As part of the annual Christmas in St. Michaels festivities, the Chesapeake Independent Blues and the Fort McHenry Guard will return to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum this December to re-create the early 19th century tradition of firing guns to celebrate the Christmas season. The event is free for CBMM members or with general museum admission.
Hosted by interpretive volunteers from the Fort McHenry Guard and Chesapeake Independent Blues, the program will be held on Saturday, Dec. 11, from noon–12:30pm along CBMM’s Miles River waterfront. As part of the program, volunteers in authentic uniforms of the Maryland Militia during the War of 1812 will demonstrate the loading and firing of reproduction muskets.
“The traditions of celebrating Christmas, and the firing of guns, had been brought to the Americas by Swiss, Scandinavian, and German-speaking immigrants during the 18th and 19th centuries,” said Mark Dubin, a founding member of the Chesapeake Independent Blues. “It is probable that the militia of St. Michaels would have fired the Town’s artillery for notable occasions such as the 4th of July, New Year’s Day, and Christmas, beginning as early as 1814.”
The Chesapeake Independent Blues was formed in 2012 as part of a State of Maryland grant matched by public funds from the Eastern Shore counties of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s to create a living history representation of the Maryland citizen-soldiers who served during the War of 1812. A member of Maryland’s non-profit Friends of Maryland’s War of 1812 organization, the CIB focuses on public education, and refers to its volunteer members as interpreters, rather than re-enactors.
The Fort McHenry Guard is a historical organization sponsored by the National Park Service and The Patriots of Fort McHenry. The Guard is composed of specially recruited “Volunteers in Parks” who provide visitors with a touchstone to the past.
In additional to the historical re-enactment, the public is also invited to get in the holiday spirit by stopping by the Museum Store for an Open House between the hours of 10am–7pm. A recent revamp of the Museum Store introduced fresh, mission-related inventory highlighting the best of CBMM and the Chesapeake Bay, and guests are sure to find holiday gifts for everyone on their list. Light refreshments and festive raffle prizes will be provided, as will the chance for existing CBMM members—who receive a 10% Store discount at most levels year-round—to purchase a gift membership for the holidays.