Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Road to North Point

The Battle of North Point was fought between Maryland militia defending Baltimore in 1814. It was critical because the energetic British commander, Robert Ross, was killed in the action and the subsequent siege and assault on the city proceeded slowly and carefully. This allowed the city to gather its strength and deter a prolonged effort to capture this important Chesapeake naval base

Before I left home I saw (or thought I saw) the North Point battlefield was preserved and I was determined to see it. I left Bladensburg at about 1:30 and headed for North Point east across the bay from Baltimore. The route to the park was clear and except for a minor incident involving a bridge toll and non-payment thereof (eep) I made it safely to the park by 2:45.

North Point is beautiful. Semi-rural, wooded and green as much of Maryland seems to be, it is quiet and lovely and it reminds me a great deal of Washington's Long Beach peninsula. I paid my admission and drove on to the visitor's center. In speaking to the park staff I learned the actual battlefield wasn't in the park. Rather it was located over in Dundalk, near a place laughingly referred to as Burger Junction because of the location of MacDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's on three of the four street corners.

Burger Junction was easy to find but locating the battlefield took most of an extra hour. Though the field is owned by Maryland State Parks, it has only two small markers and really nothing about this important action. Nine acres of the field in this developed semi-urban community is all that exists of the battle of North Point.

Hope fully, given Maryland's important role in the War of 1812, and the arrival of its bicentennial, the state will invest in some interpretive signage. A map of the dispositions. Perhaps even some unit markers if those spots are known would be helpful. Honestly, I'm skeptical this is the location of the action, but it's hard to know after two centuries. It does however demonstrate the difficulty of protecting historical sites in the midst of development and urbanization.

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