Maryland History and Reality

Capture of Washington, DC, I. Ryland

“Yo, Maryland, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish, but New York had the best victories in the War of 1812! Some of the best victories of all time!”

Seriously, Martin O’Malley. Enough with the stroking of Maryland history. Yes, it’s great that the Battle of Baltimore held off the British and we got our National Anthem out of it. That doesn’t mean that Maryland was the linchpin in the War of 1812 or that we “saved the nation,” nor does it mean we had “more raids and battles than in any other state” (which would be New York). Your constant exaggeration of our state’s role, combined with the cherry-picking of the few positive battles, only adds to your poor reputation about truthfulness.

In fact, contrary to what people want to think, Maryland got its ass handed to it in the War of 1812. The Chesapeake Campaign saw Maryland under blockade, supplies stolen, and villages burnt. The British raided Frenchtown, Havre de Grace, Georgetown, and Fredericktown, destroying much in their wake. Skirmishes along the Chesapeake sent Maryland armed forces in retreat, including the loss of Fort Washington and Bladensburg. In fact, it was that latter that was considered one of the most disgraceful losses in history, when the U.S. Army made a bunch of ridiculous tactical errors that ended up with them routed by an inferior force. This poor leadership and performance allowed the British to march on DC and burn the nation’s capital.

Out of the numerous raids, skirmishes, and battles, only Baltimore was even close to a success. Even then, the land invasion at North Point was technically a loss as the Americans retreated; they simply did enough in return that the British had to do the same. Fort McHenry held off the British who might have still won, but decided it was not worthwhile and left to continue their campaign elsewhere. So, what you have is a state that was constantly raided and destroyed, allowed the British to march through and destroy the nation’s capital, and whose greatest victory in the end was mostly a mutual loss for both sides that made the opponent move on to other endeavors. That doesn’t sound like the great “linchpin” that “saved the nation” to me…

Governor, I think you need to read your history books before you start lauding Maryland’s role in the War of 1812. You talk about supporting education, but how is it our school children know their state history better than you do? Be proud of Baltimore and the creation of the Star-Spangled Banner, but don’t act like we were the winners. If you want to laud any battle for turning the war in our favor, look to New York and the Battle of Plattsburgh.