Lesson Plan

The War of 1812 - Baltimore's Role

The British bombardment of Fort McHenry
The Battle of Fort McHenry - Alfred Jacob Miller

Maryland Historical Society

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade
War of 1812
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Explain the political, cultural, economic and social changes in Maryland
during the early 1800’s. Describe Maryland’s role in the War of 1812.


Students will read primary and secondary source documents to identify the actions of the citizens in the defense of Baltimore during the War of 1812.


VSC Objective Alignment:

5.C.2. Explain the political, cultural, economic and social changes in Maryland
during the early 1800's
a. Describe Maryland's role in the War of 1812
6.D.1. Identify primary and secondary sources of information that relate to the
topic/situation/problem being studied
a. Gather and read appropriate print sources, such as textbooks, government
documents, timelines, trade books, websites.

Guided Practice
VSC Social Studies Skills and Processes

6.A.1. Use appropriate strategies and opportunities to increase understandings of social
studies vocabulary
a. Acquire and apply new vocabulary through investigating, listening,
independent reading and discussing a variety of print and non-print sources
6.A.3. Use strategies to monitor understanding and derive meaning from text and portions
of text (during reading)
b. Use a graphic organizer or another note-taking technique to record important
ideas or information


Teacher Background Information

The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain from June 1812
to the spring of 1815. Beginning with the end of the American Revolution in 1783 Britain
frustrated the new nation by failing to withdraw from the area around the Great Lakes,
supporting the Indians in the frontier and refusing to enter into equitable commercial
agreements with the United States. Especially egregious was the practice of impressing
Americans into British service.

One of the actions taken by the United States was the passing of the Embargo Act
banning all American ships from foreign trade. The embargo failed to change British and
French policies but succeeded in devastating New England shipping. Additionally, other
economic measures that were attempted failed to deter the Europeans in their destructive
policies aimed at the United States. The elected Congress of 1810 included a group
known as the War Hawks who demanded war against Great Britain. New England
shippers who feared further destruction of their trade opposed war. However, on June 18,
1812, President James Madison signed a declaration of war that Congress passed. The
first two years of the war saw numerous campaigns, many of which devastated the young
nation's forces.

In 1814 the United States faced complete defeat. The British planned to attack the United
States in three main areas: in New York along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River; at
New Orleans; and in the Chesapeake Bay. The British appeared near success in the late
summer of 1814. American resistance to the diversionary attack in Chesapeake Bay was
so weak that the British, after winning the Battle of Bladensburg, marched into
Washington, D.C., and burned most of the public buildings. President Madison had to
flee into the countryside. The British then turned to attack Baltimore but met stiffer
resistance and were forced to retreat after the American defense of Fort McHenry.


Transparencies of each Student Handout
1 copy for each student of Handout "Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812"
Colored pencils or thin lined markers
Copies of primary source documents and graphic organizers for Group Handouts (1 for
each pair of students)
Recruitment Poster
Letter written by John and S. Bell to Thomas C. Bell
Letter written by John Harris to Doctor William Harris
Paper for newspaper article

Teacher Preparation:
Duplicate worksheets and primary source documents
Prepare transparencies or charts of each activity from the worksheets




Assessment (Student Product)
Direct students to prepare a newspaper report using the facts from the primary
source documents.
Display the newspaper articles on a bulletin board.

Have students share the newspaper articles to retell the events related to Baltimore's
participation in the War of 1812.

Student Grouping: When assigning students to work in groups, make sure that groups
are heterogeneously mixed so that there is an opportunity for peer support.
Primary Source Documents: For low literacy students, provide student friendly
wording for each document. Assign passages based on level of difficulty and student

Additional Resources

Maryland Adventure by Suzanne Ellery Chapelle pages 93-95
Cobblestone Magazine. James and Dolley Madison, March 1996,
Volume 17 - Number 3.


Vocabulary: (display the words and discuss the meaning of each)
artillery – weapons for discharging missiles; a branch of an army
battery – an emplacement for one of more pieces of artillery
blockade – an action to keep supplies from getting into or out of an area
brigade –a large unit of soldiers
fortifications – a fort or defensive earthwork, wall, etc.
master – a person in charge; a military title
repose – calm, peace
vessels – ships

Last updated: February 26, 2015