War of 1812, Sharpsburg Militia
Militia units from Maryland were called to defend Washington and Baltimore during the War of 1812. In 1813 and 1814 several companies were formed in Washington County. One of the muster rolls (or rosters) of men of the Company of Captain John Miller from Sharpsburg has survived, and can be seen at the Washington County Historical Society. Miller formed a company which was part of the 2nd Regiment under Lt. Col. R K. Heath. Edward Wright notes that four days were allowed for travelling to Sharpsburg, though this is not included on the muster roll itself. The muster roll includes the names, ranks, dates of enlistment. The company listed Captain Miller, two lieutenants, one ensign, four sergeants, four corporals, one drummer, and sixty one privates. The men signed up from April 28th, 1813 when last mustered to June inclusive. Of these, three men deserted, and one was discharged.
Scharf lists Miller’s company as part the gathering of local militia, to fill the State’s quota of six thousand men. In March 1813, the "Blues" and the "Hussars" led by Major Williams’ (Otho Holland William’s son) were ordered to Annapolis, where they performed duty for a brief period; and in May of the same year companies of volunteers, under the command of Capt. Wherritt, of Funkstown, Capt. Miller, of Sharpsburg, Capt. Stevens, of Hancock, and Capt. Bell, of Allegany County, proceeded to Baltimore.
After the Battle of Bladensburg, the men returned home. On the 3d of July a general discharge took place of the troops called for the defense of Baltimore, who were highly extolled in a general order, particularly Capt. Henry Steiner’s company of artillery, which arrived home on the 5th. On the 6th the companies of Capt. Samuel Dawson and of Capt. Miller, of Sharpsburg, and also most of the troops of Washington and Allegany Counties, returned. Scharf noted that in 1814 the entire militia of the county went again to the defense of Baltimore, and many participated in the bloody engagement at North Point. But Captain Miller’s company was not included in Huntsberry’s listing of troops who fought at North Point.
Prominent Washington County residents who served in the War of 1812 were Samuel Ringgold and Thomas Quantrill. Ringgold was appointed a Brigadier General in the Maryland Militia. He served as a state representative and later as a Congressman. (See Samuel Ringgold 1770-1829). Thomas Quantrill, a leader in Hagerstown, was the Captain of the Hagerstown Volunteers, also known as the "Homespun Volunteer Company", sent to Fort Madison in defence of Annapolis. They later fought at the Battle of North Point that took place after the Battle of Bladensburg. Quantrill was listed as wounded at Long Log Lane, North Point, September 12, 1814.
Monument commemorating the Battle of North Point,
Calvert & Fayette Streets, Baltimore, Maryland
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
John Ragan, Jr. of Hagerstown appointed by the Governor of Maryland lieutenant-colonel of the Twenty-fourth Regiment of militia, and was in command of a regiment of militia at the Battle of Bladensburg, where, “although his command early in the engagement broke and fled in the utmost disorder, he particularly distinguished himself in his brave efforts to rally his raw and panic- stricken troops, but in the fruitless attempt was thrown from his horse, severely injured, and finally taken prisoner by the enemy” (Scharf).
Frisby Tilghman was the captain of the Washington Hussars. His men met at Rockland, and listened to a spirited address from their commander, in which he ably proved the necessity of rallying around the country’s standard. He then drew his sword, as a token that he was ready to obey her call. His patriotic example was instantly followed by the rest of the officers, and almost unanimously by the whole of the troopers present (Scharf).
Charles Boerstler, whose father was a doctor in the County, was part of the federal troops rather than the militia. He participated in the Battle of Beaver Dam in Canada in 1813, and surrendered his forces to the British. There was much discussion in the press as to whether he had been duped by the British into surrendering to a smaller force, or had acted wisely to prevent further loss of men. Boerstler was exonerated by a Court of Inquiry.
The War of 1812
Scharf describes the cause for the war as follows:
During the years of Madison’s administration, from March, 1809, to June, 1812, the English continued their insults, aggressions, and depredations. Our harbors were insulted and outraged, our commerce swept from the ocean, our seamen impressed into British fleets, scourged and slaughtered, fighting the battles of those who held them in bondage, and studied indignities were offered to our national flag wherever displayed. All efforts for redress from the British government had failed, and at length (acting in accord with a majority of the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States) the President issued his proclamation declaring war against Great Britain on the 18th day of June, 1812.At the end of war, Scharf wrote: The peace commissioners representing England and the United States completed their labors at Ghent, Dec. 24, 1814. The Prince Regent ratified the treaty on December 30th, and on the 18th of February, 1815, the President’s signature was attached to it, thus perfecting that instrument, and concluding the second war between Great Britain and the United States.
Fort McHenry Library. The Defenders of Maryland in the War of 1812, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.
Hickman, Nathaniel. 1800. The citizen soldiers at North Point and Fort McHenry, Sept. 12 & 13, 1814. Resolves of the citizens in town meeting, particulars relating to the battle, official correspondence and honorable discharge of the troops. Baltimore: N. Hickman.
Huntsberry, Thomas Vincent, and Joanne M. Fravel Huntsberry. 1985. North Point, War of 1812. Baltimore, Md. (7601 North Point Creek Rd., Baltimore, 21219): J-Mart.
Marine, William Matthew, 1843-1904; Dielman, Louis Henry, 1864-1959, ed; The British invasion of Maryland, 1812-1815. Society of the War of 1812. Maryland, pub. 1912.
Scharf, J. Thomas, 1882. History of Western Maryland : being a history of Frederick, Montgomery, Carroll, Washington, Allegany, and Garrett Counties from the earliest period to the present day : including biographical sketches of their representative men. Philadelphia : L.H. Everts.
Wright, F. Edward. "Washington County Militia in the War of 1812." Maryland Genealogical Society Bulletin 35, no. 3 (1994): 402-411.
|Western Maryland Regional Library is grateful to the Washington County Historical Society for allowing us to make this muster roll available.