Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
Residents along the Patuxent watched nervously as wave after wave of British warships approached the tiny town of Benedict. For months enemy raiders had terrorized Southern Maryland. Benedict felt their sting twice in June 1814. Now, August 19-20, more than 50 British vessels discharged 4,500 soldiers (outnumbering the entire white male population of Charles County).
The British had something big in mind. From Benedict, they could reach Washington, Annapolis, and Baltimore. Americans, unsure of the target, had to position their meager forces to defend these possibilities. The British departed Benedict eight days later, after a victorious battle at Bladensburg and a destructive occupation of the Nation's Capital.
[text with images on right] "I feel no hesitation in stating...that I consider the town of Benedict in Patuxent to offer us advantages...beyond any other spot within the United States..."
- British Rear Admiral George Cockburn, July 17, 1814.
James Madison (who served as secretary of state and secretary of war, and later as U.S. president) scouted the approaching British fleet from a rise above Benedict.
Major General Robert Ross commanded the British army gathering at Benedict.
Nearby places to learn more about the War of 1812:Nottingham
- A base for the U.S. Chesapeake Flotilla and later a British encampment; interpretive signageSotterley Plantation
- Restored 18th-century plantation and slave quaters; period gardens; a mustering site for militia during the warKing's Landing Park
- Boat access; interpretation of 1814 British raids along the Patuxent River
O! say can you see..."
The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail traces the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake. Along the trail you'll encounter tangible evidence of the war and stories that bring the people and events to life. Discover the far-reaching impacts of the war on this county and the world.
War in the Chesapeake
During the War of 1812 the young United States was embroiled in conflict with Great Britain. From 1812 to 1815 Americans fought to protect their rights and economic independence. They faced superior enemy forces on the homefront and the high seas.
The stategically important Chesapeake Bay region felt the brunt of the war, choked by shipping blockades and ravaged by enemy raids. The events in this region were crucial to the outcome of the war.
Though there was no clear victor at the end of the war, the United States protected its democracy and emerged with heightened stature on the world stage.