The Second Battle of St. Michaels in the War of 1812 by James Dawson
During the War of 1812, the British burned several towns on the Chesapeake Bay, but other than some temporary inconvenience to the residents, it is hard to see what they accomplished when they attacked St. Michaels for the first time on Aug. 10th, or for the second time on the 26th of that same month in the year 1813. On the first try, British Lt. Puckinghorne’s orders were to destroy the small battery that had been erected by St. Michaels’ harbor. He attacked just before dawn and easily took the small fort and disabled the cannons by driving spikes into the touch holes so that they could not be fired. In the meantime, the 30 men stationed in the fort beat a strategic retreat back to join the main force in town. And since they were outnumbered ten to one, who could blame them? The British were perhaps a bit too quick to cheer their easy victory, as suddenly they were the targets of General Perry Benson’s Talbot Militia which, as Lt. Puckinghorne put it, had collected in great numbers in town and commenced firing on them with cannons and muskets.
Grapeshot was literally about the size of a grape. The British either retreated or returned quickly to their barges, having completed their mission. For the next few hours, the Americans and the Brits traded gunfire while the British cannons rained grapeshot on the town. Accounts vary, but at least two British officers were wounded, as shown by blood and some discarded weapons at the landing site, and perhaps as many as 27 of their soldiers were killed, too. One of the landing barges was so badly damaged that it had to be tied to two other barges to keep it from sinking. A barge was a flat bottomed, early version of the L.C.A. (Landing Craft Assault) used in WWII, 45