The Bladensburg dueling grounds were the scene of at least 26 recorded duels during the nineteenth century. Although the location of these duels was considered part of the Bladensburg area when they were fought, today the dueling grounds lie within the town boundaries of Colmar Manor. This was a favored place for the gentlemen of Washington, including congressmen and military officers, to settle their disputes since it was just beyond the Washington, D.C. line.
The most famous duel to take place at the Bladensburg dueling grounds occurred on March 20, 1820, when two of the highest-ranking officers in the United States Navy faced off against each other: Commodore Stephen Decatur and Commodore James Barron. After harboring ill will toward one another for years, the two commodores chose the dueling grounds as the field of honor for settling their differences once and for all. Both men were struck by their opponent's first shot. Barron, though seriously injured, would recover, but Stephen Decatur, one of America's greatest naval heroes, was mortally wounded and died two days later.