Don't forget North Point [Letter]

January 14, 2014

Readers of Jonathan Pitts' story about Francis Scott Key's manuscript of "The Star Spangled Banner" being the centerpiece of the Maryland's Star-Spangled Summer celebration of our state's role in the War of 1812 ("Anthem celebration to have rockets' red glare, and more," Jan. 11) should bear in mind that the Battle of North Point, in September 1814, saw Baltimoreans bravely repulse a British land invasion of the city several days before the action at Fort McHenry.

Thousands of citizens — black and white, slave and free — wielded pickaxes and shovels to fortify the city's southern and eastern sides. A defensive arc extended from "Bel Air" Road to the northeast, across Hampstead Hill (now Patterson Park) to the harbor. After a young Baltimore sniper shot British Gen. Robert Ross from his horse, the 5,000 British Marines retreated, and Ross' corpse was sent to Nova Scotia in a rum cask. The heroics at Fort McHenry, which spawned the poem that later became our national anthem, have long been celebrated in our historical memory, but the successful defense of Baltimore's eastern front is less appreciated.

Charles W. Mitchell, Parkton

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