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The Battle of North Point occurred on September 12, 1814 between the Maryland State Militia and landing forces of the British army. Following the defeat of American forces at the Battle of Bladensburg and the burning of Washington, British forces turned their attention north towards Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore was was considered a vital port and believed by the British to be the base of many of the American privateers that were preying on their shipping. While a tactical loss, the Battle of North Point was a strategic victory for the Americans because it allowed valuable time to prepare for defending Baltimore.

  • Battle of North Point by Don Troiani
  • Battle of North Point shown as part of the Battle of Baltimore

     Following the sacking of Washington, the British looked to Baltimore as their next target. The alarm was sounded in the city shorting after the British raid of Alexandria. Senator and major general of the Maryland militia Samuel Smith organized a group of 10,000 men to defend the city from a potential land attack. To take Baltimore, the British planned a two-prong attack advancing over land at North Point and attacking harbor defenses by sea at Fort McHenry.

     Fourteen mile outside of Baltimore at North Point, British General Robert Ross landed his 4,500 troops.
3,200 militia and six cannon under the command of General John Stricker were sent by Samuel Smith to delay the British advance. While they were unsuccessful in stopping the British advance, the British paid a high price for victory, suffering 340 casualties. Ross himself was killed in the skirmish by a sharpshooter.

     During the battle, the Americans lost 163 killed and wounded with 200 captured as compared to the British casualties of 46 killed and 273 wounded. While a tactical defeat, the Battle of North Point considered a strategic victory for the Americans. The battle allowed Samuel Smith to complete his preparations for defending the city. Today the Battle of North Point is commemorated by the Maryland state holiday known as Defenders Day.

Allison, William T., Jeffrey Grey, and Janet G. Valentine. American Military History: A Survey from Colonial Times to the Present. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2007. 106. Print.