Eastern Branch Press is pleased to announce the new paperback edition of John R. Wennersten's The Oyster Wars of Chesapeake Bay.
In the decades following the Civil War, Chesapeake Bay became the scene of a life and death struggle to harvest the oyster, one of the most valuable commodities on the Atlantic coast. In this book, noted historian and author John Wennersten tells the stories of watermen, law enforcement officers, government officials, Bay scientists, immigrants, and oyster shuckers involved in the oyster trade.
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By Robert Pohl
Dec 16, 2007
"Chesapeake Bay historian Howard Dixon's review" Currently much of Northern Virginia gets their drinking water from the Potomac River. For several years they've been trying to extend the intake pipe into the middle of the River where the water is less muddy and requires less treatment. The State of Maryland has fought them in court every step of the way because Maryland owns to the high-water mark on the Virginia side. The hard feelings between these two States goes back to the time they were Colonies and this book traces the history all the way through. This book is about the oyster wars which began in the late 1800s and extended up until the 1960s. You may find it hard to believe but as late as 1959 Maryland Oyster Patrol Boats fired on an unarmed boat near the Virginia shore which was dredging oysters and murdered one of the crewman. And I don't mean one bullet but a storm of bullets because they didn't have a Maryland license. The author, John Wennersten, did a nice job... More > of research on a subject that wasn't heavily documented. He points out how rugged and plain mean a number of these early watermen were. Before the time of engines they would Shanghai vagrants in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. Once they got them on the boats on the Chesapeake Bay that's where they stayed until the end of the season. In a number of cases the end of the season would find them getting knocked into the water by the sail rigging...it was called 'paid at the boom' because the skipper wouldn't have to pay them if they drowned. The book is only about 130 pages of easy reading with some nice photos and sketches of the early oyster and patrol boats. It's a must of anyone wanting to acquire a thorough knowledge of life on the Chesapeake Bay.< Less
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