Target of Three-Prong Attack
Leonardtown's Early Years
Carved from a large land grant named New Towne Hundred by an act of Maryland's Early Colonial government to advance commerce, this area had been known by several other names —Sheppard's Old Fields, Seymour Towne, Leonard Town, and finally Leonardtown. It became the county seat in 1708. A more aggressive group of commissioners was formed in 1728; they were responsible for renaming the town and encouraging growth.
During the Revolutionary War, an unarmed militia was stationed here and citizens elected their representatives for the new United States government. Food and supplies for the Continental Army were also stored here.
Over the years, numerous hotels and taverns have lined the town square to serve the needs of residents who came here to conduct official business. From the town wharf, farm goods and tobacco were exported to regional and international markets. Transportation by water — on board a sloop, schooner, or steamship — continued until the end of the 1930s.
"Not a Musquet Being Fired
During the War of 1812, British forces attacked the little town of Leonardtown. On July 19, 1814, and estimated 1,500 British Royal Marines divided into three companies: two of the three groups marched to Leornardtown, arriving in full force just minutes before Admiral Cockburn's barges landed at the Town wharf with the third contingency.
Along the way, private homes were raided. In Leonardtown, the British found the supplies of the 30th Regiment, and 40 stands of arms that had been destroyed. It was reported to British naval command that "Tobacco, Flour, Provisions, and other article likewise found." These were taken by th British "without having sustained accident of any kind" according to Rear Admiral George Cockburn, in his report to Vice Admiral Cockrane, July 24, 1814.
St. Mary's CountyCounty Courthouse
The private residence of Steven Murty, then Thomas Cooper, served as the first courthouse. By 1710, legislation authorized funds for a wooden courthouse.
In 1736, a brick courthouse was built that lasted until a fire destroyed the building and all the county records dating up to 1831. The courthouse you see today was built around 1901 court building. For many years the courthouse served as the county's largest meeting place.
For three centuries, residents have come here to perform the duties of citizenship such as voting, signing official documents, recording financial transactions, and participating in legal challenges.