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Concord Point Lighthouse and John O'Neill

By John T. Marck

As one begins a tour of the Havre de Grace, Maryland Historic District, the first stop is the Concord Point Lighthouse. Located at the foot of Lafayette Point, this structure was built in 1827 by John Donahoo of Havre de Grace.

This lighthouse is the oldest in continuous operation in the United States. Now under automatic control, the light was manned by the O'Neill family until 1928. John O'Neill was named as the first lighthouse keeper in recognition of his heroic defense of the city of Havre de Grace against the British during the War of 1812.

It was here that on the morning of May 3, 1813 that British forces under the command of Admiral Cockburn landed, pillaged and burned the city. The only major defenses were two small batteries on Concord Point. The "Potato Battery," as it was known, was manned to the last by John O'Neill.

On the water side of the lighthouse is the cannon used in defense of Havre de Grace. This cannon, pictured above, was the one that O'Neill used against the British forces until he was wounded and captured. Held by the British, O'Neill was eventually released from the British Frigate Maidstone through the negotiations of his young daughter Matilda. In a token of her heroism in the release of her father, Admiral Cockburn gave Matilda his gold-mounted snuff-box. In a tribute to John O'Neill for his actions against the British, the citizens of Philadelphia presented him a handsome sword.

Today the lighthouse has been restored and is open to visitors.



Photographs of the Concord Point Lighthouse and Cannon 2000 by John T. Marck. Unauthorized duplication in any form is prohibited. Copyright 2000-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.

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