An engraving from Harper’s Weekly showing the naval forces at Ship Island, Louisiana. The Massachusetts is the ship on the far right. Via

Black Diamond Disaster Commemoration Weekend in 2020 receives $3400 seed grant

News Release, St. Mary’s County Public Information Office

Leonardtown, MD – The Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point Museums, the nonprofit organization that supports the historic sites overseen by the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, was recently awarded a $3,400 matching Seed Grant for the Black Diamond Disaster Commemoration Weekend event that occurs in April each year.

This event, now in its third year, remembers a little-known – yet incredibly important – a piece of American Civil War history that occurred in Southern Maryland right next to St. Clement’s Island during the hunt for presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth.

According to the Southern Maryland Heritage Area Consortium (SMHAC), this grant award was part of the $40,000 awarded in Seed Grants to significant heritage tourism projects in Calvert, Charles, and St. Mary’s County.

This Heritage Area had its greatest response to the Seed Grant Program to date, with over $70,000 in grant requests. This granting opportunity, completed in accordance with SMHAC’s mission, focuses on projects that preserve the heritage of Southern Maryland through innovative tourism, excellence in cultural and natural resource conservation and unique educational opportunities.

Each of the programs selected for an award will enhance the Southern Maryland experience for visitors, residents, educators, and businesses.

“We are truly honored that this important event was selected for grant funding,” says Karen Stone, Manager of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division. “The Black Diamond disaster has often been overshadowed by other Civil War happenings, with the result that the 87 men who lost their lives have been mostly forgotten by history. By putting on this weekend commemoration here at the museum, we bring attention to their stories.”

Specifically, the grant will help fund the concert by the Federal City Brass Band, a band that performs in period dress, on original Civil War-era instruments, using period songbooks. The public is invited to see them perform during the Black Diamond Event Weekend Saturday, April 25, 2019, at 4 p.m.

The Black Diamond Disaster Commemoration Weekend will occur at St. Clement’s Island Museum in Colton’s Point, MD April 25 & 26, 2020 and will feature weekend-long activities related to the American Civil War including a special commemoration ceremony, interpreters and much more. For more information, please visit, or call 301-769-2222.

The Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point Museums raise funds in order to support historical interpretation, education programs and special needs of the sites managed by the Museum Division of St. Mary’s County Department of Recreation and Parks. The Friends organization is a 501(c) 3 organization sponsoring events, assisting with acquisitions and supporting efforts to broaden the understanding of our culture and community’s heritage.

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