Kitty Knight

Illustration of a woman talking to a British solider while fires burn in the distance.
While Fredericktown and Georgetown burned around her during a British raid on May 6, 1813, local resident Kitty Knight is said to have talked Admiral Cockburn out of burning her rented house, and next door neighbors’ house. Both houses still stand today as an inn. ©Gerry Embleton

Catharine "Kitty" Knight, according to local legend, helped save two private homes in Georgetown, Maryland, from British destruction.

On May 6, 1813--from opposite sides of the Sassafras River-- local militia fired at British raiders advancing toward the towns of Fredericktown and Georgetown. The militia fought only briefly before retreating, but the towns paid dearly. The British reduced much of Fredericktown to ashes; then crossed to Georgetown, setting much of it aflame as well.

Knight is said to have confronted British forces led by Rear Admiral George Cockburn. Most able-bodied men from the town had that morning manned Fort Duffy and earthworks at Pearce Point, but they ran away when attacked by the British, leaving mostly older men, women, and children.

Knight reportedly pleaded with Cockburn to spare her home and the neighboring house of an elderly woman from burning. Legend says that Knight “stamped the flames out twice” before she was able to successfully persuade the British to spare them.

In 1836, Kitty Knight bought the home she had been renting and lived there until her death in 1855. Her obituary is the first written documentation of her heroism during the raid of Georgetown. She is buried at the Old Bohemia churchyard of St. Francis Xavier Shrine in Cecil County.

Last updated: November 22, 2021

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