Leonardtown: Spies, Intriguers and Blockade Runners
History: This old port town teemed with spies, intriguers, and blockade runners. When the white citizens of St. Mary’s County voted here in the 1860 presidential election, John Breckenridge, the secessionist candidate who carried Maryland, got 920 votes. Abraham Lincoln received 9 percent of the popular Maryland vote; the only man known to have voted for him here was ambushed on his way home.
On April 23, 1861, in a public meeting here, citizens declared allegiance to the South and resolved to raise $10,000 for weapons and ammunition.
During the summer of 1861, U.S. naval forces landed here and searched house-to-house. Union troops occupied the courthouse and camped nearby in the Sheep Pen Woods. Locals arrested for suspected disloyalty were imprisoned at Point Lookout. Authorities closed the Beacon and jailed its editor to stem its secessionist commentary.
More to Explore: Saunter along the brick promenade on the Breton Bay waterfront in Leonardtown and enjoy the breeze. Spark your creativity in the Leonardtown Arts and Entertainment District by visiting a gallery or the yarn shop. Grab a bite to eat at one of the local restaurants, a coffee bar or the speakeasy. End a summer evening by catching an outdoor concert in the town square on weekends during the summer months.
1. Leonardtown Wharf – Photo courtesy of the Town of Leonardtown.
2. The Leonardtown Courthouse – Photo courtesy of the Town of Leonardtown.