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Your Pastport to

The War of 1812 in Prince George’s County, Maryland


The War of 1812

was fought between

the United States and Great Britain from 1812 until 1815. The war had several causes. During the late 1700s and the early 1800s, Great Britain was at war with France and began to face a shortage of skilled sailors. To acquire more men for its navy, Great Britain began to stop American and other ships and impress (take by force) sailors from them. England also tried to prevent the United States from trading with the French. Additionally, British soldiers continued to occupy territory belonging to the United States, despite Great Britain’s promise to remove these soldiers in the Treaty of Paris (1783) at the end of the American Revolution. Most of the soldiers were located along the Great Lakes, providing Indians, including the Shawnee leader Tecumseh, with support in their struggle against American settlers. A new generation of congressmen, called War Hawks, wanted war and an excuse to invade and expand into the British province of Canada. In 1812, President James Madison asked the United States Congress to declare war. Sign your Pastport to the War of 1812 here _________________________________________________________________________________ To learn more about the War of 1812 sites and communities in this Pastport, please contact M-NCPPC at 301-627-2270 or visit

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Addison Chapel

Magruder House

Ft. Lincoln Cemetery

Bostwick & Market Master’s House

Bladensburg Dueling Grounds

George Washington House



in Prince George’s County, Maryland

War of 1812 sites


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A Guide to

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Dr. Beanes’ Grave


Oxon Hill Farm

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Andrews AFB




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 to find out more!


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Melwood Park

British Water Invasion Route


British Land Invasion Route


St. Thomas Church


Mount Calvert

The Woodyard

Darnall’s Chance ★★ ★ UPPER MARLBORO Pig Point ★


Discover the War of 1812 in your own backyard!

British Water Invasion Route

Ft. Washington

Alexandria, VA






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Aquasco Maryland Route 381 and Maryland Route 233 Aquasco, Maryland In the third year of the War of 1812, on August 19, 1814, approximately 5,400 British soldiers, mostly infantrymen and Marines, under the command of Major General Robert Ross, left their ships near Benedict in Charles County and began their march north toward Washington. Their immediate objective had been to capture Commodore Joshua Barney’s American flotilla, trapped further up the Patuxent River, but the thought of the capture of the new capital city, and the devastating effect this would have on the Americans, proved too hard to resist. After a night in Benedict, they began their march toward Washington only to discover their men who had been at sea for four months were exhausted and suffering from the heat. They traveled only six miles before camping in Patuxent City, also in Charles County. The next day they began their slow march across Prince George’s County, encountering virtually no resistance. At the same time, British Admiral Sir George Cockburn (left) sailed the remainder of the fleet up the Patuxent River, camping at Aquasco on the night of August 20, 1814.

Nottingham Town of Nottingham End of Nottingham Road on the Patuxent River Nottingham was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1706. It was designated as a tobacco inspection site and, by the early 19th century, was a thriving commercial center. In 1814, Nottingham was in its heyday with a population of approximately 1,200 citizens. Joshua Barney had used the town as a base of operations for his flotilla for a brief period. On the night of August 21, 1814, British soldiers, under the command of Major General Robert Ross, camped at Nottingham. They left a rear guard as they resumed their march to Washington, D.C.

St. Thomas Church 14300 St. Thomas Church Road Croom, Maryland During the War of 1812, as the British were marching to Washington, they passed St. Thomas Church. Here they conducted a feint, first turning west toward Bellefields and the Woodyard, then doubling back and heading to Upper Marlboro. St. Thomas Church is mentioned by American General William H. Winder several times in his correspondence, including once as a place to meet Lt. Col. Frisby Tilghman with the cavalry. Several British soldiers, who died from heat stroke on their march to Washington, are buried in the cemetery of St. Thomas Church.



Pig Point

On the Patuxent In April 1814, Joshua Barney, a naval hero of the Revolutionary War, assembled a flotilla of barges and gunboats known generally as the Chesapeake Bay Flotilla to stall the British attacks on the Patuxent River. After a series of valiant battles up and down the River, the flotilla was pushed up the Patuxent by the British and trapped. A plan was hatched to transport the entire flotilla overland from Queen Anne to the South River. Concerned that the flotilla would fall into British hands, Secretary of the Navy William Jones ordered Barney to scuttle the vessels should the British appear. On August 22, 1814, Barney ordered it’s destruction and he and his men marched, with the cannons that were movable, to Washington, D.C. where they were to join the Battle of Bladensburg.

Burning of Havre de Grace, Maryland, Maryland Historical Society. Joshua Barney, top right.

Mount Calvert 16302 Mount Calvert Road Upper Marlboro, Maryland An English colonial town was established at Mount Calvert in 1684 and when Prince George’s County was organized in 1696, it became the county seat and was renamed Charles Town. The house at Mount Calvert was built around 1780 after the county seat was moved in 1721. In August 1814, Mount Calvert was the location where British Rear Admiral George Cockburn disembarked his seamen to join the Marines on their march to Washington, D.C. This followed the fiery destruction of the Chesapeake Flotilla by Commander Joshua Barney at Pig Point (now called Bristol Landing). After British forces moved on, Mount Calvert served as a U.S. Navy marshaling area for materials salvaged from the scuttled flotilla.

Bellefields Private Residence, Croom, Maryland Bellefields is an early example of a Maryland Georgian country house. It was built around 1720 by Dr. Patrick Sim. On August 22, 1814, from a vantage point at Bellefields, Brigadier General William Winder and Secretary of State James Monroe watched the British forces under Major General Robert Ross march towards the town of Upper Marlboro where the British planned to camp for the night.

Upper Marlboro Upper Marlboro, Maryland When the British entered Upper Marlboro, they found it almost deserted. Major General Robert Ross and Admiral George Cockburn headquartered at the house of Dr. William Beanes (near present day Elm Street) from August 22 until the afternoon of August 23, 1814. There was no resistance by local citizens even though British troops commandeered food and supplies.

Forestville Forestville, Maryland On the night of August 23, 1814, American troops camped at Long Old Fields (now called Forestville). It was near Long Old Fields that American forces fired two or three rounds of artillery at the approaching enemy before withdrawing. This was the first artillery fired at the British in five days.

The Woodyard Woodyard Circle, Upper Marlboro, Maryland The Woodyard Plantation served as the temporary headquarters of the American troops during the British invasion in 1814. The American forces, which had gathered from Washington, Annapolis, and Baltimore, marched to join their commander, Brigadier General William Winder, at the Woodyard. At this time, it was the home of Richard W. West, Francis Scott Key’s brother-in-law. Winder’s forces were soon joined here by 500 or so of Commodore Barney’s seamen and Secretary of State Monroe. The Americans camped here on the night of August 23, 1814.

Melwood Park Privately Owned, Upper Marlboro, Maryland Melwood Park was originally built by Ignatius Digges around 1750, and raised to its present two stories by his widow, Mary Carroll Digges, in about 1800. During the War of 1812, the British forces marching to Washington, D.C. camped near Melwood on the night of August 23, 1814. Reportedly, several British officers, including Major General Robert Ross, invited themselves for dinner with the widow, Mary Carroll Digges. American scout Thomas McKenny observed that Major General Ross and Rear Admiral Cockburn slept or rested in a shed on the Digges estate after dinner.

Andrews Air Force Base After camping at Upper Marlboro, the British forces left about noon on August 23, 1814 and camped that night on what is now part of Andrews Air Force Base. They were only a few miles from the American troops camping at the Woodyard and about the same distance from the American troops at Forestville.

The Battle



Bladensburg, Maryland The Battle of Bladensburg took place on August 24, 1814 and has been called “the greatest disgrace ever dealt to American arms.” Because of the American defeat, the British were able to capture and burn the public buildings of Washington, D.C. On August 24, the British broke camp at Melwood Park, and marched to Bladensburg where they knew they could ford the Anacostia River into Washington. Marching in intense heat, they arrived in Bladensburg about noon. General Winder’s men had since arrived along with other brigades from Annapolis. In all, the Americans totaled about 6,000 men. General Ross headed straight for the bridge over the Anacostia (which had not yet been destroyed). When the British entered Bladensburg and marched down Lowndes Hill, the

American riflemen fired, but Ross’ infantry continued toward the bridge. The inexperienced Americans were no match for the British Army and their terrorizing Congreve rockets and after initially pushing the British back, they scattered, all except Commodore Barney and his Marines and sailors. The Commodore and his seamen made a heroic stand against overwhelming odds. The hasty and disorganized American retreat led to the battle becoming known as the Bladensburg Races. The battle was termed “the most humiliating episode in American history.” The American militia actually fled through the streets of Washington. President James Madison and others in the federal government were present at the battle and were nearly captured. They fled the capital, and scattered through Maryland and Virginia. After Major General Ross was killed at the Battle of North Point on September 12, 1814, his descendants were given an augmentation of honour victory title of Ross-of-Bladensburg in memory of Ross’ most famous victory. Top left: British capture and burn the White House, 1814. Right: Map of the campaign and battlefield of Bladensburg, from Benson J. Lossing’s “Pictorial Field Book of the War of 1812” (1868)

Bostwick 3901 48th Street, Bladensburg, Maryland Bostwick was built in 1746 for Christopher Lowndes, a Bladensburg merchant and Town Commissioner, and was later the home of Lowndes’ son-in-law, Benjamin Stoddert, first Secretary of the Navy. Probably the earliest surviving building in Bladensburg, Bostwick stands high on a terraced lawn, and is a prominent landmark in the town.

The Market Master’s House 4006 48th Street, Bladensburg, Maryland Built by Christopher Lowndes of Bostwick around 1765 on a lot overlooking the adjoining market space, the Market Master’s House is a unique example of a stone building in the area. It is one of four surviving preRevolutionary buildings in Bladensburg.

George Washington House 4302 Baltimore Avenue, Bladensburg, Maryland This old building, dating back to 1732, was once an inn along a major north-south route in the town of Bladensburg, Maryland. It was reported to be a stopover for George Washington when travelling between his Mount Vernon home and Philadelphia or New York.

The Magruder House 4703 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg, Maryland Built for William Hilleary and visited by George Washington in 1787, the Magruder House is one of four surviving pre-Revolutionary buildings in Bladensburg. It has been owned or rented by a series of five doctors, including Dr. Archibald Magruder.

Photo: Jennifer K. Cosham

Fort Lincoln Cemetery 3401 Bladensburg Road, Brentwood, Maryland During the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, American Commodore Joshua Barney, accompanied by his 500 flotilla men and Captain Samuel Miller and his 120 U.S. Marines, made a heroic defense of the national capital—fighting against the enemy hand-to-hand with cutlasses and pikes—near the entrance to present day Fort Lincoln Cemetery. The battle raged for four hours but eventually the British defeated the greatly outnumbered Americans. The defenders were forced to fall back and the British went on to burn the Capitol and White House. Barney, severely wounded with a bullet in his thigh that could never be removed, was unable to retreat and was captured. General Ross, who had lost nearly 300 men before getting across the river, gave great attention to the wounded Commodore; he so admired the bravery of the “blue-jackets” that he paroled all the flotilla men, including the Commodore, on the spot. The historic marker for the Battle of Bladensburg can be found behind the mausoleum of this cemetery.

Bladensburg Dueling Grounds Bladensburg Road and 40th Avenue Colmar Manor, Maryland Nearly 50 duels were fought at the Bladensburg Dueling Grounds between 1808 and 1871. Located just beyond the District of Columbia line, it was a convenient place for the gentlemen of Washington to settle their quarrels, beyond the reach of federal law. Captain Barron, in command of the USS Chesapeake, surrendered his ship in a violent confrontation with the British in 1807. The Chesapeake affair was considered a disgrace to the US Navy and almost lead to war with Great Britain. Barron was court-martialled and suspended from the Navy for five years. He spent the War of 1812 in Denmark. When he tried to rejoin the Navy in 1818, Stephen Decatur, the nation’s greatest naval hero of the War of 1812, opposed Barron’s reappointment. Barron insulted Stephen Decatur and matters escalated until a duel was challenged. The two men met at the Bladensburg Dueling Grounds on March 22, 1820 where both men were tragically shot. Decatur was shot in the abdomen and died the next day. He was 41 years old. Captain Barron was reinstated in the Navy and died in 1851. Stephen Decatur by Orlando S. Lagman. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.

Addison Chapel 5610 Addison Road, Seat Pleasant, Maryland St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, also known as Addison Chapel, was built about 1809 replacing two previous chapels. Addison Chapel was first established in 1696 as a chapel of ease for St. John’s at Broad Creek. It was named for Colonel John Addison of Oxon Hill Plantation, a leading proponent of the Anglican Church. St. Matthew’s is situated in a large graveyard containing some early stones, the most notable being that of Benjamin Stoddert, the first Secretary of the Navy. On August 24, 1814, Addison Chapel was used as temporary British headquarters before the Battle of Bladensburg.

Riversdale 4811 Riverdale Road, Riverdale Park, Maryland Riversdale was the home of George and Rosalie Calvert. The Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814 directly affected the Calverts as Rosalie described in a letter to her sister soon after the Battle. “My Dear Sister, 30 August 1814 …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 field hands from Riversdale, went to the battleground to bury the dead and assist the wounded.

Dr. Beanes’ Grave Governor Oden Bowie Drive Upper Marlboro, Maryland In the summer of 1814 as the British marched back through Upper Marlboro after burning parts of Washington, several British deserters were captured and taken to the county jail. British Major General Ross was furious and arrested Dr. Beanes and took him back to their ship. Friends of Beanes went to Francis Scott Key, a lawyer in Georgetown, for help with the release of the elderly doctor. Key, and John Stuart Skinner, the U.S. Prisoner Exchange Agent, went to secure Beanes release and were held eight miles off shore from Fort McHenry until after the outcome of the Battle of Baltimore. Skinner, Key and Beanes had learned too much about British forces and plans of the attack on Baltimore to allow them free at that time. The battle started the morning of September 13, 1814 and the three men watched from their ship as the bombardment continued into the night. When morning came on September 14, they saw that the American flag was still there. Key was inspired to write a poem of the event on the back of a letter, which ultimately became the Star Spangled Banner. “By Dawn’s Early Light” 1912 painting by Edward Moran depicts the morning of September 14, 1814. Francis Scott Key with Colonel John Skinner and Dr. William Beanes.

Darnall’s Chance 14800 Governor Oden Bowie Drive Upper Marlboro, Maryland The British took Dr. William Beanes and two others hostage, and Major General Ross threatened to burn the town if his British soldiers were not released. John Hodges, who lived at Darnall’s Chance between 1799 and 1825, was compelled upon by his neighbors to go to the Queen Anne jail and seek the release of the soldiers. John and his brother Benjamin agreed and went to the jail to plead the town’s case to General Robert Bowie. General Bowie agreed to release the British and permitted the Hodges brothers to negotiate the prisoner exchange. John Hodges, for his part in the return of the soldiers, was indicted for treason. At his trial in 1815, he was defended by the illustrious lawyer William Pinkney. He was found not guilty by the jury, who in a decision which is still cited, considered that the “circumstances under which he acted formed a good and sufficient excuse.”

Oxon Hill Farm Government Farm Road, Oxon Hill, Maryland During the War of 1812, Oxon Hill Farm, then called Mount Welby, was the home of Dr. Samuel and Mary DeButts and their family. Their farm was perilously close to the scene of battle as Mary DeButts described to her brother in a letter dated March of 1815; “The termination of the War has cheered Hearts of thousands but its bitter consequences will be long severely felt. I cannot express to you the distress it has occasioned; at the Battle of Bladensburg we heard every fire (that place being not more than 5 or 6 miles from us). Our House was shook repeatedly by the firing upon forts and bridges, and illuminated by the fires in our Capital.” According to Dr. Samuel DeButts, Admiral Sir George Cockburn’s British fleet “lay directly before our House.” Indeed, the siting of Mount Welby would have afforded its residents a clear view of the city of Alexandria, located directly across the Potomac River. Though the war had come terrifyingly close to harming the DeButts family, they emerged from the conflict unharmed. However, “a most dreadful epidemic” swept through the region during the winter of 1815 killing Dr. DeButts.

Fort Washington End of Fort Washington Road, Oxon Hill, Maryland The site of Fort Washington was originally selected by George Washington in 1794 as the location for a fort to protect the new capital city. It was not actually constructed, however, until 1809 when relations with Great Britain continued to deteriorate. During the War of 1812, in August 1814, with British forces in Washington (having marched overland) and British ships heading up the Potomac, the fort was destroyed by its own garrison to prevent it from being captured and occupied by the British.

c Stop by and visit

The Battle of Bladensburg Visitor’s Center and The War of 1812 in Prince George’s County, Maryland Opening August 24, 2012 4601 Annapolis Road, Bladensburg MD 301-779- 0371


O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light, What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming…

The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County PPC/PR/NHRD/2012

War of 1812