Elizabeth Warner Sands

Illustration of people helping wounded soldiers outside a large wooden structure.
Illustration of people helping wounded soldiers outside a large wooden structure.

credit: (c) Gerry Embleton

Elizabeth Warner Sands is known for her efforts tending to wounded soldiers from the Battle of North Point during the War of 1812.

On the morning of Sunday, Sept 11, 1814, 25-year-old Warner Sands watched her neighbors, friends and brothers march off to engage the British on Patapsco Neck (in what is now Dundalk, MD) in the Battle of North Point. In the aftermath, she and others accompanied Dr. James H. McCulloch, U.S. Army surgeon at Fort McHenry, to enter the British lines and tend the wounded and dying around the Old Methodist Meeting House used as a field hospital. For Warner Sands, it was a personal affair because her three brothers and nephew were among the fallen who served on the front lines during the battle.

Warner Sands was born on March 7, 1789 in Deer Creek, MD. She was one of nine children born to silversmith, clockmaker and Pennsylvania Quaker Cuthbert H. and Ann (Smith) Warner.

In 1805, Warner Sands married Annapolis tinsmith Peter Smick and had four children. In a later account when the British blockaded the harbor in 1813, Peter made tin cartridge boxes for the soldiers. He later died that summer of fever.

In July 1824, Warner Sands married Baltimorean John Sands, a native of England who engraved miniature portraits at his shop and one for General Marque de Lafayette during the French officer’s American tour to Baltimore that fall. During the War of 1812, John Sands served in a troop of cavalry, the Maryland Chasseurs (1809) and in 1814 joined Captain Aaron R. Levering’s Baltimore Independent Blues, 5th Maryland.

In 1842, veterans of the Battle of North Point organized the “Association of the Old Defenders’ of Baltimore in 1814” who remembered their former comrades with an annual gathering (today called Defenders’ Day) in Baltimore. On September 12, 1889--the 75th anniversary—Warner Sands was recognized for her services by the Association and made an honorary member.

On August 2, 1890, Warner Sands died at the age of 102 years, having outlived nearly all of the Old Defenders’. She is buried in Green Mount Cemetery.

Content from retired National Park Service Ranger Scott Sheads.

Last updated: July 5, 2024

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