Source: Extract from “The Aquila Randall Monument, 1817” by Scott S. Sheads
(New Discoveries and Interpretations: War of 1812 in Maryland.)
“My friends – we have done – we commit this monument to Destiny and Time.”
General Benjamin Chew Howard, July 21, 1817.
On Baltimore County’s historic Patapsco Neck near the intersection of Old North Point and Old Battle Grove roads stands the second oldest known military monument in Maryland, the third in the United States. It is also the least known and visited War of 1812 monument.
Early on the morning of July 21, 1817, Captain Benjamin C. Howard’s First Mechanical Volunteers gathered in town and marched six miles to the battleground to dedicate the monument. Jacob Small, Jr. had been commissioned by company members and the Honorable Mechanics Company of Baltimore to create a monument. He choose an obelisk, a reflection of the Egyptian revival movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
With a final application of whitewash, the monument was dedicated to honor Private Aquila Randall, a member of the company who was killed in a skirmish just before the Battle of North Point on September 12, 1814. Captain Howard delivered a modest yet impressive appropriate address.
“I can picture to myself the sensation of those who in far distant days will contemplate this monument…and the melancholy event which has caused our assemblage at this spot… I regret that the spot, which is made classic by the effusion of blood, the sport where the long line stood un-appalled by the system and advances of an experienced and disciplined foe, has been suffered to remain unnoticed. It is here where her citizens stood arrayed soldier’s garb, that honors to a soldier’s memory should have been paid. To mark the spot be then our care…”
How beautiful is death, when earned by virtue.
SACRED TO THE MEMORY OF
Who Died, in bravely defending his Country
and his home,
On the memorable 12th of September,
Aged 24 years.
THE FIRST MECHANICAL VOLUNTEERS,
Commanded by Capt. B.C. Howard,
in the 5th Regiment, M.M.
HAVE ERECTED THIS MONUMENT,
As a tribute of their respect for
THE MEMORY OF
THEIR GALLANT BROTHER IN ARMS.
In the skirmish which occurred
at this spot.
between the advanced party
under Major RICH’D K. HEATH
of the 5th Reg.’ M.M.
and the front of the British column,
Major General ROSS,
the commander of the British force,
received his mortal wound.
On October 15, 1827, President John Quincy Adams visited the monument and noted in his diary “It is a pyramid of white stone, about four feet high, resting on a pedestal, with suitable inscriptions on its four sides.” It was during his visit that he gave the following toast during a dinner. “Baltimore, the Monumental City – may the days of her safety be as prosperous and happy as the days of her danger have been trying and triumphant.”
The monument has survived to provide as a tribute to the defender it honors and to those who remembered. The irony is that it honors a fallen defender whose final resting place is unknown.
To learn more about the location of the monument, visit our webpage or the Historic Marker database website.