Following the Battle of North Point and the death of Maj. General Robert Ross, the British army under Col. Arthur Brooke advanced on the morning of September 13 towards the outskirts of Baltimore west on the Philadelphia Road (Rt.40) along Herring Run. It was within this area three miles east of the American main defenses on Hampstead Hill (Patterson Park) that Col. Arthur Brooke and Rear Admiral George Cockburn reconnoitered the American lines, finding themselves at the gates of Baltimore of three country estates. They halted on the highland heights (present site Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital).
The British immediately began to reconnoiter and visit the farms in the area. The heights offered Colonel Brooke and Admiral Cockburn an unobstructed view of the American lines before them. First they visited the 245-acre farm of Joseph R. and Mary Foard's farm fronting on the north of the Philadelphia Road. Joseph R. Foard (1765-1869) served as second lieutenant in Capt. Jehu Bouldin’s Independent Light Dragoons. Along with neighbor and fellow dragoon Thomas Kell, Foard had barely escape the day before near North Point by the British advance guard sending his servant to warn his family to leave and go north to safety with relatives. No sooner had the household departed than a house servant, having tarried too long, barely escaped as the British approached the farm firing at him. The British advanced guard took procession of the farm shooting the cattle in the field. Finding a militia uniform in the house, the British cut it into pieces and began to destroy the household furniture.
Within two weeks of the battle Foard posted a newspaper notice declaring: “Having sustained very heavy losses and damage in my Household Property, from the depredations committee upon it by the British army…” he asked any citizens if any of his property had been found to return it.