The mural scene depicts various time periods in Leonardtown's history.In general, the left side of the painting presents an older time period,around the turn of the century. As you move to the right, the chronologyadvances to a point in the mid 1950s. However, the time frame dropsback to the 1860s where you see the sepia-toned vignette in whichCongressman Benjamin Gwinn Harris is being arrested on April 26, 1865,on the porch of the Fenwick Hotel, for his opposition to the Civil War.
Though Congressman Harris was arrested after the Civil War was over,he was, nonetheless, charged with war crimes for giving a small amountof money to two freed Confederate prisoners making their way from thePoint Lookout prison camp to Baltimore. In fact, the prisoners had beendetained by Union officers and ordered to seek lodging from thecongressman. Harris was suspicious and instead of taking the men intohis home at Ellenborough, just outside of Town, he gave them each adollar and suggested they seek food and lodging at the hotel.
The soldiers reported this to the Union officers who had CongressmanHarris brought from his home into Town for the reading of the charges.
He was immediately transferred to a boat waiting in Breton Bay andtaken to Washington, D.C. for incarceration. He was convicted of warcrimes by a military tribunal, even though he was a civilian and the warwas over when the alleged crime occurred.He was also removed from his seat in the House of Representativesand thrown in jail.
Leonardtown lawyer John A. Camalier pleaded the case of Cong. Harristo President Andrew Johnson who agreed that Harris had been treatedunfairly. He gave Camalier a pardon for Mr. Harris and told the attorneyto invite Cong. Harris to the White House for dinner that night.
The unrepentant Harris refused the dinner invitation in the strongestterms. He returned to Leonardtown and was sent back to Congressat the next election.