The characters are Nicholas Slubey Jones, his wife Frances Brown Jones and grandson Thomas Brown Jones The idea is that we are visiting and looking to meet our grandson who is buried ast Holy Trinity.
Nicholas: Thomas! Thomas Jones!
I am your grand father Nicholas Slubey Jones. I’ve brought your grandmother here to meet you.
Frances: Oh, Nicholas, isn’t he a fine young man. Your grandpa took me to St. Barnabas to meet with your Ma and Pa, your sister Mary and brother James. You know I passed from this earth when your Ma was only 8 months old and grandpa raised the children all by himself. That’s why your Aunt Mary has always taken a special interest in your Ma and her family; she acted like a little mother to them. I can’t believe that your mother married her first cousin, your Uncle David’s son Thomas. I guess that makes you doubly a Jones.
Thomas: I’m proud to be a Jones. Pa and Ma told me all about what you went through in the war against the British in 1814. Why that was 200 years ago.
Nicholas: Yes that was a bad time for us in Baltimore. The British had it in for us because of the privateers and clipper ships that were able to run the blockade. You know that the reason for that war was that the British were harassing our shipping and impressing our sailors into their Navy. I took over management of your Gr. Grandfathers Brown’s pottery about 1810, after your grandma’s brother James died. I expanded the sale of our teapots into Philadelphia and New England. When the British blockaded the Chesapeake Bay it began to hurt our business some. Why, my uncle Nicholas Slubey lost over $200,000 in ships and merchandise. So I was very much in favor of President Madison going to war.
Frances: But with my being raised a Quaker and opposed to war, I tended to support the Federalists who were in favor of negotiation. But with what the British did I had a hard time not agreeing with the Pres. Why they acted more like pirates than a civilized nation. They went up and down the Bay and into the tributaries burning, pillaging and looting. I think that their Admiral Cockburn thought that the more he harassed us, the more likely that we would give up. But he underestimated us and it backfired. Why it was in May of 1813 that they sailed up to the mouth of the Susquehanna and burned 40 out of the 60 houses in Havre de Grace. It was fortunate that they didn’t burn the Thomas mansion up on Perry Point that your Grandma Maria’s family built. But that made Baltimore really take notice.
Nicholas: Yes, we merchants and storekeepers petitioned the governor to appoint militia General Sam Smith to oversee the defense of Baltimore. We know him and trusted him.
Frances: It was fortunate that we didn’t get General Winder or Sec. of Defense Armstrong.
Frances: They were responsible for the debacle at Bladensburg. There was no military leadership there. They didn’t make preparations and when the militia saw those red coats coming with rockets blazing, they turned tail and fled. They called it the “Bladensburg Races”. What a disgrace that was to us. Why President Madison came close to being captured and Sec. of State Monroe had to act as a scout, riding about the countryside. That is how that British were able to get through and burn Washington…even our President’s new house.
Nicholas: Why even the sharp 5thRegiment fled, but they redeemed themselves when it came to the defense of Baltimore. Gen. Smith strengthened the militia and put Gem Armistead in charge of the defense of Ft. McHenry. Gen Armistead sunk ships across the mouth of the Patapsco River so they couldn’t sail up. Gen. Smith also made a defensive position up on Hampstead Hill of breastworks and cannon emplacements all the way down to the Harbor.
Frances: Why he had the Nicholas and the rest of the militia marching up and down the streets. Once a week they marched all the way out to Ft. McHenry.
Nicholas: I served with Captain Magruder’s artillerists. My brother David was in the militia over in Kent County. In August he sent us some encouraging news. A force of about 200 British under Sir Peter Parker came ashore north of the Chester River, just across the Bay from Baltimore. The 170 militia met them at night at a place called Caulk’s Field. They fought and killed Sir Peter and the British retreated. David said it was hot and misty. Your uncle Richard Thomas received a commendation for his service there.
Frances: The weather that summer was one of the problems. I was pregnant with your mother and she was born in July. I couldn’t leave and go to the country because of the threat of attack. The heat and humidity in the city were unbearable, as was the stress of not knowing when they would attack. We got the word that they were coming and Nicholas was sent to man the cannon on Hampstead Hill.
Nicholas: We ha heavy rain for 3 days and when I got to the redoubts there was 2 ft of water in the trenches. I have never been so miserable in my life, and I was used to go duck hunting in my younger years. We had a 4 day wait, while the skirmishers and snipers went out to slow down the approach of the troops. They were able to kill the British commander, General Ross.
Frances: Do tell them about what the sailor told you about Sir Peter Parker and Gen. Ross.
Nicholas: Well, they pickled them in rum and sailed their bodies back to England. A waste of good rum I say! When the British approached Hampstead Hill, they found it fortified with 12,000 militia and a miles of defenses and retreated to the woods to wait for the fleet to approach Baltimore. So, on Sept. 13 the whole British fleet approached Ft. McHenry. When they got close our cannons fired on them and they moved back out of range. But we weren’t out of their range and they began to bombard the fort. I was worried about my family back in Baltimore as I watched the rockets being fired.
Frances: Oh, that bombardment was awful. For 25 straight hours they fired bombs and rockets and shot at the fort. With every shot the sound resounded in the city. It shook the very foundations of the house. We were 4 blocks from the harbor, shut in with the heat and humidity. Baby Fanny Isabel screamed and Mary, Ann, James and John were all under 7 years old and they couldn’t sleep. They hung upon me and cried. It was a fearful time. Then suddenly at 4 in the morning it stopped. The silence was deafening. What did it mean? Had the fort surrendered? Were they coming into the city? We waited, listening for any sound in the darkened city. And then when the sun came up, we found that they had gone. They had tried sneaking by in smaller boats but were turned back by the marine battery. You know Gen Smith had a bit of a sense of humor. He commissioned a flag for the fort from a noted city needlewoman, Mary Pickersgill. It was 30 x 42 feet, enormous! He said he wanted the British to be able to see it. As it turned out it was we who saw it.
Nicholas: Yes, I could still see that flag from Hampstead Hill when the sun came up. The British retreated through the woods and we knew we had survived an attack by the largest navy in the world.
Frances: An Annapolis lawyer also saw the flag from a ship in the Bay. He wrote a wonderful poem which I read in the paper. The last verse meant the most to me.
Frances and Nicholastogether: O thus be it ever when free men shall stand between their loved homes and the wars desolation. Blest with victory and peace may the heav’n rescued land praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just, and this be our motto: “In God is our trust.” And the star spangled banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Thomas: Why that is now our national anthem. Thank you so much for coming to visit. Grandpa, you have always been a hero to me. Goodbye