On August 27, 1814, following the burning of Washington, D.C., the British
Army retreated through the town of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Several
townspeople, including Dr. William Beanes and John Hodges, arrested and
jailed some British stragglers. When the British learned of the incident,
they returned to Upper Marlboro and took Dr. Beanes and two others hostage,
and threatened to destroy the town if their soldiers were not returned.
John Hodges’ neighbors pleaded with him to seek the soldiers’ release and
save the town. Hodges convinced the general of the local militia that the
soldiers should be freed and was put in charge of the prisoner exchange.
For this act, he was charged with high treason. The jury found Hodges not
guilty because the “circumstances under which he acted formed a good and
sufficient excuse.” Hodges is the only known person to be tried for treason
during the War of 1812.