On the evening of September 12, 1814, Vice Admiral Alexander Cochran wrote to Colonel Arthur Brooke with the news that General Robert Ross was struck and killed at the Battle of North Point:
1/2 past Seven Monday Evening [12 September 1814]
The Sad Accounts of the death of General Ross has Just reached Me— I had written him a few Minutes before by the boats in Bear Creek with a Bird’s Eye View of the fortifications of Baltimore and the New entrenchments I saw them throwing up to the NNE.—of the Town, upon Which a Good Many people are Engaged— It Struck Me that this entrenched Camp may be turned.
Since writing the before going my letter to my poor departed friend is returned. I therefore Send it to you in its Original form—
It is proper for me to Mention to You, that a System of Retaliation was to be proceeded Upon—in Consequence of the Barbarities Committed in Canada—and that if Genl. Ross had Seen the Second letter from Sir George Prevost—he would have destroyed Washington and George Town— Their Nature are perfectly known to Rear Admiral Cockburn and I believe Mr. Evans— In them a kind of Latitude is given for raising Contribution instead of destruction but in this public property Cannot be Compromised.
You will best be able to Judge what can be attempted—but let me know your determination as Soon as possible that I may Act Accordingly
Ever my dear Sir
The transcript of this letter is re-posted from the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum and Blog of 1812.
These 24 hours commences with light winds and cloudy. At 2 PM boarded the Dutch Dogger Young Jela, Handerschace master from Cadiz bound to Rotterdam. Cargo Wine.
Middle part moderate and cloudy.
Latter part clear. At 11 AM saw a sail, made sail in chase, at 12 coming up with her very fast.
From the Schooner Mammoth Logs, 1814. MS 3082, H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society.
On September 12, 1814, Herman Cope, a merchant at 76 Sharp Street, wrote to his Uncle in Philadelphia and shared the news that his family had fled the city:
As our friends in Philada may feel anxious to hear from us at a moment when all is threatened I avail myself of a few moments before the mail closes to inform thee that all our families have been so fortunate as to meet a conveyance some few miles in the country where I am in hopes they will be safe – our store goods and some household articles are sent out – The British came into the River yesterday – their forces variously … from 30 to 60 sail – the wind … away they anchored about 10 miles … the fort – where they have been landing their men all this morning- the lands force not known. It is supposed an attack will be made by land and water and the fate of the city decided In 24 hours – all the militia have marched.