Battle for Baltimore City

With the country in shock after the burning of Washington, the British next set sights on Baltimore—America’s third largest city and the region’s commercial and shipbuilding hub.

They did not attack immediately, and in the roughly three weeks that followed the Bladensburg defeat and invasion of Washington, the Americans called all available forces to defend Baltimore. Military and civilians, including free and enslaved African Americans, rallied to fend off the anticipated British attack.

By the time the enemy came into view, an impressive line of earthworks and some 10-15,000 Americans were positioned to defend the approaches to Baltimore. At the entrance to the harbor, Fort McHenry, with a small garrison commanded by Major George Armistead, stood guard.

In the early hours of September 12, 1814, a British fleet of more than 30 warships and transports landed about 5,000 troops on the North Point peninsula under the command of Major General Robert Ross. They began marching toward Baltimore.

Last updated: March 25, 2022

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