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Saint Michaels is known as “The Town That Fooled the British” due to a local legend about events that transpired during the War of 1812 between the British and the brand-new United States of America. In the years leading up to the war, Saint Michaels prospered as a ship-building community for the United States Navy. So during the war, the British planned to attack the town, thereby stopping, or at least slowing, ship production. This was extremely important since most battles were being fought at sea.
Before sunrise on August 10, 1813 , British barges lined up in preparation to attack the town and a fort located on the harbor side. The town’s militia, however, had been forewarned and devised a plan to thwart their efforts. The legend is that they hung burning lanterns high up on the tops of trees and the masts of shops, and kept the rest of the town completely dark. When the British used those lights as their guides, they misfired their cannons and overshot the town completely.
Actual reports from newspapers just a few days after the battle tell the story of the strength of St. Michaels' cannons in repelling the British attack. The story of the lanterns was not told until years after the war.
But whatever the reason, only one house was struck; a cannon ball burst through the roof and rolled down the stairs. Now known as “The Cannonball House,” it is located on Mulberry Street and still used as a private residence.
The town takes pride in its single battle, and signs welcoming you to St. Michaels proudly proclaim it to be "The Town that Fooled the British."