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Bladensburg Sites

Bladensburg Dueling Grounds

The American second line in the Battle of Bladensburg was near this location although most of the battle occurred on the north side of present day Bladensburg Road.

Nearly fifty duels were fought at the Bladensburg dueling grounds between 1808 and 1871. Located just beyond the District of Columbia line, it was a convenient place for the gentlemen of Washington to settle their quarrels, beyond the reach of federal law.

Among the men to duel and die here was the naval hero Stephen Decatur, killed on March 22, 1820 by Captain James Barron. Thirteen years earlier, Captain Barron had been courtmartialed and suspended from the U.S. Navy for five years for his part in the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair. When he sought reinstatement in the U.S. Navy in 1818, Stephen Decatur, the nation’s greatest naval hero of the War of 1812, opposed Barron’s reappointment. Rancorous letters were exchanged between them for years until matters escalated and a duel was challenged. The two men met at the Bladensburg Dueling Grounds where both men were shot. Stephen Decatur died the next day. Captain Barron was reinstated in the Navy and died in 1851, at the age of 83.

Typical for the day were mentions in local newspapers. The Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser, characterised once such duel between two men of Col. Henry Carberry’s Regiment as:

“A Duel. – We understand that a duel was fought Saturday last (March 12, 1814), near Bladensburg, between lieut. Hall and lieut. Hopkins…At the second fire, lieut. Hopkins received the ball from his antagonist’s pistol, in the breast, and expired immediately.”

Bostwick

Bostwick was built in 1746 for Christopher Lowndes, a Bladensburg merchant and Town Commissioner, and was later the home of Lowndes' son-in-law, Benjamin Stoddert, first Secretary of the Navy. Probably the oldest surviving building in Bladensburg, Bostwick stands high on a terraced lawn, and is a prominent landmark in the town. In 1814, Bostwick was the home of British prisoner of war agent Col. Thomas Barclay. General Robert Ross wrote to Henry Bathurst on August 30, 1814,

“I have recommended the wounded Officers and men to his particular attention and trust to his being able to effect their Exchange when sufficiently recovered.”

Carleton Mill Site

Carleton Mill was owned by William Dudley Digges in 1814 although it was long known by the name of a later owner, Henry L. Carleton, who purchased it in 1857. The grounds of the mill were probably used by the British as a field hospital after the battle.

Fort Lincoln Cemetery

Fort Lincoln Cemetery encompasses the site of the right flank of the American third line during the Battle of Bladensburg. The Georgetown Artillery, under the command of Major George Peter, was located on the north side of Bladensburg Road, while Commodore Joshua Barney and 400 or so of his flotillamen accompanied by Captain Samuel Miller and his 114 marines formed the center line near Bladensburg Road. These men formed the only effective line of defense against the British during the Battle. L. Minear, former owner of Fort Lincoln Cemetery, erected a marker in honor of Commodore Barney on the grounds.

Market Master’s House

Built by Christopher Lowndes of Bostwick around 1765 on a lot overlooking the adjoining market space, the Market Master’s House is a unique example of a stone building in the area. It was used for a time as a post office and store and is one of four surviving pre-Revolutionary buildings in Bladensburg.

Ross House Site

The Ross House was built around 1749 and in 1814, was the home of Dr. David Ross. Jr. After the Battle of Bladensburg it served as a hospital for both American and British wounded. It is believed Commodore Joshua Barney was treated at the Ross House after initial attention at the Spring House at Ft. Lincoln Cemetery. At least 18 wounded British were treated here including Lt. Col. William Wood and Col. William Thornton, Jr.

The George Washington House

The George Washington House was once an inn along a major north-south turnpike route between Washington and Annapolis. It was reportedly a stopover for George Washington when travelling between his Mount Vernon home and Philadelphia or New York. During the War of 1812, the British established their artillery position which consisted of one 6-pounder and two, small 3-pounder cannons.

The Magruder House

Built for William Hilleary and visited by George Washington in 1787, the Magruder House is one of four surviving pre-Revolutionary buildings in Bladensburg. It has been owned or rented by a series of five doctors, including Dr. Archibald Magruder. The house is located directly on the main road through Bladensburg, and during the War, the British marched past the house on their way to the engagement at the Bladensburg bridge.