Marking a monumental bicentennial
Aquilla Randall memorial rededicated
Oppressively hot temperatures did little to dampen spirits as dozens gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the dedication of the Aquila Randall monument on Old North Point Road last Friday.
Elected officials, historical re-enactors and community leaders were out in force to pay tribute to Randall and the area’s pivotal role in the War of 1812.
Randall was a 24-year-old private in the 1st Mechanical Volunteers of the Fifth Regiment Maryland Militia under the command of Captain Benjamin Howard when British troops, under the command of General Robert Ross, landed at North Point (now known as Fort Howard) and began making their way up the peninsula toward Baltimore.
The regiment was tasked by American commander General John Stricker to intercept, which they did, forming across the road and firing at the advancing British line.
Several Americans were killed in the ensuing skirmish,
including Randall, Henry McComas and Daniel Wells, though history and legend records Randall as the first to fall.
Though minor, the battle had a large impact. British General Ross was shot in the skirmish, dying shortly after receiving his wound.
It was several years later, on July 21, 1817, that Howard would again visit the site, this time to dedicate an unassuming a fourand-a-half foot monument to the memory of Randall and his sacrifice on that September day in 1814.
At the time of that dedication, Howard looked ahead to the future, noting, “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…”
“This monument which we are now erecting, will stand as a solemn expression of the feeling of us all,” he continued. “But 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,” he added. “To mark the spot be then our care ….”
It was 200 years to the day after Howard uttered those remarks — July 21, 2017 — that dozens gathered at the still-shining memorial (restored to its former glory over the years) to fulfill Howard’s prophetic words.
The ceremony began with the Society of the War of 1812 color guard, dressed in period garb, followed by a perfor- mance of God Bless America and the Star- Spangled Banner by Dundalk’s own Chorus of the Chesapeake.
The day included many speeches, including remarks by Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell (R-7), who reflected on the fragile nature of the nation at the time of the Battle of North Point, just 40 years after the country’s birth.
State Sen. Johnny Ray Salling and Del. Bob Long (both R-6), with state Sen. Jim Brochin (D-42), head of the General Assembly’s Baltimore County delegation, presented a citation and offered their own remarks.
The ceremony also included historical readings from War of 1812 historians and members of the Society of the War of 1812, as well as recollections from longtime Dundalk-Patapsco Neck Historical Society member Harry Young.
In his remarks, Young recalled the often tumultuous history of the monument, which was moved several times before finding its current home on Old North Point Road by Old Battle Grove Road.
The monument, which had been tended to by owners of a nearby tavern, had fallen into a state of disrepair when, in 1944, new tavern owner Eli Buniavas restored and replaced the monument (albeit with a new five-tier concrete base) near its original home.
In 1977, a new owner again restored the marker, removing the added base, and placed the monument in its current location.
Last Friday’s ceremony also included comments by Lt. Col. John McDaniel, commander of the 175th Infantry Regiment, based at Grollman Armory on North Point Boulevard. Successor of the Fifth Regiment, McDaniel noted, the 175th “proudly carries the lineage and heritage of the Fifth Maryland.”
“On this ground we stand today,” McDaniel remarked, noting of Randall, “He gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Last Friday’s event concluded with the placement of several wreaths, followed by a three-volley salute by War of 1812 Society member David Embry.
The playing of taps and a benediction by Chaplain Lt. Col. William E. Butler concluded the service.
The crowd dispersed, the words emblazoned on the monument’s west end laying heavy on their minds and hearts.
Chaplain Lt. Col. William E. Butler salutes as the Chorus of the Chesapeake performs the National Anthem.
The Aquila Randall monument was originally dedicated on July 21, 1817.
Attendees stood at attention during the National Anthem. PHOTO BY NICOLE RODMAN
Wreaths were laid at the Aquila Randall monument during last week’s ceremony. PHOTO BY NICOLE RODMAN