Battle of St. Michaels

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Battle of St. Michaels
Part of the War of 1812
DateAugust 10, 1813
LocationSt. Michaels, Maryland
Result American victory
United Kingdom United Kingdom  United States
Commanders and leaders
George Cockburn Derry Benson[1][2][2][3]
Casualties and losses
29 None
Chesapeake Campaign Map.jpg

The Battle of St. Michaels was a battle during the War of 1812. Similar to the Battle of Craney Island a month earlier, American militia units were able to repulse a British landing attempt in the Chesapeake Bay.


After the British defeat at Craney Island and the failure to capture Norfolk, Admiral George Cockburn moved up the Chesapeake Bay. The shipyards at the small town of St. Michaels, Maryland, became an inviting target. In early August, the British Royal Navy approached, and General Derry Benson called out the Talbot County Militia. Benson also had several artillery pieces for the defense; one battery was placed at the harbor and another was placed in front of the town.

"In 1807 ... companies were formed and officers appointed by the State (Maryland)...and the whole was placed under the command of General Perry Benson, an officer of the Revolution..." [4]


After midnight on August 10, the militia units manning the harbor battery spotted the British landing party. The British quickly landed and fired on the battery. As soon as the British opened fire the militia units fled. Only Captain William Dodson (commanding the battery) and one other man remained. They were able to get off one shot before they were forced to abandon the gun. The British advanced on the town. Benson's battery guarding the town was able to hold off the attack, and the British retreated. The British, though, claimed that they captured the town's battery and spiked the guns, making an orderly retreat. Local legend has it that the British naval guns had proved ineffective against the town because the townspeople had dimmed the lights in their homes and hung lanterns in trees beyond the town, causing the British gunners to overshoot the town and its defenses.[5]

"Jacob Gibson's two guns on Impey Dawson's wharf directed by Lieutenant (John) Graham were given the credit of finally driving the British back to their ships."[6][7]


As at the Battle of Craney Island, American militia units had won a decisive victory without a single casualty. The British lost 2 wounded. The battle had been small, but it saved the St. Michaels shipyards from falling to the British.

References and further reading[edit]

  • Collins, Gilbert; Guidebook to the Historic Sites of the War of 1812: 2nd Edition, 2006
  • George, Christopher T., Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay, Shippensburg, Pa., White Mane, 2001, ISBN 1-57249-276-7
  • Heidler, David; Heidler, Jeanne, editors Encyclopedia of the War of 1812
  • Lossing, Benson John; The Pictorial Field-book of the War of 1812, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishing, 1868
  • Plummer, Norman H. "Another Look at the Battle of St. Michaels," The Weather Gauge (Magazine of Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum) XXXI:1 (Spring 1995), pp. 10–17.
  1. ^ Some sources record his name as "Perry" (Maryland in the War of 1812) while others record it as "Derry" (Lossing p.944, Analytical historical reference, Volume 3, Collins p.309)
  2. ^ a b Brig. General Derry Benson (1757- 1827): Defender of St. Michaels, Md.
  3. ^ Harper's popular cyclopedia of United States history
  4. ^ Tilghman, Oswald; History of Talbot County, Maryland, Vol.2, pg. 146
  5. ^ "St. Michaels". Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Retrieved 3 July 2012.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Footner, Hulbert. Rivers of the Eastern Shore. pg.250-252;
  7. ^ Tilghman, Oswald; History of Talbot County, Maryland; Vol.2, pp.164-167

Coordinates: 38°47′16″N 76°13′7″W / 38.78778°N 76.21861°W / 38.78778; -76.21861