St. Clements Island, MD- Head to St. Clement’s Island Museum for a weekend commemorating a forgotten tragedy of the Civil War – the Black Diamond Disaster.

In April 1865, following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the Quartermaster Corps sent the barge Black Diamond to the lower Potomac to stand on picket duty off St. Clement’s Island. Her main job was to keep John Wilkes Booth from crossing the Potomac River. During the same time, the steamer Massachusetts headed for Fortress Monroe out of Alexandria, Virginia. In a tragic turn of events, the Massachusetts struck the Black Diamond on the port side near the boiler, sinking her in under three minutes. Eighty-seven lives were lost off the shores of St. Clement’s Island that night.

Includes free museum admission, free water taxi rides to St. Clements Island State Park, Sunday Commemoration Ceremony, and concert by the Federal City Brass Band.

This year, the event will be a bit smaller than usual due to the continuing pandemic.

Saturday & Sunday (10AM – 5PM)

  • FREE water taxi rides to St. Clement’s Island where the 1863 Goldsmith Raid occurred (the final water taxi will leave at 3 PM – water taxi operates as weather and wind conditions allow).
  • FREE admission to the St. Clement’s Island Museum

Saturday Only (April 24 – 4PM)

  • Concert by The Federal City Brass Band. This group appears in period dress, uses mostly period instruments, and their musical selections are based on the military music books from the 1860s.

Sunday Only (April 25)

  • Commemorative ceremony (2 PM – 3 PM) with guest speaker David Price, Director of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine (TBA), and remarks by Naval Air Station Patuxent River Base Commander (TBA). The ceremony will include a wreath-laying and the reading of the names of the deceased.
  • Reception (3 PM) at St. Clement’s Island Museum follows the ceremony.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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