Legend of Kitty Knight Weekend

GEORGETOWN – The terror and heroism of the devastating raid by the British, on Georgetown and Fredericktown during the War of 1812, will be played out in a fun-filled weekend celebrating the bicentennial of the event, combining with the annual Dogwood Festival, the first weekend in May. And there will be activities for one and all.

The Friends of Kent County, Maryland War of 1812 is sponsoring “Legend of Kitty Knight,” Friday, May 3 through Sunday May 5 in and around Georgetown and Galena. The celebration recalls the attack, on May 6, 1813, during which much of Georgetown, in Kent County, and Fredericktown, its smaller sister village across the Sassafras River in Cecil County, were burned in a campaign by the British to squelch local opposition from the citizenry along the Chesapeake Bay.

PHOTO BY KEVIN HEMSTOCK -- The Kitty Knight House in Georgetown stands large above the Sassafras River, 200 years after the British attacked and burned most of the town.

Activities to mark the bicentennial extravaganza include:

• Friday, May 3, 6-10:00 p.m.

The evening will begin with a VIP 5 course dinner-lecture,  the second in a series, and will feature Ralph E. Eshelman, noted War of 1812 historian and author or co-auther of such books as “The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake.” Those who purchase tickets for the dinner-lecture will also enjoy a skit by Miss Kitty & Admiral Cockburn. Dinner-lecture ticket holders will also enjoy premium seating for the fireworks and a sparkling wine toast provided by Crow Farm & Vineyard.

Click here for VIP tickets


In addition to the VIP dinner-lecture there will be an$18.12 buffet held under the tented waterfront pavilion at the Kitty Knight House – reservations are recommended Click here for more information on reservations.

Following the VIP dinner-lecture and $18.12 there will be fireworks launched (8p.m.) over the Georgetown Harbor offering a sample of the cacophony of the British attack of 1813. Afterward, the playing of the National Anthem will kick off the dance/ball running until 10 p.m., open to the public. 1812 garb for the dance is encouraged but not required. A cash bar and light food will be available.


 Looking for a place to stay for the weekend?

• Saturday, May 4, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The annual Dogwood Festival parade kicks off at 10 a.m. down Galena’s Main Street with the cast of “The Legend of Kitty Knight” giving a small performance for the crowd as well as floats from local children’s and civic organizations.  The Dogwood festival starts after the parade and runs until 4 p.m. in Galena’s Gateway Park. During the annual event local fare, crafts, games, exhibits and music dominate the park – will Kitty Knight make an appearance? She certainly might to check out the vintage cars, starting about 11 a.m., on display on Main Street. Or perhaps she, and her retinue, will stroll through the festival. The winners of the car show will be judged later in the day. At 1 p.m. and continuing throughout the day and into the evening will be the SRBC beer garden on Main Street.  New this year, the Kirsten Thien Band will perform 12-3 p.m.

• Sunday, May 5, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

The festival begins at 9 a.m. on the grounds of the Kitty Knight House, with breakfast and lunch festival fare available on the deck and at the ice cream shack. Activities at select locations on the grounds for the general public also begin at 9 a.m. For the youngsters there will be a petting zoo and archeological dig on the sandy beach by the harbor. For everyone in the family there will be living history, displays, vendors, demonstrations, music and exhibits throughout the day. Harbor tours on the “Proud Mary”  and the “Poor Dorothy” Captained by John Ellis of Capt. John’s Sassafras Adventures will be offered for a fee, allowing visitors to see the shoreline as the British Royal Marines and sailors saw when they arrived on attack barges. Boat tour reservations are requested, click here for the marina store. There will also be 50/50 raffles and a chance to win Miss Kitty’s Stash.  Drawings will be at 12:45 p.m.

Sultana, popular replica of the British tax schooner, will be on hand. At 1 p.m. will be the re-enactment of the burning of Georgetown, “The Legend of Kitty Knight” –  the fabled faceoff between the raven-haired spinster, Kitty Knight, and the haughty British admiral, Sir George Cockburn and his band of torch-toting soldiers with an aim to pillage the village.

The scripted performance will be acted out by an ensemble of talented local actors and actresses and re-enactors. Expect some gunplay between the British and local militia, and some obstinate, in-your-face-style homeland defense by the sharp-tongued Kitty Knight.

It’s a reprise of the real event, when a raid by about 500 British Royal Marines and sailors, led by Rear-Admiral Sir George Cockburn, terrorized the residents in one of a number of raids along the Chesapeake Bay to roust out the militia and prevent the locals from assisting the local troops.

During the raid, once the defenders on both sides of the river were turned away, the British methodically set about burning the American houses, stores, crops and vessels. When they climbed the hill in Georgetown, burning and pillaging along the way, the torch-bearing soldiers and their officers were met by the indefatigable Catharine “Kitty” Knight, who pleaded with them not to burn a house where a sick elderly woman was laid up. The soldiers acquiesced, and moved to the house next door. Knight successfully talked them out of burning that house, too, arguing that if it burned, so would the other. The exchanged spawned a legend of feminine heroism that lives today as an example of how residents rose up in defense of their homes.

Long after the war, the two houses saved by Kent’s top heroine were joined and ultimately became today’s Kitty Knight House, a popular inn and restaurant, whose owners carefully tend the rich heritage of the facility and the legend of Kitty Knight.

A portion of the proceeds raised at this event will benefit the Friends of Kent County, Md., War of 1812 group, to help fund this and future bicentennial activities.



View Larger Map