Journey back to the pivotal days of the War of 1812, also sometimes called “America’s Second War of Independence,” while visiting Southern Maryland towns, the state’s largest city and sites surrounding the nation’s capital. As fighting continued throughout the summer of 1814, Maryland’s brave defenders not only stood strong against British invaders up and down the Chesapeake Bay, but also inspired the poem that would become our National Anthem.
Solomons to Benedict
Including MD 4, MD 2, MD 765, MD 506, MD 508 & MD 231
After British Navy ships blockaded the Chesapeake Bay, Revolutionary War hero Joshua Barney came out of retirement to be commissioned commodore of a fleet of lightly armed, shallow-draft barges expected to be more maneuverable than the enemy’s vessels. Barney’s “Chesapeake Flotilla” would be tested during the summer of 1814.
Solomons, a marina-rimmed fishing village with seafood and other dining options, offers a number of attractions. The exhibits at the Calvert Marine Museum feature war artifacts and trace troop movements as Commodore Barney fought against a larger and more heavily armed British force. Also, stop by the Solomons Regional Information Center to learn about the area, and then spend the afternoon at Annmarie Garden, a 30-acre public sculpture park affiliated with the Smithsonian.
Enjoy a sidetrack to Sotterley Plantation, a 300-year-old Tidewater plantation house that overlooks the Patuxent River and was the site of a British raid during the War of 1812. A rare slave cabin, gardens, nature trails and outbuildings are found on 100 acres at this National Historic Landmark.
On your way to Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in St. Leonard, take the opportunity to hunt for fossils at Calvert Cliffs State Park or go fishing at Flag Ponds Nature Park. At the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, you will learn about the two battles that occurred in June 1814 and almost resulted in the capture of Barney’s flotilla. The park hosts annual War of 1812 events, including re-enactments.
For a closer observation of the region’s unique environment, venture into nearby Prince Frederick and hike along a boardwalk through the Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary.
By July 1814, Royal Marines occupied Chaptico, Leonardtown and other Southern Maryland locations, raiding private homes and confiscating supplies. The following month found more than 4,000 enemy troops probing deeper along the Patuxent River, seeking a suitable landing spot for an invasion of Washington, D.C. They chose Benedict, a riverside town now as well known for its War of 1812 history, as for its fishing, sailing and seafood restaurants.