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Naval History in the War of 1812

During the period of ongoing conflict between the British and French in the 1790s and early 1800s, American sailors were captured and impressed into the Royal Navy. This forcible and unlawful conscription of young American men into a foreign war led to the U.S. Congress’ declaration of war against the British in June of 1812. The British retaliated by attacking the major coastal cities of Washington, Baltimore, and New Orleans, and were met at each by the American Navy, Army and militia forces. Throughout the War of 1812, the American Navy was instrumental in pushing back the significantly larger British forces, leading to defeats of the Empire on the high seas and in land battles from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. The Navy and Marines took part in actions with the Army to secure victory at Lake Erie by penetrating the British line in multiple attacks. The naval forces in Virginia slowed down the British advancement on New Orleans long enough for the American civilians in that city to complete their defenses and defeat the attackers. Recognizing how critical the Navy’s role was in staving off the British, the Congress voted to expand the Navy shortly after the Treaty of Ghent, signed in 1814, ended the war.



The Rodgers Family

History comes to life in the Rodgers Family exhibit, not just because of the pictures capturing the faces of the first family to settle in the Susquehanna Lower Ferry, but for the tangible evidence that is still present today here in Havre de Grace. Colonel John Rodgers and his wife Elizabeth immigrated to the United States from Scotland and made a living by running a tavern across the river in Perryville. The family also managed the ferry that connected to Post Road, which was the most traveled road connecting Philadelphia to Baltimore, today known as Route 7. 

The Rodgers family left behind a legacy of naval heroes, who fought in wars such as the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and more recently, World War II. Many of the descendants came to attain high statuses such as Commodore and Captain, protecting this country in wars with the British, French, Germans, and many other countries and conflicts throughout the years.

Take a step back in time and see how the Rodgers family has left their footprint in history. 



Past Exhibits


Oyster Cannon from the Oyster Wars

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partnered with the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum to exhibit this historic cannon until September 2013. A relic of the Oyster Police of the 1800s, the cannon was used to protect the Chesapeake Bay’s oysters during the “oyster wars” of the 19th century.

The cannon was acquired by Hunter Davidson, the first Commander of the State Oyster Police Force, in 1868. It was installed on the original steam-powered patrol boat of Maryland’s “Oyster Navy," the Leila. In 1884, this ship was replaced by the Governor R. M. McLane, which fought many spectacular battles against oyster pirates. The McLane was equipped with a 12-pound Dahlgren boat howitzer in 1888. While accounts are not definitive, authorities believe that this gun may have been the original cannon from the Leila.

DNR obtained the cannon in December 2010 from the American Legion Post 116, which owned it since the1950s. The Legion regularly loaned it to a group of Civil War re-enactors who took part in North-South Skirmish Association competitions. The Cannon has been on display at the Delmarva Discovery Center in Worcester County, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, the Calvert Marine Museum, the Annapolis Maritime Museum, and was part of larger exhibits at events across the State.

“This cannon signifies our State’s commitment to protecting our valuable natural resources,” said then DNR Secretary John Griffin at the time the cannon was acquired from the Legion. “We are honored to make this piece of Maryland history available for all to enjoy."


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