Part of the historic Ft. Howard, (Park section).
Fort Howard is the name of a former military installation of the Spanish
American War named by Elihu Root, Secretary of War under President
Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 after Colonel John Eager Howard (1752-1827).
The installation earned the nickname the "Bulldog at Baltimore's Gate"
serving as the coastal artillery headquarters for Baltimore, Maryland.
Fort Howard's historical significance is its military connection with
the War of 1812, the Spanish - American War, and World War II.
2.1 War of 1812
2.2 Late 19th early 20th century
2.3 Later uses
Fort Howard is located in the present-day unincorporated community
and census designated place of Fort Howard, Maryland 21052 and
strategically situated overlooking the geographic entrance to the
Patapsco River from the Chesapeake Bay at the terminal end of the North
Point peninsula which is surrounded by Back River to the east, Old Roads
Bay to the west, and the Patapsco River to the south forming the three
water boundaries of the peninsula.
War of 1812
Then known as North Point in 1793 after sea Captain Robert North,
Fort Howard is the beach-head location of the British expeditionary
marine forces landing of approximately 4,500 as a part of the land and
sea campaign to capture and burn Baltimore during the War of 1812 on
September 12, 1814 in the Battle of Baltimore. To date the invasion
is the largest in United States history.
In coordination with their Royal Navy's bombardment of Fort McHenry
(September 13 - 14 under the command of Lt. Col. George Armistead), the
British troops were to march up the North Point peninsula and capture
Baltimore from the east but the British advance was demoralized when the
commander, Major-General Robert Ross, (1766 -1814), was killed by a
skirmish sharpshooter Daniel Wells or Henry G. McComas.
The advance was then temporarily stalled by the Americans' fierce
resistance by several regiments of the Maryland Militia under the
command of Brig. Gen. John Stricker, (1758 -1825), in the Battle of
North Point on September 12, southeast of the city. After the several
hours battle that afternoon, the American left-wing finally collapsed
and retreated in good order to the far more substantial dug-in
fortifications with about 100 cannons and 20,000 volunteer and drafted
citizens and militia erected under the supervision of Maj. Gen. Samuel
Smith, (1752 -1839), on the heights east of the city, "Loudenschlager
Hill" (later "Hampstead Hill". When the British, now under Col. Arthur
Brooke, (1772 -1843), perceived the strength of the substantial American
defenses and failing to make any successful flank attacks, awaited the
reinforcements of the British fleet to come upriver to bomb and shell
the Fort and force a passage past the sunken ship obstacles in the
After two days and a rainstorm-filled night, disheartened, the
British troops withdrew retreating back to North Point, reboarded their
ships leaving Baltimore not to return.
Late 19th early 20th century
The site was taken over in 1896 by the U.S. Department of War for
the construction of coastal artillery fortifications (known as the
"Endicott" or "Third Period") in the pre-Spanish - American War era
before 1898.In 1902, reinforced concrete coast batteries were erected at
Fort Howard. The batteries were named in honor of famous Marylanders of
the War of 1812. Fort Howard, called the "Bulldog at Baltimore's Gate,"
was manned by four companies of Coast Artillery Corps - the 21st, 40th,
103rd, and 140th. The guns at the Fort included 12-inch disappearing
rifles, 12-inch mortars, 6-inch rifles, and 4.7 and 3-inch rapid-fire
weapons. Each battery contained from two to four guns. The gunners who
manned these batteries were among the best coast artillerymen in the
world. In 1908 they were credited with setting a world's record by
hitting a moving target over 5,000 yards away, nine out of ten times.
The shell that missed was defective.
In 1917, the troops at Fort Howard were doubled and its men were put
on a wartime basis due to the concerns of an impending war. To keep in
shape, the gunners drilled by mock firing on steamers which were the
only crafts sighted in their waters. The artillerymen who lived on the
base resided in what was like any ordinary small city. Along the main
driveway were attractive officers' cottages, one of which belonged to
the commander of the Fort. The "Bachelors' Quarters" was one of the four
barracks housing single enlisted men, while married men were permitted
to live outside of the gate.
It was the first headquarters of the newly formed Third Corps Area
in 1920, and became the Headquarters of the Coast Defenses of Baltimore
in 1922. The nurses' home was the headquarters of General Douglas
MacArthur from 1925 to 1928.
The installation was turned over to the U.S. Veterans'
Administration (now the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) in 1940,
which still owns the majority of the property. During World War II it
was used as a holding center for German prisoners of war and Japanese
and German "enemy aliens" (non-citizen residents of the U.S. who were
arrested as potential fifth columnists but, in most cases, denied due
The portion of the property containing the old coastal artillery
fortifications was declared surplus federal land and was transferred to
Baltimore County in 1975 for use as a historical park. Interpretive
plaques and signs were placed throughout the park explaining the various
military fortifications, weapons and their purposes.
Two surviving examples of the 4.7 inch Gun M1906 designed and issued
by the US Army Ordnance Department in 1906 are on display at Fort
In the 1960s it was used as an auxiliary training area for the U. S.
Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird in Dundalk. A typical
Vietnamese village was built there to train Special Forces ("green
Berets") for counterinsurgency operations. The village had realistic
tunnels. Instructors acted the part of insurgents who were captured and
subjected to training interrogation and often to harsh treatment. Also
in the 1960s and until the mid-1970s, other students were trained there
in water and land infiltration and instructors were the opposition. When
students were caught they were interrogated in the underground coastal
defense bunkers. Interrogation usually meant the students holding bricks
on their outstretched arms while standing naked on rubber tires. All
training ceased when the Intelligence school moved to Fort Huachuca in
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