On October 20, 2016, over forty SAR and DAR members and guests attended a guided tour to Smith Island and the site of the famous Revolutionary War Battle of the Barges (also known as the Battle of Kedges Straits). The tour was arranged and sponsored by the Captain John Smoot Chapter of the Maryland State Society, Sons of the American Revolution. Joining the tour and providing an informative discussion of recent research done at the battle site was the Assistant State Underwater Archeologist for the Maryland Historical Trust, Troy Nowak.
After departing from the Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Maryland, on board the charter boat, Barbara Ann III, the group braved the foggy morning waters of the Tangier Sound and journeyed the approximately 12 miles that separates Smith Island from the mainland. Along the way, Compatriot and tour organizer, Mark Tyler, provided narration of the events leading up to the engagement.
Today, the general vicinity of the battle site is marked by the Solomon's Lump lighthouse in Kedges Straits, which sits atop a caisson in the middle of the straits. Local Smith Islander's still tell the folktale that Solomon ("Uncle Sol") Evans (1760-1852), for whom Solomon's Lump is named, always claimed that he watched the Battle of the Barges from atop a tree in his yard located near the northern tip of Smith Island.
Upon arriving at the lighthouse, the SAR tour attendees participated in a brief memorial service to honor those patriots who fought and died in Kedges Straits. Participating in the laying of wreaths and flowers over the water were members of chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution from across Maryland and Virginia.
After the memorial service, the tour proceeded to the town of Ewell on Smith Island where the group was treated to a presentation by Troy Nowak of the Maryland Historical Trust. Mr. Nowak discussed how the Trust conducted an extensive archeological survey of Kedges Straits during 2011 in order to ascertain if any physical evidence of the battle has survived. Because none of the ships in this battle sank, the survey team attempted to locate any evidence of objects (potentially edged weapons, firearms, cannon balls, etc.) that fell to the bottom during the battle. Using magnetometer and side scan sonar systems, the survey of the site indicated at least one location that could contain archeological objects from the battle. Further underwater exploration, involving diving archeologists, would have to be done to identify specific objects and potentially retrieve them for study and public display.
After a delicious Smith Island seafood luncheon, the tour group had time to tour the exhibits of the Smith Island Cultural Center, which included a recently conserved cannon ball recovered on the Island that is believed to be from the War of 1812. The group then returned to Crisfield after a return cruise. The weather, company and learning made for a truly remarkable experience and was enjoyed by everyone. For at least that one day, the members of the tour group were able to connect with our patriot ancestors in a very special, experiential way that they are not likely to forget.
An article about the above event was written by Compatriot Mark Tyler. This excellent article appeared in the Crisfield County Times.
On October 22, 2016, Second Vice President James A. Adkins, President Ray Jackson and Secretary Mike Irish attended the MDSSAR Semi-Annual meeting in historic Chestertown, Maryland.
As the closing of the George and Stella Knight Essay Contest is approaching, President Jackson will ascertain if any entries were sent via mail. A special thanks to all officers and members of the Captain John Smoot Chapter for your support during 2016. We look forward to your continued support in 2017.
Raymond L. Jackson, President