Updated: Jun 24
This report provides detailed research into the Revolutionary War activities of John Rodgers (1728-1794) as an officer in the Harford County Militia, the intermittent landlord of the taverns on either side of the Susquehanna, and as the operator of the Lower Susquehanna Ferry across the river from Perryville to Havre de Grace during the years 1774-1783. It is about the history of Cecil and Harford Counties from roughly 1774-1783, about the political changes going on during those tumultuous years, i.e., the American Revolution, about military activities during those none years, i.e., the American War of Independence, the British invasion of the late summer of 1777, the Yorktown Campaign of 1781, and the role of John Rodgers in all of this, i.e., his public life as a militia officer, and his private life as a tavern keeper and ferry operator.
This report titled, "What was he really up to?: An Inquiry into the Revolutionary War activities of John Rodgers of Rodgers Tavern" by Historian Robert A. Selig, Ph.D. is a significant step forward in understanding the role of John Rodgers, the tavern that bears the family name, and the Susquehanna Lower Ferry played during a foundational period in American History. It is the first effort to document, using original American and French archival records, Rodgers' activities in the Revolutionary War. Did he really command the 5th Company Maryland Militia? What was a militia? What did it mean to be a part of one? Was he a member of a Flying Camp? What did they do? When did he, or even if he, receive a promotion to Colonel? Where was he living during the War? Did that have any bearing on his militia activities? As Dr. Selig notes in his report:
No detailed biography of John Rodgers or History of Rodgers Tavern exists, and the few short biographical sources often contain errors. That is particularly glaring in the information concerning Rodgers's activities during the American War of Independence, which consistently confer upon Rodgers the rank of Colonel. References to Rodgers as owner of the tavern are just a frequent in those documents, but are they true?
The Town of Perryville thanks the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway and the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association, Inc. for funding this report and Dr. Selig's public presentation on his findings in February 2023.
The Town also extends its gratitude to Dr. Selig for undertaking this project. Robert A. Selig is a historical consultant who received his Ph.D. in history from the Universität Würzburg in Germany in 1988. He is a specialist on the role of French forces under the comte de Rochambeau during the American War of Independence and serves as project historian for the National Park Service's Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Project. For that project, he researched and wrote surveys and resource inventories for the nine states American and French forces marched through in 1781 and 1782.