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From the Cullum File of Heman Allen Fay

Newspaper Excerpt
Contributed by
Susan Fay McGinn
Mary McGinn Vickers

transcribed and annotated by Linda Fay Kaufman
Heman Allen's page
Bennington and Vermont Directory
lines, lists and links
"Unbattles in Annapolis history"
The following excerpt is taken from From CAPITAL ENTERTAINMENT, a weekly section of The Capital. This article is dated March 23-March 30, 1984; what I have quoted appears on page 30. The article seems to cover the military history of Annapolis from the beginning through several different wars; the last paragraph of the article gives the spirit of the whole article. The one page xerox was included with the material in the Cullum file without further notes that I can decipher. No author is given on that page. I tried to track it down, but the archived copies of that issue seem to be available only from the Maryland Hall of Records on microfilm, and I cannot access them.
"William Oliver Stevens, author of the delightful local history book, "Annapolis: Anne Arundale's Town," says that the War of 1812, like the Revolution, "passed by Annapolis without so much as a pistol shot."
"This is accurate, but not entirely fair. British ships and soldiers under the hated Admiral Sir George Cockburn did pillage the Chesapeake all around Annapolis almost at will during the summers of 1813 and 1814. True to its unmilitary form, the city flew into a tizzy at the slightest hint of the enemy.
"In Walter Lord's account of the attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore, 'The Dawn's Early Light,' he describes Annapolis as having 'no decent defenses and wanted only to save itself. For most, the main concern was to keep Lieutenant (Colonel) H. A. Fay, commanding the local detachment of 42 regulars, from doing something foolish -- like firing back at the British.'
"Poor Fay had other problems, too. One of the two small forts in his charge, Fort Madison, had been abandoned before the war due to a terrible mosquito problem across the Severn River. The other one, Fort Severn, was manned by tinpot soldiers who had to be disciplined for sleeping on guard or, in one case, for running around drunk and half-naked on the walls.
"To make bad matters worse, Annapolis invited Fay to a town meeting where the main order of business was a leading citizen's motion to surrender the city immediately to the British. Adding insult to injury, one local paper opposed the war completely and a man named William Ross was charged with "treasonably making bad cartridges for the soldiers."
"The cap on the city's pathetic war effort came in August of 1814, when it sent its own rag-tag militia to the Battle of Bladensburg -- also known as the "Bladensburg Races" because the Americans ran so quickly away from the British charges. Naturally, the Annapolis unit was tardy getting into position and among the first to take to its heels and let the British proceed to burn Washington."
The battle of Bladensburg, of course, is the one to which H. A. Fay listened from a distance and in which he took no part.
The final paragraph of the article reads,
"Annapolis, of course, has no war memorials to speak of, but if one were to be built, it's [sic] incription should read: 'It is better never to have fought at all, than to have fought and lost.' Amen to that."