Blue Dog of Rose Hill, Port Tobacco
Perhaps the oldest ghost story of Maryland is that of the Blue Dog of Rose Hill. Near the town of Port Tobacco (Charles County) is a rock covered in reddish discolorations. Called the “Peddler’s Rock”, it supposedly marks the spot where a trader was killed at some point in the latter part of the 1700s. In true ghost story fashion, there are many variants of the tale. Some have it that the body was found lying on the rock, some that the body was buried. Some have it that the victim was not a trader, but a returning Civil War soldier. In any case, the man’s money was left behind, and his dog – a great blue-tinged mastiff almost black – was killed during the murder. After the crime, the men returned to seize the treasure and warded off by howling and were charged by a large, luminous dog.
During the Civil War, men under the command of General Joseph Hooker (born November 13, 1814 – died October 31, 1879) supposedly tried to retrieve the peddler’s treasure but were, like the murderers, frightened away by howling and the approach of a large hound. I don’t know of any confirmation of this story, but in the early 1860s General Hooker was, indeed, engaged in maneuvers around Washington, D.C. (the number of camp followers attached to Hooker’s army, by the way, were the source of hooker, a common slang term for prostitute). As recently as February of 1971, locals claimed to hear the howling of the dog coming from the vicinity of the Rock.