April 23, 2021

Art & Lifestyle:

St. George Is. Opens 1776 Revolutionary War in MD

st george island

When the weather imprisons the Cap’n indoors, he has been known to hunker-down with a couple good historic stories and trace them back. Naturally, most of the Cap’n Jack’s history begins with St. George Island. He writes:

Saint George Island, part of a 3,000-acre grant to the Jesuits in 1639, is St. Mary’s County’s largest island.

During the American revolution British fleets were positioned at St. George Island because it afforded easy access to both Maryland and Virginia.

On July 15, 1776, 10 boatloads of British troops (under command of Lord Dunmore) landed on St. George Island. In defense colonial troops from Calvert, St. Mary’s patriots stationed themselves on the mainland just north of St. George Island and also at Cherryfield Point and Price’s Cove.

In the following month confrontations occurred on and around the island. Due to the resistance he met in St. Mary’s County, [in TheBayNet, recounted by Joseph Norris], Lord Dunmore was convinced that the island offered no haven for a military base or a source of fresh water and other necessities.

On August 9, 1776, the British left St. George Island.

During the war of 1812 the British again used St. George Island as their headquarters. [Here Jason Babcock tells the story in The Enterprise/The Washington Post.]

From St. George Island, the British raided nearby shipyards in plantations. They cut the tall pines on the island, marked them with the Kings Broad Arrow and shipped them to England for ship masts.

When the British abandoned St. George Island, they burned every house and set fires that spread along the west and south sides of the island end to end. After the British departed in 1815, an envoy of five St. Mary’s countians visited St. George Island and estimated that the damages to be to be $2,000.

Until 1851, St. George Island was part of St. Inigoe’s Manor. Prior to this, the island was sparsely settled by tenants of the Jesuit manor and the island was used largely for grazing purposes.

In 1851, the Catholic Church sold St. George Island to Engel Rowell and John H. Robrecht for $10,000. During the following decades land could be bought for $15 per acre. However, by 1894 it had risen to $100 with no choice of location.

By the 1890s, St. George Island had become a popular vacation resort. In 1894, there were four large stores and a large hotel to accommodate hundreds of visitors from Washington, Baltimore, and Alexandria, with the steamer Aerosmith making trips three times a week.

St. George’s was not connected to the mainland until 1921, when the first bridge was erected. Before that there was not even a public ferry to transport travelers back and forth. Left to their own means, some people commuted by horseback, riding across the sand bar if  the tide was low and swimming the horse across during high tide. In fact, the mail from Piney Point to St George Island was carried in a watertight satchel in this fashion.

As the winter approaches and the weather deteriorates, perhaps Cap’n Jack might catch us up on the history since 1921.


It’s Our Bay, Let’s Pass It On.

Till next time,

Cap’n Jack

arster694@gmail.com; 240-434-1385

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One Response to “St. George Is. Opens 1776 Revolutionary War in MD”
  1. Jan Thompson says:

    Just want to say that it was a nice finding you on this site. And I enjoyed your history article very much. I will tell my father (Jim Thompson) about it. I miss our house there, but the memories of the island sustain. Thank you

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