Chesapeake at War

Chesapeake at War > Bay Regions At War > Southern Maryland Region

Commodore Joshua Barney’s US flotilla escaped into the Patuxent River following a battle with British ships off Cedar Point, June 1, 1814. ©Richard Schlecht

Southern Maryland’s proximity to Washington, DC, along with its deep natural waters and numerous farms and tobacco plantations, made it an attractive target for British raiding parties during the war. Bounded by the Bay to the east, the Potomac River to the west and split by the Patuxent River, the region offered easy water access. No other region of the Chesapeake experienced more raids and skirmishes.

In June 1814, after a skirmish with Com. Joshua Barney’s US Chesapeake Flotilla, the British blockaded the “mosquito fleet” of gunboats and barges in the Patuxent River. What followed became known as the First Battle and Second Battle of St. Leonard Creek (a tributary of the Patuxent), the largest naval engagement on Maryland waters.

In August 1814, nearly 50 British vessels carrying more than 4,000 troops sailed up the Patuxent River, landed at the Southern Maryland town of Benedict, marched overland, defeated the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg, and captured Washington, DC.

Download a map highlighting wartime events, historic sites and waterfront parks in Southern Maryland.

Take a virtual or actual tour of Calvert County's historic MacKall Road. On your mobile device or at home, download an audio or video tour featuring 15 segments and sites that explore several centuries of history, including what happened during the War of 1812, along this historic route.

 

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