QUEENSTOWN — With dozens of people in attendance, including re-enactors in uniform and state and local politicians, historian Mary Margaret Revell Goodwin presided over the dedication of a memorial park on Saturday, Aug. 3, commemorating the actions of Queen Anne’s County during the War of 1812.
Constructed at the corner of Nesbit Road and state Route 18, the memorial marks the Battle of Slippery Hill, when 20 state militia repelled the advance of nearly 300 British soldiers who marched from their encampment on Kent Island with intentions to capture Queenstown and Centreville. The dedication was the highlight of a lively red, white and blue weekend that featured three similar events around the county in celebration of the war’s bicentennial.
“I’m pleased with the way it turned out,” said a relieved Goodwin, who said she dedicated the past three years of her life to researching, designing and constructing the memorial park, as well numerous other War of 1812-related signs that are being dedicated around the county. “I am just beyond happy.”
The ceremony featured the unveiling of a six-foot-high stone monument with a plaque honoring the 20 militia men involved in the skirmish at Slippery Hill. Surrounding the stone are seven signs that detail the events behind the battle, as well as an alphabetical list of the 1,840 men who served in the Queen Anne’s County militia in the War of 1812. Both the American and British flags fly above the stone memorial.
When finished, the park will feature memorial bricks placed at the foot of the monument with the names of contributors on them. The bricks will be bordered on three sides by red, white and blue concrete pads.
“I think what attracted me to helping Mary Margaret was telling the story of our county,” said Eric Hoffman of the Queen Anne’s County Historical Society and Holiday Express.
Hoffman aided Goodwin throughout the project. He was present at the commemoration.“It’s always great to honor the people in your county and the 20 guys on the plaque on the stone were the heart of the project and then, through her research, it expanded for basically everyone in the county, which is even better.”
Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Phil Dumenil and Bob Simmons attended the event, as well as Del. Steve Hershey, R-36-Queen Anne’s, and representatives from the towns of Centreville and Queenstown.
“It’s a very fitting memorial,” said Hershey, who gave a short speech during the ceremony. “It’s a very meaningful stone, and as Mary Margaret said, it (symbolizes) the strength of the 20 individuals that were here and fought on Slippery Hill.”
The ceremony is part of the state’s initial efforts to celebrate the War of 1812, which took place in Maryland between the years 1813 and 1814. While the British invaded Queen Anne’s County in 1813, it wasn’t until 1814 that the British were defeated in the Battle of Baltimore and “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key.
“With so much of this just getting started (around the state) ... I think this was a great start, and I think from what I’m hearing, a lot of other counties are just doing things that are for a weekend where we are very fortunate here to having something that will last a lifetime. I think it’s very fitting for what went on at this location,” Hershey said.
“I was amazingly impressed by the caliber and thoroughness of the whole presentation,” said Simmons, who called the park a great memory for the war and those that fought and suffered during that period.
Commissioner Phil Dumenil, a Grasonville resident, said he saw the evolution of the project from the ground up, when he passed by the site every day on his way home from work in Centreville. He noted seeing the memorial at its humble beginnings and later, being present at the intersection when the stone monument was placed in the ground.
“(The memorial allows us) to appreciate history and understand the sacrifices that truly were made by people,” said Dumenil. “When Mary Margret said close your eyes and imagine what it was like to be one of those 20 men hiding in the cornfield and shooting and then running to another road and setting their guns and shooting, it makes you think about how different things are today for us and how we don’t have these kinds of battles and wars in our own country. We can’t really appreciate fighting for our own freedom, our land, our homes and the safety of our families. This is what those guys were doing.
“This is as close as we can get to appreciating and memorializing what they did and their efforts, and to have it right here for years and years to come is a big, big deal,” Dumenil added. “We can’t thank Mary Margaret enough for her tireless hours and her relentlessness in making sure that their story is told accurately and remembered for years to come.”
The park’s dedication followed a presentation at the Broad Creek Historical Cemetery in Chester on Friday, Aug. 2, when a ceremony was held to commemorate the British coming ashore on Kent Island. On Saturday evening, members of the community gathered near the intersection of Blue Bay Farm and Route 8 in Stevensville where a sign will be placed denoting where the British established their headquarters across the Chesapeake Bay from Annapolis.
On Sunday, Aug. 4, ceremonies were held at the Queen Anne’s County Courthouse in Centreville, to tell the story of the clerks of the court during the war, and at the Centreville Warf, to celebrate the town’s defense of the Corsica River and Centreville from British bombardment.
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