Sunken ship may contain piece of Bladensburg history

By Daniel Leaderman - Gazette

A piece of Bladensburg history may rise again after lying at the bottom of the Patuxent River for two hundred years.

Over the next two years, archeologists will work near Upper Marlboro to excavate the wreck of a ship believed to be the USS Scorpion, part of an American flotilla that clashed with the British Navy just prior to the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812, to coincide with the war's upcoming bicentennial.

"It represents a time capsule of what a War of 1812 ship would have looked like," said Richard Ervin, an archeologist with the State Highway Administration, which is conducting the excavation in partnership with the Navy and the Maryland Historical Trust.

The excavation of the Scorpion and its connection to the Battle of Bladensburg "will help mark Bladensburg as an important part of American history," said Bladensburg Town Clerk Pat McAuley, who serves on a task force planning the commemoration with other Port Towns residents and officials.

"We're working on making [it] a real draw for visitors."

Uncovering relics like the Scorpion are essential to generating interest in the area and its history, said Sadara Barrow, executive director of the Port Towns Community Development Corp.

The Scorpion was one of 18 ships in a flotilla commanded by Commodore Joshua Barney, which came face-to-face with the British Navy on June 1, 1814.

After the British ships trapped the flotilla in the Patuxent, Barney ordered his men to burn the ships to prevent their capture, Ervin said.

submarine war 1812 river

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