This family series, called “The Fighting Timanuses”, will be a study into one of the most enduring families I’ve encountered that immigrated to America in the 1700’s. Much of what you are about to read is well documented.
Although the Timanus family had its beginnings in Pennsylvania, I’d like to start with my 5 times great-grandfather, Jesse Timanus and his 5 brothers in the midst of a war that was coming to Baltimore, Maryland, in the late summer of 1814.
The Fall of Washington, D.C.
On August 24, 1814, after the British defeated the Americans at Blandensburg, the British proceeded to sweep their way through Washington, D.C. and burned the Capital Building, the White House and many other public buildings. This was the event that prompted Dolly Madison to rescue the iconic 8’ tall portrait of George Washington from the White House, and made it out in the nick of time.
The fires that were set, threatened to spread out of control, and the city lay in peril…
The next day, August 25, 1814, as fires still raged, a massive storm hit Washington. The driving rain put out most of the fires, but more importantly, cut short the occupation of Washington by the British. By all accounts, the storm was so fierce, it lifted buildings, uprooted trees, and killed British soldiers that were sheltered in a number of houses. One British soldier reported seeing cannons lifted off the ground and thrown through the air. Redcoats out in the streets of Washington, trying to enforce a curfew, were forced to lie prostrate in the mud.
As the storm began to subside, one of the British soldiers in command of the invasion emerged from his shelter and asked of one of the inhabitants of Washington, “Great God, Madam, is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?!”
She responded, “No, Sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from the city…”
Baltimore Prepares for the Oncoming Enemy
About a year before the British won the Battle of Blandensburg, and went on to burn and occupy Washington, D.C., the City of Baltimore was making plans for the defense against the British. What follows is a description of how they prepared for the oncoming enemy.
The City of Baltimore had formed a committee called “The Committee of Vigilance and Safety”. On August 27th, 1813, the committee issued a recommendation, which the citizens of Baltimore followed immediately, beginning work on fortifying the defenses of the city, including the offering of men and money. Meanwhile, volunteers and militia from adjacent parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia flocked into the city to aid and help in the fortification. During that time between August 27, 1813 and August of 1814, the City of Baltimore was ready at a moment’s notice to engage the enemy.
After the events at Blandensburg and capture of Washington, it was evident that an attack on Baltimore by the British was apparent and expected. Major-General Robert Ross, the British commanding officer, in charge of the British troops at Blandensburg and Washington, had his sights set upon Baltimore as his “winter quarters”, and boasted as much, saying “…with the force he had, he would go where he pleased in Maryland”.
Being forewarned of this, the citizens and militia of Baltimore, made considerable additions to the existing defensive fortifications already in place. Some of the troops under the command of General Winder were collected, Rodgers and Perry were already in Baltimore, and more volunteers came to the city’s aid from other parts of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Baltimore Brigade was taken as a whole into the service of the United States and given to the direction of Major-General Samuel Smith, of the Maryland militia.
On Saturday, September 10, 1814, information came that British ships were ascending the bay, and on Sunday morning, September 11, 1814, the ships were seen at the mouth of the Patapsco River, 40 to 50 in all.
The Battle of North Point…[read more]
In 1966, my family moved from PA to Cross Lanes, WV because of my father’s work. It was a newer subdivision we had moved into, so there were houses still being built. After the house across the street from our house had been finished, the Groome family moved in. They were from Maryland. Their son Kevin and I became very good friends. In the past 10 years or so, I got back in touch with Kevin, and we are still in contact today.
In doing the research on my Timanus family, and discovering all of the Timanus brothers in the Battle for Baltimore, one by one, I investigated the regiments they were in. When I got to Henry Timanus, I came across a William L. Groom in the same regiment of the Maryland militia, the 51st, a regiment at North Point. When I saw the Groom name, I asked myself, could this be Kevin’s ancestor?
I also found that Henry’s brother, John was in the 5th Regiment, also at North Point.
I began the process of researching the Groome family, and sure enough, William L. Groom is Kevin’s 5 times great-grandfather. So, both Henry and John Timanus and William Groom were in the Battle of North Point. These types of discoveries never cease to amaze me.
Another 5 times great-grandfather was a Sergeant in the 2nd (Schuchts Co.) Regiment, William Earp. I do not believe he was involved with this battle. His cousin, Annanias Earp was in the same regiment as George, Charles and Jesse Timanus, the 36th Regiment.
When you have an ancestor that served in the military, and you know what company and/or regiment they served in and the time period, do an internet search on your ancestor’s name along with the company and regiment, and it’s a good bet that you will find out the history of military service of your ancestor.
The following is from “A History and the Life of Captain Samuel Dewees”, Chapter XXVI, 1844 (Samuel Dewees was a Fifer during the Revolutionary War, the Indian Wars, the Liberty Insurrection and the War of 1812)…Page 345
As the British made their approach from North Point to the entrenchments on the eastern side of Baltimore, without the leadership of their commanding office, Major-General Robert Ross, who had been shot and killed earlier, Colonel Arthur Brooke, Ross’s 2nd in command advanced, which forced General Stricker to move his forces back 1 mile, then back to Chinquepin (Hampstead) Hill to reorganize.
Colonel Brooke halted his troops, unsure of his new position. Colonel Brooke then prepared for a night assault on Chinquepin (Hampstead) Hill, while the British fleet fired upon Ft. McHenry. Later that night, Colonel Brooke cancelled his plan upon seeing the fortifications of the hill, with General Stricker’s forces, along with Major George Timanus, Commander, 1st Battalion, 36th Regt., Chinquepin (Hampstead) Hill, and about 12,000 other men, waiting for them with 100 cannons pointed in their general direction. The British fleet would need to subdue Ft. McHenry before additional land forces could help Brooke’s troops take the hill.
At 3 a.m. on September 14, 1814, it was apparent to Colonel Brooke that Ft. McHenry’s fortifications were withstanding the bombardment from the British fleet, and he made the decision to retreat and ordered his troops back to the ships.
By early morning, the fort still stood with very little damage.
The Bombardment of Ft. McHenry…[read more]
Anchored with the British fleet in the harbor was a truce ship, The President, and onboard, held was Francis Scott Key, a Georgetown lawyer, who had been sent with John Skinner, prisoner exchange agent, to negotiate the release of Dr. William Beanes, a civilian prisoner of war. Though Beanes had been set free, they were not released until after the Battle and were forced to witness the battle from behind enemy lines. After 25 hours, and 1,500 to 1,800 cannonballs being fired at the fort, the bombardment ended. Major Armistead ordered a huge flag, made for the fort by Baltimorean Mary Pickersgill, and her 13 year old daughter, to be flown. It is this flag that Francis Scott Key saw and penned the poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry” which would later be renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and become The National Anthem of the United States of America.
The Service Records of the Timanus Brothers
It is unknown if Jacob Timanus, the 6th brother, served, as there is no service record for him.
After the Battle of Baltimore, the life of my 5 times great-grandfather is in question. In the 1820 census, I found Ruth Timanus, Jesse’s wife with children (two daughters that were 10-15 years old), which tells me that Jesse Timanus must have passed away prior to the census.
Does this mean that Jesse died during the battle? I simply do not know at this time. Many out there are confusing this Jesse Timanus with his nephew, Jesse Timanus, son of Charles Timanus and Jane Lester. I will address this confusion in an upcoming post.
Timanus Legacies Left Behind
The Sword and Scabbard of Captain Charles Timanus, 36th Regiment, Maryland Militia, Battle of Baltimore, War of 1812 were the gift of Charles Timanus’ great-grandson, Dr. Edmund Waldo Pardee, Dentist and Mayor of Newport, RI. to the Maryland Historical Society Museum Gallery.
A photograph of the Howard County Courthouse in Ellicott City, MD (c. 1975). The design of the courthouse is attributed to Charles Timanus, Jr., son of Captain Charles Timanus. The carpentry work was performed by Samuel R. Powell.
A photograph of Ellicott City Historic District, U.S. National Register of Historical Places – greatly impacted by the Ellicott City Flood of 2016 – Architect Robert Cary Long, Jr. – Charles Timanus
Featured Image: Battle of North Point 1814 by Maryland militiaman, Thomas Ruckle from the Maryland Historical Society
The Fall of Washington, D.C. – Sources and excerpts from [A.J. Langguth, Union 1812, (2006), 308-311; Anthony S. Pitch, The Burning of Washington, (2000), 140-142.], Wood Engraving of the Capture and Burning of Washington by the British, in 1814 by Richard Miller Devens, 1876 (From the Library of Congress)
Baltimore Prepares for the Oncoming Enemy – Source from the “Citizen Soldiers of Baltimore, War of 1812-14”, by Charles C. Saffell, Baltimore, MD., 1889
The Battle of North Point – Source from Wikipedia
The Battle of North Point image from msa.maryland.gov
Source from “A History of the Life and Services of Captain Samuel Dewees”, written (in part from manuscript in the hand writing of Captain Dewees) and compiled by John Smith Hanna, printed by Robert Neilson, 1844
Battle of Baltimore image adapted from map from National Park Service, from a drawing by R.E. Lee Russell, based on Gen. Winder’s battle map and contemporary accounts.
The Bombardment of Ft. McHenry – Source from the National Park Service
1873 photograph of the “Star Spangled Banner” from Wikipedia
1914 photograph of the “Star Spangled Banner from the Library of Congress
Images of the Howard County Courthouse and Ellicott City Historical District from Wikipedia
Special thanks to the following people and to the organizations that have provided support in the past and the on-line information they provide:
The Groome Family
Shawn Gladden, Executive Director of the Howard County Historical Society, Maryland
Chuck Lewis, Howard County Historical Society, Maryland
The State of Maryland Archives
The War of 1812 Society
The City of Baltimore Historical Society
The Maryland Historical Society
Brian S. Miller