Media: Slideshow

The Chesapeake Oyster Wars of the 1880s

Pirates Dredging at Night

A wood engraving in Harper's Weekly, published on March 1, 1884, depicts men dredging oysters at night in the Chesapeake Bay. This method of oyster harvesting, in which a metal frame and net are raked across the waterbed, can cause permanent damage to oyster beds, and by 1880 had been outlawed in both Virginia and Maryland. A sudden increase in the demand for oysters, however, led to an increase in illegal dredging. During the so-called Chesapeake Oyster Wars of the 1880s, violence flared up between oyster farmers who claimed rights to the same oyster beds; between local watermen and poachers from New England; and between oyster pirates and lawmen who patrolled the bay to prevent illegal harvesting.

Original Author: Schell and Hogan, artists

Medium: Wood engraving

Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

"I Demand the Surrender of Sylvester Cannon"

A wood engraving in Harper's Weekly, published on March 1, 1884, shows armed authorities boarding a ship in the Chesapeake Bay. The so-called Chesapeake Oyster Wars took place in the 1880s, at the height of the oyster boom. Oyster farmers from Virginia and Maryland battled over rights to oyster beds, and state authorities raided ships that were poaching or illegally dredging for oysters.

Original Author: Schell and Hogan, artists

Medium: Wood engraving

Courtesy of Library of Congress

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  • Pirates Dredging at Night

    A wood engraving in Harper's Weekly, published on March 1, 1884, depicts men dredging oysters at night in the Chesapeake Bay. This method of oyster harvesting, in which a metal frame and net are raked across the waterbed, can cause permanent damage to oyster beds, and by 1880 had been outlawed in both Virginia and Maryland. A sudden increase in the demand for oysters, however, led to an increase in illegal dredging. During the so-called Chesapeake Oyster Wars of the 1880s, violence flared up between oyster farmers who claimed rights to the same oyster beds; between local watermen and poachers from New England; and between oyster pirates and lawmen who patrolled the bay to prevent illegal harvesting.

    Original Author: Schell and Hogan, artists

    Medium: Wood engraving

    Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division

  • "I Demand the Surrender of Sylvester Cannon"

    A wood engraving in Harper's Weekly, published on March 1, 1884, shows armed authorities boarding a ship in the Chesapeake Bay. The so-called Chesapeake Oyster Wars took place in the 1880s, at the height of the oyster boom. Oyster farmers from Virginia and Maryland battled over rights to oyster beds, and state authorities raided ships that were poaching or illegally dredging for oysters.

    Original Author: Schell and Hogan, artists

    Medium: Wood engraving

    Courtesy of Library of Congress