The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has partnered with the Calvert Marine Museum to exhibit a unique cannon from the oyster wars in the lobby now through September 30. The original cannon was acquired by DNR and used by the Maryland State Oyster Police Force to control the oyster harvest in the Chesapeake Bay in the 1900s. Gregory Bartles, Lieutenant Commander of Area 8 and Agency Historian was instrumental in securing the cannon and seeing that it is made accessible to the public. He will give a talk on Thursday, August 2 at 7 p.m. in the museum auditorium. Admission is FREE.
“This cannon is not only a terrific piece of Maryland history, but a representation of our State’s commitment to protecting our valuable natural resources,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “We are honored to preserve this great artifact for the enjoyment of future generations of Marylanders.”
Acquired in 1868 by Hunter Davidson, the first Commander of the Maryland State Oyster Police Force, the cannon was first installed on the original steam-powered patrol boat of Maryland’s “Oyster Navy,” the Leila. In 1884, this ship was replaced by the Governor R.M. McLane, which fought many spectacular battles against oyster pirates. The McLane was equipped with a 12-pound Dahlgreen boat howitzer in 1888. While accounts are not definitive, authorities believe that this short barreled gun may have been the original cannon from the Leila.
For more information about the history of the cannon and the oyster wars, visit the Department of Natural Resources’ website.
Photos by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources