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  home > documents > brig. gen. john stricker to maj. gen. samuel smith: report on the battle of north point
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Brig. Gen. John Stricker to Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith: Report on the Battle of North Point
Brig. Gen. John Stricker to Maj. Gen. Samuel Smith: Report on the Battle of North Point
September 15 1814

   Stricker reports that as ordered he went down Patapsco Neck and engaged the British. Although a flanking maneuver by the British caused disintegration of his left flank, his best two regiments, the 5th and 27th, held and dealt the British a blow.


   Sir: I have the honor to report to you, that, in obedience to your orders, I marched from Baltimore on Sunday the 11th instant, with part of my brigade, as the advance corps of the army under your command.... I moved towards North Point by the main road, at 8 o'clock P.M. reached the meeting-house near the head of Bear Creek, seven miles from this city. Here the brigade halted, with the exception of the cavalry, who were pushed forward to Gorsuch's farm three miles in advance, and the riflemen who took post near the blacksmith's shop two miles in advance of our encampment. At seven o'clock on the morning of the 12th, I received information from the advanced videttes that the enemy were debarking troops from under cover of their gun vessels which lay off the bluff of North Point, within the mouth of Patapsco river. I immediately ordered back my baggage under a strong guard, moved forward the 5th and 27th regiments, and my artillery to the head of Long Log Lane, resting the 5th with its right at the head of a branch of Bear Creek, and its left on the main North Point road, while the 27th was posted at the other side of the road in line with the 5th, its left extending towards a branch of Back river. The artillery I posted directly at the head of the lane in the interval between the 5th and the 27th. The 39th occupied a ground 300 yards in the rear of the 27th, and the 51st the same distance in rear of the 5th, extending each parallel to the front line. The 6th regiment was thrown back to a position a short distance this side of Cook's tavern and half a mile in the rear of the second line. My orders were, that the 5th and 27th should receive the enemy, and, if necessary, fall back through the 51st and 39th, and form on the right of the 6th or reserve regiment. The riflemen were ordered to the skirts of a thick low pine wood beyond the blacksmith's shop, with a large sedge field in front, that as the cavalry were still in advance who would inform of the enemy's approach, they might take advantage of the covering of the wood and annoy his advance. I soon learned that the enemy's advance party was moving rapidly up the main road, and as the cavalry continually announced their progress, I flattered myself with the hope that the riflemen would soon proclaim by a galling fire their still nearer approach. Imagine my chagrin when I perceived the whole rifle corps falling back on my main position, having too credulously listened to groundless information that the enemy were landing on Back river to cut them off. My hopes of early annoyance to the enemy being thus frustrated, I threw the riflemen on the right flank of my front line, thereby, with the addition of a few cavalry, very well securing the flank. My videttes soon brought information that the enemy in small force was enjoying himself at Gorsuch's farm. Insulted at the idea of a small marauding party thus daringly provoking chastisement, several of the officers volunteered their corps to dislodge it. Captain Levering's and Howard's companies from the 5th, about one hundred and fifty in number, under Major Heath of that regiment; Captain Aisquith's and a few other riflemen, in all about seventy; one 4-pounder with ten men under Lieutenant Stiles, and the cavalry, were immediately pushed forward to punish the insolence of the enemy's advance; or, if his main body appeared, to give evidence of my wish for a general engagement. The latter purpose was soon answered; this small volunteer corps had proceeded scarcely half a mile before the main body of the enemy showed itself, which was immediately attacked. The infantry and riflemen maintained a fire of some minutes, and returned with some loss in killed and wounded; the cavalry and artillery, owing to the disadvantageous ground not being able to support them. major Heath's horse was killed under him. At half-past two o'clock, the enemy commenced throwing rockets across my left flank, which seemed harmless, and had no other effect than to prepare my line for the sound of artillery, which soon commenced by us on the enemy's right column then pushing across towards my left, and returned by their 6-pounders and a howitzer upon my left and center. The cannonading was brisk for some minutes, when I ordered my fire to cease until the enemy should get within close range of canister. Seeing that my left flank was the main object of the enemy, I brought up the 39th into line on the left of the 27th, and detached two pieces of artillery to the left of the 39th, still more securely to protect my left flank. Colonel Amey, of the 51st, was ordered to form his regiment at right angles with my line, resting his right near the left of the 39th regiment. The order being badly executed, created for a moment some confusion in that quarter, but was soon rectified by the efforts of my aide-de-camp and brigade majors, who corrected the error of Colonel Amey and posted the 51st in the ordered position. The enemy's right column deployed and advanced upon the 39th and 27th. The 51st, unmindful of my object to use its fire in protection of my left flank in case an attempt should be made to turn it, totally forgetful of the honor of the brigade, and regardless of its own reputation, delivered one random fire and retreated precipitately, and in such confusion, as to render every effort of mine to rally them, ineffective. Some disorder was occasioned in the second battalion of the 39th by the flight of the 51st, and a few gave way. The fire now became general from left to right; my artillery in the center poured forth an incessant volley of canister upon the enemy's left column, who was endeavoring to gain the cover of a small log house, about fifty yards in front of the 5th, which, however, precaution had been taken to fire, so soon as Captain Sadtler's Yagers from the 5th (who were originally posted therein) should be compelled to leave it. The enemy's line advanced about ten minutes before three o'clock, with a severe fire which was well returned by the artillery, the whole 27th, the 5th, except the three companies of Captains Levering, Howard and Sadtler, which were too much exhausted by the advanced skirmish of the two former -- and the ordered retreat of the first battalion of the 39th, which maintained its ground in despite of the disgraceful example set by the intended support on the left. the fire was incessant till about fifteen minutes before four o'clock, when finding that my line, now 1400 strong, was insufficient to withstand the superior numbers of the enemy, and my left flank being exposed by the desertion of the 51st, I was constrained to order a movement back to the reserve regiment, under Colonel M'Donald, which was well posted to receive the retired line, which mostly rallied well. On forming the 6th, the fatigued state of the regiments and corps which had retired, and the probability that my right flank might be turned by a quick movement of the enemy in that direction, induced me, after proper deliberation, to fall back to Worthington's mill; which I was the more persuaded to do, by my desire to have the 6th regiment (whose officers and men were eager to share the dangers of their brother soldiers) perfect and in good order to receive the enemy on his near approach to the city. All retired as I could wish, and were ready to act as circumstances might require it. In this situation you found the brigade on the morning of the 13th, somewhat fatigued, but with increased confidence in ourselves, and renewing our preparations for the annoyance of the enemy, alone, if deemed proper, or in conjunction with any force.
   I have thought it due to the merits of my brigade, to detail thus fully their whole movement, and I feel pride in the belief that the stand made on Monday, in no small degree, tended to check the temerity of the foe, daring to invade a country like ours, and designing the destruction of our city, in whose defense some of the best blood of the country has already been spilt, and for whose safety and protection the citizen soldiers of the 3rd brigade are ready to suffer every privation, and most every danger. Should report be true (and I doubt not the fact) that the enemy's commanding officer, Major-General Ross, was killed in this action, and that the enemy suffered in proportion to his superior numbers, I shall feel still more the valuable consequences of our fight.
   The conduct of many company officers and privates, was such as I calculated on; that of most of my field officers also merits my particular notice. Major Richard K. heath, of the 5th, who led on the advance party to bring on the action, behaved as became an officer, the facts of his first horse being killed under him in the first skirmish, his second being badly wounded, and himself receiving a severe contusion on the head, by a musket ball, in the general action, are ample proofs of his bravery and exposure in discharge of his duty. Lieutenant-Colonel Sterett, and Major Barry, of the 5th, gained my highest approbation, and they unite with all in praise of Captain Spangler and his company of volunteers from York, Pa., then attached to their command; also of Adjutant Cheston, who is slightly wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Long, of the 27th, and his field and company officers did well; this whole regiment was unsurpassed in bravery, resolution and enthusiasm.
   My brigade has to bewail the loss of Adjutant James Lowry Donaldson, who fell in the hottest of the fight, bravely discharging the duties of his commission. Lieutenant-Colonel Fowler, and Major Steiger of the 39th did their duty in every respect; they speak highly of Captain Quantril, from Hagerstown, and Captain Metzgar, from Hanover, Pa., Captain Quantril is wounded. Captain John Montgomery, commander of my artillery, gained for himself and his company lasting honor. Captain Aisquith and his company of riflemen merit my thanks. Ensign Wilmot, commanding the company of United Volunteers of the 5th, and may of his men, distinguished themselves. To brigade majors Calhoun and Frailey, I am under great obligations for the prompt and zealous performance of their duty. To my aide-de-camp, Major George P. Stevenson, too much praise cannot be given, his industry in every arrangement before the fight, and in animating the whole line was conspicuous; his zeal and courage are of the most ardent kind, the sprightliness of his manners in the most trying scenes had the happiest effect upon all to whom he had to communicate my orders; and the precision with which he delivered my commands, could be exceeded only by the coolness with which he always saw them executed. He was animated, brave and useful. Major William B. Barney and Adjutant Lemuel Taylor of the cavalry, who having no opportunity of distinction in their regiment, owing to the grounds, did me great service, the former aiding Captain Montgomery, the latter in conveying orders through the whole. Mr, Robert Goodloe Harper deserves my thanks. He visited me just before the action; accompanied the advance party, and aided me much throughout. The brave soldiers under my command have suffered many privations, and I recognize among our killed and wounded many valuable men; of which I will make a report in a few days.

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