Our country has fought numerous wars over the last three centuries or so.
And generation after generation, the citizens of my home county, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland, which was established in 1706, have shown a willingness to serve.
Despite its distance from the front lines, Queen Anne’s County was a dangerous place during the American Revolution. British ships sailed the Chesapeake Bay, threatening depredation. Citizens organized armed militias. Tories, colonists loyal to the crown, resisted independence, and that faction of the populace agitated anti-patriotic sentiment.
Our Revolutionary record is strong, though. Five of Maryland’s delegates to the Continental Congress were from our county. Local men like Wye Island’s William Paca were leaders in the struggle for self-government. In 1776, county volunteers fought with other Marylanders in the battle of Long Island. Washington Irving wrote about the bravery of those forces in his classic George Washington biography.
The British Army came ashore here in the war of 1812. A couple thousand or more troops erected a battery on Kent Island and made forays onto the mainland. On August 13, 1813, about 300 of them were marching towards the port of Queenstown when they were ambushed by a small company of 20 county militia in what has been known ever since as the Battle of Slippery Hill.
Along the Mason-Dixon Line and beyond, The Civil War made enemies of brothers. Many members of our community remained faithful to the Union, but Southern sympathies ran strong. The pervasive presence of federal troops in the upper Chesapeake and the arrest of prominent dissidents stifled any insurgency that might have brewed among the locals.
County men made up Company K of the United States Army’s 6th Maryland Infantry. They are credited with participation in ten engagements, including those at Appomattox and The Battle of the Wilderness.
My Grandmother’s ancestor’s fought for Company K.
In World War I, a young man from Church Hill named James Arthur Clough was the first from Queen Anne’s County to enlist. Seven county residents were killed in action during The Great War. On the home front, in 1917 Kent Islanders lobbied successfully against a federal government plan to turn their hometown into a testing ground for new ordinance. A site farther up the bay, a place called Aberdeen, was chosen instead.
The Second World War determined the fate of humanity. In civilization’s bleakest hour, the United States and our allies stood against the forces of global oppression. Locals left their little Eastern Shore paradise and fought around the globe. They were attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and stormed Normandy in 1944. They saw combat in major campaigns and innumerable clashes, at sea, on the land, and in the air.
Our county suffered the loss of 38 young lives in WWII. Hundreds more risked everything for freedom’s cause.
The first of five soldiers from Queen Anne’s to die in the Korean War was my wife’s uncle, Queenstown’s 17-year old James Lister. Queenstown was also the home of Silver Star honoree George Aldrich, a volunteer, who in the first six months, twice risked his life in combat to assist fellow soldiers.
In 1953, the last year of the Korean conflict, Centreville’s Pfc. Sylvester Wheeler made national headlines when he and four other GI’s were trapped in their tank for 36 hours while the enemy threw grenades and dropped ordinance trying to extract them.
The Viet Nam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C is a stirring monument built to honor Americans killed or missing in that war. There are 58,286 names inscribed on a wall of black granite. Four are from Queen Anne’s County.
Those names are Robert Wilson Brown, Jr., Fred Horatio Gates II, Howard Alvin Wright, Jr., and Robert D. Yorker.
Many more served.
The long build-up to 1991’s Gulf War culminated in a relatively short fight and our service people were honored profusely for their effort in that swift victory. A county seat Fourth of July parade included fifteen returning veterans.
Our current wars, both traditional and otherwise?
History will determine their impact on our community.
Random facts can pay little tribute to all the men and women from Queen Anne’s County, from Maryland, from around our country, who have risked their lives in America’s military service over the years.
All that random facts can do is remind us that heroes have walked among us.
My cousin Kenny Kerchner