Earlier on this site, we published an account of a Baltimore mob’s displeasure at what had been printed by a newspaper opposed to the declaration of war by the US Congress, and its subsequent signing by James Madison.
One of paper’s proprietors, Alexander Contee Hanson, was out of town at the time, but on returning to Baltimore and discovering what had transpired, resolved to re-establish the paper.
Hanson and his friends set up the newspaper again in the house of its other proprietor, a Mr. Wagner, who moved his family out of the house presumably for their safety. Now fast forward a few days until the 26th of July, 1812.
The mob became progressively more boisterous and was not intimidated when the occupants of the house, including General Henry “Light Horse” Lee, hero of the Revolution and father of Robert E. Lee, fired blanks in attempt to frighten them away.
The militia, under the command of a Major Bradley, attempted to mediate the situation until his general and the mayor showed up.
After much going back and forth between the mob and the occupants of the house, the civil authorities, acting as intermediaries for the mob, promised to escort those in the house safely to the jail — for their own protection. Hanson strenuously advised against such a course.
Against their better judgement, they resolved to allow themselves to be taken to the jail. General Lee thought this the best course, and Hanson deferred to his wishes.
Following their incarceration, General Stricker ,who had guaranteed their safety, made himself scarce.
That evening, the mob made promises to behave themselves and the mayor and the general dismissed the militia!
Those in the jail had a few pistols and knives between them and thought to fight their way out. Hanson instead proposed that they put out all the lights and try to escape in the confusion, figuring that while he might be recognized, the others might have a chance.
Several of Hanson’s party were brutally killed, including General Lingan, a hero of the Revolutionary War. Others were severely beaten and mangled, like General Henry Lee.
Both Hanson and Lee survived, but Lee would never be the same and died a broken man a few years later. Hanson would later serve in Congress.