While American militia forces struggled to make an impact on Ross’ regular forces during the Battle of Bladensburg in 1814, the London Times noted that the most serious American resistance was provided by a group of ‘Irish rebels’. According to some accounts, the gunman who shot Ross off his horse as he entered Washington was a ‘club-footed Irish barber’. Meanwhile, General Samuel Smith, who successfully organised the defence of Baltimore, had Ulster family connections. Similarly, Fort McHenry, which featured so prominently during the resistance to Ross’ attack on Baltimore, was named after Dr James McHenry, Secretary for War to both President Washington and President Adams. Of Scots Irish descent, he hailed from Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Ross was killed at a location that was to become known as Dundalk, near Baltimore. (Ironically, Dundalk, County Louth, Republic of Ireland, is not far from Ross’ home village of Rostrevor, County Down, Northern Ireland).
Perhaps most remarkable of all are the Scots Irish antecedents of two future presidents of the USA who featured in the military operations in which Ross was involved in America, James Buchanan (Battle of Baltimore, 1814) and Andrew Jackson (defender of New Orleans, Ross’ prospective next target after Baltimore). As Henry Bisharat, from the US Consulate in Belfast, has pointed out, ‘before President Obama, Ulster was the only region of the world outside the U.S. to have “First Fathers”, and not just one , but three – and two of these were involved with Gen. Ross! (The third is Chester Arthur, whose father is from near Ballymena. There were also several Presidents with mothers born outside the U.S., including Andrew Jackson’s mother from Carrickfergus)’.