On the morning of September 12, 1814, a British force of between 3,000 and 9,000 men landed at North Point, Maryland, with the intention of marching inland and capturing Baltimore. Brigadier General John Stricker, commander of the Third Brigade of the Maryland militia, was ordered to delay the British advance so that the defense entrenchments around the city could be completed. The fifth regiment was assigned the task of holding the American right flank. Two members of the Maryland militia, Daniel Wells and Henry McComas, according to legend, rode up Long Log Lane, or present-day Old North Point Road.
We know, for example, that Wells and McComas were both apprentices who worked in the city's leather industry. Henry McComas, whose mother and father came from Harford County, worked for Felix Jenkins in the business of making saddles, harnesses and trunks. Wells, meanwhile, was apprenticed to Edward Jenkins, who had a business specializing in making saddlery. It is also known that Daniel Wells, born to an Annapolis family, had a grandfather of the same name who fought in the American Revolution.
It is certain enough that Wells and McComas were privates in Captain Edward Aisquith's militia rifle company which saw action at Bladensburg. According to the muster role of Aisquith's company to be seen in the manuscripts department of the Maryland Historical Society, both were "killed in the advance" on September 12 just prior to the Battle of North Point. During the Battle of North Point, the commanding officer of the British troops, General Robert Ross was killed while inspecting forward positions. Indeed, both did die in the skirmish in which Ross received his fatal wound.
We also know that in the mid-1850s the military companies of Baltimore thought highly enough of the two fallen heroes to form a Wells and McComas Monument Association to honor their memory. In 1858, the remains of the two riflemen were disinterred from their vault in Greenmount Cemetery, laid in state in the old Maryland Institute, and reburied in Ashland Square at Monument and Gay Streets. In 1873, after funding had been raised by public subscription in a manner similar to the way citizens raised the money to build the Battle Monument, a 21-foot high obelisk of Baltimore County marble was built over their grave. According to the inscriptions on the base, at death, Daniel Wells was "aged 19 years, 8 months, and 13 days" and Henry G. McComas "aged 18 years, 11 months, and 22 days." However, no claim is made on the monument that the boys shot Ross. Nineteenth century historian J. Thomas Scharf viewed this as highly significant. "Thus it will be seen," he wrote in a letter to the press, that the comrades of Wells and McComas, who erected the monument to their memory.
In 1977, one of many places recommended as official county landmarks was the Aquila Randal and Battle Acre monuments memorial on Old North Point Road to the 1814 Battle of North Point and the soldier who died there, Hayfields. The interest of this landmark by the Office of the Sheriff is commemorated by every deputy sheriff in Baltimore County when in uniform because a replica of that monument is worn as a shoulder patch. This shoulder patch has been a part of the uniform of the deputy sheriffs of Baltimore County since the inception of the uniform.
Revised August 5, 2014