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St. Michael, defence of

On the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay was the little town of St. Michael, in Talbot county, Md., founded by ship-builders, and famous as the place where most of the swift-sailing privateers, called “Baltimore clippers,” were built. Seven of these were on the stocks there in August, 1814, when Admiral Cockburn appeared, with the intention of destroying them and the village. The veteran Gen. Derry Benson, commander of the militia of Talbot county, prepared to receive the invaders. He constructed two redoubts, and the militia from the adjacent country were called to the defence of the place. Benson had, in the aggregate, about 300 men. Between midnight and dawn on Aug. 11 the invaders proceeded to the attack in eleven barges, each armed with a 6-pounder fieldpiece. The night was intensely dark, and the first intimation of their presence was the booming of their cannon. The Marylanders, though a little surprised, made a gallant resistance from the batteries. Under cover of their guns, the invaders landed in a compact body to storm the batteries, when a 9-pounder in one of them opened and cut a wide swath through the line of the British, killing nineteen and wounding many. The Americans, outnumbered, fell back to the other battery, and continued the contest until daylight, when the invaders, after spiking the guns of the lower battery, fled, discomfited, to their vessels.

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