Battle of St. Leonard Creek
“Thus, we have beat them and their rockets, which they did not spare…The moment the enemy ran off, we moved up the river, so that thanks to hot and cold shot, the blockade is raised.” - Joshua Barney, quoted in American & Commercial Daily Advertiser, June 29, 1814.
During the War of 1812, dramatic events took place on JPPM grounds. The British had controlled the Chesapeake Bay since the beginning of the war. In an attempt to open the Bay, a flamboyant ex-privateer, Commodore Joshua Barney, assembled a rag-tag fleet of eighteen small gun boats, barges, and sloops and headed down the Bay in June of 1814. Barney's Chesapeake Flotilla clashed with the British on June 8 – 10 and again on June 26th in the Battle of St. Leonard Creek. The battle, which is the largest naval engagement in the history of Maryland, took place where the Patuxent River meets the mouth of St. Leonard Creek, right off the shore of JPPM.
The naval engagement was supported on land by American Army, Marine, and militia units, including a gun battery which was located on JPPM property. Both the land units and the flotilla engaged the British, and hundreds of shots per hour were exchanged between the two forces. Archaeological evidence of the battle has been discovered on JPPM grounds in the form of cannonballs, musket shot and other military artifacts. Eventually the British retreated and Barney's fleet was able to escape from St. Leonard Creek.
New Exhibit: FARMERS, PATRIOTS and TRAITORS: Southern Maryland and the War of 1812!
Imagine foreign troops have invaded your community. Some say that these troops have no business being here, but others are helping them by serving as spies or navigators—whether because they believe in their cause or because they are afraid, it is difficult to say. What would you do? Fight them in hopes of keeping your farm and family intact? Join them and pray that you have chosen the winning side? Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum’s new exhibit, "FARMERS, PATRIOTS and TRAITORS: Southern Maryland and the War of 1812" forces visitors to ask themselves these questions, while learning about a conflict that is so important to Maryland’s history.
The exhibit, located in JPPM's Exhibit Barn is open Saturdays from 10 AM -4 PM and Sundays from 12 PM -4 PM, as well as during special events at the park. Along with informative panels, the exhibit features artifacts and images that help bring the exhibit to life such as an antique musket, and a short film providing additional War of 1812 facts. - (While visiting, check out the antique farm equipment on display in the Barn and the "12,000 Years on the Chesapeake: an Archaeological Story" exhibit!)
JPPM holds an annual War of 1812 Reenactment in September, photos of which can be found here.
Several noted figures in the War of 1812 were tied in some way to the JPPM property, including John Stuart Skinner, farmer, journalist, and owner of Point Farm during the War; Joshua Barney, the commander of the Chesapeake Flotilla; and Charles Ball, one of at least three African American crew members of the Flotilla and a Calvert County native.
Archaeology of the Battle of St. Leonard Creek
Both terrestrial and underwater archaeology surveys have been conducted in and around JPPM, searching for artifacts from the Battle of St. Leonard Creek. Some of these artifacts are conserved and curated in the MAC Lab.
Interested in learning more about the War of 1812?
Visit www.blogof1812.com. This blog was compiled by a consortium of institutions led by the Hermitage—Andrew Jackson’s historic home. JPPM has contributed over 200 entries! Each entry appears on the bicentennial of when it was first written. It’s a great way to learn more about the war through the words of those who lived it.