April 1781 Raid
Throughout the American Revolution, pro-British privateers sailed up and down the Potomac, destroying and seizing property in both Maryland and Virginia. During the last week of April and the first two weeks of May 1781, an attacking fleet of pro-British privateers led by the two heavily armed sloops, Trimmer from New York, commanded by Capt. Phillips, and Surprise, were especially destructive. These two ships plus four other armed vessels and several transports and tenders dispersed and struck targets all along the Potomac, Port Tobacco, and Patuxent Rivers from Alexandria around to Lower Marlboro. The objective of these particular raids appears to have been to delay General Lafayette, who was moving his forces down from New York to help tighten the noose around the British at Yorktown, Virginia and reinforce Virginia militia units defending armaments factories in Fredericksburg.
On April 5, two armed schooners attacked targets in the immediate vicinity of Port Tobacco. Daniel Jenifer (likely Daniel Jenifer 1727-1795 living at Coates Retirement) and Thomas Stone, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, both filed accounts detailing raids on Mrs. Young’s Ferry, The Warehouse, and the properties of Walter Hanson, the Reverend Mr. Matthews, G. B. Causin, and George Dent. After creating havoc along the Port Tobacco shoreline, these same ships proceeded to attack properties along Nanjemoy Creek. The privateers clearly failed to delay Lafayette, but they did destroy a considerable amount of property, make off with a large quantity of tobacco, and raise the level of anxiety all along the Port Tobacco River.
This painting shows two alarmed militia men and a field hand who were renting properties amongst the western holdings of Saint Thomas Manor reacting to the two armed schooners moving upriver past Windmill Point toward Port Tobacco. Oil on canvas 36x24 inches