We see the American Revolution as a formative event, but it was also a shattering one for those who experienced it. For much of the eighteenth century, Maryland's Charles County, situated on the banks of the Potomac near Chesapeake Bay, enjoyed the prosperity born of its rich soil and thriving overseas trade in tobacco. Its social order, white planters at the top, enslaved blacks at the bottom, was stable. Its politics were local. This world was swept away by Independence and the war with Britain. Led by its accustomed elite, the county entered the maw of Revolution, fought battles local and distant, and emerged part of a nation, its society admitting greater degrees of freedom, but now a backwater, impoverished, depleted, its impulse gone.