Defending Maryland against the British required all Marylanders to take on new roles. Ordinary citizens became soldiers, politicians became military strategists, and houses became depots of military supplies and public records. The war disrupted the ordinary functions of government and over-burdened the state's finances, as Maryland incurred enormous debts organizing its defenses.
Mobilization for the war was neither painless nor flawless. The federal government declared itself unable to protect Maryland, leaving the state to defend its extensive coastline on its own. While many private citizens and government officials sought to prepare the state for a British attack, the threat of invasion still took a terrible toll. In much of the state, effective defenses were never built.
In Annapolis, ringed by a network of forts, government planners privately had concerns about the forts' designs and the abilities of the men who guarded them. Exactly how much Maryland's government did to protect the state-and how much it realistically could have done-was a contentious subject, one debated loudly in the highly partisan newspapers of the day.