Alan Walden, radio personality and chairman emeritus of Patriots of Fort McHenry
As Marylanders, we take great pride in our rich history, our pioneering spirit. The state that served a pivotal role in the American Revolution, inspired our national anthem and witnessed some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War now offers a beautiful landscape for you to visit storied settings of triumph and tribulation.
Settling on the Chesapeake
While exploring the Chesapeake Bay in 1608, Capt. John Smith wrote, “No place is more convenient for pleasure, profit and man’s sustenance.” Twenty-six years later, 140 hardy souls from England sailed up the bay to arrive at St. Clements Island. Those first settlers couldn’t have picked a nicer spot! Today, the nation’s largest estuary is a haven for boating, fishing and history-seeking. Water taxis will take you to St. Clement’s Island, now a state park, and nearby sits Historic St. Mary’s City, the site that preceded Annapolis as Maryland’s capital and has become an 800-acre outdoor museum.
Follow George Washington’s footsteps through Western Maryland during the French & Indian War, all the way to the State House in Annapolis. Here, he resigned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Forces at the end of the American Revolution. Meanwhile, four signers of the Declaration of Independence hailed from Maryland, and the memory of General William Smallwood is celebrated at a state park in Marbury. It was Smallwood’s brave stand during a 1776 battle that Washington himself described as an act “more precious to American liberty than any other in its history.”
Stars & Stripes Forever
Maryland’s role in the “Second War of Independence,” the War of 1812, is well documented on both shores of the Chesapeake Bay, at more than two dozen locations from Solomons to St. Michaels. Finally, you arrive at Baltimore, which features more sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places than any other city in America. Visit Baltimore’s Fort McHenry to see what inspired Maryland lawyer Francis Scott Key to write the “Star-Spangled Banner” in 1814. Bicentennial activities are already in the works!
By Road, Rail & Canal
As the nation pushed toward new frontiers, Maryland welcomed the beginning of American railroading and construction of the National Road, the first federally planned highway in the United States. Maryland also witnessed the evolution of countless maritime trades. You haven’t experienced the real roots of the state until you’ve taken a mule-drawn barge ride along the C&O Canal, watched watermen toil in the shadow of a bay lighthouse or explored the bay and its many tributaries like a latter-day Capt. John Smith.
War Between the States
Maryland’s Civil War experience is detailed at museums dedicated to such topics as medical advancements, African-American contributions and the state’s divided loyalties. Important stops include the sites of two key battles – Antietam, “The Bloodiest Single Day of the War,” and Monocacy, “The Battle that Saved Washington.” A network of four Civil War driving tours allows you to follow troop movements prior to these battles and during the Gettysburg campaign. You can also visit a bayside prisoner-of-war camp or trace John Wilkes Booth’s escape route after he assassinated President Lincoln.
Maryland Civil War Trails: 1-888-CIVIL-WR (248-4597)www.civilwartraveler.com/maryland Maryland’s African-American Heritage
Star-Spangled Banner Trail Guide