Monday, September 9, 2013

17th National War of 1812 Symposium, Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Saturday, October 5, 2013

Rapidly filling up. Only fifty places available, including speakers. Don't miss out!

17th National War of 1812 Symposium Flyer

Chris George to Speak in Baltimore and Frederick, MD, and Detroit

War of 1812 Series in Frederick

I will be talking tomorrow night on "The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake," 6:00 pm, Tuesday, September 10, in the Community Room, C. Burr Artz Library 110 E. Patrick St. Frederick, MD 21701 as part of their War of 1812 Series. Admission is Free.

In October I will be a speaker at the War of 1812 Symposium at the Detroit Historical Society on Monday, October 14. Check out the Society website for details on the symposium and also a tour of War of 1812 sites on Sunday, October 13. Registration form is here.

On Saturday, October 19, I will be giving two talks at Clifton Mansion in Clifton Park, Baltimore, as part of At Your Service -- at Clifton: The First Baltimore Horse Artillery. The first talk, in the morning, on Captain Thompson and his unit, about which Nelson Mott Bolton and I have written an article which we hope to see published shortly. The second talk at Clifton will be on African Americans and the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake.

Chris at Enoch Pratt Free Library Reisterstown Road branch Tues July 16 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Garrett County, Maryland, War of 1812 event, May 17-18, 2013

Garrett County Maryland in the War of 1812 event page 1 Garrett County Maryland in the War of 1812 event page 1 Garrett County Maryland in the War of 1812 event page 2 Garrett County Maryland in the War of 1812 event page 1
Donna and I will be leaving shortly for McHenry in Garrett County, in the mountains of Western Maryland. It's quite a drive -- 179 miles -- as you will see from the map I have posted below. The local Chamber of Commerce are putting us up in one of the spacious vacation homes near Deep Creek Lake on the same road as the County Fairgrounds where I will be giving two talks, one tomorrow evening and the other at lunchtime on Saturday. The different vacation properties cater to people who use the lake for boating or fishing in Summer and skiing and other Winter sports in the Winter months. I stayed at Deep Creek Lake with my parents as I recall in the summer of 1962 when I would have been fourteen and on holiday from Rose Lane School, Liverpool visiting my parents in Baltimore. Besides staying in a lakeside cottage we had the use of a boat with an outboard motor and traveled the length of the lake, fished, swam, etc. We caught a lot of sunfish and perch as well as the largest a "crappie" (excuse the expression) that my Mum caught but refused to clean, leaving that to my Dad! Donna and I will not have time for any of those sort of activities though and my time will be pretty much taken up with preparing for and giving the couple of talks that I have to deliver.
Garrett County Maryland from Baltimore
I have a suitcase full of copies of my books to take as well as a bunch of handouts that I regularly prepare for the audiences. The talk tomorrow evening will be a straight War of 1812 in the Chesapeake talk, while the one at Saturday lunchtime will have a focus on the African Americans in the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake. Among the groups appearing at the festival will be Aisquith's Sharpshooters who were at the re-enactment in Havre de Grace on May 4, as shown below. As far as I know, Michael Bosworth, who portrayed British Rear Admiral George Cockburn at Havre de Grace (bottom photographs) will not be at McHenry for the two-day event, but then he might be there under his other guise of portraying an American militia dragoon!
For more information on the two day event visit Maryland in the War of 1812 - A Living History Event.
War of 1812 Re-enactment, Havre de Grace, Maryland, May 4, 2013 War of 1812 Re-enactment, Havre de Grace, Maryland, May 4, 2013 War of 1812 Re-enactment, Havre de Grace, Maryland, May 4, 2013 War of 1812 Re-enactment, Havre de Grace, Maryland, May 4, 2013

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay

Poster NOVEMBER. 2012 in W2010

As noted, I will be giving a talk at lunchtime on Thursday, November 15 at the Talbot County Public Library in Easton.


At the beginning of the War, Baltimore was fast becoming the nation's third-largest city with a population of 50,000 by 1815.

The British foreign and military policy to “chastise the savages” was aimed primarily at the Chesapeake Bay region in 1814.

The Baltimore merchants outfitted over 100 privateering vessels that took about 1/3 of all British vessels lost during the War.

It is said that the success of the privateers unleashed British wrath on Maryland and brought British fleets to the Bay in both 1813 and 1814.

A contrary view holds that the British were hard pressed in Canada and chose Bay operations to divert US resources from the northern campaigns. It was probably both.

Rear Admiral George Cockburn and Major General Robert Ross were the precursors of the 20th century “amphibious raiders.”

No other “battle” brought forward the folly of full reliance on militia defense forces during the War of 1812 as the encounter at Bladensburg, Maryland on August 24, 1814.
The success of the British raid on Washington in August 1814 was a surprise to both sides.

Ross hoped to replicate the Washington raid at Baltimore, but underestimated the resourcefulness of Baltimore commander Major General Samuel Smith and the militia he led, and led well.

Before his death near North Point, Ross was slated to command the New Orleans expedition later in 1814.

The American defense at Fort McHenry was very complex in execution. The defenders of the post, including Major George Armistead, were Baltimore heroes, but auxiliary posts and batteries played a much larger role than generally known.

Approximately 3,000-5,000 slaves were enticed by the British to run away from their masters in Maryland. Around 200 male able-bodied ended up enlisting in the British “Colonial Marines” and were trained on Tangier Island, Virginia, in the southern Chesapeake, where the British had a fort.

One side effect of the War, and its attendant blockade, was to stimulate industrial development in the United States and at Baltimore. The city grew to be both a commercial and an industrial power center.

Some claim that Baltimore, looking and acting more like Boston or New York commercially, drew the slave state of Maryland away from secession in 1861.

Adapted from the Journal of the War of 1812, Volume 13, No. 2, Summer 2010.

The Journal of the War of 1812, previously a printed subscription quarterly is now free and on line. Go to

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Light Horse Harry Lee and the War of 1812

Henry Lee

General Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee (1756–1818), as painted by William Edward West (1788-1857), circa 1838.


"Live by the Sword – Die by the Sword:

Light-horse Harry Lee in the America Revolution and the War of 1812"
By Christopher T. George

Old Manassas Courthouse, 9248 Lee Ave, Manassas, VA 20110, Thursday, April 12, 2012 (7:00 PM-9:00 PM) Phone: (703) 792-4754. Email

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, author and historian Christopher George will give a glimpse into the strategies of Colonel Light-horse Harry Lee. The audience will learn about his use of terror tactics during the American Revolution and the Baltimore anti-Federalist riots in the Summer of 1812. Lee was grievously wounded while participating in civil disturbances in opposition to the War of 1812. Due to the violent nature of these events, this lecture may not be suitable for young audiences.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stolen Valor

Even though I knew something of the case before reading yesterday's editorial in the Washington Post and the issues involved, the subtitle to the editorial nonetheless shocks and disappoints me, viz.,

"The Supreme Court should rule that lying about military medals is free speech -- not a crime."

How could they say such a thing? I suppose it's okay for imposters to claim they were heroes in a battle, that they held such and such a rank. What is next? It's okay to claim you are the President of the United States or the Secretary of State? Such a move impugns the honor of anyone who served in America's wars, and those who were wounded or were killed. The Post editorial is well meant because it derives from a case of a disturbed veteran who called into a help line and was given away but nonetheless people who falsely claim military honors should not be rewarded for their deceitfulness, and nor should anyone be allowed to claim honor that does not belong to them.

Tonight. . . .
Baltimore National Heritage Area invites you to
Our History Happy Hour
Thursday, February 23rd 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Renaissance Baltimore Haborplace Hotel
Get a sneak peak of Anthem, The independent documentary film about the story of
The Star-Spangled Banner and the music of The War of 1812.

Featuring 1812 historian Dr. Ralph Eshelman and musicologist Dr. David Hildebrand,
this film will educate a broad audience on the important role Maryland plays in our national identity.

Please join us and meet the filmmakers,
see a preview and socialize over a cocktail with others interested
and involved in the heritage of the birthplace of our national anthem!

Make sure you are in the Know when the ships come in….both times!

$3 Special pricing on Killian’s and Domestics
$4 Snap Dragons
$5 Specialty War of 1812 cocktails
Munchies on board


Janet Caslow, CTA
War of 1812 Coordinator
Baltimore National Heritage Area
100 Light Street 12th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
cell 410-241-8693
....a National Celebration in Baltimore, *Star Spangled 200

The winner of the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Don't Miss the War of 1812 Course at Johns Hopkins this Spring

USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere

USS Constitution captures HMS Guerriere, August 19, 1812, one of the most significatnt American successes of the War of 1812, that helped give birth to the legend of "Old Ironsides" popularized by the 1830 poem of that name by Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the iconic American national symbols to come out of the war.

My long-time colleague historian Dr. Martin K. Gordon is offering in March and April what I would suggest is a recommended overview of the War of 1812 in the Odyssey adult continuing education program at the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus. Dr. Gordon is the master of ceremonies for our annual National War of 1812 series held usually in Baltimore the first Saturday of October (watch for news of this year's upcoming event, due to be held on Saturday, October 6). Many of the speakers in the course have spoken in our symposium series and I plan to attend as a student--the campus is just across the street from me where I live off University Parkway in Baltimore. Hope to see you there!
Here are the details of the course:

The War of 1812: A Bicentennial for Baltimore and the Nation

Martin K. Gordon, PhD, Program Coordinator

The War of 1812 marked the culmination of sixty years of fighting for the North American landmass east of the Mississippi River—the region now composed of Canada and of the eastern half of the United States. When the fighting started in 1754, the American colonials, the British, the French, and the Native Americans all fought for control. Fifty-eight years later in 1812, the Americans, now independent, fought the British, the Canadians, and the Native Americans for ownership in Canada and on the Ohio and Southwest frontiers. But now there was a new challenge.

The 23-year-old United States had maritime interests to protect in addition to its landward thrusts. This was the era when Baltimore earned its reputation as a “nest of pirates” for its profitable privateering. Meanwhile, conflict on the Great Lakes and on land on both sides of the border with Canada strengthened both American and Canadian national identities.

Along the East Coast, the war gave us “The Star Spangled Banner,” commemorating the heroic defense of Baltimore, after the British burning of Washington, as well as continued growth for Baltimore and its shipbuilding and trade businesses.

To the southwest, Native Americans forever lost their lands east of the Mississippi to Andrew Jackson’s forces. Jackson then went on to work with the real pirates of Barataria Bay, Louisiana to defeat the last British invasion at the Battle of New Orleans.

Through slide lectures and guest speakers, participants in this course learn of the victories, defeats, and historical legacy left all around them by this war, which played such a crucial role in confirming the independence and westward growth of our nation.

March 8. The Causes, Conduct, and Consequences of This War
With its causes rooted in the outcome of the American Revolution, the War of 1812 was fought along the land and maritime frontiers of the new nation. This comprehensive overview prepares participants for the sessions to come and for their own readings and touring after the course. Martin K. Gordon, PhD, Program Coordinator.

March 15. The Maritime War Along the East Coast
The Royal Navy had long practiced blockading the coast of France during the Napoleonic Wars. But in blockading the United States it didn’t have enough ships. While the United States Navy contested the blockade, winning its ship to ship fights with the British, Maryland merchants, especially from Havre de Grace and from Baltimore took advantage of every opportunity to damage British commerce and enrich themselves through privateering. William S. Dudley, PhD, Director Emeritus, United States Naval Historical Center and author, most recently of Maritime Maryland: A History.

March 29. Baltimore “a nest of pirates”
Baltimore started its participation in the war before it even started, with rioting so violent to give one example, the Revolutionary War hero and father of Robert E. Lee, Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, never recovered from the beating he received during those protests. Baltimore’s resistance to and contributions to the war effort including its successful defense in 1814 are the subject of this talk. Scott S. Sheads, author, popular lecturer, speaker on PBS’s 1812 documentary, most recently co-author of The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

April 5. Fighting in the West
Future president William Henry Harrison made his reputation fighting Tecumseh and other Native Americans and their British allies for control not only of Ohio, but of the Old Northwest and even into Canada, winning the only major American victory during the several attempts to conquer that territory. Martin K. Gordon, PhD.

April 12. Fighting in the South: Andrew Jackson and the Creek Campaign
In 1814 during the Creek War, Jackson’s forces won a crushing victory at Horseshoe Bend on the Tallapoosa River. The Creeks, allies of the British, were no longer a threat on the frontier, and Jackson, also victorious at Mobile Bay and Pensacola was promoted to major-general. Harold W. Youmans, Esq., author, lecturer, editor emeritus of the Journal of the War of 1812.

April 19. Fighting to the North: Canada and the Great Lakes Campaigns
The United States Army and Navy along with the states’ militia made several attempts to conquer Canada. The Navy gained control of the Great Lakes, but the land forces were unable to follow up with comparable victories. Although they did capture and burn York, the capitol of Upper Canada, but at the cost of the life of Brig. Gen. Zebulon Pike, the soldier and explorer of the west. Richard V. Barbuto, PhD, Deputy Director, Department of Military History, Command & General Staff College, U.S. Army; and author of Niagara 1814: America Invades Canada, among other works.

April 26. Jean Lafitte, Andrew Jackson, and the Battle of New Orleans
In deciding to help the Americans at New Orleans in late 1814/early 1815, Lafitte and his gang went from the status of “banditti” to “gentlemen.” This presentation offers a look into the world of the Baratarians and, especially, their contributions to the American victory at the Battle of New Orleans. What role did they really play? How has the legacy of Jean Lafitte been transformed over the years? Tom Kanon, PhD, archivist at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, has written numerous articles and essays on topics of the early American frontier period, particularly on the War of 1812 in the South.

Coordinator Martin K. Gordon, PhD, is a popular Odyssey series coordinator and speaker. Adjunct Professor of History, University of Maryland University College and adjunct member of the graduate faculties at the University of Oklahoma at Norman and at the American Military University.
Course no. 910.676.01 Homewood Campus
$180 (10.5 hours) 7 sessions
Thurs., Mar. 8–Apr. 26, 7:30–9 p.m. No class Mar. 22.

To download the Spring course catalogue as a pdf file, go to Odyssey Spring Course Catalogue.