Nanjemoy is a settlement along Maryland Route 6 in southwestern Charles County, Maryland, United States, and the surrounding large rural area more or less bounded by Nanjemoy Creek to the east and north, and thePotomac River to the south and west.
Nanjemoy and the creek draw their names from a Native American tribe. The Southern-sympathizing area saw occupation by a large force of the Union army during the early part of the American Civil War, with an encampment of about 12,000 soldiers near Chicamuxen, a few miles (kilometers) north of the Nanjemoy area. In the last years of World War I, the Allied sea-power had been weakened by German submarines. The U.S. military contracted wooden ships, many were built, anchoring in Widewater, Virginia, but the war ended, before they could be used. Most ships were moved across the Potomac river to a secluded bay called Mallows Bay which served as a junkyard, some deconstructed most sunk. In 1970 a representative from the Audubon Society testified that the wrecks had become an "integral part of the ecosystem." In the 1990s the area was found to contain longboats from the Revolutionary era and modern ships. In 2002, Mallows Bay was protected for the state of Maryland, and in November 2015 the site was nominated as a National Marine Sanctuary. The sunken hulls of dozens of scrapped wooden boats are still visible at low tide at Mallows Bay in the Nanjemoy area, the location of what is regarded as the "largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere" Famous people born in Nanjemoy include Raphael Semmes, captain of the Confederate cruiser "Alabama", andMatthew Henson, with whom Robert Peary explored the Arctic in 1909 and with Peary may have discovered the North Pole.