Harford History

May 07, 2006

1813: War arrives

May 2, 1813, was "the first time that actual warfare took place on Harford soil," according to historian C. Milton Wright.

During the War of 1812, the British fleet under Admiral Cockburn was blockading the Chesapeake and Delaware bays, plundering any place of strategic or economic importance. The village of Havre de Grace, which had begun 100 years before as Harmer's Town as a site for a ferry and a stop for stage coaches, had grown to a sizable town. It had 50 or more log and frame houses and several taverns and inns. It had wharves to accommodate small vessels.

Cockburn wrote in a letter that he had seen American colors raised at a battery protecting the town and a cannon fired. This show of defiance told him the place was worth attacking. Because of shallow water, the town could only be attacked by launches. These began rowing toward land at about midnight.

At dawn on May 3, the British launches began the assault. Stories told of this raid indicate that it was one of significant destruction. The Harford Historical Society published in its spring 1998 Bulletin a detailed account of the war as it relates to Harford County.

[ Sources: "Harford County in the War of 1812" in Harford Historical Bulletin Number 76, Spring 1998. Our Harford Heritage by C. Milton Wright. Research by Harford County Public Library.]

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