The Chesapeake

August 2009


"It is so known through the length and breadth of its watershed. The Bay. There is no possible confusion with any other body of water, no need for more precise description. It is, after all, the continent’s largest estuary. Its waters are rich, the main supply of oysters, crabs, clams and other seafoods for much of the Atlantic seaboard. Its shorelines cradled our first settlements. It is the Chesapeake.” 

    William Warner, Beautiful Swimmers: Waterman, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay

We spent a week discovering the rich natural beauty and storied history of this unique region of America. We walked the route of the Baltimore Riot and learned of the first casualties of the Civil War; from Ford's Theater we traced the escape route of assassin John Wilkes Booth to the site where he was shot and killed;  and we spent a day with local historians following Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad network through the Eastern Shore.  We enjoyed a sunset sail aboard a "skipjack" with wine and cheese as a marine biologist explained current efforts to restore the health of this complex ecosystem. We explored the quaint waterfront villages of St. Michaels, Oxford and Ewell on Smith Island; we traveled to Point Lookout to see the site of the largest Union prisoner of war camp, and we sampled a lot of delicious Maryland blue crab along the way!


August 20, Thursday        

Gather in Baltimore and meet fellow travelers and staff at tonight's welcome dinner.      

   Overnight Homewood Suites by Hilton, Baltimore's Harbor  (R,D)

August 21, Friday                 Ft. McHenry – Federal Hill

Today, we'll explore downtown Baltimore.  At Fort McHenry we'll learn about the Battle of Baltimore, September 13-14, 1814.  Francis Scott Key was inspired to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” after witnessing the fierce bombardment of the Fort.  We'll tour the USS Constellation docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Built in 1854, this is the last all-sail warship built by the US Navy and the only Civil War-era naval vessel still afloat.

A week after the fall of Fort Sumter, a clash between pro-South civilians and soldiers of the 6th Massachusetts resulted in the first bloodshed of the Civil War.  We'll trace the action of the Baltimore Riot of April 19, 1861 on the streets of Baltimore ending at the President Street Railroad Station.  Continue to Federal Hill overlooking Baltimore Harbor.  One night following the riot, union troops occupied the Hill (against orders from Washington) with artillery to ensure the City's allegiance to the Union.  

O/N Homewood Suites by Hilton, Baltimore   (B,L)

August 22, Saturday                         Booth’s Escape Route

Today, we'll drive to Washington, D.C. where we'll see the newly- restored "Star-Spangled Banner" at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History.  Then at Ford's Theater, Ed will relate the events of the Lincoln Assassination.  We'll trace Booth's route of escape from the Theater to the Surratt House, on to Dr. Mudd's home, and finally to the site of the Garrett's barn in eastern Virginia where Union sharpshooters shot the cornered Booth.

O/N Holiday Inn Express, Dahlgren, VA (B,L)

August 23, Sunday                            Stratford Hall – St. Mary's City

This morning, we'll visit two landmarks in Virginia's historic "Northern Neck;" the birthplace of George Washington and beautiful Stratford Hall, where Robert E. Lee was born in 1807.   We'll continue to St. Mary's City, Maryland's first colonial capital.  This National Historic Landmark is recognized as one of America's best-preserved colonial archaeology sites.  We'll meet re-enactors on a tour of this 800-acre living history museum situated where the Potomac River flows into the Chesapeake Bay.      

                                                                                         O/N Hampton Inn, Lexington Park (B,L,D)

August 24, Monday                          St. Michaels – Easton - Cambridge

This morning, we'll drive to Maryland's Eastern Shore to explore the charming waterfront towns of St. Michaels, Easton and Cambridge. St. Michaels was dubbed “The Town that fooled the British” during the War of 1812 when citizens hung lanterns in tops of trees causing the British guns to overshoot their target.  We'll visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum  that tells the stories of the Bay and the people who have lived, worked, and played here.  We'll take a cruise on a skipjack (the Chesapeake sailboat developed for oyster dredging), and learn about the health of the Bay and its famous blue crab.            

  O/N Holiday Inn Express, Cambridge  (B,L,D)


August 25, Tuesday                          Cambridge  - Smith Island

Join a local historian for a tour of Cambridge, one of Maryland's oldest and loveliest towns.  We'll learn about the town's connections with Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad and we'll see the beautiful homes built for some of the towns' distinguished former residents which included four Maryland governors and sharp-shooter Annie Oakley.

Drive to Crisfield where we'll board a ship and cruise to Smith Island, Maryland's only inhabited off-shore island in the Chesapeake Bay.  First mapped by Captain John Smith in 1608, the island was named for Henry Smith of Jamestown, who was granted 1,000 acres there in 1679.  We'll have lunch and sample the famous Smith Island 10-layer cake that was named the official dessert of the state of Maryland in 2008.  

  O/N Holiday Inn Express, Cambridge  (B)

August 26, Wednesday           Annapolis - U.S. Naval Academy

This morning, we'll drive to Annapolis. We'll tour the U.S. Naval Academy where we'll learn about "Life on the Yard," and we'll see the Noon Meal Formation as the Brigade forms for uniform inspection before lunch.  Following our own lunch, we'll tour the Maryland State House.  Built in 1772, it is the oldest state capitol building in the United States still in legislative use.  George Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on December 23rd, 1783 in the Old Senate Chamber.          

   O/N Baltimore  (B,L,D)

August 27,  Thursday

Individual departures from Baltimore. (B)


* Historian: Ed Bearss

* Tour Manager: Marty Gane

* 7 nights hotel accommodations nights

* 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 4 dinners and one wine/beer welcome reception

* all taxes, baggage handling and gratuities; pre-trip notes, reading list and map book



Drum Point Lighthouse
Fort McHenry
Stratford Hall
Blue Crabs