Maryland Republican, June 18, 1814
— Second Battle of St. Leonard Creek —
As dawn approached on June 26th, 1814, the United States Chesapeake Flotilla and American shore batteries launched a poorly-coordinated attack against the British.
Under the cover of darkness, U.S. Army and Marine units, aided by 20 flotillamen, had secretly erected two 18-pounders and three 12-pounders on the hill overlooking the mouth of St. Leonard Creek. When these cannons opened fire, the surprised British could not immediately respond, as their ships were anchored with their guns aimed up the creek. After the Royal Navy was repositioned, Commodore Joshua Barney and the Flotilla attacked, further confusing the British. A contingent of British Royal Marines was sent by barge up the Patuxent to attack the American right flank. This threat caused many of the American infantry to flee. With the Flotilla now taking the brunt of the attack, Barney began to retreat up the creek. At the same time, the British withdrew into the Patuxent to repair their damaged ships.
Surprised by the turn of events, the Flotilla was able to flee from St. Leonard Creek and escape up the Patuxent River. In the following weeks, the British regrouped and again pursued the Flotilla up the Patuxent.
On August 22nd, near where Route 4 crosses the river, the British were astonished to see the United States Chesapeake Flotilla explode and sink. Under orders from the Secretary of the Navy, the Flotilla was scuttled to keep it out of the hands of the British.
Marching on the Capital-What happened next?
In the sweltering heat of August, British forces landed at Benedict and marched toward Washington, D.C. They defeated the Americans at Bladensburg, and arrived at the capital to find the Washington Navy Yard on fire; the American Navy had destroyed most of what could not be moved. President Madison, members of Congress, and many citizens fled from the city. The British burned the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and other significant government buildings, but they only attacked private residences when they were used as resistance points. By late August, the British returned to Benedict, where they boarded ships bound for Baltimore.
(Inscription under the images at the bottom-(Left to Right) American Gunboat 50'; American Gun Barge 75'; American Block Sloop 88'; British Rocket Boat 34'; British Barge 43'; British Schooner 88'; British Frigate 141'; Redrawn from original illustrations by Calvert Marine Museum for all boats, except the British Rocket Boat which is redrawn from an original illustration by Carl E. Franklin.
Funding provided to the Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Inc. by the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, National Park Service