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Journey back to the pivotal days of the War of 1812, also called “America’s Second War of Independence.” Visit charming Southern Maryland towns, the thriving and scenic Baltimore Harbor,  and sites surrounding the nation’s capital that were critical in defending America’s fledgling independence. 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.

Today, you can explore the prospering towns and the beautiful Bay landscape that once witnessed the terror and destruction of war. Where local citizens mustered the courage to stand up for their homes, their towns and their freedom, a new nation, still forging its identity, found solidarity in its defense.  This route is part of the Great Chesapeake Bay Loop and provides ways to explore the authentic Chesapeake.

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 was commissioned commodore of a fleet of lightly armed, shallow-draft barges, expected to be maneuverable enough to defend the Chesapeake’s rivers and port towns. Barney’s “Chesapeake Flotilla” would be tested during the summer of 1814. 

Begin at Solomons, a marina-rimmed fishing village that boasts seafood and other dining options and 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. 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 museum and park offer free exhibits and tours relating to the Battle of St. Leonard Creek.

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.

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