The Second War with Britain: The Legacy of the Maryland 400 in the War of 1812

Some members of the Maryland 400 who survived the Revolutionary War’s trials later faced other challenging moments in the War of 1812. The divisive war once again tested the mettle of the Revolutionary War veterans in political office and on the battlefield. While the War of 1812 cemented the legacies of some, it also harmed the legacies of others. Militia officers often earned their positions because of their reputation rather than their military prowess, which possibly contributed to their flaws. Today’s post will look at the legacy of five soldiers from the Maryland 400 by examining their roles in the War of 1812.

bombardment of mchenry

“A View of the Bombardment of Fort McHenry,” by John Bower. This is one of the most iconic images of the War of 1812. Library of Congress.

Tobias Stansbury first served in the military as a cadet in the First Maryland Regiment in 1776. He later served on several American privateer ships, experiencing several years of naval combat and even capture. Following the war, Stansbury held several positions in Maryland’s legislature, including serving as the Speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates for multiple years. Stansbury became a leader in Maryland’s Democratic-Republican Party in the early 1800s. Stansbury’s reputation among some Marylanders suffered due to his participation in the Baltimore Riots of 1812, when he reportedly used “violent and inflammatory expression” while urging the mob to attack Federalists. Although the House of Delegates singled out Stansbury for his role in the riots, he never faced any charges and continued to serve in the legislature. Stansbury later participated in the Battle of Bladensburg. Stansbury’s soldiers delayed British advances despite tactical mishaps during the battle. Stansbury continued to influence Maryland politics until his death in 1849, although his role in the riots stained his reputation. [1]

Another former cadet, Thomas Marsh Foreman, similarly aided the Republican Party in the 1800s before fighting in the War of 1812. Foreman used his political connections and his military experience to secure a position as a brigadier general in the Maryland militia in 1810. Foreman’s brigade operated near the northeastern Chesapeake Bay area in 1813 when British raiders attacked several towns, including Elkton and Havre de Grace. Although Foreman’s brigade lacked the equipment and training necessary to defeat British forces, he cemented his legacy in 1814, when he helped defend Baltimore. Foreman’s legacy could have easily been tarnished by his plan to “strike a bold stroke” by attacking British soldiers near Baltimore, but his superiors did not allow it. After the war, Foreman continued to support the Republican Party, eventually supporting Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Party before dying in 1845. [2]

The legacy of another former cadet, Henry Carberry, did not fare as well. Carberry distinguished himself in battle during the Revolution and later participated in Arthur St. Clair’s disastrous 1791 campaign against the Western Confederacy of Native Americans. Carberry survived the Battle of the Wabash, or St. Clair’s Defeat, and “exhibited an exemplary Conduct” during the battle. Carberry’s reputation allowed him to become the first Adjutant General of Maryland in 1794, serving as the commanding officer of the entire state’s militia. In 1813, Carberry returned to active military service as the colonel of the Thirty-Sixth United States Infantry Regiment. Carberry’s regiment found itself in Southern Maryland, ordered to defend the area from increasingly frequent British raids targeting local villages and plantations. The British succeeded in inspiring fear in local Marylanders, partially because American forces could not defeat the overwhelming superior British military. Carberry seemed incapable of disciplining his soldiers, and often failed to protect locals and their property. British forces under Admiral Sir George Cockburn freed enslaved people in the local area, causing mass panic among residents who feared uprisings and reprisals. [3]

Carberry’s ultimate failure occurred in June of 1814 during the Second Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek. American naval forces under Joshua Barney attempted to break through a British blockade which trapped them within the creek earlier that month. During Barney’s moment of need, Carberry withdrew his forces, possibly due to his extreme dislike of Barney. Although Carberry’s retreat left Barney’s flotilla vulnerable, the flotilla managed to slip past the British regardless of Carberry’s actions and escape. Carberry also failed to defend Washington, D.C., despite living in the area. Following the war, Carberry fully retired from the military, and died in 1822. Local newspapers noted Carberry’s “philanthropic disposition,” disregarding his military career. [4]

Following the aftermath of the Baltimore Riots of 1812, Levin Winder’s reputation reached its zenith. Winder distinguished himself in the Revolutionary War, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel by the war’s end, and later served as a general in the Maryland militia. Winder served as Somerset County’s delegate and Speaker of the House of Delegates in the late 1780s and 1790s. The Maryland legislature elected Winder as Maryland’s governor in late 1812 during the midst of the ongoing crisis. Winder appealed to James Madison’s administration for military aid while the British raided the Chesapeake, but received very little. Understanding that the state’s militia needed to defend Maryland largely on its own, Winder attempted to control the situation. Despite lingering tensions with the Republican stronghold of Baltimore, Winder put militia general and Republican U.S. senator Samuel Smith in charge of the city’s defenses in 1813. [5]

 

winder

A 1793 portrait of Levin Winder, pained by William Clarke. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Friends of the American Wing Fund BMA 1981.165

Smith had also served in the Maryland Line at the Battle of Brooklyn, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Smith preformed exceptionally well in the defense of Fort Mifflin in 1777. At the age of 25, successfully trained and led two hundred soldiers in building new fortifications, protecting the fort for over a month before it fell to the British. Following the war, Smith entered various political positions, including serving in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. More importantly, Smith became a leading politician in Baltimore. Smith’s political clout served him well in 1813, allowing him to coordinate with Baltimore’s Republican officials during the British blockade. Although Winder allowed Smith to buy weapons using state funding, Smith primarily relied on Baltimoreans themselves during the crisis. Along with the city’s Committee of Public Supply, Winder rapidly built up Baltimore’s defenses. Smith’s experiences at Fort Mifflin prepared him for his role as Baltimore’s guardian. During this time, laborers completed Fort McHenry’s earth works at a critical moment while the Committee of Public Supply raised an armed group of seamen to patrol the city and set up cannons. After the British ships abandoned their blockade, Winder shifted his attention to other parts of Maryland. Smith, on the other hand, continued to bolster Baltimore’s defenses and discipline the local militia, which proved instrumental in 1814. Smith again led the city’s defenses, repulsing a British invasion and leading to arguably one of the most important American victories in the war. [6]

samuelsmith

A portrait of Samuel Smith, ca. 1800, painted by Gilbert Stuart, from the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian Institution.

Winder’s reputation suffered somewhat after the war. Winder’s dedication to Maryland’s defense in time of crisis ensured the appointment of Charles Ridgely, “a strong and decided Federalist,” as the next Maryland Governor The Republican-controlled legislature later hounded Winder to repay misappropriated funding. Despite Winder’s mixed legacy, a large procession in Baltimore still mourned his passing in 1819. Smith’s legacy benefitted the most from the War of 1812, enshrining him as a hero of Baltimore and Maryland for his instrumental role in Baltimore’s defense. Smith returned to his role as a Senator eleven more years, and later became Baltimore’s mayor between 1835 and 1838. Smith died in 1839, greatly mourned by the people he defended. [7]

-James Schmitt, Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow, 2019

[1] Pension of Tobias Stansbury, National Archives and Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, S 14604, from Fold3.com; Frank A. Cassell, “The Great Baltimore Riot of 1812,” Maryland Historical Magazine 70:3 (1975), 244-245, 258-259; “Additional Report of the House of Delegates Committee of Grievances and Courts of Justice,” Maryland Gazette (Annapolis), 31 December 1812.

[2] Adjutant General, Militia Appointments, vol. 3, p. 2 [MSA S348-3, 2/6/5/11]; W. Emerson Wilson, Plantation Life at Rose Hill: The Diaries of Martha Ogle Forman, 1814-1845 (Wilmington, DE: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1976); Anthony Pitch, The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998), 182-183, 204.

[3]  Maryland Executive Council to George Washington, 18 February 1792, Founders Online, National Archives; Report of the Adjutant General of Maryland, 1906-1907 (Baltimore: George W. King, 1908), 285; Gov. Levin Winder to Col. Henry Carberry, 3 August 1813, Maryland State Papers, Scharf Collection, box 51, no. 42, MdHR 19999-51-42 [MSA S1005-54-39, 1/8/5/43]; “Private Correspondence,” The Enquirer (Richmond), 3 September 1813. 

[4] Ralph E. Eshelman and Burton K. Kummerow, In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake, (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society Press), 57; Anthony Pitch, The Burning of Washington: The British Invasion of 1814 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998), 64; “Died,” Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, DC), 29 May 1822.

[5] Cassell, “The Great Baltimore Riot of 1812,” 259; Frank A. Cassell, “Baltimore in 1813: A Study of Urban Defense in the War of 1812,” Military Affairs, vol. 33, no. 3 (December 1969), 350-351, 360;Frank A. Cassell, Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic, Samuel Smith of Maryland, 1752-1839 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1971): 24-31; “Levin Winder To James Madison, 26 April 1813,” Founders Online, National Archives.

[6] Cassell, “The Great Baltimore Riot of 1812,” 349-350, 354-356, 359-360; Cassell, Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic, 203-211.

[7] “Illegal Waste of Public Money by the Federal Governor and Council of Maryland,” Baltimore Patriot, 2 September 1815; “Obituary,” Baltimore Patriot, 3 July 1819; “Died,” Baltimore Patriot, May 15, 1822; Cassell, Merchant Congressman in the Young Republic, 221-231, 260-264.

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6 Responses to The Second War with Britain: The Legacy of the Maryland 400 in the War of 1812

  1. Mary Tedesco says:

    My direct ancestor, William Clayland Seth who was from the Eastern Shore fought in the American Revolution under Count Pulaski. As an old man, he again took up arms and fought in the War of 1812. History tells us how he felt about the British!

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    • Hi Mary,

      That’s a great story! He must have been a bit like the gentleman described in this poem (see note 14):

      “James McCulloch…shot through the thigh [at the Battle of North Point], and lying on the field, the British were astonished to see a frosty-haired grandfather among young soldiers, and asked ‘What are ye doing here, Grandada’? ‘Fighting the enemies of my country,’ was the reply. ‘Why, you are too old.’ ‘Not a bit,” replied the heroic veteran; “I have fought you twice, and if, with the blessing of God I recover from my wounds, I shall be ready for you a third time.’”

      Pulaski’s Legion is one of the more interesting units from the Revolutionary War. None of the soldiers we’re studying ever joined, so we haven’t been able to talk about it in depth.

      Owen

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  2. richard Woolford says:

    Please Look up my ancestor Lt Col Thomas Woolford I beleave he should be mentioned .He served both in the Revolution and the war of 1812 with the Md 1st 3nd and 6th inthe battle of Brooklyn ,,Camden and took supply’s to Valley Forge and is never brought up !

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    • Hi Richard,

      Thank you for your comment. Thomas Woolford did indeed have a distinguished record of service in the Revolutionary War, although he was not at Brooklyn. His company, the Sixth Independent, was still en route from Maryland at the time and did not arrive in New York until the latter part of September 1776.

      There was a nice article published on Thomas Woolford and his brother William in the Maryland Historical Magazine (vol. 84, no. 4, Winter 1989, p. 379), available online here: http://mdhs.msa.maryland.gov/pages/login.aspx

      Thanks for check us out!
      Owen

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  3. The Baltimore riots of 1812, recently detailed in Josh Cutler’s book, “Mobtown Massacre”, are an important part of not only Baltimore history, but an important series of events for us to understand nationally now as well.
    Thank you for making the connection between several Revolutionary veterans, their involvement in the Baltimore riots, and the military efforts in the War of 1812.

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Schmitt says:

      Thank you for reading this post!

      I had been researching Levin Winder at the time of writing this and was fascinated by his connection to the War of 1812 and Samuel Smith. The Baltimore Riots were referenced quite a bit as well and are integral to fully understanding the legacy of the Revolutionary War in Maryland.

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