Veterans of Sotterley
Historic Sotterley’s history includes the people that served in the military. As usual, this is not a simple story. George Plater III (Shown Right), owner of Sotterley in the years leading up to the American Revolution and contemporary to George Washington, served on the Colonial Governor’s Council. He then joined the Patriot cause and served on the Maryland Council of Safety, procuring supplies for the war effort. Many of his extended family remained Loyalists. Some enslaved people at Sotterley went with the British.
George Plater’s son, John Rousby Plater, who served as master of Sotterley during the War of 1812, was a Federalist who did not vote for President Madison, and was against going to war with Britain, reasoning that it would disrupt trade and the United States was not prepared militarily to protect the Tidewater region. Even though he was correct on both counts, he did serve the U.S., while at least 48 enslaved persons from Sotterley left seeking freedom on British Ships for places like Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Trinidad. The British did burn tobacco stores and a structure that housed some U.S. militia, but miraculously, Sotterley’s Manor House was not burned during these two wars with the British.
The Civil War was no less complicated. Maryland, one of the Border States that remained in the Union but still held on to the institution of slavery, had soldiers on both sides of the conflict. Sotterley’s owner, Walter Hanson Stone Briscoe, helped to arm citizens in St. Mary’s County. His sons, Henry, David, Chapman, and Samuel, fought for the Confederacy in Virginia. As known sympathizers, Union troops kept a close watch on travel between Southern Maryland across the Potomac to Virginia, and of course, on Sotterley. All of Briscoe’s sons survived the War.
One enslaved man from Sotterley, his name listed as George W. Briscoe, was actually named, Barns, but the Army changed his name. The reason given was, “there were too many people named Barns.” Joining the United States Colored Troops at age 26 in 1863, he went to Camp Stanton, near Benedict in Charles County, Maryland. He was assigned to the 7th Regiment, Company I. He served at Petersburg, Virginia in the same time period as Henry Briscoe, the son of his former master. At the close of the War, the 7th Regiment was sent to Indianola, Texas for guard duty. There was an outbreak of cholera, and George died there, just before the 7th returned to Baltimore.
Sotterley’s owner from 1910-1947, Herbert Livingston Satterlee, had served in the Spanish American War with the New York Naval Militia. Serving as Asst. Secretary of the Navy under Teddy Roosevelt for the last months of his administration, he was a lover of the Navy and helped in the creation of the Naval Reserves. Satterlee served on the Board of Visitors of the Naval Academy in Annapolis. He helped to retrieve the body of John Paul Jones from Paris to have it interred at the Academy. On a visit to Sotterley today, one can quickly see through the things Herbert collected, his love of all things Navy.
Pictured Above: Left Col. Herbert Satterlee, Gen Edward Hayes,Col. John Jacob Astor IV, Gen. M.O. Terry.
During World War II, loved ones of the families that lived at Sotterley served our country in the military, listed here are some of those veterans: Noah W. Callis, Jr., U.S.M.C., James Victor Scriber, Jr., U.S.N., James Franklin Scriber, U.S. A., Francis Ford Barber, Jr. U.S. A.
Sotterley’s descendants continue to serve our nation today.
Pictured Right: Noah W. Callis, Jr. USMC