1814 RIFLEMEN

Aisquith's Sharp Shooters,
1st Maryland Rifle Bat'l Maryland Militia

Uniform resources: State of Maryland 1813 Rules for
Militia and the Maryland Historical Society's Thomas
Ruckle paintings "The Defense of Baltimore:Assembly
of the Troops at Hampstead Hill" and "The Battle of
North Point".

The standing rifleman's loading method, using two
hands to ram while holding the rifle with his knees
is from Duane's "Hand Book for Riflemen" 1813.


AISQUITH'S SHARP SHOOTERS
1st BALTIMORE SHARP SHOOTERS
1st RIFLE BATTALION, MARYLAND MILITIA

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

In 1813, a year into the War, staff relocations and resignations brought a major reorganization to Maryland's 1st Rifle Battalion. Attorney General of the United States, William Pinkney, was "promoted" to Battalion Major and Edward Aisquith assumed command as Captain of the 1st Baltimore Sharp Shooters. In the following 16 months, under pressure of the British raiding up and down the Chesapeake Bay, the two officers created a militia company that would be the first to fight at both the Battle of Bladensburg and the Battle of North Point.

Two Sharp Shooters, Daniel Wells and Henry McComas are credited, by their contemporaries, with killing General Ross at North Point.

The unit ceased to exist as Aisquith's Sharp Shooters in March of 1815 when Edward Aisquith died in a fox hunting accident.

Riflemen were the exception rather than the rule. The Sharp Shooters were one of three companies in the 1st Maryland Rifle Battalion. The rifle battalion, in turn, was attached to the 3rd Brigade which also included 6 musket regiments. Roughly, that's 1 rifle for every 20 muskets. While the musket companies were composed of men with common outside interests: volunteer firemen, fraternal organizations, business associations; the rifle companies were formed by areas of the city, Old Baltimore, Jonestown and Fells Point.

Composed of the highest and lowest members of society, the one big thing the riflemen had in common was their rifles.

A MODERN HISTORY OF THE RE - ENACTORS

In 1986, Boy Scout Troop 438, in cooperation with the Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society, and the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, hosted a Defender's Day Celebration at Battle Acre in Baltimore County. A group of Canadian British re-enactors, who had hosted the troop the previous year at Fort York in Toronto, attended the celebration. Although a total of less than 200 people were involved, the event was an enormous success, especially the media exposure. As a result, the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce proposed making it an annual event and the following year, the Defender's Day Celebration at North Point began.

It was immediately apparent that the existing Boy Scout wooden muskets and the dacron/polyester uniforms simply weren't good enough; so, in 1987, Explorer Post 438 was created. Restricted to older youths, 14 to 20 year olds, the Post researched and created authentic equipment and clothing and began practicing with real weapons. Because the Explorer program is coed, the Post also researched and developed period correct interpretations for women. The decision to portray Aisquith's Sharp Shooters was a natural. Two teenage heroes of the Sharp Shooters, Daniel Wells and Henry McComas, were credited with killing the attacking British commander, General Robert Ross.

Through the years, the unit grew with the Defender's Day Celebration and attended may other 1812 period re-enactments including the 175 Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, the Siege of Fort Erie (Canada), the Battle of Bladensburg, and the Bombardment of Fort McHenry. We have hit a snag with the demise of the Defender's Day Celebration at North Point, but with the approach of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, it will be resurrected, and when it is, our unit will play an important part.

Our Explorer Post is open to young men and women 14 years and older, and adults.

Dues are $12 a year which includes liability and accident insurance. We meet on Wednesday nights, 7-9 PM at St. Rita's auditorium in Dundalk, Md.

For more information, contact Buzz Chriest