On April 29, 1813, enslaved 20-year old Hetty Boulden reportedly helped save Elkton, MD from being torched by British troops during the War of 1812.
According to local legend, British ships approached to raid Elkton as the area’s militia began to gather. When the British troops arrived at White Hall, the home of Boulden's enslaver, Frisbey Henderson, they were told that they could not reach the town on the water. The British commander then told Boulden to show them how to get there on foot. She was reluctant at the start, but the British promised her riches and freedom if she did as she was asked. Instead of leading them to Elkton, Boulden led the British forces to Cedar Point, directly opposite of the local militia’s Fort Hollingsworth. The British were forced to retreat but threatened to return and burn everything to the ground.
Although there was doubt about how true this story was, public records show the existence of one Hetty in the 1860 U.S. Census, and in her seventies, she recounted her actions in an interview with a reporter from The Cecil Whig. Her obituary also notes the incident.
Read more about research on Hetty Boulden.
Last updated: July 24, 2022