Queenstown on the Chester River: August 13, 1813

Just before dawn on August 12, 1813, four miles east of Kent Narrows, Queens Annes County, Major William Nicholson (1770-1815) commander of the 38th Md. Regiment established his headquarters and encamped on Bowlingly estate (1733), Queenstown Creek overlooking the Chester River. Major Nicholson informed his superior Lt. Colonel Thos. Wright of the situation he and his command found themselves:

“I had strong reasons to believe the [British] could [bring forth] a land force of 3000 men, and of course all the barges and men belonging to the shipping by water. In this position I could not but be sensible of the extreme danger of my situation, and felt that there was but little for me to do, but use great caution and vigilance.”

On Friday, August 13. Major Nicholson received news that 300 Royal Marines and Royal Artillery armed with Congreve rockets were advancing east along the Kent Island Road (Rt. 18). By 3:15 a.m. his 244 militia assembled and finding “the enemy was advancing in such force, as to make it impossible that [he] could oppose them.” Two miles west of Queenstown, his advanced guard of twenty militia stood between Queenstown and the advancing British. Soon, musket volley’s commenced, leaving Nicholson no hope that not an individual of the twenty militia remained alive, having faced such odds. However, the militia withstood, if only briefly, a force of 300 Royal Marines. And so it continued, a steady retreat, fire, retreat, fire, and retreat again, in an orderly fashion as the British steadily advanced. The twenty militia fell back to Maj.Nicholson’s main lines – the British now 400 yards away and advancing. A thankful Nicholson wrote “…If anything I could say, would add to the reputation of those [twenty] gentlemen, how freely would I say it.”

By 4 a.m. With the British pressing forward, Major Nicholson received a report from behind his lines, relating that a large British naval force in barges were entering Queenstown Creek behind his position. The British confronting Major Nicholson in front were a company of Royal Marine Artillery, the 102nd Regiment Foot and two battalions of Royal Marines.

Finding himself in a precarious situation with overwhelming forces advancing both in front by land and behind by water, tightening the noose around him, Major Nicholson judiciously pulled back through Queenstown towards Centreville six miles distant, while the British occupied Queenstown before returning to their barges, and by land to Kent Island.

Among the militia who fought at Queenstown was Private William Grason of Wye River Farm who later entered state politics served as Governor of Maryland (1839-1842). The skirmish at Queenstown was Queen Anne’s County only conflict during the war.

Source: Major William Nicholson to Lt. Colonel Thomas Wright, August 16, 1813. Easton Republican Star, August 24, 1813.

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Published in: on March 30, 2011 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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