Dr. Ralph Eshelman, one of the authors of a newly published Johns Hopkins University title, the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake, was the guest speaker for the annual Historical Society of Cecil County meeting on October 18th. The War of 1812 scholar spent years investigating sites connected with the conflict in Maryland, including Cecil County sites.
In a lively and engaging talk, the distinguished historian shared his findings about the history of the War of 1812 in Cecil County with the 80 members attending the annual event At the Chesapeake Inn. No theater of war suffered more than the Chesapeake Bay region, where 11 battles, 63 skirmishes, and 86 raids took place, he remarked. Several of those incidents took place right here in Cecil County. “Elkton and St. Michaels share the distinction of turning the British back twice.” He highlighted some of the history we don’t recognize here in the county as he continued, while also swiftly dispatching a few our cherished myths.
Dr. Eshelman was the director of the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland from 1974 to 1990. In 1974 he received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. The widely published maritime and military history lecturer was also a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. In addition he served as a consulting historian on the War of 1812 on the Chesapeake for the Maryland Historical Trust and the National Park Service.
Authored by the regions foremost scholars on the war, Dr. Eshelman, Scott S. Sheads, National Park Service Historian, and Professor Donald D. Hickey, this title will serve as the definitive work on the war in the Chesapeake region, including Cecil County. The research in this encyclopedia title surpasses any body of material brought together on this matter and it is supported by primary documents including diaries, journals, and newspaper articles. The Society has added this well researched title to our library for it’ll get lots of use as planning continues for the celebration and it gives us a comprehensive volume of verified facts. Page after page is loaded with facts about incidents in Cecil and Harford counties, as well as throughout the state.
While this title is going to earn its keep in the library, there are a number of other works that are helpful too. But one additional manuscript is in the works. Authored by Ron Turner, it specifically deals with the War of 1812 on the Upper Chesapeake. Ron, a professional writer and journalist, wrote the draft a few years ago for the Roundtable and we’ve had an opportunity glance at this fine piece which focuses on Harford and Cecil. It is our understanding that this local title will be published and available to the public as a detailed local source of information, as the celebration nears.