Old Defenders & the Baltimore of Baltimore, 1814

Last Updated: Thursday, 13-Sep-2018 20:00:57 MDT
Field Trip to Baltimore


The Battle of Baltimore

It was during the pre-trip research that I learned that George Kaylor had fought in the Battle of North Point, part of the defense of Baltimore in September 1814. Cheri Johnston, who had helped me with some CD look ups, provided an important clue and demonstrated once again the value of obituaries. Checking "Departed this Life, Notices from the (Baltimore) Sun, 1854-1856", by Arps, published by Family Line Publications, 1986 (out of print), Cheri found the following obituary:

"KAYLOR, George 78 late of 84 Market Space on the 10th Old Defender - 12 May 1856"

The above listing matches George's date of death as May 10, 1856. The date listed at the end of the line represents the issue in which the notice appeared in the Baltimore Sun. Cheri explained that the Old Defender designation referred to the men who had fought to defend the city of Baltimore during the British assault in 1814. Cheri offered to check the regiment for me. In "The British Invasion of Maryland, 1812-1815", by William Marine, Heritage Books, Inc. 1998, Cheri located the following:

"KAYLOR, George Private in Capt. Sadtler's co. Balto. Yägers" [the "a" is umlauted]

Heading back to the web, I searched for sites devoted to the WAR OF 1812 and in particular the Battles of Baltimore, both the land battle at North Point, and the sea battle at Fort Mc Henry.

The "Battle of Baltimore" page, found on the Fort McHenry website summarizes the events leading up to and the actual battles that took place September 12-14, 1814, shortly after the burning of Washington, D.C.    "Details of the Battle" covers a variety of material, from descriptions of uniforms, food rations, and armaments, to composition of the regiments and outlining the battle sequence. Included in the site are two virtual tours which describe the Battle of North Point and the confrontation on the sea at Fort McHenry, the inspiration for Francis Scott Key's "Star Spangled Banner".

The War of 1812 web site includes a variety of general links, articles, book reviews, and re-enactment information. Several years ago I found War of 1812 Soldiers & Links, a database for those who fought in the War of 1812. Researchers were invited to submit names of individuals who served during that war that some called the "end of the Revolutionary War". Although a great idea, re-checking this particular web page in 2003, it does not appear to be currently active.

Tim Ruckle from the Baltimore mail list recommended the book, "The Battle for Baltimore, 1814", by Joseph A. Whitehorne, published by The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America in 1997. It is an excellent resource and provides a glimpse into the more human elements of the war reminding us that these "troops" were primarily average citizens. Bakers, shoemakers, carpenters, teachers, clerks, barbers, and any number of other occupations made up the bulk of the militia. And when the time came, these everyday citizens responded:

"By noon on 11 September, the appearance of men-of-war escorting troop transports through the haze, marked the beginning of the enemy attack. General Smith ordered three cannon stationed at the courthouse to announce the British arrival and alert the troops to report to their stations. Many of the men were caught attending church services and at one, the Reverend John Gruber of the Light Street Methodist Church dismissed his congregation with the benediction, 'The Lord Bless King George, convert him, and take him to heaven, as we want no more of him'. The entire city burst into intense, controlled activity as congregations poured out of dismissed services, drums beat, and mounted couriers raced about with messages. The militia gathered at their rendezous points and drew a day's rations and thirty-six rounds of ammunition. Everyone was steady, although many men not unexpectedly were apprehensive as they went about their tasks. Private Martin Gillette later wrote his father about the strange feeling he had when 'for the first time in my life I took my musket and entered a regiment' and headed for battle."  (p. 175)

Tim's ancestor, Thomas Ruckle, fought in the Battle of North Point. A painter and glazier by trade, Thomas fought with the Washington Blues of the 5th Maryland Regiment, and battled on the same field as the Baltimore Yaegers at Bouldin Farm*. After the war, Thomas Ruckle completed a number of paintings which depicted the Battle of Baltimore. The painting on the book's dust cover, "Assembly of the Troops Before the Battle of Baltimore", is one of Thomas Ruckle's and is part of the Maryland Historical Society's collection.

Whitehorne's "The Battle for Baltimore, 1814" is available through The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1250 Fairmont Avenue, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464, (843)856-0561.

* I have also seen the farm name spelled:  Bouden & Boudin

The Baltimore Yägers/Yaegers

Matthew Anderson responded to my post on the History Buff message board. Matthew, a volunteer at Fort McHenry, wrote that the Balto Yaegers were part of the 5th Regiment of Brigadier General John Stricker's 3rd Brigade.   The Balto Yaegers, led by Captain Philip Sadtler, saw action in the Battle of North Point, specifically at Bouden's farm on Sept 12, 1814.

Matthew also explained that the term Yaeger is from the German word Jäger or Jaeger, which means "hunter".  It was used to describe light infantry units in Europe. In the United States the term was not as common, and when used it was most often associated with units of German descent. Although the Balto Yaegers were very clearly employed as light infantry as they battled the British at Bouden farm on September 12, 1814, not all groups bearing the names of European military origin were military in nature. Many militia units were social organizations.

To verify military service through the NATIONAL ARCHIVES, call 1-800-234-8861
to request a NATF Form 80 - "National Archives Order for Copies of Veterans Records".   Be sure to let the representative know what war and time period you are looking for as this form does not apply to ALL military service. Form 80 can also be used to request copies of Pension applications and Bounty-Land Warrant applications, although you can only request one kind of search per form.

Field Trip to Baltimore:

Planning Ahead

The Visit