Charles Ball: A Living History Presentation

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Vincent Leggett portrays Charles Ball, a third-generation slave from Calvert County, Maryland who, after being sold to a trader in the deep South, escaped back to his home state. Upon his return to Maryland, he acted as a free man and fought in the War of 1812 on behalf of the United States in Commodore Joshua Barney’s Chesapeake Flotilla. He took part in some of the most exciting battles in the Chesapeake, including the march from Benedict to Bladensburg and the defense of Fort McHenry at the Battle of Baltimore. Ball was discharged in 1814 and published an autobiography, The Life and Adventures of Charles Ball, in 1837. Ball’s story provides a lens through which we can examine the legacy of blacks in the Chesapeake, including their role in the War of 1812.