Baltimore County News
Fronda Cohen, Director, Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences
How do you honor a war 200 years after it ended? Our buildings, museums and parks are filled with monuments, historic markers and remembrances of battles won and battles valiantly fought and lost. What ties these commemorations together is a desire to honor our soldiers and the families and communities that supported their service.
How do you create a remembrance that speaks to history and also engages people today?
The Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences took on the challenge of finding a way to use public art to honor Baltimore County’s role in the War of 1812. They saw the battlefield at North Point as the centerpiece. Here, a crucial military engagement stalled British land forces so American troops could fortify Ft. McHenry and save Baltimore from capture.
Battle Acre Park on North Point Road in Dundalk is an earlier commemoration of that important battle. Today, overlooking a newly renovated park, is new public art mural that captures not only the history and leaders of the battle, but the fighting spirit of its citizen soldiers and the pride residents took in their service.
The “Home of the Brave” mural features the battle engagement, with American troops holding formation, blocking British troops from advancing. This panel is flanked by portraits of the battle’s military leaders, U.S. General John Stricker and British General Robert Ross. Another panel highlights the historic Todd’s Inheritance homestead, showing rural life in eastern Baltimore County during the early 1800s. A final scene shows a celebration ceremony held in 1839, just 25 years after the Battle of North Point was waged on the site.
After the fireworks are over, the “Home of the Brave” mural will remain to remind us of the bravery and commitment of America’s citizen soldiers. Visit Baltimore County’s Battle Acre Park and remember a legacy of service that lives on today.
The “Home of the Brave” mural was designed and painted by artist Marshall Adams and is a project of the Baltimore County Commission on Arts & Sciences in partnership with the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation. Funding was provided through grants from The Citizens of Baltimore County and the Maryland State Arts Council.
Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum, Inc.
Defenders Day Features Walking Tours
Take a walking tour at Fort Howard Park during Defenders Day celebrations September 7 & 8, and learn about how the area has more history than the Battle of North Point!
Dundalk Historical Society volunteer Ray Scott will explain how Fort Howard is also historically significant for reasons other than the British landing in 1814. From 1898 until 1927, this property was an Endicott Period Coast Artillery installation that housed as many as 18 huge artillery guns purposed to protect Baltimore from attack by enemy naval vessels attempting to enter the Patapsco River.
The weapons at Fort Howard included two 12-inch disappearing rifles and eight 12-inch mortars. All of those guns could rain massive, 1000-pound explosive shells on any spot in the Chesapeake or the Patapsco within a 10-mile radius of North Point.
Walking tours of Fort Howard's old coast artillery gun emplacements are scheduled for 11 AM and 2 PM each day. The tours will begin at the Fort Howard History tent next to Battery Stricker.
Dundalk Historical Website Features Complete Defenders Day Info
The Dundalk Historical Society and Museum, Inc., has launched its new website – www.dundalkhistory.org – to publicize Defenders Day 2013 events, reach a wider audience and make everyone aware of just how much the Society can offer the community. Defenders Day 2013 is featured prominently on the new site. Find the complete schedule and more information at www.dundalkhistory.org/defenders-day.html.
One of the biggest priorities of the site is to gather email addresses for a mailing list. You can register by accessing the Contact form on the Support page of the website or through the Society’s official Facebook page (don’t forget to “like” the page).
Defenders Day Isn’t Over When It’s Over
Once Defender’s Day 2013 observances end, other events will lead up to the bicentennial celebration. There will be a special event in Dundalk at 7 PM on Thursday, Oct. 17, when the U.S. Naval Academy Concert Band performs at the Dundalk Middle community auditorium on Dunmanway. Admission and parking are free.
The event is presented in partnership with the Baltimore County Office of Promotion and Tourism and the Star Spangled 200 Committee. For more information about the Defenders Day celebration, call the Historical Society at (410)284-2331, or visit www.dundalkhistory.org/defenders-day.html.
Canadians Represent the British at Defenders Day 2013
Almost 200 years after the British invaded the North Point peninsula, new arrivals will take their place in an attempt to do the same. Dozens of re-enactors from Ontario, Canada, will stand in for British forces during the 199th anniversary celebration of Defenders Day, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, September 7 and 8, at Fort Howard Park.
This year, Defenders Day events will expand to two days in anticipation of next year’s bicentennial celebration. There will be lots of activity over the weekend at Fort Howard Park, highlighted by about 90 re-enactors who will do battle twice on Saturday and once on Sunday.
“We’ve enhanced the whole event from top to bottom,” said Harry Young, who has chaired the event for the last nine years. “We’ll have three battle re-enactments, more volunteers and more sponsors than ever before.”
Department of Planning
It was a day of reckoning, a day to face the ultimate test. The heat was bearable, but enough to put sweat on the brows of the men in their cotton-wool uniforms. In the afternoon sun astride North Point Road in southeast Baltimore County, the American militia faced the British host.
It was 2 p.m. on Monday, September 12, 1814.
The redcoats had landed in the twilight hours some ten hours earlier, bringing 4,200 veterans of the Napoleonic wars onshore at the tip of the North Point peninsula via all manner of ship, craft and skiff. After barreling through the brush and woods, they marched past one of Baltimore County’s earliest homesteads,Todd’s Inheritance. They were bound for Baltimore, eager to give it a severe lashing. This was the British land operation. Just five miles away as the crow flies, the king’s ships were gearing up to rain bombs down on Fort McHenry.
The American scouts posted at the Todd house had detected the British force and raced north to warn American Brigadier Gen. John Stricker. Stricker sent out a small detachment from his force of 3,200 to probe the British movements. This led to a skirmish and some major consequences before the main battle.
September 12, 1814, is the crux of Baltimore County’s story in the War of 1812. While by no means the whole story, it is the main event. The Battle of North Point unfolded a day before the bombardment of Fort McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem that became our National Anthem.
Maryland and other states are now in the midst of a bicentennial commemoration of the War. Baltimore County is pleased to report that key historic sites associated with the Battle of North Point will be getting some much-needed attention. The county has secured funding to make improvements from a variety of sources. Our main goals are to strengthen public access to our top-priority sites, to improve their educational value and visitor appeal, and to advance historic preservation. Our top-priority sites are not only central to the County’s 1812 story, they are destinations on the newly designated Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. They are not just historical artifacts. They are visible, well-known properties woven into the fabric of active communities. Their condition and viability influences the quality of life of the communities in which they reside.
In April, the Department of Planning learned that it will receive a $100,000 grant award to improve Battle Acre Park. The funding from the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission will be matched with $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds put forward by the Department. Battle Acre Park preserves one acre of the land upon which the Battle of North Point was fought. It was donated in 1839 by a local landowner to serve as a commemorative space in which the public can reflect upon the event and remember the soldiers who fought, including 24 Americans who died.
The concept plan for Battle Acre recommends establishing a new pedestrian walkway and plaza area that is needed to provide safe pedestrian access to the site along North Point Road. Sections of the park’s wrought iron fence, which dates to 1914, would be restored and repaired. The park’s granite pillars would be cleaned and improved. A drainage problem would be resolved.
Another preserved piece of the battlefield that lies only 300 feet from Battle Acre, called North Point State Battlefield, is slated for improvement. The recently approved Maryland capital budget includes $500,000 for improving this parcel. The County’s pursuit of this funding was a continuation of County Executive Kevin Kamentz’s request for War of 1812 project funding made last year. This year’s success involved a collaborative, team effort. The county executive and county staff advocated for and supported the request. Delegate John Olszewski, Jr., chairman of the county’s Annapolis delegation, was instrumental in securing the funds, as was Delegate Adrienne Jones and Senator Edward Kasemeyer.
The state and the National Park Service are now collaborating on a final design plan for North Point State Battlefield. Improvements are likely to include a parking area, a loop trail, vegetative screening, interpretive landscaping and other interpretive elements.
Even more good news came when County Executive Kamenetz released his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. The County Executive seeks to invest $175,000 in making improvements to Todd’s Inheritance (mentioned above), a signature waterfront gem that was first settled by the Todd family in 1664. April has been a fantastic month the county’s War of 1812 Bicentennial program. We hope to keep the momentum going.
Revised April 6, 2016