Skip menu to read main page content

Step into History

Featuring images from the museum and library collections, the Maryland Center for History and Culture’s larger-than-life-size frames allow you to step (literally) into history and engage with the past. Look for them as they travel around the state. Read the stories behind the images here. Stretch your imagination, take a photo, and tag #StepIntoHistory!

George Washington and His Generals at Yorktown

Located at Accokeek Foundation at Piscataway Park in Prince George’s County, between the Visitor Center and the fishing pier.

George Washington and His Generals at Yorktown. Charles Willson Peale (1741–1827) or James Peale (1749–1831), oil on canvas, c.1784. Maryland Center for History and Culture, Gift of Robert Gilmor Jr, 1845.3.1

The American Revolution did not erupt suddenly in 1775. The low flames that built up to a roaring fire for independence required a match; one that had been lit two decades earlier. That catalyst was the French and Indian War.

In 1754, disputes between Great Britain and France over territory in North America dragged the 13 British American colonies into war. The French and Indian War (1754–1763), part of the Seven Years’ War, pitted Great Britain, the British North American colonies, and the Iroquois, Catawba, and Cherokee Nations against France, their colonists, numerous French Native American allies, and, later, Spain.

Unlike before, Great Britain sent its troops to defend its colonies. Around 75,000 colonial troops fought with them, including Maryland provincial soldiers under John Dagworthy. Maryland Governor Horatio Sharpe ordered the construction of Fort Frederick to defend the frontier.

A 1778 report indicates that there were 755 Black men serving in the Continental Army. Maryland initially opposed arming Black men, though some served in the Flying Camp Battalions in 1776. Yet, in 1777, when Maryland had trouble recruiting white men, the state opened enlistment to free Black men. In 1780, recruitment opened to enslaved men, though only with the permission of the enslaver. A year later, with recruitment numbers still low, free Black men were authorized for the draft.

In June 1781, lawmakers authorized the recruitment of an all-Black regiment, but this bill failed, as planters feared the economic loss they could incur should enslaved men join.

View this item in our Digital Collections here.

Learn more about the various Marylanders who were at the forefront of the American Revolution by visiting MCHC’s newest exhibition: The Unfinished Revolution: Maryland in the Wars for Independence.

Learn more about the 1781 Yorktown campaign by exploring the resources from George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Learn more about the Indigenous cultural landscape in this region from Accokeek Foundation.

Go See the Whale at Tolchester

Located in Rock Hall, Maryland at the Village in Kent County.

Go see the whale at Tolchester. Lithograph by R.H. Eichner & Co., 1889. Maryland Center for History and Culture, H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Large Print Collection

This lithograph is one of many treasures found in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Center for History and Culture. View it in our Digital Collections here.

To learn more about the history of Tolchester Beach, check out these resources: