The Troops

An excerpt from an Act to Regulate and Discipline the Militia in Maryland (signed into law on January 7, 1812):

* Sec. 1 That all able-bodied white male citizens, between 18 and 45 years of age, and residents of this state ... shall be subject to do militia duty under this Act.

* Sec. 4 The militia on any day of exercise, may be detained under arms in the field, anytime not exceeding six hours; provided they are not kept above three hours under arms at any one time without allowing them proper time to refresh themselves.

* Sec. 9 That each commanding officer shall appoint four days for the meeting and exercising of his company between the first day of March and the first day of December in each and every year.

* Sec. 23 That, whenever a number of men not less than 48 shall have associated and formed themselves into a uniform company, agreeably to the provision of this act ... they shall forthwith apply to the governor and council for commissions for proper persons to command the said company.

* Sec. 31 That, when the whole or any part of the militia shall be ordered into actual service, they shall be subject to the rules and regulations of the articles of war and be entitled to the same pay and rations as troops in the service of the United States are entitled to...

* Sec. 53 adopting a uniform for the state.... For artillery, long dark blue coats faced with red, red collar and cuffs, yellow buttons, blue pantaloons, black gaiters or half boots, and chapeaux-de-bras....

To Join The Army!

Major Armistead, commander of Fort McHenry from 1813 till his death in 1818, placed the following recruitment notice in various Baltimore newspapers in the summer of 1813:

-------------------------------To Reputable Young Men--------------------------------

Will be given a Bounty of FORTY DOLLARS and One Hundred and Sixty Acres of Land for enlisting in the 3d Regiment of Artillery by applying to GEO. ARMISTEAD, Major Fort McHenry


A soldier was given $124 and 160 acres of land upon his honorable discharge from either a "duration of the war" or five year's service. The land bounty warrant was held in trust for him.

Many citizens enlisted at Fort McHenry, coming from many walks of life: laborers, sailors, tailors, wagoners, blacksmiths, etc. Among the standards the U.S. Army tried to maintain for enlisting recruits were the following:

* No recruits under 18, nor above 40 years of age, nor any who are not able-bodied and free of disease (liability to fits, scald-head, ruptures, sore legs, scurvy and habitual drunkedness) shall be enlisted.

* If found by a physician to be sound, able-bodied and at least 5 feet , 6 inches tall, the recruit passed the physical.

* The sum of $8 shall be paid to any non-commissioned officer, soldier, or civilian who shall furnish any able-bodied man. The total premium paid cannot exceed $40.

* Enlistment was for five years or the duration of the war.

* On February 1, 1814, the enlistment bounty was increased to $124 - $50 of which was paid at the time of the recruit's enlistment; - $50 of which was paid when he shall be mustered & join the corps, - $24 when he shall be honorably discharged

* The oath was administered and his annual uniform & equipage was issued

* The land bounty warrant for 160 acres of land was issued in the soldier's name from the public domain. A total of 6 million acres had been set aside in the territories of Michigan, Illinois, and Louisiana. Maine would be added later.

* Monthly pay of the soldier was $8



A company consisted of 123 officers and enlisted men.

1 Captain                       $50

1 First Lieutenant               33

2 Second Lieutenants             33

1 Third Lieutenant               30

1 Quartermaster Sergeant         12

5 Sergeants                      11

8 Corporals                      10

4 Musicians                       9

100 Privates                      8

1 Hospital Surgeon's Mate        45

8 Servants (not part of compliment)$6


A soldier's daily ration consisted of 1 1/4 pounds of beef or salted pork and 8 ounces of bread or flour, and one gill of whiskey or rum. This ration was combined with those of the others who shared a mess (8 men) for a communal soup dinner.


The new uniform regulations of May 1, 1813, called for a plain dark blue coatee, white trousers, and a leather hat -- quite a change from the ornamental coat of the old regiments with red collars and cuffs and yellow piping. It signaled an end to the costly, ornamental trim of the 18th century.

Military Organizational Command: 3d Division, Maryland Militia (Baltimore - September 1814)

Under the "Act to Regulate and Discipline the Militia of this State" passed in 1811, the Maryland Militia was organized into three divisions. The Third Division was commanded by Major General Samuel Smith, who was responsible for Baltimore's defense. The Third Division consisted of three brigades, organized as follows:

1st BRIGADE (Harford and Cecil Counties): 30th, 40th, 42nd, and 49th Regiments of Infantry - Brigadier General Thomas Foreman

11th BRIGADE (Baltimore County): 7th, 15th, 36th, 41st, and 46th Regiments of Infantry - Brigadier General Tobias E. Stansbury

3rd BRIGADE (Baltimore City): 5th, 6th, 27th, and 39th Regiments of Infantry - Brigadier General John Stricker


1st Rifle Battlalion - Major William Pickney

1st Regiment of Artillery - Colonel David Harris

5th Regiment of Cavalry - Lt. Colonel James Biays


A Soldier's Rations: U.S. Corps of Artillery

"Bread and Soup are the great items of a soldier's diet."
(1821 U.S. Army Regulations)

The Daily Rations allowed to the soldier during the War of 1812 consisted of:

Generally, the soldiers at Fort McHenry combined their individual rations and prepared a communal soup for their meals. Messes were prepared by the privates of each squad (8 men). Each barracks room accommodated 16 men (two squads).

Dining Utensils: To the left of the fireplace stood a wooden closet used to store the following cooking and table utensils: tin cups and bowls, copper kettle, pewter spoons, wooden bowls, iron kettle, iron pots, and a stone roller. Dining was done on a nearby pine table with benches. (NOTE: These utensils and dining accommodations are well-documented.)

Cellar Kitchen, 1805-1812: Beneath this barracks room was a kitchen with a fireplace. It was reached by an outside brick stairway. This cellar kitchen was studied in 1958 by archeologists. These studies indicate that ground water had become a problem; the kitchens may have been abandoned by 1812. The fireplace in the barracks room may have been utilized for preparing food as well as to heat the room. In 1829, the kitchen was filled in and the brick used to replace the wooden barracks floor.

Military Music

Fifes and drums have long been used within military units to provide a direct and highly-audible signal system. When bodies of troops marched from one point to another, the tempo of the drums' steady beat established the pace. On the battlefield, troop movements were often sounded through music, enabling the officers' commands to be heard above the noise of battle.

During the War of 1812, fifers and drummers regulated the routine of garrison life at Fort McHenry and provided a certain esprit de corps among the soldiers. The following commands may well have been used at Fort McHenry: the Rouse, Drill Call, Officers Assemble, Fatigue Call, Rations Call, the Alarm, Cease Firing, Adjutant's Call, and the Tattoo.

William Duane, a respected military strategist, author, and adjutant general during the Revolutionary War, published A Military Dictionary in 1810. The following is provided in this important research work:

"In all garrisons and posts where artillery is sounded, a gun is fired each morning and evening from the ramparts. The morning gun is fired at day-break and, as soon as it is fired, the drummers of each guard beat the reveille and the sentries cease challenging. The evening gun is fired at sunset, when all colors and flags within the garrison are struck and lodged, and the retreat is beat through the principal streets by the drum major... After retreat beating, no party marching in or out of the garrison is to beat a drum, nor is any drum to beat for orders or on any other account...."

On August 16, 1814, the [Baltimore] American & Commercial Daily Advertiser published the following:

"Who that has ever heard the Reveille played at Fort McHenry by the skillful performers of that Garrison, but who will be ready to acknowledge the power of the "ear-piercing fife and the spirit-stirring drum," when touched by the hand of a master? ...Of National Airs we have as yet but few; but we have two that are sufficient for our purpose - Yankee Doodle and Hail Columbia - are as soul-aspiring airs as ever were composed...."

On the morning of September 14, 1814, at 9 a.m., two hours after the bombardment had ended, the star-spangled banner was hoisted in triumph "over the ramparts" whilst the fifes and drums played the national air - Yankee Doodle.

U.S. Sea Fencibles* at Fort McHenry, 1813-1815

(The term "sea fencible," meaning "coast guard" - home units that defended the coast - was used in 18th and 19th century France.)

"... within the five cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk, there are a large number of seafaring men, who from their hardihood and habits of life, might be very useful in the defense of the seaboard, particularly in the management of the great guns...."
(Report, U.S. Senate Naval Affairs Committee, June 1813)

On July 26, 1813, Congress passed "An act to authorize the raising [of] a corps of sea fencibles ... not to exceed one year [service], and not to exceed ten companies who may employed for the defense of the ports and harbors of the United States..." At Baltimore, two companies were raised under the command of Captains Matthew S. Bunbury and William H. Addison.

Though generally mariners by trade, the sea fencibles were equipped and organized under the authority of the War Department. Officers received the uniform, pay, and rations of the U.S. Army (Infantry), while the balance of each company (boatswains, gunners, and privates) received the uniform, pay, and rations of the U.S. Navy.

A company of 107 officers and enlisted men drew the following monthly pay:

Both companies at Fort McHenry were considered part of the regular garrison. Records indicate that Captain Bunbury's company was quartered at Fort McHenry while Addison's men were quartered at Fort Covington. Their duties consisted of manning the U.S. barges, maintaining the chain-mast boom, providing guard duty, and manning the great guns of Fort McHenry's water batteries.

On February 27, 1815, the act establishing the corps of sea fencibles was repealed.

U.S. Corps of Artillery (September 1814)


On May 12, 1814, when the War of 1812 was at its height, the First, Second and Third Regiments of Artillery were consolidated into a single corps, known as the U.S. Corps of Artillery, under the act of March 30, 1814. At this time, the regimental designation was changed to the U.S. Corps of Artillery. This organization continued until 1821 when the Corps was reorganized into four regiments of artillery

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