were met by a fire from F. McHenry—which, however, from the darkness of the night was soon discontinued— Col. Taylor's regiment of Militia was posted in our rear— How judicious his arrangements were I shall leave to those to say who are more competent to judge & whose duty it is to decide— The Shells & rockets were thrown with little intermission till daylight—but with very little effect— The officers with me were attentive & active— …
 The seamen were extremely indignant that the enemy fought no longer—
Respectfully
H. S. Newcomb
Fort Covington
Sept. 18th. 1814

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