A Brief History
On May 25, 1738, a treaty was finally signed, ending the war between Maryland and Pennsylvania known as The Conojocular War, or Cresap’s War.
The war had started in 1730 over boundary disputes, and escalated over the next few years to the point where military forces became involved in 1736 and 1737.
The treaty, ordered by King George II, had ended the shooting war, but the boundary dispute lasted all the way until 1767 when the Mason-Dixon Line became recognized as the boundary.
The colonial governments of Pennsylvania and Maryland became embroiled in the dispute when settlers from each colony started crossing the Susquehanna River back and forth and creating settlements in what was perceived to be each other’s territory. Questions about legal claims to the land, private ownership deeds, land taxes, and law enforcement in the disputed areas precipitated violence.
The first violence consisted of an incident where 2 Pennsylvanians taking a ferry across the river attacked the ferryman, Thomas Cresap (hence the name, Cresap’s War). Maryland had been infringing on the west side of the river into Pennsylvania territory based on a self serving interpretation of the charters for each colony. Cresap had been given 500 acres by the Maryland government in land claimed by Pennsylvania.
Much of the conflict centered on Cresap, an obvious opportunist that engaged in bullying and thuggery among the settlers, using ruffians as his gang and rewarding them with land.
In a strange turn of events, a 1774 dispute known as Lord Dunmore’s War (Virginia vs. Shawnee and Mingo tribes) is also known as Cresap’s War because of the involvement of the son of Thomas Cresap, Michael.
So how did the war become known as the Conojocular War? This name came from the Conejohela Valley (of course!) where the disputed lands were.
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For more information, please see…
Martiny, Richard J. Military Beginnings: Early Development of American and Maryland Forces. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
The featured image in this article, a map by Kmusser illustrating Cresap’s War, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.
You can also watch a video version of this article exclusively at https://thearmchairhistorian.uscreen.io/programs/conojocular-war-1_1mp4-b6acb8 on Armchair History TV.