Sunday, April 13, 2008

June 1864 in Port Tobacco

We've begun stepping up our research on the Civil War history of Port Tobacco in response to our Preserve America grant award of last week. On Tuesday, Scott will be providing some insights into Atzerodt and his mysterious Mrs. Wheeler. For today I will provide a brief account of some related Confederate activites in Port Tobacco.

Walter Bowie (born 1838) was a lawyer in Upper Marlboro, Maryland when the Civil War broke out. He soon left for Richmond and became a Confederate Spy. He was arrested several times but his prominent family name secured him release at least once. On another occassion he fought his way free.

In 1864, Bowie came up with a plan to kidnap the govenor of Maryland, Augustus Bradford, for ransom. Upon arriving in Annapolis for the kidnapping, he discovered that the govenor was too well protected for his plan to succeed.(This story should be sounding a lot like the John Wilkes Booth story by now.)

Where Port Tobacco fits in this story is that it Bowie came into Port Tobacco on his way to Annapolis. There, in June 1864, he found the 8th Illinois Calvary stationed in the courthouse. Bowie and some of his men spent an evening drinking in the Brawner Hotel. At midnight, they walked over to the nearby courthouse and stole the Calvary's horses.

When this event occurred, George Atzerodt and Mrs. Wheeler were probably sleeping in a house not too far away from the courthouse and the Brawner hotel. Maybe this event provided added inpiration for Atzerodt and his group. Maybe Atzerodt was actually involved.

To be continued....



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