THE WAR OF 1812 IN PRINCE GEORGEâ€™S COUNTY, MARYLAND
Congratulations! You have been issued your very own Pastport to the War of 1812 in Prince Georgeâ€™s County. This booklet traces the route the British marched through the county in August of 1814. We invite you to travel and explore the very same roads, waterways, and historic sites where history was made two hundred years ago.
issued by: The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Natural and Historical Resources Division history.pgparks.com
The War of 1812 ON JUNE 18, 1812, nearly thirty years after the American Revolution, the United States once again declared war on Great Britain. At the time, it was called the Second War of Independence, though today we know it as the War of 1812. The United States declared war on Great Britain for a number of reasons, including trade restrictions, impressment of American sailors into the Royal Navy, and British occupation of North American territories. The war was fought primarily along the Canadian-American border; however, in 1813 and 1814, campaigns were waged in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf Coast regions. The war officially ended on February 16, 1815, with no one the clear victor. Both sides agreed to “status quo ante bellum,” which means “the state in which things were before the war.” Ultimately, the conflict tested the resolve and strength of the United States, showed that the young republic could hold its own against a super power, and gave the country credibility as an independent nation. The war also created many iconic symbols that have become part of our national identity: Uncle Sam, Old Ironsides, Old Hickory, the Fort McHenry flag, and our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The British Invasion of Prince George’s County–August 1814 In 1813 and 1814, the British blockaded the Chesapeake Bay. People feared for their livelihoods as the British looted and burned coastal communities and towns in the region. In fact, Maryland experienced more raids and suffered more property damage than any other state. The British began their Chesapeake campaign in earnest in the summer of 1814, with planned assaults on Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, then the third largest city in the country. In the beginning, Prince George’s County was not greatly affected; however, that was not to be the case much longer. On August 19 and 20, 1814, over fifty British ships landed an army of more than four thousand men at Benedict, Maryland, under the command of Major General Robert Ross. Their mission— the destruction of Washington, D.C. British troops began their march on August 20 and camped overnight at Patuxent City (Charles County, Maryland). Over the next several days, this fighting force traveled north through Prince George’s County, keeping parallel with the Patuxent River as far as possible before they turned west toward the nation’s capital. At the same time, Rear Admiral George Cockburn’s fleet sailed north along the Patuxent River and provided protection to the land forces.
On August 24, the two forces met in Bladensburg, Maryland. For the Americans, the Battle of Bladensburg was a disastrous defeat that allowed the British to march unchallenged into Washington, and burn government buildings including the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Arsenal, and the White House. This is the only time in American history when the capital of the United States was invaded by a foreign power. Following the burning of Washington, the British retreated through Prince Georgeâ€™s County. Nineteen days later (between September 12 and 14), the two foes met again in Baltimore. The British Army marched to North Point and the British Navy bombarded Fort McHenry in a 25-hour assault, but the Americans held firm. With this defeat, the British withdrew. The victory saved the city of Baltimore, raised American morale, and effectively ended the Chesapeake Campaign.
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★ (Long Old Fields)
★★BLADENSBURG ★★ ★
Bostwick Ft. Lincoln Cemetery
George Washington House
IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, MARYLAND
WAR OF 1812 SITES HIN
A Guide to
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Dr. Beanes’ Grave
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Take this journey, visit these sites, and learn how much War of 1812 history our county has waiting for you to explore! Be sure to visit www.history.pgparks.com to find out more!
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Discover the War of 1812 in your own backyard!
H E A D H W Y. IAN ND
British Land Invasion Route
British Water Invasion Route
St. Thomas’ Church
Darnall’s Chance ★★ ★ UPPER MARLBORO ★ Trinity Episcopal Church ★ Pig Point
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17410 Nottingham Road Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 Nottingham was the site of the first British Army encampment in Prince Georgeâ€™s County. The town was founded in 1706 as a port town and tobacco inspection site. During the War of 1812, it served as the naval base for the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla (see Pig Point) in the summer of 1814. On August 21, 1814, U.S. Secretary of State James Monroe arrived in Nottingham and reconnoitered the enemy nearby. A skirmish ensued here between the British and U.S. dragoons led by Monroe. Local tradition says that upon the imminent arrival of British forces, the townâ€™s inhabitants fled in such haste that they left bread baking in their ovens. The British Army camped here that night, while the British Navy was anchored offshore. The next day the British resumed their march, leaving behind a rear guard.
The Woodyard (Now James Madison Middle School) 7300 Woodyard Road Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 During the war, The Woodyard was the home of Richard West. His father, Stephen, had been a wealthy merchant and planter who manufactured guns, bayonets, blankets, and socks at The Woodyard for American troops during the Revolution. The house, built prior to 1711, burned down in 1867. American troops from Washington, Annapolis, and Baltimore gathered at The Woodyard on August 21, 1814, to join their commander, Brigadier General William H. Winder. That night, Secretary of State Monroe joined the troops. The next day, Commodore Joshua Barney and his U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla seamen joined Winderâ€™s forces and then marched with them to Long Old Fields.
Brigadier General William H. Winder, Library of Congress
HABS PHOTO, 1936
St. Thomas’ Episcopal C hurch 14300 St. Thomas Church Road Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church was built between 1742 and 1745. It was known as Page’s Chapel during the War of 1812. According to local tradition, seven British soldiers died on August 22, 1814, during the British march to Washington, D.C., and are buried in unmarked graves in the church cemetery.
Bellefields 13104 Duley Station Road Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 Bellefields, built ca. 1720, was the home of militia Major Benjamin Oden. On August 22, 1814, Brigadier General Winder and his U.S. forces, along with James Monroe, came here from The Woodyard encampment to reconnoiter and possibly intercept the enemy. The British marching along Croom Road saw American horsemen and advanced toward Bellefields to attack. The Americans withdrew; the British then halted, reversed course, and headed back to the road to Upper Marlboro. This fooled the Americans into thinking that the British were headed to either Fort Washington or the District of Columbia via the southern route. Privately owned â€” no public access.
P ig Point Bristol Landing, MD Commodore Joshua Barney, a Revolutionary War hero and famous privateer, convinced the U.S. government to let him build a fleet of flat-bottomed barges and gunboats that could easily navigate the shoal waters of the Chesapeake Bay to protect the people and property in the region. This fleet, known as the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla, was comprised of 18 vessels and 500 men. Throughout the summer of 1814, Barneyâ€™s fleet harassed the Royal Navy so much that the destruction of the flotilla became a primary objective of the British. On August 22, 1814, after a series of battles in the Chesapeake Bay, the flotilla became trapped by the British Navy in the upper reaches of the Patuxent River off of Pig Point. Under orders from Secretary of the Navy William Jones, Barney and 400 sailors and marines disembarked and marched to The Woodyard and joined the American land forces. The sailors who were left behind were ordered to scuttle the flotilla. No public access to waterfront.
Mount Calvert Historical & Archaeological Park 16801 Mount Calvert Road Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 301-627-1286 Mount Calvert was built ca. 1780 on land that was once Prince Georgeâ€™s Countyâ€™s first county seat, Charles Town. On August 22, 1814, after the destruction of the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla by the Americans, Rear Admiral Cockburn disembarked his men here. He sent a contingent of Royal Marines, artillery, and seamen to join the British Army in Upper Marlboro. The British Navy occupied Mount Calvert until their troops returned. After the war, Mount Calvert was used by the U.S. Navy as a salvage depot to collect materials from the scuttled U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla.
14735 Main Street Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 The Town of Upper Marlboro was founded in 1706 and quickly became a thriving commercial port. In 1721, it became the county seat. Upper Marlboro served as an assembly place for the U.S. Army in August 1814. On August 22, 1814, British forces bivouacked here. That night, British officers used the home of Dr. William Beanes, a local and respected physician, as their headquarters. Major General Ross reportedly had dinner with the doctor. It was in Upper Marlboro that the British Army and Navy met on land the first time and it was here that Major General Ross and Rear Admiral Cockburn finalized their plans to invade Washington, D.C.
Melwood Park 10908 Old Marlboro Pike Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 Melwood Park was originally built ca. 1750 and renovated ca. 1800. Local tradition says that after leaving Upper Marlboro on August 23, 1814, the main contingent of British forces continued their march to Washington, D.C., while several British officers (including Major General Ross) invited themselves to afternoon dinner with the elderly occupant of the house, widow Mary Carroll Digges. After dinner, the officers rested in a shed. Privately ownedâ€” no public access.
Long Old Fields (Now Penn Mar Shopping Center) 2950 Donnell Drive, Forestville, MD 20747 American forces camped at Long Old Fields (the name denotes a fallow/abandoned tobacco field) on the night of August 22, 1814. This site was chosen because it was on the main road halfway between Upper Marlboro and Washington, D.C. At this time, Brigadier General Winder had 3,200 men and approximately 17 pieces of artillery. The next morning, President James Madison and some of his cabinet members met here with Winder to assess the situation and strategize. That evening, Winder, fearful of an enemy attack at night, withdrew his troops to the Washington Navy Yard. The next day, August 24, British forces briefly rested here on their way to Bladensburg.
Addison Chapel 5610 Addison Road Seat Pleasant, MD 20743 Built in 1810 and renovated ca. 1905, Addison Chapel, also known as St. Matthewâ€™s Church, served as a temporary headquarters for the British before the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814.
George Washington House 4302 Baltimore Avenue, Bladensburg, MD 20710 Jacob Wirt had this structure built ca. 1760 as part of a commercial complex that included a store, a billiard hall, a tavern, and a blacksmith shop. Near this lot, the British Army established an artillery position with one 6-pound and two 3-pound cannons and Congreve rockets. No public access.
Hilleary-Magruder House 4703 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, MD 20710 This house was built for William Hilleary in the mid18th century. Tradition says that on August 24, 1814, as the British marched to the battlefield, they encountered gunfire (the only civilian resistance in Bladensburg) from this house. No public access.
HABS PHOTO, 1936
Bostwick 3901 48th Street, Bladensburg, MD 20710 Bostwick was built in 1746 for Christopher Lowndes, a Bladensburg merchant and town commissioner. Later it was the home of Lowndesâ€™ son-in-law, Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of Navy. Colonel Thomas Barclay, the British prisoner-ofâ€“war agent, resided here during the War of 1812.
(Battlefield encompasses what today are Colmar Manor, Cottage City, and Fort Lincoln Cemetery) Fort Lincoln Cemetery 3401 Bladensburg Road, Brentwood, MD 20722 On the morning of August 24, 1814, British forces, under the command of Major General Ross, marched to the town of Bladensburg. Here, they planned to enter Washington, D.C. because it was the most fordable point on the Anacostia River and, if need be, the British could enter the city if the bridge was destroyed. The battle began at 1 p.m. and lasted approximately three hours. British forces, which consisted of 4,000 seasoned troops, routed the larger, but inexperienced American troops made up of approximately 7,500 militia, regulars, sailors and marines under the command of Brigadier General Winder. The Americans set up three defensive lines. When the British assault began, the American first line, struck by fear, collapsed and ran back toward the second line. This caused great confusion and led to a disorganized retreat. African American sailor Charles Ball described the militia’s retreat as “sheep chased by dogs.” Only Commodore Barney’s men, supported by U.S. Marines, on the third line, held their ground until they were overrun. The hasty and disorganized American retreat became known as the “Bladensburg Races.” President James Madison and other government officials, who were present at the
battle, also fled and scattered through Maryland and Virginia. That evening around 8 p.m., the British arrived on Capitol Hill. All the American forces had retreated, leaving the entire city defenseless. The British saw a red glow from the southeast, where the Americans had burned the Washington Navy Yard to keep its ships and supplies out of enemy hands. The British proceeded to sack and burn much of the city, including the Capitol, White House, and the United States Treasury Building. The British withdrew from the city on the evening of August 25 and headed back to Benedict via Upper Marlboro.
Riversdale House Museum 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, MD 20737 301-864-0420 Riversdale was the home of Rosalie and George Calvert. The Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, directly affected them as Mrs. Calvert described in a letter to her sister soon after. 30 August 1814 “My Dear Sister, …Since I started this letter we have been in a state of continual alarm…I am sure that you have heard the news of the Battle of Bladensburg where the English defeated the American troops with Madison ‘not at their head, but at their rear.’ From there they went to Washington where they burned the Capitol, the President’s House, all the public offices…During the battle, I saw several cannonballs with my own eyes…At the moment the English ships are at Alexandria which is also in their possession…” After the battle, George Calvert, with the help of his field hands, went to the battleground to bury the dead and assist the wounded.
Dr. William Beanes Gravesite 14554 Elm Street, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 On August 27, 1814, following the burning of Washington, D.C., British troops withdrew through Upper Marlboro. Several townspeople, including Dr. William Beanes, imprisoned some British stragglers. Upon learning of the incident, the British took three Americans hostage (including Beanes) and threatened to destroy Upper Marlboro unless their men were freed. Eventually, two of the hostages were released, Dr. Beanes Grave but Beanes was taken to a ship in the Chesapeake Bay. Francis Scott Key, a prominent Georgetown lawyer, and Colonel John Stuart Skinner, the U.S. Agent for the Exchange of Prisoners, were sent by President Madison to negotiate the release of Beanes. Ultimately, the Americans were successful in securing the doctor’s freedom, but the British detained them aboard ship until after their attack on Baltimore. That night, September 13 –14, the three Americans witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry. When the bombing had subsided, Key saw that the tattered American flag still waved proudly over the fortification. Key was so moved by the American victory that he wrote lyrics that were set to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven” which eventually became our national anthem in 1931.
Darnall’s Chance House Museum 14800 Governor Oden Bowie Drive Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 301-952-8010 On August 27, 1814, several British soldiers were arrested by a group of local gentlemen. John Hodges of Darnall’s Chance was asked to take the prisoners to the Queen Anne jail. When the British learned of the incident, they returned to Upper Marlboro and took three Americans hostage and threatened to destroy the town if their soldiers were not returned. Hodges was compelled by his neighbors to go back to Queen Anne, take custody of the soldiers, and oversee the prisoner exchange. For this act, he was arrested for treason and charged with “adhering to the enemy.” He was tried on May 15, 1815. The jury found him innocent, stating that the “circumstances under which he acted formed a good and sufficient excuse.” Hodges is the only American known to be tried for treason during the War of 1812.
Trinity Episcopal Church 14519 Church Street, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772 Trinity Church was established in 1810 by Anglican Bishop Thomas John Claggett. The present church was erected in 1846 and remodeled in 1896. Parish records note that during the War of 1812, British soldiers entered the church and tore pages from the parish register. “…several leaves here and some other parts of this book were torn out by Ross’s soldiers who found the book in the Church where it [was] put for safe keeping. To their eternal disgrace be it recorded....”
Additional War of 1812 S ites to Visit in
Prince Georgeâ€™s County The Battle of Bladensburg Visitor Center 4601 Annapolis Road Bladensburg, MD 20710 301-927-8819
Battle of Bladensburg Monument Bladensburg Balloon Park Historic Site 4100 Baltimore Avenue Bladensburg, MD 20710
Fort Washington Park 13551 Fort Washington Road Fort Washington, MD 20744 301-763-4600
Oxen Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm 6411 Oxon Hill Road Oxon Hill, MD 20745 301-839-1176
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince Georgeâ€™s County www.pgparks.com PPC/PR/NHRD/2014
Brochure about War of 1812