Map of the Chesapeake Bay with Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail regions hightlighted.

Every region near the Chesapeake Bay was affected in some way by the War of 1812. The British occupied the Bay through most of the war, using its tidal waterways to access towns all along the coasts.

After declaring a blockade on the Bay in 1812, the British established a base on Tangier Island and raided waterfront towns at will, burning homes, storehouses, ships, and farms. They targeted towns in Southern Maryland along the Patuxent and Potomac; ravaged properties in the upper Bay and on the Eastern Shore; raided villages and plantations along the James, Rappahannock, and other Virginia rivers; and invaded the US capital city.

The British used the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers to disrupt trade and commerce, draw American troops away from the US-Canadian border, and bring the war home to the American people. Consequently the Chesapeake Bay region became a major theater in the War of 1812.

Remnants of the War of 1812 can be seen in every region of the Chesapeake. Learn more about how the war played out in different regions thoughout the Bay below.


Last updated: November 18, 2020

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